Spicy Mushroom-Sausage Ragù

Spicy Mushroom-Sausage Ragù
This spicy mushroom-sausage ragù is an amazing comfort meal that will have everyone in your family asking for seconds.
  • Mushroom-Sausage Ragù
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 pound loose hot Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper optional
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter optional
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms diced
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 cups beef stock or 1 cup red wine, 2 cups beef stock
  • 28 ounce can fire-roasted crushed or diced tomatoes if using diced, drain the tomatoes first
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pasta:
  • 16 ounce dry rigatoni
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Dry parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  1. Brown the Sausage:
  2. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 8-12 minutes until the sausage is cooked through and begins to brown. If desired, add an extra ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper to the sausage.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel lined plate. If the sausage was very fatty. drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat in the pot. Return the pot to medium heat.
  4. Cook the Aromatics:
  5. Add the carrots and onions to the oil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics begin to deepen in color and develop a crust. Season with salt and pepper and move them to one side of the pot.
  6. If desired, melt 2 tablespoons butter into the pot.
  7. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring regularly, for 12-15 minutes until they release all their liquid and the liquid evaporates. It will take some time, so be patient. Continue cooking until the mushrooms develop a beautiful golden crust.
  8. Add the garlic to the pot and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Season with salt, white pepper, and thyme and cook for 45 seconds until fragrant.
  9. Simmer the Ragù:
  10. Return the sausage to the pot and toss to combine. Add the beef stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, uncovered. If the ragù sticks, add a lid and a few splashes more of water to loosen it up. The end result should be a very thick, jammy sauce, so if your ragù is watery, turn up the heat a bit during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to cook off the excess water. It will allow it to develop a truly rich flavor! Don't worry, you will loosen it up with pasta cooking water later!
  11. Taste and simmer the ragù to your preferences.
  12. Cook the Pasta:
  13. Shortly before the ragù finishes simmering, preheat oven to 425ºF and cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta about 2-3 minutes shy of al dente.
  14. Scoop out ⅔ cup of the pasta cooking water and pour it into the ragù and stir to combine.
  15. Using a spider strainer, scoop out the pasta and transfer it directly to the pot of sauce and toss to combine. Turn off the heat.
  16. Bake the Pasta:
  17. If you have an oven-proof pot, you can assemble the pasta directly in the pot. Otherwise transfer the sauced pasta to a lightly greased oval baking dish.
  18. Arrange the mozzarella on top of the pasta and sprinkle with dry parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  19. If desired, turn on the broiler and broil the cheese for 2-3 minutes until golden brown bubbles begin to form. Turn off the heat and allow the baked pasta to cool for a few minutes before serving.