Shepherd-Style Rigatoni with Ricotta and Sausage
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 lb. rigatoni
- 1 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. cows' milk or sheep's milk ricotta (our favorites include Fontina Val d-Aosta, Antique Gruyere, Franklin-s)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, to garnish
Bring 5 quarts lightly salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 12 minutes. Ladle out and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain and reserve pasta.
Meanwhile, break the sausage into small, olive-size chunks. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Discard grease and set sausage aside in skillet.Put the ricotta into a large bowl. Add pepper, to taste. Whisk 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water into the ricotta to make it creamy and saucy. Over high heat, add the pasta to the skillet with the sausage and 1/2 cup pasta water; stir vigorously to combine.
Transfer the pasta and sausage to the bowl with the ricotta and mix well, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta. Stir in parsley and basil. Spoon the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with the pecorino and black pepper.