I know, the name is odd, isn’t it? I suppose I could just change the name and claim the recipe as my own, but that’s not fair to the originator of this sauce, so I’ve always referred to it by her title. It’s not just any old spaghetti sauce, as we’d be likely to call it, and surely Camille Stagg meant for us to take notice. This isn’t your ordinary red – either the wine OR the sauce. Camille Stagg is a well-known journalist, travel writer, and must live in Chicago, as she’s written a book about gourmet haunts in that town. She consults with some wineries and wine distributors (clubs), as I found other recipes listed by her in a couple of places on the internet.
Many years ago we used to have two bottles of wine delivered to us each month by a small company up in Emeryville, California. And each month the wine purveyor included a write-up about the wines in the box, AND a recipe suitable for that wine. Likely this recipe came in with a box of zin, since it calls for the wine in the recipe. It sounded so intriguing, I had to try it. We were going to have a wine tasting at our home a week or so later, and I asked each guest couple to bring a bottle of wine and food to serve with it. Specifically, they were to bring something that would complement their wine type. We stood around our kitchen island with 4 (small) glasses of wine in front of us, and sampled food with each wine. It was fun, and we really liked this sauce.
Having not made this for several years, I had to refresh my memory about what was different about it (it uses nearly a whole bottle of zin for 5 pounds of sausage). Once you combine the sausage, onions, mushrooms, garlic and seasonings, you can either simmer it on the range, or put it in a crockpot for long, slow simmering. I did the latter and kept it at high for about 4 hours to help boil off the wine. The sauce is thin to start, and must be simmered down to reduce it. Obviously, it’s a heavy sauce, redolent with the winy taste, and complemented with a large quantity of mushrooms. It’s an extremely dark-colored sauce – zin wine certainly stains nearly anything it touches anyway, so the meat takes on the dark red color as well. You can use your own combination of sausage – the recipe calls for half hot and half sweet. It’s zesty, I’ll give you that! Zinfandel is a zesty wine in and of itself – most people describe it as spicy. And the hot/spicy sausage ups the ante. If you don’t like spicy sausage, use all sweet Italian. This freezes well. Over the years I’ve increased the recipe volume – you can certainly halve it easily enough. I like to have leftovers to freeze. Linguine is my pasta of choice for this. I also increased the amount of wine in the recipe, but not by much.
Zinfandel Sausage Sauce for Pasta
Recipe By: adapted from one by Camille Stagg
Serving Size: 15
I caution you about one thing, though: canned tomato sauce – most are very, very high in sodium. When this sauce reduces down, the sauce will be too salty, so I recommend you use a low or no added sodium tomato sauce. Read the label!
2 1/2 lb Italian sausage — hot
2 1/2 lb Italian sausage — sweet
3 whole onions — minced
1 1/2 lb mushrooms — sliced
4 c red wine — Zinfandel style
48 oz tomato sauce — low sodium
1/2 c Italian parsley
6 cloves garlic — minced
3 tbsp fresh basil
3 tbsp dried oregano
3 tbsp dried rosemary
Salt & pepper to taste, or no salt at all depending on the sodium in the tomato sauce
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. In a large, heavy skillet, slowly brown the crumbled sausage; drain off fat. Add onion and sauté until limp, then add garlic and mushrooms. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add Zinfandel wine, tomato sauce, herbs and spices. Bring to a boil, partially cover pan, and reduce to a simmer.
3. Cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to a thick consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over cooked pasta and top with grated parmesan. This freezes well. It is best if prepared a day ahead.
Per Serving: 641 Calories; 49g Fat (73.4% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 118mg Cholesterol; 1775mg