Sugo alla Toscana is a classic staple of Tuscan cuisine; a ubiquitous condimento for pasta that has as many variations as a politician has versions of the truth. Arguably, and there is always an argument in Italy, its the most popular Tuscan sugo. So how did it escape detailing on these pages? Beats me! But that ends today.
The recent Rustic Tuscany Tour was not short for providing inspiration and this recipe is part of that windfall.
Sugo alla Toscana
- 1 pound Paccheri or Rigatoni
- 1 pound ground pork
- 6 ounces sweet fennel sausage
- 4 ounces guanciale, diced
- 4 ounces tomato paste
- 6 ounces tomato passata
- 1/2 vidalia onion
In a pan large enough to hold the finished pasta, start by slowly rendering the guanciale along with the onions. This will take about 5-8 minutes but don’t rush it, as this recipe uses very little olive oil. When the onions soften and the guanciale releases its fat, add the sausage; crumble and brown.
Cook the sausage thoroughly and then add the ground pork. Next, use a potato masher to crumble the meat into small pieces. If you skip this step, there will be larger chunks of meat. What you want are small pieces so they rest inside the pasta.
Next, make a space in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste. “Toast” the paste for 1-2 minutes and then stir through.
Finally, add the passata. Don’t worry about the lack of tomato in the sugo. This is not a tomato, but a meat based sauce and you will use plenty of pasta water to get the consistency you want at the end. This is very similar in style to Bolognese, except this uses pork exclusively and no milk or cream.
Finally, as the pasta cooks, be liberal with the use of the pasta water to thin the consistency of the sugo into a “sauce”. The starch in the water will bind the sauce beautifully into a “creamy” consistency. I used almost 2 cups of the pasta cooking water – so plan to use a large pot.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare. The sugo only needs to cook for about 2 hours and then you can take it off the heat until you’re ready to cook the pasta.