Friday, February 18, 2011

Sausage and Peppers

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my best friend and we were discussing Super Bowl.  She is a bigger football fan than I am so for her it is like a national holiday.  She had company over the night before and she was discussing what she made for her guests when she asked me how I make my sausage and peppers.  Sausage and peppers is an Italian mainstay, though my husband disagrees saying everyone makes  it.  I rebutted that Italians make it better when I was responded with an eye roll. I have had sausage and peppers that used kielbasa sausage and that taste was nothing like the Italian sausage and peppers I grew up with. In fact, it was lacking in flavor. It is one of those quintessential dishes that I am sure there are probably a gazillion variations, but I prefer any Italian sausage version.

 Sure enough, my best friend's version utilized mixing the sausage and peppers with a simple marinara sauce served on hero rolls (aka sub rolls aka hoagie rolls, depending on what part of the country you come from).  I have made sausage and peppers this way, usually when I am serving it over macaroni.  In fact, this is one of my husband's favorite macaroni dishes and I would make it quite often in our early marriage.  But when I make sausage and peppers to be served on a hero, I forgo the marinara and keep it simple, letting the flavors of the Italian sausage and sauteed peppers and onions speak for themselves.  This is one of those easy dishes that is perfect for a quick dinner and the left-overs are always better the next day.

In my version of sausage and peppers, I use hot Italian turkey sausage in lieu of true Italian pork sausage.  It has considerably less fat and the flavor is comparable to it's pork counterpart.  Usually I use hero-style rolls but the other day when I made this dish I had sliced ciabatta bread that needed to be used before it went to the birds, literally.  When my husband walked in from school, before he even said hi to me he said the house smelled amazing.  After all the years we have been together, the smell of garlic sauteing in oil smells like home just as much as it reminds me of my childhood.  Needless to say, we each had two sandwiches for dinner that night.  We enjoyed every bit of them.

Sausage and Peppers
1 pack Hot Italian Turkey Sausage (you can use sweet or mild if you aren't down with the spicy)
2-4 Tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion sliced
1 1/2 bag frozen sliced pepper mix or 3-4 fresh peppers, sliced
1-2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, I use them because I like things spicy)
pack of hero loaves or sliced Italian bread
  • In a large skillet, head up 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, once hot add garlic and allow to saute for a minute or til the garlic starts to brown.  Add in onions and let saute 1-2 minutes.  Season with s&p if desired, I use a little salt whenever I saute onions because it helps bring out the moisture in the onions.
  • In a separate frying pan, drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil and brown sausage on all sides.  Once browned add enough water so the sausages are half immersed in water.  Cover and let cook.
  • Once onions have been sauteing for 1-2 minutes, add peppers, Italian seasoning and pepper flakes. Stir. If the pan gets dry, you can add a little bit more olive oil (which I had to do). Sir regularly to prevent peppers and onions from sticking. Saute til the onions caramelize and the peppers are soft and starting to brown.
  • Once sausage is cooked through, add sausages to the onions and peppers and let cook 1-2 minutes to incorporate flavors.  I usually cover the sausages with the onions and peppers when doing this.
  • If you would like coin shaped pieces of sausage, cut sausage up in disks before adding to peppers and onions like I did, or you are more than welcome to keep them whole.
  • Serve on hero rolls or on sliced Italian bread.  Mangia!

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