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Jan 27, 2005 11:21 AM

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

  • m

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. Sausage and caramelized fennel pizza.

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

      First, about the 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

        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

          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

            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. 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?


          1 Reply
          1. re: kc girl

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

            Mr. Taster

          2. 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



              thanks so much for all these suggestions

              Mr. Taster

              1. re: emdb

                That fennel/turnip gratin sounds yummy!

                1. re: emdb

                  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.

                  1. re: yum

                    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

                      YESSSSS. This is soooo good.