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  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound good-quality, fresh, Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup good-quality walnut halves, chopped
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 pound sliced prosciutto di Parma or another prosciutto crudo, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup brandy or Vin Santo (Tuscan fortified wine)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sage, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 1 pound penne rigate (with ridges)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving


Serves: 4


Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, half a turn of the pan, over medium-high. Add the butter. When it foams, add the sausage and walnuts, and cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage with the back of a spoon until the sausage is cooked through and the mixture is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the shallots and garlic, and stir until the shallots soften, 1-2 minutes. Add the prosciutto and rosemary. Stir to heat through, 1-2 minutes. Add the brandy or Vin Santo and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the cream and sage, and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, while the pasta cooks.

Salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving half a mug of cooking water. Toss the pasta and 1 cup cheese into the sauce, adding cooking water as needed to thin the sauce. Serve in shallow bowls, passing more cheese alongside.