Although I enjoy serving on the board of my condo, it can at times throw me off my schedule for dinner. Such was the case last night. I had planned one dish and, owing to an emergency board meeting, had to substitute another that could be on the table at a reasonable hour for a weeknight.
Fortunately, we had some sausages on hand that were intended for another dish as well as some delicious seedless red grapes. This combination of ingredients brought to mind a dish I prepared a few years ago, but a quick internet search uncovered an easier alternative. Unlike the earlier recipe, which called for sautéing the ingredients, this approach called for roasting them. And I must admit that on a weeknight I prefer roasting as a cooking method because it makes for easier cleanup than sautéing.
The recipe I found comes from an Ina Garten episode on The Food Network in which she has chef, Johanne Killeen, from a favorite Italian restaurant, Al Forno in Providence RI, prepare the dish called simply: “Roasted Sausages and Grapes.”
I made a few changes to the original recipe, substituting 1 pound of Italian mild sausages for 3 pound mix of sweet and hot and halving the amount of grapes. I also added about a cup of chopped red onion and a couple of tablespoons of chopped sage to the grapes and sausage before roasting. Finally, rather than using the suggested focaccia as an accompaniment, I served a simple polenta.
1 pound Italian mild sausage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups (approx. 1 pound) red seedless grapes, stems removed
4 tablespoons dry red wine, preferably Chianti
3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
Polenta, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Parboil the sausages in water to cover for 8 minutes to rid them of excess fat.
3. Melt the butter in a large heatproof roasting pan, add the grapes, and toss to coat.
4. Over moderately high heat add the wine. Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the wine has reduced by half.
5. Using tongs, transfer the parboiled sausages to the roasting pan and push them down in the grapes so the sausages will not brown too quickly.
6. Roast in the oven, turning the sausages once, until the grapes are soft and the sausages have browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over a medium-high heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the roasting pan, and allow the vinegar and juices to reduce until they are thick and syrupy. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausages and grapes to a serving platter.
8. Pour the sauce over the sausages and grapes and serve immediately, accompanied with fresh bread.
Wine Pairing: Chianti, Sangiovese, Merlot