Seek and Ye Shall Find

amatriciana

Ever since our return from Italy I have been in search of good Italian sausage. It came as a great surprise to me that sausage in Italy tasted nothing like what we call Italian sausage here. The biggest difference was the lack of fennel flavor, or red pepper. The stuff in Italy, unsurprisingly, was far superior to what we normally eat here. I began a quest to find sausage like that we got from the local butcher here in Boston. At first I had no idea just what I was looking for, but after a couple days of googling, I was victorious. It seems foodies the country over pine for proper Italian sausage, but because most Americans don’t know there’s a difference and really like our Italian sausage, it can be hard to come by. The beauty of living in a major city, however, is that there are little ethnic corners, and little ethnic butchers. I was originally planning on schlepping to the North End, which is basically Boston’s little Italy, but by chance I came across a reference, I think on Chowhound, to a wee market in my very own neighborhood. Imagine my excitement! I called them and explained what I had enjoyed and was now looking for, and they invited me on down. I ran out of the house, and had it not been 90 degrees, probably would have run all the way to the market.

Tony’s Market is a tiny storefront in Roslindale Square, on Washington Street. He’s an energetic guy, and came running out to see if I was the one who had called and had been to Italy, and wanted to hear all about my trip. I love this place. It’s homey and sweet and endearing, and they have a range of authentic Italian foods that will mean I make frequent return trips. Tony makes his sausage by hand–no scary fillers, no nitrites or nitrates–every Thursday. I bought six links, a ball of fresh mozzerella, and some beautiful imported prosciutto. Last night we finally grilled up some of these sausages, and they were nearly exactly what I was looking for! I am very, very excited about this turn of events.

We ate them with a modified amatriciana–one we made more by instinct than by recipe. Into a wide, deep saute pan went a couple tablespoons of oil; in went some garlic; in went a slice of pancetta, diced; out came the garlic, which had seriously overbrowned while browning the pancetta; in went half a dozen or so fresh garden tomatoes, chopped and seeded; in went a new clove of garlic, chopped; and we let it simmer away for twenty minutes or so. At the end, in went a few leaves of basil, sliced, and a little more olive oil. Mr. Pea lifted the pasta out with a skimmer and added it to the pot, along with enough pasta water to make a sauce that coated. We had it with the end of a bottle of red wine we’ve been working on and some grated parmesan. Yum!

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4 responses »

  1. Places like Tony’s Market make city living worthwhile, although I fear the days are numbered for these types of small independent operators.

    By the way, Tony’s pork is excellent, particularly the rib roasts with lots of dark meat. He’ll also butcher an entire side of lamb for you. Watching a 60+ year old man free-hand the meat through the band saw is a sight.

    And be sure to ask about his dancing schedule….

  2. I read someplace that he dances regularly! I think I’ll make my way down for meats soon–I’m limiting us (well, me, and my husband by extension) to a sausage a week, so the ones I bought will last a while. What a great little place.

  3. actually, there are dozens of different sausages in italy 🙂 and in southern Italy it’s very common to find them flavored with fennel and/or chilly pepper too… :-)) Oh, if you happen to find some pecorino romano, try to grate that over you amatriciana (parmigiano doesn’t really belong there ;-))

  4. I had heard that, too; is it a regional thing? Either way, I was pretty excited. I’d read that one doesn’t put parm on amatriciana, but alas, it was what I’d recently bought and grated, and I wasn’t walking to the store again! Either way, it’s tasty, if not entirely authentic.

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