Anthony Demetre has been transforming the London food scene since he opened Wild Honey in Mayfair in 2007. The chef is now the head of Wild Honey in St James’s and the recently opened Vermuteria in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross. Here he shares one of Vermuteria’s signature recipes for an irresistible and comforting sausage ragu.
Anthony Demetre’s Italain sausage ragu
A ragu always features on our menu throughout the year and this is a particular favourite of ours. There are countless variations on this with each region using their own type of sausage. The ragu can be served with any type of pasta but we prefer rigatoni or long cut macaroni – and of course, lots of reggiano.
1.5kg Italian sausages (or good organic British sausages) – skins removed
3 large onions – chopped
100g Nduja – Calabrian sausage (or cooking chorizo)
1 heaped tbsp fennel seeds
1 heaped tbsp dried wild oregano
2 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic – grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
200ml full-bodied red wine
2 x 400g tinned chopped Italian tomatoes
100ml double cream
1 heaped tbsp nutmeg – grated
2 heaped tbsp mint – finely chopped
1. Remove the skins from the sausages by slashing and peeling, and pull into pieces.Heat a thick-bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) and pour in enough olive oil to form a thin layer. Add the sausage meat and colour well. There will be a layer of caramelised residue that forms on the bottom of the pan. This is what we’re after, but be careful that it doesn’t colour too much as this will turn the dish bitter.
2. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the chopped onion and a splash of water and cook until translucent, which will take about 10-15mins. Add more olive oil if needed. By now the onions will have lifted all the caramelised layer off the pan and taken on all the flavour and colour of the sausage meat.
4. Add the fennel seeds, bay leaves, chilli, oregano, and garlic, and continue to cook until the garlic has mellowed.
5. Pour in the red wine then raise the heat to reduce the liquid by half.
6. Return the sausage meat, nduja and tomatoes to the pan, along with about 200ml of water and season with salt. Bring to the boil, cover and finish cooking in a pre-heated oven (150°C) for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven, add the cream, nutmeg, mint and season again if needed.
8. Cook 700-800g of pasta such as rigatoni or macaroni, then add to the ragu pan and stir together.
Anthony’s Top Tip: Never throw your Parmesan rinds away. I keep them in the fridge and add them to sauces like this ragu while they cook. Just add the whole rind to the pan then remove from the sauce before serving.