Adapted From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Even though we only seem to be flirting with cooler weather, my thoughts are turning to foods I avoid in the summer - soups, stews, and all manner of braised dishes. I feel like puttering around the house while enticing smells emanate from the kitchen. I want to linger over meals that are more hearty than those I have been eating for the past four months. This isn't the most beautiful dish in my repertoire, but it is one of my favorites. Serve it with mashed potatoes and buttered green peas for a delicious meal.
A glug of extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 pounds mild pork sausage, containing no herbs or hot pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine - whatever you will drink with the meal
1 ounce high-quality dried porcini mushrooms
Reconstitute the dried mushrooms by soaking them in 2 cups of slightly warm water for at least 30 minutes. Using your hands, lift the mushrooms out of the water squeezing out as much liquid as you can, letting the liquid fall back into the vessel you soaked the mushrooms in. Filter this liquid through a coffee filter - I use a Melitta individual cup filter -
and save this liquid to use later in the recipe. Rinse the mushrooms in several changes of fresh water, remove any soil that may still be clinging to them, and dry the mushrooms with a clean kitchen towel.
Put a glug of extra virgin olive oil in a pan that will hold the sausages without their overlapping. Add the sausages, and turn the heat to medium. Cook, turning the sausages frequently, until they are browned all over. Marcella recommends that you prick the sausages, but I personally follow the Nigel Slater policy on this and don't puncture them as I think the sausages stay more juicy if you don't. Try it both ways if you like to see which method you prefer.
Add the red wine, and turn the heat down. Simmer the sausages gently, turning occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. When it has, add the mushrooms and the filtered mushroom liquid, and cook at a gentle simmer, turning the sausages from time to time, until the mushroom liquid has almost, but not completely, evaporated. Tilt the pan and spoon off the fat if there is a copious amount; however, if you haven't punctured the sausages, there shouldn't be, and you don't want to remove all the fat. (Well, actually, you may want to but try and resist the temptation to remove every single bit of it.)
As I said above, serve with mashed potatoes. I make mine using an Oxo Potato Ricer, which I think ensures a perfect texture. You can add warm butter and cream (or cream only, which I do often) and stir with a wooden spoon, or you can go one step further and mix with a hand beater or put through a tamis if you have one.