Recipe: Italian Sausage Ragu

This is one of my go-to, standby recipes that is both super flavorful and comes together in a pinch.  My freezer is always fully stocked with Italian sausage for quick weeknight meals, and tomato sauce of some form (freshly made if we’re extra lucky, frozen or canned is mostly the case) is always nearby.  The simple act of browning up some sausage and reducing down some tomato sauce creates a quick and easy ragu that feels like it’s been simmering away on the stove for hours.  Consider this your weeknight solution for a full-on Bolognese sauce – perfect for topping pasta or polenta for a delightful Italian meal!

As I mentioned before, tomatoes at any stage will work here.  For fastest results, start with a sauce that has simmered down already, either from canned or homemade.  I’ll link some homemade sauce options from my blog below if you need some inspiration:

Recipe: Simple Summer Tomato Sauce

Recipe: Tomato Sauce from Scratch

Other ways to achieve this recipe include using diced canned tomatoes, or diced fresh tomatoes.  If starting from this stage, simply heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan, add a chopped clove of garlic and the tomatoes, and simmer down over medium heat until the tomatoes break down and become thicker and more concentrated.  Add any herbs you have on hand for even more flavor (rosemary, parsley, basil, and thyme are all amazing contenders here), and you should be good to go!  Depending on the amount of water originally in your tomatoes (fresh usually have more water than canned), the amount of time needed to reduce the sauce down will vary, but for one can (about 2 cups diced tomatoes), it should take about 15 minutes to cook down.  If you’re in a rush or if you want to add a little extra tomato flavor, feel free to add a big spoonful of tomato paste to instantly concentrate the tomato flavor and thicken the sauce.

The recipe down below is starting from fully prepared tomato sauce, and again, either homemade or store-bought will work great – do what works best for you!  This recipe is enough to make 2 big servings with some leftovers, so scale up or down as needed.  Serve mixed into pasta or on top of some polenta and you’re set to go!

Italian Sausage Ragu

Ingredients:

  • 2 Italian sausages
    • Either hot or sweet sausages will work here!
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Remove the meat from the casings of the Italian sausage by either squeezing it out of the casing (like a toothpaste tube), or using a knife to score the casing down the length of the sausage, and peeling off the casing to remove.
  2. Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan, and set the pan over medium high heat.  Once the pan has warmed up, add the sausage meat.  Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage meat into small pieces, and stir the sausage until everything is cooked thoroughly and browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Once the sausage is cooked through, add the tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce is fully boiling, then reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook until the sauce reaches the desired amount of thickness and concentration (about 5 minutes should do it).
  4. Taste the sauce for seasoning, and adjust with any additional salt and pepper.  Feel free to add some herbs here if you think additional seasoning is required, or add some crushed red chili flakes for heat if you want a little spice.  Stir to combine.
  5. Mix in any freshly cooked pasta, or serve over polenta.  Enjoy!

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