Photo by Chelsie Craig
Crisp nuggets of Italian sausage and tender broccoli rabe swathed in a blanket of cozy cheese sauce—this is the definition of cold-weather comfort food.
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- 8 servings
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped sage, plus 10 leaves for serving
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 12 oz. Fontina and/or aged cheddar, coarsely grated, divided
- 1 lb. ridged medium pasta shells (such as lumaconi) or large tube pasta (such as rigatoni)
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems cut into 2" pieces, leafy ends left long
- Place racks in middle and upper third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Heat a large, deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Pour in ¼ cup oil; add sausage and break up into small pieces. Cook, undisturbed, until browned underneath, about 4 minutes. Stir a few times; cook, undisturbed, until cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic, chopped sage, and red pepper flakes to sausage and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Mix in half-and-half and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stirring constantly, gradually add two-thirds of the cheese a little at a time, letting it melt before adding more. Cook, stirring, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes; season with salt. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally and adding broccoli rabe during the last 2 minutes, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain in a colander, shaking well. Return pasta and broccoli rabe to pot.
- Add sausage mixture to pasta and toss to coat; transfer to skillet. Cover with foil and bake on middle rack until pasta is al dente and sauce is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Remove from oven. Heat broiler.
- Top pasta with remaining cheese. Toss sage leaves and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl; arrange over pasta. Broil on upper rack until cheese is browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
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