This is my basic spaghetti sauce that I multiplied by twenty five to create the sauce for our annual feed at my kid’s grammar school, The Carey School. It is made a bit unusual with the addition of Pancetta, Kalamata olives, capers and sundried tomatoes. I serve this sauce on all different types of noodles, my favorite being a penne. I always dress the pasta in a bit of sauce and pasta water to start but top it off “American Style” with more sauce. You can always pass more sauce on the side; it is good enough to eat with a spoon.
¼ cup or more olive oil
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
¼ pound Pancetta, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ dried pepper flakes or 1 teaspoon jarred Calabrian chili paste
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olive, or other flavorful olive
½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped capers
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup red wine
2-28 ounce can whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1-12 ounce can stewed tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 pound pasta of your choice, spaghetti, linguini, penne or rigatoni
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering and add the mushrooms evenly in the pan. Let the mushrooms cook, undisturbed until brown on one side and stir fry until cooked. Remove mushrooms into a large sauce pan. Add more oil to the sauté pan, if needed and add the sausage, breaking it up as you place it in the pan. Fry the sausage, using the back of your wooden spoon to continue to break up the sausage meat, until just cooked. Place the cooked sausage into the same sauce pan as the mushrooms, keeping the oil in the sauté pan. Fry the pancetta in the same sauté pan until crisp, remove to the mushroom and sausage sauce pan. Add more olive oil to the pan, if needed to fry the onions with a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes or Calabrian chili pepper paste (I get these from Napa Style); cook for 1 more minute. Turn the heat to high and add balsamic vinegar and let reduce until dry. Add the red wine and continue to reduce until almost dry. Process the whole and stewed tomatoes in a food processor until smooth and add to the onion mixture along with the juice from the can. Bring to a boil then add to the mushroom-sausage-pancetta sauce pan and place over a medium heat. Bring this mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered for 30 to 45 minutes or until the flavors have melded. Add salt to taste. Due to the olives, pancetta and capers, you may not need much salt. Add a pinch of salt to balance the flavors.
Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package with plenty of well salted (like the sea) water. Drain your pasta, saving a cup of the pasta water; place pasta back in the sauce pan. Add enough pasta sauce to the noodles to coat, then add at least ¼ cup of the starchy pasta water to cream the sauce. Place dressed pasta in a large warmed bowl and serve immediately with extra sauce on the side and grated fresh parmesan cheese.