Here’s a melt-in-your-mouth ragu that is a hybrid/modification of two recipes: Alton Brown’s Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese and Jamie Oliver’s Jools’ Pasta (I was actually watching the latter on YouTube one evening, hence the insta-inspiration).
Traditionally, ragu takes a while to simmer and perfect. It’s in the category of long and slow. Jamie Oliver, however, packs in flavor in as little time possible with the help of premium pork sausages. My recipe employs the same technique, but with chicken sausages, and pairs it with heaps of cheese. Really, you can’t go wrong with sharp cheddar cheese!
For the mac ‘n cheese:
5 ounces (about one heaping mug) fusilli, elbow macaroni, penne, or short/curly pasta of choice
1 tbsp butter
3 ounces milk
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco/hot sauce, more if desired
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (depending on saltiness of sausages)
Fresh black pepper
1 tsp teaspoon dry mustard
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
For the ragu ‘base’
2 large chicken sausages
dash of salt, pepper, and sugar
splash of Tabasco/hot sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
bunch of chopped parsley (or Italian seasoning or dried/fresh herb of choice)
Optional: mirepoix—carrots, celery, spring onion—minced
- Bring a large pot of water to boil; add plenty of salt and cook pasta al dente (two minutes short of package instructions).
- Pulse sausages in a food processor until finely minced. Or use a knife.
- In a deep sauté pan set over medium high, heat olive oil. Add mirepoix, if using* and season with salt, pepper, and sugar, then add half of the parsley/herbs. Go easy on the salt as you will be adding pasta water later on. The sugar brings out the savory flavors of the dish.
- Add minced chicken, stirring every now and then to brown evenly.
- While waiting for sausages to cook, pasta should be ready. Save one cup of pasta water and drain the rest. Transfer pasta back into pot on low heat and add butter to melt. Toss to coat.
- Whisk together eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Dunk a spoonful of pasta into this mixture to temper, then swirl into pasta pot. Add cheese and stir until creamy.
- By now, the chicken will be browned, almost crispy. Add balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and a splash of Tabasco sauce.
- Once the vinegar smell has dissipated, add mac ‘n cheese to sauté pan and stir.
- Add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce. Save the rest for anytime the pasta starts to stick together.
- Serve warm in deep pasta bowls and garnish with parsley.