Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage
- 1½ cups cabbage heart, chunked
- 6 cups water
- 1 box (16 oz) rigatoni, uncooked
- 2 jars (64 oz) spaghetti sauce
- 1 can (16 oz) kidney beans
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 slices bacon
- Hot sauce, to taste
- ⅔ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ cup green onion, chopped
- Boil sausage and cabbage in water until sausage is cooked thoroughly, about 1 hour; drain.
- Meanwhile, prepare rigatoni per box directions; drain.
- Heat spaghetti sauce, beans, and onion in a saucepan, allowing to simmer over low heat.
- Pan fry bacon until slightly cooked; remove from heat, cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
- When sausage is done, cut into small chunks.
- Add chunked sausage, cabbage, rigatoni, and bacon pieces to the sauce. Add hot sauce, with discretion, to taste.
- Serve topped with shredded Cheddar and chopped green onion.
This is pure party food, meant to feed a lot . . . or less if you serve larger portions.
I use mild Italian sausage. It tastes great with the cabbage and gives the dish just the right amount of bite without being overpowering.
Boil the sausage over a medium-high heat or less. Higher heat will cook it too quickly and cause the skin to burst before the inside meat is cooked thoroughly. Slower is better. Using a low heat, you can leave the sausage and cabbage on to cook unattended while you prepare the rigatoni and sauce. It will take an hour or so before the sausage is done; but slow cooking will produce a moist, more-flavorful meat. Cooking the cabbage with the sausage releases some of the meat’s flavors into the cabbage.
If the sausage I use has a skin or casing, I remove it after the sausage has been cooked, before I start slicing. It comes off easy enough if you score it first and then peel. But beware, there is hot juice under the skin, so proceed with caution.
You can substitute the rigatoni with your favorite pasta.
Be careful with the hot sauce. You want your chili to have bite, but don’t want to knock the socks off those people who don’t like their chili hot. It’s better to keep things mild and offer extra hot pepper sauce on the side for those who want more.
Make this dish the day before and refrigerate overnight, covered tightly, to let the flavors blend nicely. Then, reheat on the stove top until heated thoroughly.
Best served with fresh baked, warm-from-the-oven bread so your guests can mop up every last bit of sauce.
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