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FXcuisine's Ragù Finto

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My own version of the Neapolitan quick ragù. Ready in under 20 minutes it has a unique hit-me-back taste that will keep you coming and coming to the pot until none is left.

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Can you invent an authentic Neapolitan recipe? I believe you can. In my Neapolitan Ragù recipe I have shown you how to make this cult meatless meat sauce in under 7 hours, but you must know that most mamas in Naples nowadays make various shorter versions collectively known as ragù finto [ragoo fintaw] or fake ragù. Here is my own - not traditional and yet very much in line with Neapolitan orthodoxy. You can make it in under 20 minutes and it is really, really awesome.

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FXcuisine's Ragù Finto
For 4 as a main course
If you try making it in advance it won't work as you'll eat all of it straight from the pot

1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
100gr / 3 oz quality italian sausage or salami
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup / 250ml full fat cream
1 small glass red wine (exact quantity not crucial)
6 generous tablespoons tomato concentrate (do not substitute, you need concentrate, this does not work with fresh tomatoes)

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Peel your sausage and slice lengthwise...

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... then lengthwise again and finally crosswise to get the smallest cubes you can.

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Peel and dice the onion.

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Pour a little olive oil in your favorite pan - here my anvil-heavy iron pan from Greuze.

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Heat the oil, then add onion and sausage in a cascade.

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You could start with the sausage with no oil if it has lots of fat, then remove the meat when it has become slightly crispy, and let the onion soften in the rendered fat. We will now add tomato concentrate and bring it to the edge of charred.

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That's what I call a heaping tablespoon...

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...soon joined by two others of the same caliber.

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Douse with red wine. Do not worry about the exact quantity, a small glass, half a cup.

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The wine serves the triple purpose of diluting the tomato concentrate so as to spread it evenly, to deglaze whatever browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and to add a little sugar to balance the tomato's tartness. If you put a little too much wine, just let it boil off.

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Mix well so that you obtain a smooth mixture that covers the bottom of the pan ...

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... and let it darken over medium-high heat, mixing if necessary to avoid any burning.

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Clean setup for the showdown.

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Bought pasta on FXcuisine? I know, but these are durum wheat bronze extruded paccheri straight from Naples - the exact pasta served in Neapolitan restaurants. Drop them in the boiling salted water.

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Our sauce has toned down considerably.

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We'll now dilute the darkened tomato concentrate with a couple ladlefuls from the pasta sauce. Why use the pasta water? It's available and hot, and the starch will help build up the sauce's consistency if the need be.

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Mix the tomato paste with the water. If your tomato has stuck to the pan and you see a black layer at the bottom, you can either remove this to another pot to finish the sauce or just continue, ignoring 20 years of research that consistently shows the bleeding heart syndrome to be caused by burnt tomatoes.

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Turn the heat off and wait until the sauce has stopped bubbling. Add the cream and enjoy the white-on-red contrast. Beautiful! Please consider that although the cream is essential to my recipe, a Neapolitan mama would probably not have used it.

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Whisk the sauce to combine the tomato sauce with the cream. Don't look too often into the pot or you'll make a mess playing with the pseudo-chaotic patterns.

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Don't stop whisking until you have a smooth, uniform color. Check seasoning for salt, pepper and chili powder (I use Piment d'Espelette but this is personal).

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Remove a pacchero from the water and cleanly trim the end with a kitchen knife to test for doneness.

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When the pasta is still too hard to eat, but just so, remove it to a hot dish. It is imperative you keep it undercooked by a full minute. Readers of FXcuisine.com use a slotted spoon, sieve or skimmer to remove the pasta from the water rather than empty the whole pot down the drain. Smart people since they can always return the pasta to the pot if the need be. Now you've been told!

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What next? A diet perhaps, but let's wait until tomorrow.

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Combine the sauce with the pasta, mix and serve. Unless you have shark repellant and a stun gun in the kitchen, do not let your guests inside and do not, under any circumstances, bring the whole dish out or there will be blood. The pasta is so good and addictive with that hit-me-back caramelized tomato taste subtly diluted with the cream - people will just do anything to get more.

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Published 09/04/2008
74763 views


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If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!



