Skip to content

Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Penne Norcia

Norcia is a town in Central Italy known for boar and sausages. It’s one of the main dishes I serve to company. The key is to use the absolute best sausage you can find (or prepare). The Norcia base would actually work as a filling for a killer Sloppy Joe sandwich if one used ground beef instead of sausage.

Ingredients

1 lb. Dry penne pasta
1 gallon Water
¼ cup Kosher salt
½ cup Chicken stock (see recipe)
4 cups Norcia base (see recipe)
¼ cup Reserved pasta water
Extra virgin olive oil as needed.
Grated Pecorino Romano as needed.

Norica Base:
2 TB Extra Virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups Diced red onion
2 lbs. Ground Italian sausage
1 (6 oz. can) Tomato paste
1 cup Dry white wine
1 cup Chicken stock, heated
½ cup Milk, heated
¼ tsp Crushed red pepper

Instructions

Prepare penne according to the instructions on the package.

Add the chicken stock and Norcia base in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir frequently until hot, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add reserved pasta water and hot penne pasta and combine thoroughly.

Divide among 6-8 serving bowls and finish each with extra virgin olive oil and grated cheese as desired.

Norcia Base

Heat olive oil. Add onions and cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes, being careful not to brown them.

Add Italian sausage and cook until all the sausage is browned. Drain excess fat.

Add tomato paste to the pan surface and stir 4-5 minutes to caramelize the paste. Return sausage and onion mixture to pan and stir into the paste.

Add the wine and reduce until nearly dry, stirring frequently.

In a separate pan, heat the stock and milk, then add heated mixture to the sausage mixture. Reduce until still moist, not completely dry.

Stir in crushed red pepper and remove from heat.

Yield: 5 cups

Recent Recipes

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

This pairs perfectly with Sweet Potato Pancakes. It may be better than the pancakes themselves (and they’re great). But try this recipe on regular pancakes, waffles, and French toast.

Read more

Sweet Potato Pancakes

I ate my first sweet potato pancake during my only visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My family, along with another couple and their young children rented a cabin in the mountains during spring break. I woke every morning and headed into town for breakfast. I would imagine Gatlinburg has more pancake houses per capita than any place on the planet. My problem is that I never found a good-tasting pancake until I happened across sweet potato pancakes at one of the pancake houses. We serve a version of this recipe at The Midtowner. The Cinnamon Cream Syrup is a must.

Read more

RSJ’s Smoked Yellowfin Tuna Dip

The smoked tuna dip at Harbor docks is, by far, the best in the area. Actually, it’s the best I have ever tasted. Over the years I have taken a few stabs at recreating a Harbor Dock’s version, but always come up short. After several failed attempts, and facing a cookbook deadline, I finally worked up a recipe for smoked crab dip, which is excellent, though my wife still prefers Harbor Docks smoked tuna dip.

Read more