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I've got fennel. I've got sausage. Now what?

Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 11:21 AM

On a whim, I bought a med to large fennel bulb. I also bought about 4 large italian sausage links from my local butcher (2 mild, 2 spicy). I know that anise is a common ingredient in italian sausage, so I thought I might carmelize the fennel to go with the sausages somehow.... any suggestions?

I'm open to creative variations. Sausage and fennel stew? Some kind of hearty ragout?

Help me hounds!

Mr. Taster

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  1. c
    Christine RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 12:03 PM

    Sausage and caramelized fennel pizza.

    1. c
      ChiliDude RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 12:13 PM

      My wife is the Italian in the family, but I know much about the cuisine.

      First, about the fennel...is the base roundish or longish in shape. Roundish is sweeter and female, longish is male and not as sweet. If this is news to you, make sure you buy round based fennel (finocchio) next time.

      Next, pierce the salsiccia (sausages) with a fork, put them on your slotted oven pan and roast them to drain some of the excess fat from them. Discard the fat.

      Dice an onion (cipolla), you judge the size according to your taste, to carmelize it in some EVOO (extra virgin youknowwhat)along with the diced finocchio. Add the salsiccia to heat them when the onions are nearly carmelized.

      Now you can make a sandwich of this concoction using some good ciabatta pane (light and airy Italian bread), or cut up the salsiccia before adding it to the saute pan. Hand crush a 28-ounces of canned plum tomatoes, add them to the cipolla-finocchio mixture along with the cut up sausage. The resulting sauce can be used as a condimento for pasta. Remember that I am not Italian, ergo, it's sauce to me, not 'gravy.' This terminology has been a bone of contention between my wife and me for almost 45 years.

      Buon appetito,


      3 Replies
      1. re: ChiliDude
        Mr. Taster RE: ChiliDude Jan 27, 2005 01:17 PM

        Thanks for the great suggestions

        FYI, I am not italian either, but I do have Italian friends (real Italians, born and living in Italy) who were just plan confused when I talked about "gravy" and "macaroni". It's salsa (sauce!) and pasta (pasta!) to them, plain and simple!

        Mr. Taster

        1. re: Mr. Taster
          saucy RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 06:53 PM

          Gravy's an italian-american thing, and according to that italian-american lady who cooks on Cooking Live! sometimes tomato sauce is only called gravy when it has the meatball and the braciole etc., otherwise it's just sauce.

          1. re: Mr. Taster
            ChiliDude RE: Mr. Taster Jan 28, 2005 07:06 AM

            The Italians spell macaroni differently than we do. It is spelled 'maccherone.' Salsa is sauce, sugo is gravy. That's probably the reason for the confusion. Then there's always the word that Mario Batali of 'Molto Mario' uses, condimento.

        2. k
          kc girl RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 12:21 PM

          Maybe sub in the fennel for the leeks recipe from farmersdaughter?

          And, you can make some of it into a small amount of stew by adding white beans?

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          1 Reply
          1. re: kc girl
            Mr. Taster RE: kc girl Jan 27, 2005 01:19 PM

            ooh... also a great idea! I have some Trader Joe's cannelini in the cupboard. Thanks!!

            Mr. Taster

          2. e
            emdb RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 12:22 PM

            Crumble and brown sausage, adding cubed fennel until brown and tender, add 1/4 c or more of water/chicken broth after browning to hasten tenderization-erizing of fennel. Toss with pasta and toasted pine nuts, maybe even roasted red pepper squares or reconstituted chopped sundried tomatoes. I like to leave a little of the chicken stock in the bottom of the pan to act as a sauce. I would serve with farfalle or orichette, to catch the bits of the sauce.


            Brown crumbled sausage, chopped fennel, carrots, and onions, add rice/barley/farro and chicken stock for a hearty soup. Or make a risotto, adding in white wine and chicken stock as your liquid, and sprinkle with fresh parsley and romano cheese before serving. Or serve the mix sans grains over loose polenta or fried polenta squares, w/the same garnish. Or with farro. I'd serve a salad alongside any of these.


            Crumble and brown sausage and finely chopped fennel, with other mirepoix bits and pieces, and stuff veal or pork or chicken roasts or breasts or chops with the mixture, adding in some bread crumbs and parmesan. Serve with broccoli in lemon butter.


