Owing to our work schedules, Saturdays are typically filled with running errands and housekeeping. As a result on these days, I often look for dishes that are relatively easy to prepare and that can cook on their own while we catch our breath and linger over an aperitivo.
I came across this recipe on the Food and Wine website and thought it would be perfect for a wintry Saturday evening. Including prep, it only requires about an hour and a half and as the sausages cook, the aromas tantalize the appetite.
I’ve modified the original recipe slightly, reducing the number of sausages to 6 from 12 and the number of fennel bulbs from 3 to 2. The recipe recommends serving with creamy polenta and here, I opted for a quick-cooking 5 minute version.
Stewed Sweet Sausages in Fennel-Tomato Sauce adapted from Food and Wine.com
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 sweet Italian sausages (about 2 pounds)
2 large fennel bulbs—trimmed, each bulb cut into 8 wedges, fronds chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
One 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed, juices reserved
1 cup dry white wine
2 whole chiles de árbol
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the sausages and cook over medium heat, turning, until nicely browned all over, 5 minutes. (Don’t rush this step, but also be careful not to overcook the sausages at this point.)
Transfer to a plate.
Add the fennel wedges to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, until the fennel is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, and chiles.
Tuck the sausages into the sauce.
Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes longer.
Garnish the stew with fennel fronds and serve over polenta.
Wine Pairing: Dolcetto d’Alba, Merlot