Since I’ve gotten back from Florida it seems that winter is still upon us, so I was in the mood for some meat and potatoes (Italian-style, of course). The meat is simply my favorite juicy Italian pork sausage (from Citarella); the potatoes are my version of a steakhouse hash-brown with fennel and green olives.
Since I’ve already discussed my method of cooking sausage in a prior post (my first “dinner for one” post), the real feature of tonight’s post is the potato and fennel . . .
The fennel is first trimmed of its stalks, then of its tough outer layers (sometimes they are quite thick and it seems you’re discarding half the bulb, but they must be discarded because they’re too fibrous and chewy). Then cut the core out of the bulb, resulting in a triangle-shaped hole in the base of the bulbs.
Then slice crosswise into 1/2″ half-moon slices.
The potatoes are peeled and sliced into similar half-moon slices (slightly thinner than 1/2″ slices), and all is placed in a nonstick skillet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a good sprinkle of salt, and a couple of peeled halved garlic cloves. Use one potato per person and half a bulb of fennel per person.
Cover and saute on low heat for about a half-hour, turning occasionally, then uncover. Add some pitted green olives (I’m using plump, firm bright green cerignola olives) and let everything brown for about 15 minutes, adding more oil if it begins to stick. Taste for salt and add salt and black pepper.
The pre-boiled sausages are browned in a separate skillet for about 5 – 8 minutes prior to serving.
As a vegetable, we’re having broccoli di rapa–nothing tastes as good with sausage. For the broccoli di rapa recipe, see my earlier post “Fritto di Mare”. The fennel adds a tartness and sweetness to the potatoes, and they both become meltingly soft and caramelized. The broccoli add their own bitterness which works so well with the salty, fatty sausages. It’s a very nice marriage.