            Braise the fennel in chicken broth and a little vermouth, serve on the side as a vegtable to your grilled whole sausages. Serve a side salad with bitter/tart elements like belgian endive in a lemon thyme vinaigrette.

            I like to gratinee fennel with thinly sliced turnip, both sliced 1/8 " thick on my mandoline. Other ingredients are salt, pepper, oregano or thyme, heavy cream, chicken stock, and some kind of fat, either bacon, duck, or butter, depending on what you're serving it with. It'd be good with sausage crumbled in, and served alongside a pork or chicken roast.

            3 Replies
            1. re: emdb
              Mr. Taster RE: emdb Jan 27, 2005 01:35 PM



              thanks so much for all these suggestions

              Mr. Taster

              1. re: emdb
                twinmommy RE: emdb Jan 27, 2005 02:06 PM

                That fennel/turnip gratin sounds yummy!

                1. re: emdb
                  curiousbaker RE: emdb Jan 27, 2005 03:04 PM

                  Coincidentally, I had fennel and sausage in my fridge last night, too. I opted for your second suggestion, fennel-sausage soup. Very good. I didn't have carrots, though I would have added them if I did. I did have Swiss chard, and I highly recommend the addition of some sort of dark leafy green. Tastes great, and of course you get that "I'm eating my greens" satisfaction.

                2. y
                  yum RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 12:31 PM


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: yum
                    kc girl RE: yum Jan 27, 2005 12:37 PM

                    I'd sub out the goat cheese and use 8 oz. of riced Russet potato. But, if you enjoy a lot of strong flavor . . . it sounds delicious.

                    1. re: yum
                      KB RE: yum Jan 27, 2005 05:55 PM

                      YESSSSS. This is soooo good.

                    2. c
                      Carb Lover RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 01:05 PM

                      Mmmmm...sausage and fennel; two of my favorite foods. Those ingredients call for a straight-forward, rustic dish IMO. Two ideas come to mind:

                      If you have the time to make ahead: a hearty, earthy ragu sounds wonderful. Not sure if you need a recipe, but basic ingredients are onion, carrot, little garlic, canned tomatoes (I might use 2 large cans--one diced, one crushed), little tomato paste, red wine, your sausage and fennel of course, dried herbs (I like parsley and bay leaf), and some sort of creamy agent (like milk, cream, sour cream, or mascarpone) to add towards end. Good ragus need 2-3 hrs. of simmering IMO. Would go well w/ papardelle.

                      If you are short on time: I would just grill or pan-fry the sausage til done. Serve over creamy polenta. Halve and braise the fennel w/ EVOO, chicken stock, white wine, lemon juice.

                      If you need specific recipes, then check Molto Mario's recipes on Food Network site. Buon Apetito!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Carb Lover
                        twinmommy RE: Carb Lover Jan 27, 2005 02:08 PM

                        Maybe you could use the ragu for lasagne?

                      2. f
                        farmersdaughter RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 01:06 PM

                        I would barbecue (or roast, depending on where you live) the sausages and also barbecue some slices of crusty bread at the same time. Make bruschetta with the crusty bread by rubbing a garlic clove on the hot bread and drizzle with your best olive oil and sprinkle with just a bit of kosher salt.

                        Meanwhile I'd slice that fennel into slabs, toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it in the oven--maybe top it with some grated parmesan cheese at the end. And a good accompaniment to all this is cherry tomatoes, roasted in the oven as well. Even though the ones I am getting in my market are not great, once you roast them they get sweet and yummy.

                        There you have a simple tasty Italian meal.

                        1. c
                          coll RE: Mr. Taster Jan 27, 2005 02:59 PM

                          I always put fennel in my sausage and broccoli rabe
                          "soup", if I have it. Otherwise I use celery but the fennel is so much better. Basically simmer chopped broc rabe in 2c chicken stock: brown sausage separately, and remove casing. Saute fennel,onion, some garlic or shallot, and maybe some anchovies if you have. Now put it all together (including broth) And you can add some grape tomatoes, or cannellini or other canned beans, or orchietta or similar pasta, season with basil, parsley, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper or whatever. Serve topped with shaved parmesan and some crusty bread.

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