67 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by JD
  • on: 09/04/2008
After subscribing to this site for months, I have come to the conclusion that FXcuisine is the equivalent of hard core pornography for food lovers.I love it, can't get enough, one day I'll make a batch of this stuff as soon as I get off atkins!
I look at that last photo and I know exactly what that tastes like... and it is totally and absolutely delicious.  great reminder for a quick and decadent dinner.
  • #3
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 09/04/2008
Oh yes baby ! Oh yes ! Yes yesyyyesyeyysysyyeysysyeyeysysyeysyyyesyeysyeysydsy !
Wow That was good,

Paul
I agree with JD.  I've been addicted to your site for months now, and all I ever get is over active salivatory glands.

  • #5
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/04/2008
JD, thanks for confessing your food pornography addiction! I will soon publish a few recipes compatible with a diet. Perhaps you could give a chance to one of my sorbets?
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/04/2008
Claudia, decadent it is, but really quick. It's hard not to come back to the pot like a piglet after a diet though!
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/04/2008
Heathen, thanks for visiting and please consider that the only cure to this addiction is to actually cook one of them dishes! Cheers and hope to see you back.
  • #8
  • Comment by JD
  • on: 09/04/2008
My kitchen is barren and scrublike to your lush jungle that you have. Most of the atkins stuff doesn't work well with sugars or carbs. I could try splenda but that's ruining the recipe.  20 more lbs and I'm cooking one of those pasta meals, diet be damned.

If you had a recipe that was low carbs, sugar free(splenda or substitute is fine) I'd make it and try it out, but I know that's like asking you to cook with margerine and Prebaked goods. Sacrilige!

I'll go back to my drooling now.
  • #9
  • Comment by Luke
  • on: 09/04/2008
Wow, thanks for posting this! And holy crap, minus the cream, that's surprising similar to the idea I had from our conversation on the "Pasta for the Sopranos" article.

Oh, I'll definitely be trying this. Thanks for making my day, FX!
Oh yeah, I'd eat that like soup! It looks so good.   HEY... by the way, I made your Bolognese Ragu today. It's actually still got an hour to go, but I just tasted it. Oh. My. Gosh. It is so much better than any I have ever made in the past. And, it's been the easiest. Go figure.  So, Thanks.  
  • #11
  • Comment by lyra
  • on: 09/04/2008
Yay! Another recipe that I can make at home...and don't need 7 hours for! So tell me, if the traditional Neopolitan mamas dont put cream in their ragu finto, what do they usually put? I will follow your recipe at least once, but I cant help but wonder if there is a way to make it with a little less fat-the truth is I have never purchased cream in my life (I know, sacrilage, but there it is).
  • #12
  • Comment by cookery
  • on: 10/04/2008
I had to make this last night: it tastes very reminiscant of sauce alla Matriciana, only with more flavors playing together.  A winner!  I'll take my stomach bulge any day over being skinny and denying myself food like this!
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2008
Luke, thanks for your comment. Yes it is another quick ragù but the cream really changes the dish, as instead of having something tart and intense in taste you have a smooth hit-me-back taste you can't get enough of. A very nice sauce!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2008
Traci, thanks for visiting and trying my recipes! It's not so hard to follow the real, authentic, time-tested recipes sometimes. I hope you made enough ragù bolognese to last you a couple days!
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2008
Lyra, if you are not into cream, this particular recipe is not really for you. You might make the Ragù for the Sopranos instead for instance. In Naples they don't use cream very often and a Neapolitan mama would just add a couple basil leaves maybe, or she might crumble some ricotta or grate some pecorino or parmesan.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2008
Cookery thanks for trying this recipe! I think we get more out of life if we allow ourselves fine pleasures like these. It's not like if you and I were sitting in our car eating Crapburgers from the drive-in. This sauce has been crafted with care from fine products, and you do lose some calories just by cooking it!
  • #17
  • Comment by Tess
  • on: 12/04/2008
My God!! Hardcore pornography indeed. I'm on the verge of tears here. I stumbled upon your site a few hours ago, I don't remember from where I followed a link, and I just can't get enough of your perfect photographs, your decadent recipes, your witty commentary...  I've read other food blogs, but, really, yours is the best! Congratulations!

