Sausage Fest...

True to my pledge to experiment with more new recipes in 2012, I tackled a simpler meal this evening that I had spotted on my favorite food blog, Serious Eats. Every weeknight, they feature a column called "Dinner Tonight," that showcases a recipe that can be prepared reasonably quickly by the average working foodie. This particular recipe caught my eye ages ago for combining two things that I love -- Italian sausage and grapes in a savory application.

My love affair with grapes in my dinner stretches back many, many years to when I was first teaching myself to cook back in college. I came across a recipe from Rachel Ray (don't judge; I was young, and her simple recipes are helpful for those without many culinary skills) for chicken with grapes in a mustard cream sauce, and the sweet/savory combination was spot on. That dish quickly became one of my signature meals, and I made it whenever I was trying to impress someone with my budding kitchen prowess. My appreciation for grapes in main courses only increased with last year's chicken pesto pizza with grapes, and I've been biding my time, waiting for the right moment to give this new recipe a try.

Dominick's had both Italian sausage and grapes on sale this week, and I had some polenta lurking in the dark recesses of my cabinets, so tonight I was finally able to rescue this recipe from Pinterest purgatory. Aside from the fact that I don't really like polenta all that much, and felt that the sausage would have been better on top of a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, I really enjoyed this recipe. The sweetness of the grapes paired well with the spicy richness of the meat, and the crisp skins of the sausages played against the softened fruit. 

My only real complaint is that this recipe really didn't fall under the category of a simple weeknight meal. I'm still adjusting to life with my new stove, but each step took significantly longer than the recipe stated, and it was almost nine o'clock by the time it was ready to eat. I'd definitely make this again, minus the polenta, but it would have to be on a Saturday or Sunday.

Sausages in the Skillet with Grapes
adapted from Serious Eats 

1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 lbs. hot Italian sausage (about 8 links)
1 1/4 lbs. red seedless grapes

1. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic cloves and, when they begin to sizzle, add the sausages in one layer. Cover the pan and cook gently, turning the sausages and moving them around the skillet occasionally, as they begin to brown and release some fat. Cook approximately 20 minutes, until the sausages are golden all over. Tilt the pan and remove all but a few tablespoons of the fat.
2. Fish out the garlic cloves and add the grapes to the skillet, stirring to coat them well with the pan juices. Cover and cook until the grapes soften and release their juices, 7-10 minutes, then remove the cover and turn the heat to high. Reduce the pan juices, stirring and turning the sausages and grapes often, until they are glazed and caramelized.
3. Serve the sausages over garlic mashed potatoes with the grapes scattered over them and the pan juices drizzled over the top.

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