Orecchiette with broccoli rabe, clams and sweet Italian sausage

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 680g loose sweet Italian sausage, shaped into mini-meatballs
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes, or to taste
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 30 littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed
  • 475ml dry white wine
  • 450g orecchiette
  • Salt
  • 2 small bunches broccoli rabe, stems removed (also known as rapini)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 45g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 50g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 10g chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
1) Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.

2) Take another large saucepan (big enough to hold clams) and set over medium heat. Add a 2-count of olive oil and loose pork sausage. Cook over medium heat to render fat and get colour on the sausage. Once the sausage is browned on all sides, remove and place onto a kitchen towel-lined plate. To the same pan, add the chopped garlic, red chilli flakes and thyme leaves and cook until just fragrant, about 30 secs to 1 min. Turn up the heat, dump in the cleaned and scrubbed clams and white wine. Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 mins until the clams open.

3) While clams are steaming, cook the pasta. Add orecchiette to boiling water and cook. With about 3 mins left, add the broccoli rabe to the same pot and cook until tender. Drain pasta and broccoli and place into the saucepan with the browned sausage. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Place into a large serving bowl.

4) Now return to the clams. Remove the lid and add the cubes of cold butter and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil as you stir. Once the sauce thickens slightly give it a final seasoning with pepper and a little salt (go easy on the salt) then take the whole pan and pour on top of the orecchiette and broccoli rabe. Shower with fresh Parmesan and parsley.

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