This will give you a chance to use whatever your choice of sausages may be, but a spicy one would be best. We have a good choice from our local butchers, who all make their own. I would serve this with a side salad, and if you have some folk with hearty appetites, then garlic bread is also good. As I say at the start of the recipe, it is easy to halve the ingredients.
I hope you enjoy it.
Serves 8 (can be halved)
1 tbsp. oil, 800g. sausage ( casings removed and meat broken into small chunks), 200g. bacon (cut into small pieces), 1 large onion, finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 2 tsps. fennel seeds (bashed in a pestle and mortar), 1 tsp. chilli flakes, 300ml. red wine, 1 x 400g. tin chopped tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 2 bay leaves, pinch of sugar (optional), butter for greasing, 900g. ricotta, drained, 125g. cheddar grated, 400g. rigatoni, 400g. purple sprouting broccoli, 250g. mozzarella, drained and torn.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the sausage meat and bacon in batches. Remove the meat and add the onion to the pan and fry until soft, then add the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the wine, tip in the tomatoes and add the oregano and bay leaves. Put the meat back into the pan, season with salt and pepper and bring to just under the boil. Turn the heat down and cook over a very low heat for 45 minutes.
- Halfway through the cooking time remove the lid and leave it off so the cooking juices reduce. Preheat the oven to 180C / fan 170C / gas mark 4 and grease a 30 x 20cm. dish with butter. Mix the ricotta with 100g. of the cheddar and season.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni until it has softened but not gone all the way to al dente. Drain , reserving some of the cooking water and stir the pasta into the sausage ragu. Add some of the cooking water if the mixture looks dry.
- Steam or microwave the broccoli until tender. Layer the components in the dish, starting with a layer of pasta, then ricotta, then half the mozzarella, then the broccoli. Add another layer of pasta, the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella. Sprinkle remaining cheddar on top and bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.