Winter warmer 1: Tuscan sausage, brussels sprouts, and walnuts

 

Sausages, sprouts, walnutsAt 43 degrees north, 650 meters above sea-level, and almost perfectly halfway between the two Italian coasts, Caprese Michelangelo enjoys four, very distinct seasons. So, after one of the hottest summers on record, we are now halfway through autumn and preparing for, perhaps, two weeks of forced hibernation, when the snows come in January.

Although the sun is still quite warm—when we see it—mornings tend to start out misty and any clear evenings drop the temperatures dramatically. We’ve already started working through the cellarful of firewood we bought a few weeks ago.

Sausages, sprouts, walnuts

Happily, all the winter vegetables have now come into season, and when I went food shopping yesterday I was greeted by rows of cannonball cabbages, frilly cauliflowers, and every kind of squash: and there, I saw  what for me are the true gems of winter—brussels sprouts. I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste, but to be honest, I think a lot of that is to do with having been force fed over-boiled sprouts at school. Believe me, in this house, sprouts are not for boiling.

So last night, to celebrate the return of these belgian beauties, I cooked them in one of my favourite ways. It’s a simple one-pot stove-top meal and perfect for mid-week cooking. I used Tuscan sausages, which have a slight piquant quality to them but any good-quality sausage, from the Great British banger, to a gallic Toulouse would do.

 

Salsicce con cavolini di bruxelles e noci

Serves 6
Ingredients
6 Tuscan sausages
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200 g (7 ounces) smoked lardons
75g  (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
100 g (3 1/2 ounces) walnut kernels
1 1/2 kg (3 1/2 pounds) brussels sprouts, peeled and cut into halves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

 

Method
  1. Using a dutch oven over a medium heat, fry the sausages in the olive oil until they are gently browned, turning often, about 10 minutes. Remove them from the pot and place to one side.
  2. Fry the lardons gently in the oil and the juices of the sausages until they turn rose pink. Remove them with a slotted spoon being careful to leave all the cooking liquid in the pot, and place to one side with the sausages.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and melt into the juices. Add the onion, and the cloves of garlic to the pot and fry them in the juices until golden with the juices, but be careful not to brown them. Then add the walnuts and coat with the oil and butter mixture.
  4. Now toss the sprouts into the pan and stir them through so that they are coated in liquid. If there is not enough add a dash more olive oil or a knob of butter (or both).
  5. Turn the heat right down, place the lid on the dutch oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the balsamic vinegar, adjust the seasoning, and return the sausages and lardons to the pot. Cover again and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the sprouts are al dente. Leave to cool for a few minutes and serve directly from the pot. Buon appetito!

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What’s your favourite winter warmer dish? Let me know in the comments below.

 

10 thoughts on “Winter warmer 1: Tuscan sausage, brussels sprouts, and walnuts

  1. It has to be oxtail stew (bordering on soup). The flavour is intense, yet delicate, savoury but with a sweetness. Plus it seems to be able to warm every inch of your body… Yum!

    1. That sounds really nice. There are a lot of soups and stews eaten here in the winter too, especially featuring wild boar which have similar consistencies. I’m almost impatient for winter now.

      1. Just cooked this recipe for supper- absolutely delicious. My favourite winter warmer is lamb stew with pearl barley. I loved it as a child and I still love it now. Louise

      2. Excellent! So glad to hear that you cooked the recipe and enjoyed it. Your lamb stew with pearl barley sounds right up my street too. I’m getting so many ideas for the winter from this post. Thanks!

  2. I bought some brussels sprouts at a farmers’ market yesterday, and have been trying to figure out what to make. I may have to try this dish. It looks like wonderful.

    1. Excellent. Please let me know how it turns out if you do. I would thoroughly recommend it. Thank you!

  3. Wow you make these cavolini sound almost edible! They look very nice. My fave for winter is roasted root veggies, anything made with zucca, and pane cotto e patate. I’m warming up just thinking about them-but since I’m in Australia at the moment I’d better start thinking about gelato!

    1. I think they’ve just had such a bad press over the years due to bad cooking. I must say I love them. Mmm … the zucca sounds good and they are appearing in the markets now too. Happy summer though!

  4. This looks delicious! For me, the ultimate winter warmer is my mum’s beef stew. Can’t be beaten for me in terms of making me smile because it’s delicious but also because of all the memories it brings back.

  5. Thanks! That really is the thing isn’t it? Food is so evocative and can conjure up memories and images in an instant. I’m now hungry for beef stew but it’s only 9:30 in the morning.

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