Proper blokes’ sausage fusilli



  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 heaped teaspoons fennel seeds
  • olive oil
  • 600 g quality coarse Italian sausages, Cumberland sausages or higher-welfare pork mince
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 250 ml white wine
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 500 g fusilli or penne
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 20 g Parmesan cheese , plus extra for serving
  • ½ a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley


This is a real blokey, gutsy yet simple pasta dish – but saying that, it’s a real crowd-pleaser, whoever I’m making it for. I will even go so far as to say that this is one of my top ten pasta dishes!

Crumble the chillies into a pestle and mortar, then bash with the fennel seeds until coarsely crushed. Put to one side.

Heat a lug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high heat. Squeeze the meat out of the sausage skins or add the pork mince to the pan, really breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Fry for a few minutes, or until the meat starts to colour and the fat has rendered slightly, then push it down once more so it resembles coarse mince.

Add the bashed-up fennel seeds and chillies and cook over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until the meat becomes crisp, golden brown and slightly caramelised.

Stir in the oregano, then pour in the white wine and allow it to reduce by half. Add the lemon zest and juice, then turn the heat down to low.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions.

When the pasta has cooked but still has a bit of bite, drain it in a colander, reserving a mugful of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the meat pan, then toss to coat in all those lovely flavours, loosening with a good splash of the reserved cooking water, if needed.

Grate in the Parmesan, then pick, roughly chop and add the parsley leaves. Taste and check the seasoning, then serve immediately with a little extra grated Parmesan sprinkled over the top.


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