I have made this pork and fennel pasta for years. I think I may have first gotten the idea of squeezing out the sausage mince from the sausage casings from one of the many cooking magazines that I read. Mum makes something similar so I must have made it for her one time too. Mum’s variation is that instead of mashing up the sausage mince into a chunky mince like consistency, she shapes it into meatballs.
My favourite pasta to have this with is rigatoni, but I couldn’t find any on the day I wanted it. Singapore supermarkets are a bit like that sometimes. One time I’ll see rigatoni pasta there but the next time they aren’t stocking it. It happens even more with fresh produce. I know for a fact I’ve gotten fresh flat leaf parsley from that one supermarket but I can’t find it there the next time. It’s frustrating and makes me realise how great Australian supermarkets are in that sense…or at least the ones that I am used to.
In saying that though, years ago I used to make this with a specific type of sausage from Coles. I even remember that it was called a Toulouse Style sausage and it was from Coles’ own brand. One day they just stopped making it though and I think that’s when I started adding the fresh fennel seeds in to replicate the lovely flavours in the discontinued sausage. Now I just buy any simply flavoured thick pork sausage that I can find.
I used penne instead this time and it still worked quite well. Because this pasta sauce is quite chunky, a pasta that is tube shaped works really well at holding that lovely chunky sausage sauce. Of course, you can use whatever you have in the cupboard. I assure you it will still taste great.
Give the fennel seeds a good bash to break them up a bit. This will help distribute the fennel flavour through the pasta sauce.
Break up the sausage mince as you cook it. You will still end up with quite a chunky texture.
Simmering the sauce while the pasta cooks will reduce the sauce a bit, developing the flavours.
The small amount of cream added right at the end is enough to make the sauce lovely and silky but not so much that it turns into a creamy sauce.
Pork and Fennel Pasta
Ingredients – serves 2-3
- 1 medium red or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 thick pork sausages or about 350g of pork sausage mince
- 1 tsp of whole fennel seeds, lightly bashed and broken in a mortar and pestle
- ¼ tsp of dried chilli flakes
- ¾ cup of passata
- Thyme leaves from 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 cup of penne or your choice of dried pasta
- ¼ cup of thin cream
- Put a large pot of heavily salted water onto boil for the pasta.
- While the water is heating up, heat a frying pan on a separate burner on medium heat.
- Add a small amount of olive oil to the frying pan and then sauté the onion and garlic until they start to soften.
- Squeeze the sausage mince from their casings and add the sausage mince to the pan with the onions and garlic.
- While the sausage mince is lightly browning, break it up with a wooden spoon so that it is not all stuck together but still a chunkier texture than a regular mince would be.
- Once the sausage mince is broken up and cooked through, add the chilli and the broken up fennel seeds.
- Stir just until fragrant or about a minute.
- Next, add the passata, thyme and 1/3 cup of water to the frying pan. Stir well and bring to the boil.
- At this point, you can put the pasta on to cook in the boiling water. Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.
- Once the pasta sauce has come up to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until it has reduced slightly. I normally just simmer the sauce for as long as the pasta takes to cook.
- Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain completely then add it to the simmering pasta sauce. You can add a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water if you like as well.
- Stir through the cream and toss all together to ensure the pasta is all coated.
- Serve with a green salad and crusty bread. Leftovers heat up well in the microwave.