Frank Davis

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup vegetable mirapoix
1 medium Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound Portabella mushrooms, chunked
3 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
5 links Italian sausage, removed from casings
2 pounds ready-made meatballs, chopped

In a heavy 12-inch non-stick skillet heat the olive oil to almost sizzling. Then stir in the mirapoix, Vidalia onion, and Portabellas, making certain they are all thoroughly coated with the olive oil. Then drop in the garlic and saute it along with the contents of the skillet until the garlic softens (but don't let it burn).

At this point, reduce the fire under the skillet to medium and slowly brown off the Italian sausage (which should fry down like ground meat) and the chopped meatballs. All in all, this step should take about 12-15 minutes on a moderate fire. When this is done, remove everything from the skillet and set it in a bowl atop the countertop until you make the sugo (Sicilian red gravy).

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small cans tomato paste
6 tomato-paste cans filled with water or chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh sweet basil, chiffonade
2 teaspoons Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
2 whole bay leaves
1 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning

In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil to medium high. Then drop in the chopped onions and the garlic and stirring constantly lightly saute them together until they just soften (it is not necessary to brown the onions and you don't want the garlic to burn). About two to three minutes should do it.

When the onions and garlic are uniformly blended, add the tomato paste to the pot and rapidly stir it into the mix. Remember you don't have to fry the tomato paste for eternity to make good red gravy. Actually, if you fry the paste for much longer than 5 or 6 minutes you will increase the acidity of the tomatoes and the gravy will be strong, harsh and bitter. You want it to come out light and sweet, so just cook it a minute or two until the paste, onions, garlic and olive oil are mixed well.

At this point, add the chicken broth or water to the tomato paste and stir again until the mixture is silky smooth. Keep in mind that the secret to making a gravy the right consistency is to use three cans of water for every one can of tomato paste.

When the sauce is thoroughly mixed, add the basil, the Sicilian seasoning, and the bay leaves and season the gravy with salt and pepper to your taste. Then put the lid on the pot, lower the fire to a little above simmer, and allow the sugo to gently bubble for about 30 minutes to marry all the ingredients. All that's left now is to work with the penne and the Parmesan.

1 pound penne, cooked al dente
1 pound shredded Parmesan cheese as desired
12 crusty, toasted dinner rolls

Evenly transfer the cooked penne from the colander in which it was drained to a roomy 14 X 17 Pyrex baking dish that you've sprayed with a non-stick coating. Then a little at a time, begin ladling in the sugo, uniformly over the top of the pasta. As it's added, with a dinner fork move the penne around so that every piece of it is thoroughly coated with the gravy. Then when the casserole has come together, pile on the top layer of Parmesan evenly and slide the dish into a 350-degree pre-heated oven and bake it until the cheese forms a beautifully browned, crusty topping on the pasta (about 30-35 minutes).

I suggest you serve it directly out of the oven with a couple of toasted and buttered dinner rolls, a crisp cold Romaine lettuce salad, and a chilled glass of your favorite red wine.

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