For years I’ve subscribed to both Bon Appetit and Food & Wine. I have to admit that for the most part I’ve been more partial to Bon Appetit. The latest issue had me rethinking my allegiance. I understand that with the New Year there’s usually a fair amount of ideas for “healthy eating” in the food magazines, but Bon Appetit went a little too far for me. I suppose it’s because I’m all about cooking rustic dishes and eating whatever I feel like, but in moderation.
On the other hand the January issue of Food & Wine had me making lists of all the dishes that I wanted to try. I loved their article on female chefs and the people that inspired them. As soon as I saw that there was an article about Nancy Silverton I knew that I would soon be cooking up a storm, dreaming that I was with her in Umbria.
The first dish I tried was from the well known April Bloomfield whose inspiration was Ruth Rogers, of River Cafe (London) fame. I have a story about dining there with my great friend B., but that’s another post. When I saw fennel and sausage in the photo I went right out to the store for the ingredients. J. wasn’t around when I was in the kitchen cooking and I made him look at the magazine and take a guess as to which dish I had prepared. He knows me well. His first guess was Sausage with Fennel. Buon Appetito!
Stewed Sausage with Fennel
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 sweet Italian sausages (4 1/2 pounds)
3 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 with your hands, juices reserved
1 cup dry white wine
3 pequin chiles or 2 chiles de árbol
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add half of the sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with the remaining sausages.
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. Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes.