We discovered this recipe while watching Lidia's Italy one evening as she made this humble dish of braised sausages with fennel and chopped green Cerignola olives. As we found out, fresh fennel is a natural companion to good Italian sausage. The fennel is cooked in a frying pan, separately then together, with crushed garlic, olives, wine and hot pepperoncino (chili flakes), until the mixture caramelizes and the fennel becomes impossibly sweet and tender. This recipe would also be excellent with pasta, like Lidia's Ziti with Sausage, Onions and Fennel — another one of her easy and satisfying recipes. A celebrated cookbook author, successful restauranteur and one of television's best loved chefs, Lidia Bastianich holds true to her Italian roots, inviting everyone to experience the warmth, hospitality and passion of her simple but delicious cooking.
One large fresh fennel bulb
Two plump pork sausages
Cerignola olives, pitted and halved
The sausage are lightly browned for about 5 minutes and then some white wine is added
and boiled until reduced by half, then set aside in a bowl
In the same frying pan, the garlic, pepperoncino and chopped fennel are cooked until soft, about 15 minutes, then the sausage and wine mixture is added until warmed through
Recipe courtesy of Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-4 sweet Italian sausages
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/8 tsp hot chili flakes (pepperoncino), or to taste
1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and halved
1 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
Trim the stalks and tough bottoms off the fennel bulbs and peel off the outer layer. Cut in half lengthwise and trim out the bits of stalk that go down into the bulb, then cut into 1-inch chunks.
Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan large enough for the sausages and set over medium-high heat. Lay in the sausages and cook for 5 minutes or more, rolling them over occasionally until nicely browned. Pour in the wine and boil until it is reduced by half. Remove the sausages to a platter and pour the remaining wine sauce over them.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the empty skillet. Toss in the garlic cloves and cook for a minute or so over medium heat until they're sizzling, but don't let them burn. Drop in the chili flakes in a hot spot for a few seconds, then scatter the olives in the pan. Toss and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the fennel chunks and stir. Season with 1/4 tsp salt. Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, tossing and stirring now and then until the fennel softens, shrinks, and begins to color. Add a bit of water to the pan if the fennel remains hard and resistant to the bite.
When the fennel is cooked through, return the sausages and wine to the skillet. Turn the meat and vegetables together, cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is deeply caramelized and glazed. Adjust seasoning to taste. To serve, arrange the sausages in two warmed dinner bowls and spoon the fennel and olive mixture overtop with a garnish of fresh fennel fronds.