I’ve been wanting to post about these sausages for a while but I thought I had better try them out a few different ways to make sure they are as good as I first thought they were.
I love a good sausage, and I also know there are many of you out there who despise them and think they are only scrapings from the floor put into casings; but let me tell you, when you come across ones with fantastic flavour and texture they are pretty hard to beat. Sausages thrown on the barbie, totally fine and smokey; put them with mash on a cool night, completely satisfying, or doing as I do with these Toscana sausages and taking them out of their casings and cook them up with veggies is an absolute favourite with the whole family!
These bad boys are full of flavour and also full of fat, I mean just check out that photo!!
However, don’t be afraid of the fat, I mean you don’t have to eat it all but you do want some of it to add maximum flavour to your meal. As I said before, I usually take them out of their casing and brown the sausage in pieces then add onions and vegetables and a tin of tomatoes and a splash of red wine vinegar. Turn the temperature down low and let all the flavours meld together. When doing it this way you have ample opportunity to drain off quite a lot of fat and still be rewarded with the flavour. For the sausage and zucchini dish below I drained off about 1/4 cup of fat. As much as I love sausages I don’t like the feeling of oily lips when you have eaten something swimming in the stuff so draining off the oil before you add your vegetables is the perfect way to eat them.
Another reason why Tuscan sausages rock is the speed in which it takes to knock them into a really tasty dinner. They are perfect for busy families and also a great way to get more vegetables into the families diet. As you can see I didn’t hide the zucchini (because they taste so good all soaked up in the juices), however, the boys HATE zucchini but LOVE sausages. It’s a part of life in this family that you need to eat your veggies and instead of serving it all separately (so the boys can pick out what they want to eat) I make a great big saucy dish so some of those terrible, disgusting zucchini work their way into the mouths of the young! You can say that is a horrible thing to do (can’t possibly think why you would?) but I did the same thing with peas, beans and tomato and guess what? beans and tomato are now loved by all while peas are still the most awful things Max can think of…. along with brussel sprouts of course!
For the dish above I added lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar; it was a hot summers night and I thought the zing of lemon cutting through the pork and tomato would work really well which it did and it also blended beautifully with the chilli flakes Nic and I sprinkled on top of ours. The dish below, however, was cooked in the exact same method but I did use the red wine vinegar and reduced the sauce further for a yummy, deeper flavour (I think it was a little cooler…like 31 degrees!). Nic makes rocking good mash potato so he kindly whipped those up and there you have it, another dinner cooked exactly the same way but tweaking a few ingredients and changing the side of carb to make it a totally different meal (mash also helps the zucchini go down so I’m told!)
Ok so for my last Tuscan sausage dish I decided to cook it a little differently just for an experiment and to use up the left over veggies. I absolutely LOVE cavallo nero and it is young, fresh and in season here right now so I am wanting to eat it with everything.
The boys on the other hand really do not like it, I think it has something to do with the bitterness which is one of the reasons I do really like it. I served it one night and cooked it the way I usually do with ginger, garlic, tomatoes and lemon and served it with lots of couscous but it really wasn’t well received which is fine but I still had a few bits left and I thought if I sauteed it with the sausages whole then they would be coated in all that yummy flavour…or was that fat??
Let me just warn you, this smells sooo good when you are frying it all together, sausages and onions are just made for each other! The greens, like collard greens and silver beet love to be cooked and can take a lot of heat and that is why I decided to put them in first. Once they were coloured and smelling delicious I threw in mushrooms and capsicum and then let it saute down for a good 15-18 minutes on medium to low heat, tossing occasionally.
After about 15 minutes everything was getting a beautiful caramilized coating and looking really delicious but I did get a bit concerned about all that fat as I didn’t drain any off. In fact it got to the point when I couldn’t leave it so I drained off the excess (which was about 3 tablespoons).
Before serving it over a bed of couscous and rocket, I cut the sausage into slices and threw in a tablespoon left of the pesto (it really was a throw together dinner)I had in the fridge just to give it a lovely parmesan, basil finish.
The end result I have to say was really, really tasty and the boys loved it which also makes me think maybe I will stick to my original method of cooking sausages so I can drain off more fat before adding the veggies, as there was very little complaint about their most hated vegetable thrown into the mix…….plus I’d feel better about eating my gelato afterwards!
Note: If you can’t get Italian sausages where you are then beef or pork (esp. with fennel) will also work, just make sure they are a little better than the store brand variety as I can only wonder what they have in them.