Last week my colleagues at work and I had a chance to attend a really fun Sur la Table cooking class, a fun kitchenware store located in the nearby mall. Most of us had never been to a cooking class before, so this was a virgin experience for me and others. It was a total blast and a great bonding experience. Plus, we made delicious Fettuccine with Tuscan Sausage and Caramelized Onion Ragu. We even made our own pasta noodles.
Ultimately, we made this whole menu:
- Classic Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- Fettuccine with Tuscan Sausage and Caramelized Onion Ragu
- Tiramisu Gelato
(And no, this is not a sponsored post – just sharing because it was fun and delicious.)
Sur la Table Cooking Class
At the back of the store, there is a giant exhibition kitchen where the Sur la Table Cooking Class sessions are held. Judging from the look of their weekly class schedule, this is a very popular thing to do. As we arrived, the cooking school staff handed us aprons and told us to wash up. Just like mom used to say!
We situated ourselves in groups at cooking stations around the room, and waited for the Chef to signal it was time to start. They may have been a little wine poured during this set-up period, and we may have had to send someone out for more bottles. Like I said, it was a bonding experience.
How to Make Tiramisu Gelato
Just the way I like it, we made dessert first. Chef explained we would start with the gelato because it needed time in the freezer to firm up. As we mixed the ingredients, I felt my arteries hardening. Main ingredients included whipping cream, egg yolks, sugar and mascarpone cheese (yum). From there, we mixed in lady fingers, Kahlua, espresso and some other goodies. There’s more to the prep, but it ended up in the freezer looking delicious.
How to Make Fettuccine with Tuscan Sausage and Caramelized Onion Ragu
Ok, I’m an Italian boy so I should know how to do this right? Well, even I learned some new tricks. The caramelized onions with sherry was a nice touch, and something I haven’t done before. Of course, the making of the pasta noodles was really cool since I have never done that either. There is a great place in San Diego where I buy my fresh pasta called Assenti’s. They make many different kinds of pasta noodles, all in house and so fresh and delicious.
For purposes of this post, let’s assume you have the noodles already.
Sausage and Carmelized Onion Ragu Recipe:
(with credit to Sur la Table and a few of my own edits)
- 1 lb mild Italian Sausage, with casings removed
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 large garlic gloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup cream sherry
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped, juice reserved
- 1 Tbs minced fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
- Pasta noodles
To prepare ragu:
To a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add sausage and cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break into pieces. Remove sausage from skillet and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add butter and onions to the skillet and cook until deep golden brown, stirring often for 20-30 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes to onions and stir. Add sherry to mixture and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Once sherry has reduced, add the sausage back to the skillet, and add the broth, tomatoes and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To cook the pasta:
Chef taught us that regular dry pasta noodles have water in their recipe, which is why they turn to mush if you overcook them. Fresh pasta noodles are just flour, eggs and olive oil, and they do the opposite when overcooked – they get tougher. Fresh noodles only need 2-3 minutes to cook al dente, while dry noodles make take 8-12 minutes depending on the type. Either way, bring a salted pot of water to boil and add noodles to cook, stirring constantly to avoid sticking together. When cooked, drain the pasta and add save about a cup of the pasta water.
Transfer the pasta to the the skillet with the ragu, and toss well with tongs. Add reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce as needed. Divide pasta among bowls, garnish with Parmesan and basil, and serve immediately.
Delicious and easy!
Making Pasta Noodles
The process was fun in a group, and I enjoyed making pasta noodles together. Judging from the number of steps to make the dough, and then more steps to flatten it and cut it into strips, I don’t see this in my near future. I have the friendly Assenti Brothers to do that for me. However, I will say that fresh noodles just taste SO MUCH BETTER.