This was Paleovirtus Jr.’s somewhat less than subtle way of alerting me to the fact that our local hypermarket now do an own-brand pork sausage that boasts a high meat content (90%), and is also potato flour and dextrose free.
Apart from the pig, these sausages contain only water, salt, and herbs and spices (black pepper, rosemary, marjoram, basil, and coriander), as well as small amounts of the usual antioxidant and preservative type additives.
I will not buy a sausage that has been padded out with all manner of sugary and floury crap, but I’m prepared to make an occasional exception for certain substances put in place to prevent my food from accidentally killing me.
A compromise, to be be sure, and one that we intend to address in the future by acquiring the required tackle needed to produce our own sausage.
Watch this space on that subject, as they say, but for the moment let it be known that these particular sausages were very nice indeed. All that was needed was a bit of colour on them, and then finishing off in a herby, vegetable based sauce.
In a gesture of pan-European solidarity, we decided to serve this Italian inspired dish with a good old German sauerkraut.
Quick Italian Sausage Casserole
- 12 Italian style “Salsiccia” sausages
- 1 leek, white only
- 1 small bulb of fennel, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 280g smoked cubed bacon
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
- about 10 juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 150g button mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, but left whole
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Cut the leek in half lengthways. Rinse out any dirt, then drain and dry. Slice thinly.
- Heat up 2 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Fry the bacon until crisp and golden. Remove the bacon from the pan, and set aside, transferring any rendered bacon fat and olive oil into a large saucepan.
- Bring the oil and fat in the saucepan, plus a little extra fresh olive oil if required, up to medium heat. Add the celery and fennel, and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add the leek, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the bay leaves, smoked Spanish paprika, Herbes de Provence, and juniper berries to the pan. Season generously with black pepper. Stir fry for 2 minutes, adding a splash of hot water if anything threatens to stick. Add about 1 cup of hot water to the pan. Stir well, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add hot water to the pan – eyeball the volume of water that will just cover the sausages when they are placed in the pan. Add the fried bacon and the mushrooms. Bring up to a boil, then drop down to a low simmer. Cover with a lid, and allow to cook for about 15 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, fry the sausages in batches. You only want to give them a bit of colour here – they’ll finish cooking in the sauce.
- Add the tomato purée to the pan. Stir well. Add the sausages, plus more water if needed. Return to a low simmer, and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the sausages are thoroughly cooked, and the sauce is reduced. Serve, with the vegetables of your choice – see Notes.
On this occasion we served the casserole with nothing more fancy than sauerkraut. Choose a sauerkraut made with only cabbage and salt. We normally buy Kühne’s mild sauerkraut.