Friday, September 9, 2011

Fennel Sausages Roasted with Herbs & Cherry Tomatoes



It never ceases to amaze me how, towards the end of summer, my entire being seems to change course. I dream longingly of crisp mornings. I churn out baked goods at an irrational pace. I shop for corduroy. And most of all I hanker after richer flavors, ones that would never have appealed even a few weeks before. The market is filling with brassy, saturated colors, the flavors of harvest time, and unquestioningly my appetite follows suit.

This recipe - something I first had in the Arezzo province of Tuscany – is a perfect way to harness the more robust herbs and tomatoes of late summer. It offers up that jammy savor I’m suddenly craving, but with crops that are utterly of the moment.




The sausages in Tuscany tend to be bold, seasoned with garlic and plenty of the region’s wild fennel. Back in New York, I use the fennel sausages from Faicco’s Pork Store in the West Village for this dish. They’re sweet, flecked with earthy fennel seed, and are unfailingly fresh – one of the best deals in the city.

I like my sausages burnished brown, even crisp on the outside. If you prefer yours less well-done, remove them from the oven after 45 minutes and test to be sure they’re cooked through – they should be fine. These are lovely over some swiss chard or spinach that’s been sautéed in olive oil. The clean mineral quality of both leaves makes a pleasant note against the sticky, caramelized sausages and a twangy-sweet drizzle of aged balsamic added just before serving, but on nights when you’re in need of more sustenance, some white shell beans dressed in fruity olive oil are authentic and very good too. Drink with a Sangiovese to enjoy this as I did the first time. Last week I had it with a nice Ruffino, and the pairing was perfect.




Serves 4

12 sweet Italian sausages
2 cups ripe cherry, grape, or other small, sweet tomatoes
1 – 2 heads garlic, preferably rocambole, cloves separated but unpeeled
big handful fresh basil leaves
12 stems fresh thyme
1 tbsp fennel seeds
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C, gas mark 7)

Prick the sausages in a couple of places on both sides and place in a roasting pan (no need to separate if they’re still linked), with the tomatoes, separated garlic cloves, basil leaves, thyme stems, and fennel seeds. Drizzle generously with olive oil and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper and then toss all the ingredients with your hands to combine. Rearrange in a single layer and roast on a rack in the upper third of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the sausages over and then roast for another 30 minutes until the sausages are deeply golden and the garlic is soft inside its paper.

Serve hot over wilted greens and/or white beans with another drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or even better something more aged and syrupy.


14 comments:

OBR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mari said...

You have the most wonderful palate Amanda. I love your recipes.

Gloria said...

This look delicious Amanda, look delicious, how are you dear, send you hugs, gloria

Toffeeapple said...

The idea of a fennel sausage has me salivating but we can't get such a thing here even at a local butcher's shop. I am quite jealous.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Mari, thank you!

Gloria, so glad you like and hugs to you too.

Toffeeapple, I should have said, any sweet Italian style pork sausage will do. I've added fennel seed here to make up the difference.

Anonymous said...

What a perfect summer to fall dish. I love this!
Sally

gwen said...

Oh my God! Beautiful recipes and pictures this month. I want you to pst more.

Georgia said...

stunning...

Lucy said...

all the fennel seeds you are using at the moment are really making me hungry...this is gorgeous, and i reckon i could make it in my pizza oven...

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Sally, thank you. It's a good in-between one.

Gwen thanks! Gone are the days of 3 recipes a week, but we'll see. I'd love that.

Georgia, thank you!

Lucy, I first had this from a brick oven in Arezzo! I was thinking of you as I wrote because of that. It will be divine in your pizza oven. Tell me if it happens xo

Lucy said...

well, i'm going up tomorrow (friday) and it's looking as though it's gonna be a sunny weekend...

so, have printed it out and will report back! have a very large amount of great hothouse cherry toms, thus will cheat the season.

expect a report next week...

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Lucy, I can't wait to hear. And I wish I was going to be there!! It's also good with white beans FYI. Keep me posted.

Lucy said...

BRILLIANT.

seriously. they went NUTS for it. completely. (me too, naturally).

a real keeper, amanda. xx

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Nice!!! I'm so glad.
Thanks for telling me : )
xo

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