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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sausage and Grapes: Cheap, Easy, WOW

Has everyone tried this already? It's been on my "to try" list for years, but I always seem to eat my grapes and never have any left for the dish. I first saw a recipe in this book, though I am sure Italians have been making it for years.

Yesterday, in a moment of harmonic convergence, I realized that some grapes were getting a bit long in the tooth. Plus I had some sausage in the freezer. I looked on line, because I couldn't find the cookbook (Yes--too many, but I did eventually find it). Of course, the first thing that popped up was Ina Garten's riff on the recipe: she adds a bit of balsamic vinegar and wine.

I didn't want to mess with my oven (plus the stovetop to oven to stovetop technique annoys me), so I used this recipe by Lidia Bastianich, which has the virtue of being the simplest.

Sausages in the Skillet with Grapes
Salsicca all'Uva
serves: 6 servings

The Umbrian town of Norcia is, among other distinctions, so famous for the skill of its pork butchers and the quality of their products that the term norcineria throughout Italy designates a shop that purveys pork and pork specialties of the highest quality-and nothing else. This is one of the memorable pork dishes that I discovered in Umbria recently. And though there are no sausages better than those made by an Umbrian Norcino in his hometown, this will be wonderful with any good-quality sweet sausage available in yours. The name-Sausages in the Skillet with Grapes-describes the ingredients and cooking method perfectly. Just keep in mind that the cooking here is slow and gentle, not high-temperature grilling as one usually does with sausages.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2½ pounds sweet Italian sausages, preferably without fennel seeds
½ teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1¼ pounds seedles green grapes, picked from the stem and washed, (about 3 cups)


Pour the olive oil into a large skillet, toss in the garlic cloves, and set it over low heat. When the garlic is sizzling, lay in all the sausages in one layer, and cover the pan. Cook the sausages slowly, turning and moving them around the skillet occasionally; after 10 minutes or so, sprinkle the peperoncino in between the sausages. Continue low and slow cooking for 25 to 30 minutes in all, until the sausages are cooked through and nicely browned all over. Remove the pan from the burner, tilt it, and carefully spoon out excess fat.

Set the skillet back over low heat, and scatter in the grapes. Stir and tumble them in the pan bottom, moistening them with meat juices. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes or so, until the grapes begin to soften, wrinkle, and release their own juices. Remove the cover, turn the heat to high, and boil the pan juices to concentrate them to a syrupy consistency, stirring and turning the sausages and grapes frequently to glaze them.

To serve family-style: arrange the sausages on a warm platter, topped with the grapes and pan juices. Or serve them right from the pan (cut in half, if large), spooning grapes and thickened juices over each portion.

Cucina Simpatica recommends mashed potatoes on the side. So I obeyed. We also had some bitter greens from our garden.

Have you had this? Or anything similar?


Anonymous said...

This sounds absolutely delicious. I have never heard of a combination like this, but now I want to try it.

SewingLibrarian said...

I've never had this, but I will be trying it. We like a dish with sausage, red cabbage, onions, and corn - essentially a meal in a skillet. Your recipe sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

I first learned of this dish from a Mark Bittman cookbook ("The Minimalist Cooks at Home", I think it was). It's easy, and very yummy.

Duchesse said...

We've made roast quail with grapes from Giulano Bugialli's "Foods of Italy". Grapes are to Italian cooking as organes are to Thai. This sounds delicious.

Shelley said...

I've never heard of such an interesting combination. We have grapes around fairly often, but sausage is a bit rarer here. Will have to make a special plan for this one.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Everybody--PLEASE try it. It is the best new thing I've made in a long time. I think it would be super on polenta also.