Tag Archives: Sausage

Those little "goodfellas": Brussels Sprouts and Hot Sausage Tortiglioni…

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

2 Servings

Brussels sprouts are not very popular in my country and they certainly weren’t on my family’s table. I don’t think I can recollect one time that I ate them in my house or anywhere else in Italy.

Things started changing a couple of years ago when I decided to host my first Thanksgiving’s dinner. During my “due diligence” period, in my quest for dishes traditionally served in the US for that holiday, I found out that Brussels sprouts were a must as a side dish, stir-fried or roasted, preferably with bacon or pancetta and even with raisins.

Little by little my acquaintance with these little guys turned into a beautiful friendship and now I’m totally in love with them for several different reasons.

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

First, their appearance – because no matter what they say, appearances still count! 🙂 Their vibrant green has the magical power to put me in a good mood and their shape reminds me of a mini peony bud, one of my favorite flowers. I wouldn’t mind arranging them in a vase. I’m sure they would look lovely on any table! 😉

Second, they are really good for our health: they are an excellent source of vitamins, essential minerals and fiber. Since I’m on a perennial diet, they are a winner in my book!

Third, these buds are super versatile. They complement meat or fish wonderfully, they can been thrown in any salad and they go beautifully with pasta.

Needless to say, pasta is always one of my first picks 🙂 especially on weeknights! “Dressing up” some pasta with healthy vegetables and a little flavor is very easy and requires very little time, with the additional benefit that your conscience is virtually clean because, after all, you are eating your veggies!

For this recipe, I decide to use some hot sausage to go with the Brussels sprouts. If you decide to cook it for your kids, you may replace it with some non-spicy sausage. Her Majesty is not into spicy food and your kid may not be either…

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup, Extravirgin olive oil
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 Celery, finely chopped
1/3 Cup, finely chopped onion
2 Hot sausages (about 7 ounces), loose
About 10 ounces, small Brussels sprouts, rinsed and cut in halves
1/2 Cup, beef or vegetable stock
About 7 ounces, Tortiglioni
2Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt

Directions:

In a non-stick medium pot, pour the olive oil and add the carrot, the celery and the onion (in Italian, we called this mixture “soffritto“) and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent.

Add the sausage and some salt (to taste) and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Using a strainer, transfer the sausage mixture to a bowl to drain. Put the sausage mixture aside, and return the drained olive oil to the pot.

Add the Brussels sprouts, some salt (to taste) and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the stock is almost completely evaporated. Transfer the sausage mixture back to the pot, toss to coat and let the rest of the stock completely evaporate.

In the meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and put it in the pot with the Brussels sprouts and the sausage and toss to coat.

Put the pasta into the serving plates/bowls and dust the top of each plate with some Parmigiano cheese.

I dedicate these little green buds to all the people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Hopefully the leprechaun will love them! 😉

Talk to you soon!

F. Xx

Glass statuette and flower composition with Brussel sprout backdrop

Chicken and Sausage Paella – Recommended Wine Pairing

StefanoA few days ago, Suzanne over at apuginthekitchen (a great food and cooking blog that you should definitely check out if you have not done so already) has been kind enough to ask me to partner with her by contributing a wine pairing that would go well with her delicious chicken and sausage paella recipe that she recently published in her blog: needless to say, I have been excited about Suzanne’s idea and took her up on her offer.

So, here are my wine pairing recommendations for Suzanne’s delicious paella, that you can also find on Suzanne’s blog: the wines that we are going to pick need to have good acidity, a good extent of smoothness, quite intense nose-mouth flavors and decent structure, as in a medium to full bodied wine. The reason why these characteristics (and not others) are desirable to achieve a pleasant food-wine pairing is the result of the application of the wine pairing criteria codified by the Italian Sommellier Association, which I have discussed in a previous post.

Based on the above guidelines, I am going to recommend two wines that I have recently tasted at the Vinitaly/Slow Wine trade fair in New York: they both possess the desired characteristics to be good companions to Suzanne’s paella and they both have particularly impressed me when I tasted them.

Clearly, these two wines are by no means the only ones that go well with Suzanne’s paella! However, on the one hand their descriptions, coupled with the general guidelines provided above, should point you in the right direction should you wish to consider different alternatives and, on the other hand, if you are going to give either or both of these wines a try, they might introduce some of you to two Italian wines that are maybe not so “mainstream” or widely known in the US market and that yet are excellent and showcase the treasure chest of indigenous grape varieties that constitute the backbone of centuries of Italy’s wine culture.

So, let’s now take a look at my tasting notes for the two recommended wines that you may choose to enjoy with Suzanne’s delicious paella dish.

Option 1: Soave Classico, from the Veneto region

Pieropan, Soave Classico “Calvarino” 2010 DOC: a very good Soave made of a blend of 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave grapes which literally hits you in the nose with an exhuberant minerality and aromas of apple, citrus and white flowers; in the mouth a lively acidity and distinct minerality are balanced by a good extent of smoothness – long finish. ABV: 12.5% VOL. If interested, here is the winery’s technical sheet for this wine. Retails in the US for about $28.

Grape varieties’ quick facts: Garganega is a grape variety that is indigenous to the Veneto region, where it has been cultivated since at least the XIII century. Wines made of Garganega grapes are generally acidic and spicy. For more information about the Trebbiano di Soave grape variety, please scroll down to the quick facts about Verdicchio in option 2 below.

Option 2: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, from the Marche region

Marotti Campi, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico “Salmariano” Riserva 2009 DOC: a very good varietal wine made of 100% Verdicchio grapes, with a nice bouquet of white flowers, peach, citrus and minerals; good acidity and a long finish. ABV: 14% VOL. If interested, here is the winery’s technical sheet for this wine. Retails in the US for about $20.

Grape variety’s quick facts: Verdicchio grapes are also known as Verdicchio Bianco, a grape variety which, although it has been cultivated in the Marche region since the XVI century, was said to originate from Veneto. It is interesting to notice that DNA profiling has confirmed this theory, indicating that Verdicchio as a grape variety is identical to Trebbiano di Soave, a grape variety that is widely planted in Veneto and that we have just come across describing the wine in option 1. Verdicchio wines tend to have marked acidity and good structure.

(Note: information on the grape varieties, cit. Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, HarperCollins 2012).

As always, if you get to try either one of the above wines, let me know how you liked them!