Braised & Glazed: Sweet Italian Sausages

3 May

Before you bring out the Q . . . or when you’ve already thawed the sausages and the weather gods give you teeming rain . . . try this interesting skillet treatment for your luscious links.

The use of grapes and balsamic-glazed onions in Braised Sausages with Balsamic-Glazed Onions and Grapes drew me to this recipe — another Make It Tonight recipe from Fine Cooking [Taunton Press, 2012] . Roasted sweet potato coins and some steamed Red Swiss Chard rounded out this supper, both in flavour combinations and nutritional vitality.

Roasted sweet potato coins, steamed Swiss Chard & Braised Sausages with Balsamic-Glazed Onions and Grapes

Roasted sweet potato coins, steamed Swiss Chard & Braised Sausages with Balsamic-Glazed Onions

As is my habit, I retained the same amount of vegetables called for in the original recipes and scaled down the meat amount to two servings. This strategy worked well for this recipe — rendering plenty of the glazed condiment ‘side’.

BRAISED SAUSAGES WITH BALSAMIC-GLAZED ONIONS AND GRAPES

Ingredients:                                                                                   Serves: 2

  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL                    Olive oil
  • 4 links                                  sweet Italian sausage (about 1 lb/450 g)
  • 1 large                                  yellow onion, sliced thinly (2 cups/500 mL)
  • 1/2 tsp/2.50 mL                Kosher (or sea) salt
  • 1/2 cup/125 mL                 lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL                    balsamic vinegar
  • 20                                         seedless grapes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL                    chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried oregano)

Sweet Potato Coins:  2 long thin sweet potatoes; 1 Tbsp olive oil; pinch of sea salt; and dash of garlic powder.

Swiss Chard:   1/2 large bunch of red Swiss Chard, tough stems removed and coarsely ripped into large pieces; white wine vinegar.

Instructions:

1.        Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with oil.

Sweet potato 'coins' ready for the oven

Sweet potato ‘coins’ ready for the oven

2.      Peel two long thin sweet potatoes and slice into 1/4″ rounds. Toss rounds with 1 Tbsp/30 mL olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of garlic powder. Spread on foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Place in centre of pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Brown sausages in oil

Brown sausages in oil

3.      Add 1 Tbsp olive oil into bottom of 10″ heavy skillet (I used cast iron). Over medium heat, allow oil to heat until it shimmers. Add the sausages and cook, turning several times, for about 8 minutes. Remove to a plate. [Peel and slice the onion while the sausages cook.]

Soften and brown onion slices in EVOO and salt.

Soften and brown onion slices in EVOO and salt.

4.     Add the second tablespoon of oil to the skillet, the sliced onion and the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. [Wash and halve grapes while onions softened.]

Add chicken broth, halved seedless grapes and Balsamic vinegar.

Add chicken broth, halved seedless grapes and Balsamic vinegar.

5.     Add the chicken broth and balsamic vinegar, stirring and scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of your skillet. Reduce the heat enough to bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.

Scrape up brown bits into broth and vinegar.

Scrape up brown bits into broth and vinegar.

6.     Remove the sweet potato coins from the oven, flip coins over and return to the oven for another 15 – 20 minutes, until potato is cooked and browned to your taste.

Pierce browned sausages with a fork before returning to the pan.

Pierce browned sausages with a fork before returning to the pan.

7.     Pierce sausages with a fork and return them (and any juices) to the skillet along with the grape halves. If using dried oregano, add that now. Stir well to combine.

Return sausages to pan along with grapes. Adjust to gentle simmer & cover pan, slightly ajar.

Return sausages to pan along with grapes. Adjust to gentle simmer & cover pan, slightly ajar.

Cover the skillet, leaving a small surface open, cooking at a low simmer for another 25 minutes or so. Stir occasionally and test that sausages are thoroughly cooked (slice into a sausage or use your digital meat thermometer) before serving. Garnish sausages, glazed onion and grape condiment with fresh oregano.

8.     While the sausage dish simmers covered, place cleaned Swiss Chard leaves into a steamer basket in a covered pot with 2″ of water. Bring to a boil and steam leaves to desired texture (about 10 minutes after water starts to boil). Drain and add a dash of white wine vinegar to serve.

Ready after 25 minutes of braising and glazing.

Ready after 25 minutes of braising and glazing.

The folks at Fine Cooking suggest serving this sausage dish with crusty baguette and a green salad: Excellent for a hot, rainy summer day. I found this supper came together in about 45 minutes. The cooking stages of the sausage recipe allow for staged preparation of the later ingredients and the side dishes (as per instructions above).

Rich, deep, hearty flavours on your plate in 45 minutes.

Rich, deep, hearty flavours on your plate in 45 minutes.

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