KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The local non-profit called "Boys Grow" helps inner city youth learn culinary and entrepreneurial skills. And now, for the third year renowned chef Lidia Bastianich is hosting a dinner to help the agency. Bastianich also had the opportunity to cook for the Pope while he was in the U.S. Watch the video above to hear about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the secret behind a few of her favorite recipes.
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½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound sweet Italian sausage without fennel seeds, removed from casings
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 pound rigatoni
2 cups fresh whole-milk ricotta, drained overnight (about 1 pound)
¼ cup freshly grated rana Padano, plus more for the table
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, shredded
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. For the sauce: Crumble the sausage meat in a bowl, breaking it into small clumps with your fingers. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, let them toast for a few seconds, then scatter the crumbled sausage in the pan. Cook the sausage, stirring and breaking up any clumps, for 10 minutes or so, as the meat juices are released and cook away, until it is all well browned and crispy.
Meanwhile, when the sausage is sizzling, drop the rigatoni into the boiling water. When the sausage is browned and crisp, ladle about ½ cup of the pasta-cooking water into the skillet, and deglaze the pan bottom, scraping up the browned bits. Season the sauce with the salt.
When the pasta is al dente, transfer directly to the sauce with a spider. Toss the rigatoni and sausage together, then turn off the heat, and stir in the ricotta and grated cheese. Scatter the basil on top, and toss well to dress the pasta evenly. Serve immediately.