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Crew’s Mess: Cheese Ravioli with Homemade Sausage Ragu

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Crew’s Mess: by Capt. John Wampler

A few years ago, I had a client who was having a yacht built in Viareggio, in the Tuscany region of Italy. The factory was hosting an invitation-only yacht gala with demo rides and presentations during the day, and at night, food, drink and entertainment ranging from Italy’s answer to Frank Sinatra to a circus act dangling from a 40-meter stick crane. As fate would have it, I was invited to attend while checking on the progress of the new build. For five days I enjoyed the food and festivities of this truly beautiful region in Italy. This dish is authentic and simple to prepare.

Ingredients:
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 cup pumpkin pie puree
1 14-oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
16-oz. package of cheese ravioli (you can substitute gnocchi)
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Chianti
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (liquid, same place you find vanilla extract)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Split the Italian sausage, remove the casing and set aside.

Heat the olive oil to medium-high in a large cast-iron skillet. Sauté the onion and bell pepper for two minutes, or until translucent.

Add sausage, then add the seasonings, red pepper and salt, and continue to stir until sausage is thoroughly cooked.

Next, stir in the undrained can of tomatoes, pumpkin puree, vinegar and chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for one hour. Halfway through, add Chianti and stir (if you don’t have Chianti, a Cabernet will do).

Add the ravioli last, after everything in the skillet has thickened.

Cover and simmer on low heat for eight minutes.

Serve with a nice salad and bread.

Molto delizioso! Buon appetito, JW

Capt. John Wampler (www.yachtaide.com) has worked on yachts for more than 30 years. His recipes are casual enough for anyone to prepare. Comments are welcome below.

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