serves: 8 servings
You may be surprised to see that there is no stock or wine in this dish. I prefer to let the sausages and vegetables simmer in their own juices. The flavors blend and mellow a little, but still stay intense. The key to making really wonderful sausage and peppers is to caramelize each ingredient separately, then to pile them into a baking dish and finish them in the oven.
16 links sweet Italian sausage, with or without fennel seeds
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound white, shiitake, or crimini mushrooms, a mix of two or three
3 large yellow onions, cut into 1-inch wedges (about 5 cups)
6 pickled cherry peppers, stemmed and seeded, but left whole
2 medium yellow peppers , cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips
2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips
Poke the sausages all over with a fork. Divide 1/4 cup olive oil between two large heavy skillets and heat them over medium heat. Divide the sausages between the skillets and cook, turning occasionally, until the sausages are well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. About half way through browning the sausages, whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife and toss half the cloves into each skillet. Transfer the browned sausages and garlic to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, leaving the fat behind.
While the sausages are browning, prepare the mushrooms. Trim the stems from the shiitakes, if using. Trim the stems from the white and crimini mushrooms if you like. Cut any mushrooms with caps larger than 2 inches in half; leave smaller mushrooms whole.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scatter the onions and cherry peppers over the fat in one of the skillets and the mushrooms over the fat in the other. Cook the onions, stirring often, until browned and wilted, but still quite crunchy, about 8 minutes. Cook the mushrooms until they have absorbed the fat in the skillet and have begun to brown, about 6 minutes.
Slide the mushrooms into the baking dish. Spoon the onions into the baking dish, leaving behind some of the fat in the skillet. (If there is not enough fat left to coat the bottom of the skillet, pour in enough olive oil to do so.) Add the peppers to the skillet and cook, tossing frequently, just until wilted, but still quite crunchy, about 6 minutes. Slide the peppers into the baking dish, toss all the ingredients together well and place in the oven.
Bake uncovered, tossing occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but still firm and no trace of pink remains in the sausages, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.