This recipe first came into being when I went up to Boston in January to visit a friend. He had made something similar prior (without the pasta), and then when we cooked together, it was a sausage, bell pepper, and onion concoction (no pasta either) that became absolutely amazing after I deglazed the pan afterwards. Deglazing the "brown bits" from the bottom is what gives the sauce the flavor that makes you wet your pants. I modified this basically by adding penne to it and then by adding more liquid to the sauce so it would coat the penne. Mmmm, delicious....
1 package of chicken sausages (aprox. 5 sausages, any style - I had used Andouille)
1 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
2 small to medium sized zucchini
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups penne pasta, or any short cut pasta
1 ladle pasta water
Freshly ground pepper
Chile flakes (optional)
2 wooden spoons; 1 large and 1 medium sized saucepan/pot; cutting boards; chef's knife or any sharp, heavy knife; 1 plate
1) Slice the onion into thin strips. 2) Mince the garlic. 3) Core the bell pepper and slice into thin strips. 4) Slice the sausage at an angle, cutting them into 1/2 inch slices. 5) Do the same with the zucchini as the sausage. 6) Pour the wine into a measuring cup or just leave the bottle next to the stove. 7) Set aside the pasta in a bowl or other container.
Heat the large saucepan on the stove with a medium flame, and fill the medium pot with water and set it on the stove to boil. Add the olive oil to the large saucepan after it has heated up, about 3-5 minutes. Allow the oil to heat up for a few seconds, then add the chicken sausage, but do not crowd the bottom - do this step in two rounds if necessary. Brown the sausage for about 2 minutes on each side, and once done, move it to the plate. After all the sausage has been browned, add the onions to the oil with a pinch of salt. After sauteeing for a few minutes, add the garlic, black pepper, peppers and zucchini (optional chile flakes here too). Saute for 5-7 minutes - there may be plenty of brown bits at the bottom, which is a good thing.
* If it starts to burn, the heat is on too high - reduce the heat and take the pot off for a couple of minutes if that happens *
During this time, when the pasta water comes to a boil, add plenty of salt to the water - this is your only chance to flavor the actual pasta itself.
Back to the sausage: add your white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon - after a minute, the sauce should be a brownish color and the alcohol evaporating. Add the sausage back in, stir, and reduce the heat to a simmer (low). Make sure you have added your penne to the pasta water - it should take about 9 minutes. You want to cook it just shy of al dente, because you will be adding the pasta to the sausage concoction to let it soak up some of the the sauce. Add the penne (drained) to the sausage mix, along with one ladle of the pasta water that you saved before draining the pasta - using the pasta water instead of regular water gives the sauce some starchiness, which thickens the sauce and also keeps the salt level balanced. Turn the heat back up to medium and allow the mixture to cook without a cover for a few minutes, until the penne is just al dente and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Now, eat it.