A couple of Christmases ago a friend of my roommate at the time gave her sausage as a gift. As they are both foodies, sausage was an entirely appropriate gift. Actually, I guess sausage is a pretty great gift for anyone. Well, it’s not a good gift for vegetarians. Anyway, this particular sausage was unprecedented.
My grandfather used to give my dad, and all the kids, a Virginia ham, in a cloth sack, for Christmas. Dad used to hang it on a hook from the ceiling of our kitchen until we ate it. Sometimes two hams were hanging around as dad didn’t get to them quickly enough (they do serve about 30 people).
My memories of granddad, Paw as all the grand-kids called him, are fairly vivid. Sadly, my grandmother, whom I know of as Janie, died right before I was born, so Paw lived alone with his cat, Smokey. I remember he prepared these amazing sausage biscuits that seemed to ALWAYS be made-up and ready to eat, in the kitchen. He had pomade-slicked back hair, wore big, thick glasses, and he was a lot smaller than my dad. He was, almost always, in his recliner chair, with the TV on. He smelled like Pall Malls and whiskey and, although he was mean to his cat, he was a gentle and kind man. Hell, he did a great job raising my dad. Anyway, I loved him.
Funny thing, I always thought his name was Paul, not Paw. One Christmas, I sent him a card addressed to Paul. My mom thought it was so “cute” that she didn't say anything, and let it be sent as such. I have yet to hear the end of that "cute" story.
The sausage that my roommate got for Christmas that year was so amazing that I ate pretty much all of it, and had to order more to replace it for her. Ever since, I order this sausage regularly. It has caused me to really explore all that one can do with sausage since I want to incorporate it into so many dishes.
The coolest thing about the sausage, and what makes it even more magical, is that it’s called Grandma Broadbent’s. How can I not think of Paw and Dad and Christmas?
For the past few years I have stepped into Paw’s role as the Christmas pig product provider (dig the alliteration) for my dad. One year I gave him the bacon-of-the-month club, another year he got the awesome sausage, and last year he got a whole ham. I just spoke with him on the phone and, as he has not yet eaten it (seems like old times), he was in the process of putting a hook back in the old spot to hang the ham.
I have made this recipe countless times. I first made it with Grandma Broadbent’s Sausage, and have worked with many other kinds since – including some impressive ones I found at an open air market in the south of France. Absolutely none hold a candle to Grandma’s.
*Although I doubt Paw would necessarily care for this dish (but I bet Janie would), I dedicate this post and this recipe to his memory.
Tagliatelle with Sausage, Peas & Mint
1 16oz package tagliatelle pasta
½ lb Grandma Broadbent’s sausage
1 ½ cup fresh peas
½ cup fresh mint, chopped (I used a blend of chocolate, lime and candy mints from my garden)
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 cup half & half
1 cup grated asiago cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
In a heavy saucepan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat, cook sausage. When it has provided some oil in the pan, add shallots, garlic and peas. Cook until sausage is browned and add mint, half & half, remainder of butter and cheese and stir until everything is smooth and blendy.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the tagliatelle until barely tender, drain.
Spoon sausage mixture over pasta, salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle a little bit of chopped mint on top, and serve.