Greetings from Panama (Central America)!
  • #18
  • Comment by Stahlregen
  • on: 12/04/2008
After reading through your whole archives and then coming back every day to check if you've updated the site, I actually went forward and tried cooking this today. It looked easy and inexpensive enough for a poor student like me. ;-p The only real deviation I made was that I exchanged the cream for crème fraîche, which I still had at hand. I ended up with a pan of blissful creamy oblivion, which let me forget about any diet concerns I might've had before. And now that I've reproduced one of your recipes, I find it much easier not to drool on my keyboard while reading this site, too! ;-)
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/04/2008
Tess, thanks for indulging my want of sharing the fine moments I spend in the kitchen! Let me know if you see some unusual, delicious or plain shocking street food down there in Panama!
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/04/2008
Stahlregen, I'm glad my recipe worked for you! I will try to add a tag for the most affordable recipes on my blog, in fact time, care and proper recipes are far more important than expensive or fancy ingredients. Things like Ragù Bolognese can be a work of art or a putrid stew depending on these factors. Hope to see you back on my blog!
  • #21
  • Comment by frank
  • on: 13/04/2008
Tomorrow for a quick lunch at home. I'm in! I make a version of this but never put cream. THAT"S WHY!!!!
  • #22
  • Comment by Sean
  • on: 14/04/2008
Wow--we made this on Friday evening, with minimal modification, and it was excellent tossed with some whole wheat chiocciole. The cream was a perfect counterpoint to the tangy-ness of the tomatoes. Very easy, too. We controlled ourselves, and enjoyed the next day, too, reheating the pasta/ragu mixture in a sauce pan with a bit of water. Bravo!
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 14/04/2008
Sean, thanks for trying my recipe and glad to hear it worked for you without turning into a calorie disaster!
  • #24
  • Comment by simon
  • on: 14/04/2008
FX I cooked this last night and it was great, but I have spotted your deliberate mistake.....When does the garlic go in? I put it at the end of the onion softening is that the right way to do it? It tasted so sweet I can't wait to do it again.Thanks
  • #25
  • Comment by Amy
  • on: 14/04/2008
Hello FX! I've been reading your site for awhile now, but I'm so excited to make this sauce (I don't think I can handle the 7 hour sauce just yet!) that I just had to comment. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy looking at your photos and reading your entries. Good stuff and funny too!   
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 15/04/2008
Simon, thanks for trying this. Indeed, the garlic goes either in the oil, out and on the trash, or is just mixed with the onion and left in the sauce. Is this sauce anything like the new national dish of England, butter chicken?
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 15/04/2008
Amy, thanks for coming out of the digital woodwork to say hello! I hope you'll soon start cooking after the watching, it just compounds the fun.
  • #28
  • Comment by Melissa
  • on: 27/04/2008
This is definitely going to get made in my kitchen.  and when I am buying the ingredients for it, I will make sure to get shark tranquilizers as well.
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/04/2008
Melissa, good luck when you try it and make sure you make enough, the shark repellant may not be strong enough to keep your guests out of the kitchen!
  • #30
  • Comment by Penny
  • on: 20/05/2008
I have been reading fxcuisine for 6+ months now but haven't made anything yet. But I have to say that I went and bought everything to make this(although I can't find the fresh pasta! nor do I have a pasta machine) and I can't wait to try it. I've had dreams about this pasta dish! Thank you so much for the fantastic pictures and narratives!
  • #31
  • Comment by David
  • on: 21/05/2008
Wow, that looks fantastic fx.  No waiting, I'm off out to get the ingredients now.  Quite seriously, this very minute!
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 22/05/2008
Penny, thanks for coming out of the digital woodwork and try your first recipe! How did it go?
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 22/05/2008
David, good luck with your ragù finto and let me know how it went!
  • #34
  • Comment by Jim
  • on: 23/05/2008
Magnificent! photos. Enjoy the commentary too. With some of the others, I'm drooling all over my keyboard. Also consumed with lust for some of your kitchen paraphernalia. Thanks for fooling with my dietary restrictions. Jim
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 25/05/2008
Jim, thanks for visiting and please stop drooling and go to the grocery store to buy what's needed to cook this at home. Quality cookware is a solid investment that will last you many years, look into it and you'll see that financially in the long run it's much cheaper than the crapware we all see so much of in shops.
  • #36
  • Comment by Jim
  • on: 25/05/2008
Hi there again fx. The specific object of my kitchen stuff lust is that iron pan you say came from Greuze. Beautiful. My stuff is vintage cast iron and very old stainless/ copper. Very good and functional stuff but lacking (severely)in aesthetics. Also, out here in the American wild west it's quite a trudge to La Groceria but I'll get there. Thanks for your response. No, really thanks for this very cool site. Every article I read I immediately want to cook. Jim
  • #37
  • Comment by hamish
  • on: 04/06/2008
I made this the other night and all i can say is wow! The cream really makes the sauce interesting. This is one of the first pasta sauces that i have made and it has inspired me to try out the 7 hour one when i get some time. i might ask if you wanted to add some other flavours to the dish what might you reccomend? perhaps some basil?
  • #38
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 04/06/2008
Hamish, I'm glad the sauce worked fine for you! If you want to add anything to my sauce, I'd try cinnammon (really) or chilies or allspice.
This looks utterly divine....I must try it!
  • #40
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Aptronym, thanks and I hope you get to try this during your time on this earth - or this hearth!
  • #41
  • Comment by Herebus
  • on: 15/07/2008
This is my fourth recipe from FX, 100% success rate and gastronomical heaven.
For those who like measures, 2 x 140g tomato concentrate tubs work fine.
As a suggestion FX, in your wisdom a, hearty Sicilian pasta sauce with anchovies and black olives.
  • #42
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/07/2008
Herebus, thanks for trying this and I'm glad it worked for you! Unfortunately I am not such a keen olive eater, might pass on this sauce.
  • #43
  • Comment by shanghaiedflip
  • on: 10/08/2008
FX Greetings from Shanghai! Really liked this recipe. First one I used from your site. I only used half the cream though don't think I could handle a full dose.. Going to try this sauce with shrimp as a substitute for the sausage next. Let's see how that goes..
  • #44
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/08/2008
I would not need to be shanghaied into eating this with shrimps, seems like a perfect match. Good luck!
I just found your great site. For years I've made all kinds of pasta sauces but have never been satisfied with them. They are always too acid, or too sweet. And then I'll have a great one in a restaurant and wonder how they did it. Now I know why--it's all about COOKING the tomato paste first. I tried it last night using just paste in a small, heavy saucepan adding it one tablespoon at a time and then water and letting it cook until it changed color. I used just a splash of white wine and then let it simmer in a small pot with some fresh garlic for a few hours. It was the simplest of sauces and the best. Not acid or sweet. Great depth of flavor and hearty enough to use as a base for any pasta. Thanks!
  • #46
  • Comment by Billigflüge
  • on: 14/10/2008
Great!!! This is exactly something for me! Thank you so much, I love your wonderful, mind opening recipes. I am looking forward to todays dinner.
  • #47
  • Comment by Joshua
  • on: 02/11/2008
Hello FX, I've been reading your site for about a year now and I really enjoy the "food porno" articles that you feature.  I made this dish last night and it came out really good, I was surprised how simple it was.  In my neck of the woods, it is really hard to find salami, so I used prosciutto (the Japanese call it raw ham) and it came out pretty well.  As an aside, if this sauce were served with rigatoni in a casserole topped with cheap american style mozzarella it would be a dead ringer for a dish found at Sbarro's in truck stops, food courts and college student unions in the North East USA!
  • #48
  • Comment by Philippe
  • on: 30/11/2008
Cher FX,

