There’s an Italian spot on the north side of Chicago called Sapori that we’ve been frequenting for years. We don’t go often, so when we do it feels really special for some reason – probably because the food really is that exceptional, albeit simple. Situated in a converted brownstone, Sapori is the quintessential neighborhood trattoria; if you’re in Chicago it’s worth seeking out. We love sitting upstairs where the exposed brick, twinkle lights and street views make us feel like we may or may not be extras in a Meg Ryan rom-com (I confess to being a huge You’ve got Mail fan. Sue me.)
And while I’ve yet to crack the code on their perfect grilled calamari in balsamic, the Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Spicy Sausage I enjoyed there recently had me both enamored and convinced that we could recreate it in our kitchen. So I requested that the leftovers be boxed up, and then next day Scott and I hovered over the re-warmed pasta, savoring each bite and trying to pick up on any clues we could as to its creation. The research portion of this food blogging thing is by far the best part 😉
After we polished off that foil takeout container of goodness, we got to work while the flavors were still fresh on our palates. And I don’t know how, but we somehow managed to nail it on the first try! That alone should tell you just how easy this one is to pull together when hunger strikes. And just like all our restaurant inspired eats, this one is perfect just for two and an equally impressive dish for guests as it scales effortlessly.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Spicy Sausage
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 4 oz Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
- 1/2 bunch Broccoli Rabe
- 1/2 lb Orecchiette (or another short pasta like gemelli or penne)
- 1/ 8 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 cup of White Wine or Vermouth
- Lots of freshly grated Parmesan
- Salt and Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil with plenty of salt. While still cold, add in the pasta and cover. Next place a medium straight sided skillet over medium heat and add the butter followed by the uncased sausage. Brown the sausage, breaking it up as you go to crumble. In the meantime, chop the broccoli rabe into bite sized pieces.
Once the sausage renders most of its fat, add the chopped broccoli rabe and more olive oil if the pan is dry. Stir in the wine to deglaze and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits of sausage. Simmer for 2 minutes, or until the broccoli rabe has wilted down and turns bright green.
Check your pasta; it should be starting to boil, so give it a stir to make sure it doesn’t stick and leave it uncovered until its al dente. Once tender, drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the starchy, salty water.
Add the pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. Stir in the cream, adding plenty of the leftover water as you go until the sauce is silky and everything is just coated.
Remove from heat and add parmesan, tossing to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, with extra grated Parmesan at the table and the rom-com of your choice.