“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

23 September 2011

M’s Salsiccia Besciamella

(No pictures today.  Read on and youll see why...)

Do you ever have those days where you have something planned for dinner (which, let’s face it, was pretty rare around here before I started this project) but everything conspires against you?  It was piano-lesson day, and of course kids were late getting out of school and into the car, so we were cutting it close getting to piano on time.  Because the boy who car pools with us lives so far from our house and the piano teacher lives close to our house, I drop Oldest off at piano before taking our car pool home, and then rush like mad to get home before piano lessons are over.  Which has the added anxiety of making me late getting dinner started on piano days.  Still, I usually get home before my husband does, so I was somewhat surprised to see his car pulling into the driveway right behind me.  He left work early, wanting my help picking up our Jeep that was in the shop.  Hmm.  So we seatbelted the kids back in and headed out.  Again.  A block or two from the dealership (its still under warranty, at least) my husband ~ sweet sweet man (who is in front of me in the Jeep with 2 kids, and NO CELL PHONE) ~ decides to go through a yellow light, leaving me to decide to either run the red or stop.  I stopped.  I had one of my babies with me, plus I figured I knew where he was going.  Home.  What I didnt know (no cell phone ~ did I mention he has boycotted them?) was that the Jeep didn’t sound right and he decided to take it back.  (They didn’t put everything back where it belongs when they were done.  Is there anyone who provides decent service anymore?)  So, not being able to see him when the light turns green, I went home.  No Jeep, no husband, no kids in the garage.  I went in the house and the phone was ringing.  Guess who?  My husband, asking did I not see him turn back to the shop.  No, you left me at a red light in rush hour traffic, I did NOT see you turn back to the shop.  Anyway, Middlest and I headed back to pick everyone else up and... to make a long story short (too late!) we didn’t get home until about 6:30.

So, 6:30 and there is no dinner on the table and the plan I had dinner required defrosting of meat (still undone) and several time consuming steps of cooking and preparation to get it into the oven.  The animals were already growling (along with my stomach) and there was no way I (or anyone else) was going to make it until 8:00 without an injury or two.  So I scrapped postponed the meal plan and wracked my brain for something quick and easy.  I had some of this in the fridge that needed to be used and some pasta on hand (always).  This is what I came up with: 

M’s Salsiccia Besciamella
(According to the internet, “bescaimella is a simple white sauce that generally goes into other things, for example lasagna alla bolognese or broiled fennel.  It is bland because it’s meant to be added to other ingredients, providing rich creaminess but not changing the flavor cast of the dish.”  I chose a besciamella ecause I wanted something like a mild alfredo that wouldn’t overpower the taste of the kielbasa.  It’s basically a white rue sauce, but a little runnier.)

2 cups uncooked pasta (about 5½ oz.)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2-2½ cups half & half
salt and pepper to taste
pinch nutmeg (optional)
1½ cups parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed.

Chop sausage (I used this, yum!) into bite-sized pieces.  Brown sausage in medium saucepan.  Remove from saucepan and set aside.

In same saucepan, melt butter into sausage grease on low heat.  Stir in flour and mixing or whisking until smooth.  Very slowly, in a small stream, pour in 2 cups half & half, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Stir slowly over low heat until sauce thickens.  If sauce is too think, add more half & half, stirring constantly, until desired thickness is reached.  If sauce is too thin, add 1 tablespoon butter to mixture and allow to melt.  Remove approximately ¼ cup sauce and add slowly to 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl or cup, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps.  Return flour mixture to sauce, stirring constantly.

Remove sauce from heat.  Stir in parmesan until melted.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Drain pasta.  Add sausage to pasta.  Pour sauce over pasta mixture, mix well and serve.

I don’t know what goes on in your house (well, for some of you I might ~ at least some of the time) but it’s rare at mine when you can go wrong with pasta.  Add sausage and cheese to it and you have yourself a hit.  The sauce was easy to make and tasted great.  Of course, just about anything with butter, sausage and cheese is going to taste great...

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