J'ai finalement eu la chance d'essayer cette recette ... quel régal ! J'avoue, par exemple, que le saucisson que j'ai utilisé n'était pas de toute première qualité (c'était un saucisson industriel du supermarché qui n'avais pas beaucoup de goût), alors j'ai ajouté trois tranches de pancetta hachés très finement au début avec le saucisson et l'oignon, et le résultat était formidable !

Quel genre de vin utilisez-vous d'habitude pour cette recette? J'y ai ajouté un Valpolicella doux et velouté pour un goût exceptionnel.

a+, et merci pour toutes ces merveilleuses recettes !

Philippe.
  • FX's answer→ Bonjour Philippe et content de savoir que ma recette a marché pour vous! La pancetta est un bien meilleur choix que le saucisson à deux balles du restoroute, aucun doute là-dessus. Pour le vin cela n'a que peu d'importance car après cuisson il ne reste que sucre, acidité et glycérine d'après Hervé This (en résumant un peu). Au plaisir!

  • #50
  • Comment by Vlad@StKilda
  • on: 02/01/2009
I've found that peeling Cacciatora is causing some serious pain. Any tricks? Love your work man, passion radiates from this website for years now - keep it up and all the best.
  • FX's answer→ Vlad, what is Cacciatora?
    Thanks for your kind words about the website!

