Cooking my way to happiness with Rachael Ray

Sausage, Pepper & Onion Ragu with Rigatoni and Provolone Beschamella

I did learn today that ragu is an Italian term for a meat-based sauce, which is traditionally served with pasta.  It is not just a brand name for spaghetti sauce you buy at the grocery store.  Tonight’s dinner is a ragu made with all fresh ingredients and was so good I have vowed to never eat spaghetti sauce from a jar again……add that to the list, life is too short to use spaghetti sauce from a jar. 

Tyler is home from school with a sinus infection, I work tonight as well as have a couple kid activities so I am cooking at 3 in the afternoon to accomodate life.  Really what a perfect life to be able to cook at 3!

Lots of things going on in the kitchen… I have enough burners on the stove for all of this?  Start by browning pancetta, then remove that from the pan to a plate.  Place a paper towel under the pancetta to absorb some of the grease.  In the same pan brown the Italian sausage.  When its browned you add all the spices: garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, paprika, cayenne, cloves, salt and coarse black pepper.  Then remove the sausage to the same plate the pancetta is on. In the same pan, add some EVOO and sauté the chopped up onions and cucbanelle peppers (instant stress relief chopping, a really good thing).  After they are tender add some tomato paste.  It doesn’t matter how much.  I have learned from my cooking coach that tomato paste really does add that extra punch of flavor.  Stir it around until it becomes “aromatic”, a term Rachael always says and I always thought what does that mean?  Just do it and you will know the point at when it becomes aromatic. 

Meanwhile make the Besciamella sauce.  Besciamella sauce has become a staple in my house ever since I started this whole journey and if all I learn from this whole experience is how to make this sauce, I will die happy.  It’s a simple sauce made from butter, flour, milk, salt & pepper and fresh nutmeg.  You can stop there or melt in any kind of cheese to make it more sinful.  Today the recipe calls for sharp provolone cheese.  I could not find this type of cheese so I settled for smoked provolone which I will have to say worked out very well. This is just another example of how sometimes things work our better when they don’t go as planned.

While cooking  the rigatoni, add the meat back to the pan of onions & pepper.  Add some tomato sauce to the meat, pepper & onion mixture, chop up some fresh basil (from my window sill herb garden),  yada yada yada…..ragu is born. 

Assemble it by mixing the rigatoni in the “ragu” sauce, pouring it into a casserole dish, topping it with the provolone besciamella sauce and top with fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley.  Stick it under the broiler for just a little bit to brown the top.

This is the kind of dinner which can distract you from your life for just a short while because there is so much going on at once……however it is so worth the trouble.  The end result is a beautiful dinner and your house smells delightful.  It is just a little happiness in a chaotic day.

There is something to be said for cooking with fresh, real ingredients.  I swear it does really make you feel different, better…..happier. 

Eating this dinner was pure bliss, even thought I had to eat at 4:30 because I had to be gone by 4:45…… it stayed perfectly warm in the oven for the family to enjoy at their dinner time.  Thanks again to Rachael Ray for a great dinner!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Sheryl says:

    But if you used “already made” sausage you don’t need the seasonings (that’s to make the pork into sausage) Did you mean ground pork?

    I’m not a fan of smoked cheeses. That’s just me. I do look forward to making this dish though. Thanks.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago
  2. * Sheryl says:

    I finally made this. Delicious. So full of flavor! My store was out of cubanelles so I used red bell. Not a big fan of green bell. Used basil instead of the parsley. My husband thought the basil made it.

    And the cheese. I bought the sharp provolone and thought it was very strong on it’s own. Nothing like the provolone I’m used too but in the sauce and on this pasta it was unbelievably good.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago
  3. * Sheryl says:

    I forgot one thing. I didn’t bother with the pork and the seasonings. I just bought sausage and removed from the casings.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: