If comfort were a recipe, it’d be this pasta made with delicate Italian sausage and a sweet, buttery cabbage. F&W recipe creator Anna Theoktisto begins by cooking pieces of sausage in a skillet and then infusing the sausage’s drippings (and an ample one-quarter cup of butter) with spices and aromatics. The delicious link dripping and butter mix is then utilized to simmer finely chopped green cabbage until it melts. When the cabbage is cooked and cooked, it’s tossed in with a plethora of noodles, sausage, and a smooth sauce that is made up of pasta cooking liquid plus butter and lemon juice (which gives just the right amount of brightness to offset the richness of other ingredients) for a deliciously tasty recipe of cabbage and sausage.
A few notes from Food & Wine Test Kitchen Food & Wine Test Kitchen
Maintaining your pan correctly is crucial when you brown the cabbage mixture. Deglazing the fond helps blend all the flavors, mixing them back into the cabbage mix that continues to cook and absorb flavors while avoiding any bitter burnt notes.
Ensure you cook the cabbage for at least the time specified to ensure it completely melts.
- One tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
- Six tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- One medium-sized yellow onion thinly sliced (about two 1/4 cups)
- Four medium garlic cloves
- One teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish
- One small (2-pound) head of green cabbage, quartered, cored, and finely shredded (about eight packed cups)
- Two teaspoons of kosher salt
- Water, as needed
- 16 ounces uncooked gemelli pasta or other short pasta
- 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup), plus more for garnish
- Three tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- Freshly chopped dill for garnish
- Cook oil in a 14-inch skillet on medium-high. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently to break it into smaller pieces, until brown and cooked through, about 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer the link to a plate, and keep the cooking liquids in the skillet.
- Add 1/4 cup of butter to the drippings in a skillet. Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently until it melts, around 30 seconds. Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper. Cook, scraping browned pieces in the pan until aromatic and softened slightly, approximately 3 minutes. Mix in the cabbage and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add two to four tablespoons at a go to help remove the liquid and stop the bits that have browned from burning. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, use a spatula to smash and break portions of cabbage.
- While at it, make sure you bring an enormous pot of salted and boiled water to the point of boiling at a high. Add pasta and cook according to the package instructions for al dente. Stir often. Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta cooking liquid.
- Cooked pasta and th, thee that you reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid for pasta and the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the cabbage mixture in a skillet. Cook on medium, stirring continuously until the liquid thickens enough to coat the pasta, around 3 minutes lightly. Add lemon juice and cheese and stir frequently until the sauce is cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of cooking liquid to reach the desired sauce consistency. Pour into six bowls. Add dill, crushed red pepper, and some cheese.