  • #52
  • Comment by Jennifer
  • on: 07/01/2009
I've been eyeing all of your ragu recipes, and this one in particular because it's so luscious. I was wondering if there are any non-pork substitutions for the meat. I've seen turkey sausage in the supermarkets, but frankly the sight of it scares me. Is it possible to make this with beef instead? I'm not much of a meat eater, so I'm not too savvy when it comes to substitutions..
  • FX's answer→ Jennifer, I actually made this recipe yesterday night using only anchovy fillets, worked great. Clearly not a porky ragu no more, but hey, if the recipes works fine who cares what we ought to call it?

  • #54
  • Comment by Jennifer
  • on: 17/01/2009
This is a follow-up to the question I asked last week. I used your suggestion of anchovies and the results were.. strange. I had never eaten them before, but guessed that the saltiness would be similar to that of sausage. The final product looks just like your example, but it tastes unbearable fishy.. I really can't get past that. The deviation is my fault, however, so thank you for the great recipe anyway!
On a better note, I tried making your Raspberry (or in my case, strawberry) Moelleux as well and they were superb! I could have eaten the ganache by itself!
  • FX's answer→ Jennifer, I am so sorry, I forgot to say that you should have used only maybe 4 anchovie fillets. How many did you use?

    Glad the Moelleux worked fine!

  • #56
  • Comment by Alex
  • on: 23/04/2009
Hi FX!
I would like to try your Ragu Finto with the Priest-stranglers. Do you think it would work?
  • FX's answer→ Absolutely!

  • #58
  • Comment by Rama
  • on: 25/04/2009
Very nice! great website with great recipes!!
  • FX's answer→ Glad you liked it!

  • #60
  • Comment by Jamey
  • on: 20/08/2009
OMG...  I love you!  I am infamous amongst my friends for being a bad cook.  It's a reputation ill-deserved... I'm unpracticed, not utterly inept!  I haven't done any serious cooking in 2 years (due to good friends & a mother who like to cook).  After stumbling upon your blog, I was hooked and have been voraciously devouring your articles.  I saw this recipe and thought, "That seems so easy even *I* could do it."

Right now, I'm having a hard time keeping myself from eating the whole thing!  I'm not afraid of cooking for someone anymore!

Thank you, Francois!
  • #61
  • Comment by Caitlin
  • on: 09/07/2010
This is the most amazing meal I have ever made.  I try not to make it too often because I'm afraid my boyfriend and I will become accusatomed to it.
  • FX's answer→ Caitlin this is very nice to hear, glad it worked so well! Look into the real Neapolitan ragù (in another article) for a more advanced recipe that burns as many calories preparing it than it brings eating it!

  • #63
  • Comment by Vlad@StKilda
  • on: 15/08/2010
Cacciatora is what they sell here in Victoria as authentic Italian style sausage. I wonder what would Italians say? BTW I've revisited today again using Csabai, with similar results. Amazing recipe ... and I've found out that if you run your knife lengthwise deep into your sausage, stopping just before you cut trough the other side, the peel job turns out to be a breeze. Thanks again F. Hope you are well as I haven't seen a word from you for ages. Vlad.   
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Vlad, in fact almost all Italians only know their own local salumeria and the few pan-Italian ones like pancetta or coppa. But there are almost a thousand traditional seasoned/dried/cured meat specialties still made in Italy today, so don't worry too much about what Italians would say about your Victoria-made sausage!

  • #65
  • Comment by freistätter
  • on: 16/09/2010
Made this tonight with some double tomato concentrate I scored at a cooking shop in the U.S.  It's somewhat scarce here in Canada . . . none of the major grocery chains seem to carry it.  This was a bit daring for me.  Over my lifetime, I've become conditioned to watery ragus that make pasta more tasteless as you near the end of your plate.  This sauce was exactly as advertised . . . awesome . . . the gf and I Ioved it, and it only got better after the first bite.  Not sure if chianti was the best choice of wine to accompany it, but it made for a memorable evening nonetheless.  Danke schön, Herr fx!
  • #66
  • Comment by jared white
  • on: 29/09/2010
i love food so just looking at this was heaven for me.
  • #67
  • Comment by Dave
  • on: 19/01/2011
I just cooked that one, though my sausage was of rather low quality it was a great dish! Tasty, fast, easy and absolutely fun to make. In the end you get one of those lovely dishes you could have 5 days a week ;)

thanks for the recipe!

dave

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