Recipe: Abruzzese-Style Pasta With Lamb Sausage and Bitter Greens

I don't really know anything about the cooking of the Abruzzi other than it is the source of a lot of bad Italian-American food. It's one of those mountainous, isolated, and traditionally desperately poor regions that actually, I am sure, has stunningly good food in situ. Because of the Italian-American connection I always associate pasta with sausage and greens as an Abruzzi dish. Imagining all those arid hills and all that sheep's cheese, I like to make this with lamb sausage instead of pork.

Serves 4 to 6

    • 1 pound bucatini pasta or maccheroncini
    • 2 pounds ground lamb
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons coarse-ground chili pepper
    • 1 tablespoon dried Sicilian or Greek oregano
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 bunch broccoli raab, trimmed, blanched, and roughly chopped
    • salt
    • ¼ cup grated aged sheep's milk cheese such as Pecorino Toscano
    • 3 tablespoons fried bread crumbs (optional)

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Season the ground lamb with the garlic, chili pepper, dried oregano, and a pinch of salt. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the seasoned ground lamb to the pan and cook it out about five minutes, breaking it up into little pieces with a spoon so it doesn't clump.

Add the broccoli raab and a couple of teaspoons of water and turn up the heat and let the greens and meat cook out together about five minutes. When the water is completely evaporated turn off the heat.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet or personal preference in the boiling water. Drain, and toss immediately with the sauce and toss again with the grated cheese. If using the bread crumbs, add them now. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.

To read Sara's piece about equipping her new Italian restaurant by shopping at restaurant auctions, click here.

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Sara Jenkins is based in New York City, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. She runs Porchetta, an Italian sandwich shop, and Porsena, a casual restaurant focusing on classic Italian pastas. More

Sara Jenkins is based in New York City, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. As Mario Batali put it, "She is one of the few chefs in America who understands Italy and how Italians eat." Sara is also the author, with Mindy Fox, of Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond, released by Houghton Mifflin in September 2008.

The daughter of a foreign correspondent and a food writer, Sara grew up all over the Mediterranean, eating her way through several cultures and learning to cook what appealed to her. She began her professional career in the kitchen with Todd English at Figs in Boston, then went on to work as a chef in Florence and the Tuscan countryside, as well as on the Caribbean island of Nevis, before returning to the U.S.

In New York City, Jenkins became chef at I Coppi, earning that restaurant two stars from The New York Times. After similar turns at Il Buco, Patio Dining, and 50 Carmine, she began work on her own cookbook.

In September 2008 she and her cousin Matthew opened Porchetta, a storefront in the East Village focusing on porchetta, a highly seasoned roast pork common in Italy as street food or festival food sold out of a truck as a sandwich. Porchetta has been wildly successful in New York City, both with gourmands and ordinary folk alike. Porchetta was awarded the top spot in Time Out New York's "100 best things we ate in 2008" and also received a four-star review from New York magazine.

In 2010, Sara Jenkins will open Porsena, a simple and casual restaurant down the street from Porchetta focusing on classic Italian pastas.

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