Here’s a great example of how a teaspoon of spices can transform a dish. Instead of plain old meatballs, the fennel seeds introduce bold Italian flavours and the hot smoked paprika spikes the sauce to make this dish anything but ordinary.
Sausage and Fennel Ragu
400g good quality sausages
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp Rooted fennel seeds
1 tsp Rooted hot smoked paprika
1 x 175ml glass of red wine (or vegetable stock)
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs of rosemary / thyme
To serve: (fresh) tagliatelle and grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof pan. Cut a slit in the end of the sausages. Squeeze the meat straight into the pan, and cook for five minutes. Discard the sausage skins.
Add the onions, and cook for another five minutes — until the sausage meat begins to crisp, and the onions start to soften. Next, add the garlic, fennel seeds and paprika, and then cook for a further minute, until aromatic.
Pour the wine into the pan, add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and sprigs of rosemary or thyme. Cover and cook for 2 hours. Remove the herbs before serving with tagliatelle and grated Parmesan.