Last year around Valentine’s Day, I wrote an article praising the sensuality of cabbage. This year, I realized why I was missing the point.
It’s not serving a certain dish to a loved one that’s sexy, it’s cooking together with a loved one, entering into a shared bond to satisfy your mutual appetites. The human desire for food is undeniably linked to the desire for sex, but the satisfaction of that desire by eating is still essentially an individual act. Each tongue touches only its own food. Instead, lovers should not only eat but cook together, for in the joining of hands and senses they will find a more genuine consummation: the newborn foodstuff, or in this case, dinner.
So I present to you a romance in the kitchen: pasta with sausage and cream sauce. Begin by washing each other’s hands and tying each other’s apron strings. Kiss, and flour each other’s loins. Then, both of you together, grip the sausages — cold, pink ground pork stuffed in hog’s casings — and squeeze the meat until it slips out of the skin. Chop it and sauté it, and then remove it from the oil and in that very same oil, sauté the onions. Isn’t the area immediately surrounding the stove getting hotter? Listen to the oil sputter as the onions sizzle. Is it done yet? Is it done? Can you tell? When you’re sure the onions are good and translucent, help the sausage re-enter the pan and douse everything with cream. Breathe in its scent. Breathe it in deeply. Let the sauce simmer a few minutes until it reduces to a thick, velvety consistency. When the pasta is ready, scoop it directly from its water and into the pan, and then toss! Toss! Toss with abandon! Oh, yes!
See what I mean? Let’s just hope you have the stamina to sit down and eat.
Pasta with sausage and cream sauce
Active time: 20 minutes. Actual time: 30 minutes. Serves 2, twice.
1 lb mild Italian sausage or other pork sausage
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion
1 cup heavy cream
2 sprigs thyme, optional
1 pound dried pasta (I recommend fusili)
Parmesan cheese, for grating
Freshly-ground black pepper
(1) Fill large stockpot with cold water, at least 6 quarts. Set it to boil on the stove top.
(2) Squeeze sausage meat out of casings. Chop meat, to break into smaller pieces. Heat 1 tbsp oil in saucepan large enough to later hold all pasta and sauce. When oil is hot, add sausage and continue to break into smaller pieces with wooden spoon. Cook meat until browns lightly (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, finely chop onion.
(3) When meat is browned, remove from the pan with slotted spoon, leaving oil behind. Add remaining oil and, when hot, add chopped onion. Cook onion, stirring, until translucent, about 4 minutes. At the same time, assuming pasta water is boiling, add two large handfuls of salt to pasta pot and then add pasta. Stir pasta over next 10 minutes or so.
(4) When onions are translucent, return meat to pan, add thyme, if using, and pour in cup of cream. Cook, while stirring, until cream simmers and then reduces into thicker consistency (about 5 minutes).
(5) When pasta is ready (al dente, which means still chewy but not starchy when you bite into it), transfer directly to pan with sauce, using large slotted spoon. Stir pasta together with sauce, and remove pan from heat. If sauce is too thick, add a little leftover water from the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste, serve, and enjoy, and enjoy, and keep enjoying …