Growing up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, there are certain Italian food aromas that take me back in time. Sausage parmigiana is one of those dishes.
Sausage parmigiana is a hearty, easy to make meal. I will show you how to make it restaurant quality at home every time. It starts with a high-quality Italian sausage. Many store brands are fine, but if you have a good Italian butcher nearby, it is worth the time and expense.
My home-made sauce is simple with easy to find ingredients, superior freshness and authentic Italian flavor. For that reason, I always keep a quart or two frozen and ready to go at a moment’s notice. But if your not equipped with home-made, use the best available.
1 1⁄2 lbs Italian sausage (mild, hot or mix them up)
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 lb or 3 cups cubed or shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Asiago or parmesan cheese
5 cups penne pasta or Italian bread for heroes.
Additional sauce options- Olives, mushrooms, capers or artichoke hearts.
First, the sauce I make mine at home, but there are plenty of quality jar sauces that can do the trick. This sauce is pretty simple, can be made days in advance or before cooking sausage and it makes for a better finished product.
In a pot or large pan, add oil, onions, garlic and red pepper, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes or until softened. Deglaze pan with water or chicken/beef stock. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar ; bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. A pinch or two of sugar is optional, I use brown. Let simmer on low for an hour stirring occasionally.
Cook sausage slowly in a large skillet. Brown sausage over medium-high heat, in batches and adding a little oil. Transfer sausage to a bowl or plate and let sit for five minutes.
Cut sausage into 1/2 slices lengthwise (just a preference, you can cut them any way you like). In a two inch deep cooking dish, ladle some sauce into the bottom , then layer sausage.
Sprinkle with Asiago/parmesan cheese. Add mozzarella chunks and sprinkle with a little olive oil. Cover dish with greased foil, greased side down.
Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees in oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove foil for final ten minutes for browning.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 6-8 minutes. Strain and set pasta aside. Or just put on a piece of crusty Italian bread and enjoy!