October 22, 2018 – Like me, Darcey Anderson, my fictional character in The Empty Mint Mystery and the soon to be released Neighbors and Other Strangers, was born in northwest Louisiana. As a child, she ate the food prevalent in that part of the world. Fried chicken. Pork chops. Fried catfish. Black-eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread.
The dishes of south Louisiana also found their way to the Anderson table. Gumbo. Red beans and rice. Jambalaya. Crawfish etouffee. Oyster and shrimp po’ boys.
When I was still a boy, my parents moved us to Alaska. There we remained faithful to the southern food we loved but we also quickly began to enjoy the bountiful seafood of the Northland. Salmon. Halibut. King crab.
Darcey was introduced to new foods when she attended the Interior Design School in London and, after graduation, moved to San Francisco. Like me, she never lost her love of southern food but enthusiastically embraced the dishes of the other cultures with which she came in contact.
San Francisco’s most iconic dish, of course, is cioppino, that delightful seafood stew created by Italian fishermen many decades ago. You can find Darcey’s cioppino recipe posted on my author’s blog, gordonparkerbooks.com/blog/.
On this evening, Darcey was also thinking Italian. But pork, not seafood. More specifically, a sausage ragout. A spicy stew with hot and sweet sausages, hot and sweet peppers. And to bind it all together with a touch of silkiness, a little cream cheese swirled into the finished product.
This is excellent served with the pasta of your choice. Darcey prefers rotini.
Note: Darcey Anderson might be a fictional character but her sausage ragout is for real!
Darcey Anderson’s Sausage Ragout
3 links sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch slices
3 links hot Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch slices
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced (or any hot pepper)
2 roasted red peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup parsley, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup cream cheese
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet or braising pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, put in the sausages. Stirring occasionally, let the sausage cook until all the pieces are nicely browned.
Add the onion and jalapeno. Cook until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to take on color, about five minutes.
Toss in the roasted red peppers and garlic. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Continue cooking for another three or four minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes and red wine along with the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the ragout simmer on moderately low heat for about half an hour.
Taking the pan off the heat, swirl in the cream cheese, continuing to stir until it has melted and is combined with the finished ragout.