Pasta with Sausage and Cream (Kalyn’s Kitchen Cooks The Best Recipes in the World)

This is my latest adventure in exploring the cuisines of the world through Mark Bittman’s new book, The Best Recipes in the World. Once again, Bittman’s book proved to be a winner, and this was a great dish which came together quickly. I used Dreamfield’s pasta, which made it more South Beach Diet friendly. When I first read this recipe I wasn’t sure what to think because the sausage is actually simmered in cream to cook it, although I used half and half to keep the South Beach Diet police a tiny bit happier. I also cut down the amount of butter and increased the proportion of sausage to pasta, and I could not really see why the meat needed to be simmered in cream AND butter, so I reduced the butter to one tablespoon. Increasing the sausage made sense because it came in a package with 5 links, and having more sausage meant the overall amount of carbs in the dish was lower. When I tasted it, I was even more happy that I had increased the amount of sausage. (You could use turkey sausage if you wanted to decrease the amount of fat, but if so you might need to increase the butter to two tablespoons as the original recipe called for.) Simmering the sausage slowly in the half and half created an amazing flavor and texture, much different than a sauce with sausage which is browned and then added.

Having said that, this is NOT a low fat dish by any stretch of the imagination. This is something to have occasionally, and would be great tasting enough to serve for even your foodiest friends. Get out your best parmesan to grate over this, then sit back and wait for the raves. The recipe said four servings, but I say this is why Americans are so fat compared to Italians; I ate one serving and I had 8 more servings left. I put one in the refrigerator for a lunch at school and put the other 7 into plastic containers to go in the freezer. (Edit from Kalyn added 12-23-05: I did freeze containers of this to eat later, but when I reheated it, although it still tasted great, the cream separated and it was pretty oily. So I would now say cut the recipe in half and make only the amount you would eat freshly made.)

Pasta with Sausages and Cream
(Recipe adapted from The Best Recipes in the World.)

1 pound Dreamfields Penne (1 box)
1 1/4 lbs. (5 links) hot Italian Sausage (use turkey Italian sausage to reduce the fat)
3/4 cup half and half
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated parmesan for serving


Start pasta water to boil in a large pot, adding some salt to water. In large nonstick frying pan, melt butter, then squeeze sausage out of casing in 1/2 inch pieces. Add half and half and bring to a very low simmer. Mash pieces of sausage with back of the turner occasionally as it simmers.

Add pasta to boiling water, stir, and cook at a fairly vigorous boil until pasta is just barely al dente (10 minutes in Utah, but it depends on the elevation where you live). When pasta is done, scoop out 1/2 cup of cooking water, then drain pasta well.

Add drained pasta to pan with sausage mixture and stir, adding reserved water if it seems dry. (I did need the water when I made it.) Serve immediately with a green salad and plenty of fresh grated parmesan to grate over each serving.

South Beach Suggestions:
With the changes I made, this is certainly a more diet-friendly recipe than the original version Mark Bittman tried in Italy, but this would definitely be a very rare treat for South Beach Dieters, probably best saved for phase 3, and even then a “once in a while” treat.
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13 comments on “Pasta with Sausage and Cream (Kalyn’s Kitchen Cooks The Best Recipes in the World)”

  1. Kalyn,

    I just tagged you for the 10 Favorite Foods meme.

  2. Oh dear. I already did the 10 favorite foods meme. Just for the record, here are my ten favorites. (Wish I knew how to make a link in a comment. I would use it here if I did!)
    1. sushi
    2. feta chees
    3. pasta
    4. Thai food
    5. chicken
    6. tomatoes
    7. cilantro
    8. shrimp
    9. eggs
    10. lettuce

    This was on December 1 if you want to find it in my December archives.

  3. That looks amAAAAAAAAAAAzing. Oh my goodness. What a dream, right up there with top pastas dishes ever I’d say.

  4. Don’t worry, Kalyn…you’re not alone in not being able to follow a recipe…I have major problems with it as well. When I whine that something didn’t turn out as expected, Hubby always starts with, “Did you follow the recipe?” and when I say no, he always rolls his eyes and laughs…

  5. This recipe sounds great (really, what’s not to like?). Mark Bittman is the dead-on best. I love his columns in the Times and the spine on my copy of How to Cook Everything is about to break. Thanks!

  6. Hi Kalyn. I wanted to check back in on this dish. I followed the recipe more or less (I did cut it down so I wouldn’t have too many leftovers). As soon as the half-and-half hit the pan, it separated. It tasted fine but was pretty ugly. I added about a half cup of Rao’s marinara sauce to add some liquid and make it a bit more attractive, and it tasted great. Any ideas on what caused the separation?

  7. Hi Valyn.

    Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. My guess would be either the half and half was not that fresh, or that the heat in the pan was too high. I was so tempted to turn the heat up because it seemed like the sausage just wanted to be brown, but I did it the way he recommended and mine was fine.

    I do need to go back and edit my post though because when I reheated one of the frozen portions, it was separated, still tasted great but looked pretty oily. So in hindsight, I would say this is a dish that is best eaten fresh.

  8. This is a really delicious meal. I have always been a major pasta fan and this one is at the top of my list. Tried this one out a few weeks ago and was a great hit with the kids.

    I know this recipe is older, but it is still such a great one. Have you made any changes to it since you posted this?


    Bill M.

  9. Bill to be honest, I don't think I've ever made it again since I posted this! (That's the trials of being a food blogger, can't repeat recipes too much of there is nothing to blog about.) I do remember how good it was though!

  10. I am glad you do that though and keep all your old stuff! I am always looking for new ideas and I always look through the older recipes before the new.

  11. Oh my! I have to say that I shudder when I see some of these old photos. But I've always been very picky about not posting recipes unless it was good, so the recipe should be good if you can get past the photos!

  12. Well… I must say… I am one to repeat recipes and this one is a definite keeper in my home. My wife really likes it and I think she's liking more that I'm making it.

    Will have to take you a photo soon for a slight upgrade!

    Bill M.

  13. Bill, this post could definitely use a photo upgrade. Sometimes I say I'm keeping these old photos just so people can see how I've improved (but of course that's really not true!)

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