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Rigatoni Woodsman-Style (Rigatoni alla Boscaiola)

Sunday, February 03, 2002

The "riga in "rigatoni" means "stripe." It is those stripes and rigatoni's wide, hollow shape that make them perfect for a chunky sauce like this one. You can make the sauce a day or so in advance; just don't add the ricotta and grated cheese until the last minute.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausages, preferably without fennel seeds
1 pound assorted mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced thin (about 5 cups)
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomatoes, or 1 cup seeded and diced canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 pounds fresh peas, shelled (about 1 cup), or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or pasta-cooking water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese or packaged whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more

Bring 6 quarts salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat, toss in the onion, and cook, stirring until wilted, about 4 minutes. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and stir, breaking up the sausage into small pieces as you do, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir about half the mushrooms into the sausage mixture. Add the remaining mushrooms as those in the pan wilt, making room for more. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms give off liquid, allow time for the juices to boil off before the mushrooms start to brown.

Pour the tomatoes into the skillet, stir in the peas, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook a minute or two. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is lightly reduced and is perking like a little volcano, about 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Spoon the ricotta into the sauce and stir gently to mix.

If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer, and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup grated cheese. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon the rigatoni into warm bowls, and serve immediately, passing additional cheese separately if you like.

Makes 6 servings.

"Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen"

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