Orecchiette with pork sausage and goats cheese

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Orecchiette with pork sausage and goats cheese is probably my ‘signature dish’ and is hubby’s favourite.

Hubby and I came up with the concept of this recipe while chatting about what we would have for dinner one Friday, and after a bit of experimentation, I came up with this. It has become a bit of a Friday night special, which we have whenever we have a reason to celebrate. This week, I made it to celebrate a the start of a short holiday – we were taking a 4 day weekend to visit his parents interstate. (You may notice my glass of bubbles sneak into a few photos!)

Like most of my pasta dishes, the preparation takes less time than it takes pasta to cook, so getting the water boiling is the first step. This would work with any small, shaped pasta – penne, bowtie, spiral – but it works perfectly with orecchiette.

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I remove the sausage casings and cook up the meat with garlic and, of course, chilli. I break apart the sausage as it cooks, as it needs end up as bite sized pieces.

I have experimented with different types of sausage, and different sausages will impart different flavours into the meal, but pork seems to give the best flavour.

I also some vegies to the sausage. Frozen peas seem to work best in terms of shape, size and flavour, but small chunks of zucchini would work too. There are a lot of flavours in this dish, so you don’t want a vegie that imparts too much flavour.

When the pasta is nearly cooked, I add about half a cup of white wine and some parmesan cheese to the sausage. I cook the mix rapidly for a minute or so, or until the cheese, wine and sausage fat combine into a thin sauce that will just coat the pasta. I might add a bit of extra cheese or wine, depending on how it looks.

This is one recipe where you really do need to use real wine and real parmesan. I think the flavour and consistency of the sauce would not work otherwise. You need the acidity of the wine to balance out the richness of the goats cheese added later, and the parmesan keeps the sauce thick and adds a bit of saltiness. You need to use parmesan, because other cheeses may separate when cooked in wine.

When the pasta is cooked and drained, I stir it through the meat mix and crumble a little goats cheese on top, after adding parsley and black pepper. The aim is to have little pockets of goats cheese caught in the pasta.

You could probably substitute soft fetta, or even brie if you wanted a really indulgent meal. But I think the flavour of the goats cheese works perfectly.

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If there is any cheese leftover, I add a little extra goats cheese on top (or you could grate parmesan or sprinkle parsley instead). Serve, and enjoy!

Wine notes

We picked a Huntington Estate sparkling white to accompany the orecchiette. The crisp acidity and the bubbles cut through the richness of the goats cheese and fattiness of the sausage.

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