Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grilled Italian Sausages with Peppers and Onions

I love Italian sausage. Not the sweet kind. Not the mild kind. I like hot Italian sausage. I want that delicious pork to have a lot of heat from red pepper flakes and the deep, robust licorice flavor of fennel seeds. And nothing pops the flavor like grilling these sausages.

Costco sells a sweet Italian sausage that does not do it for me. About once a year they carry hot Italian sausage, but I find it to be bland....more "pork forward" than a good Italian sausage should be. Byerly's, Lunds, Whole Foods and Cub sell their own private label Hot Italian Sausage and all are very good. Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage is another excellent choice.

When you buy bell peppers, buy an orange, red and yellow will give this dish a real visual punch. These colored peppers also have a little more sweetness than the green ones. For onions, I strongly recommend wonderfully sweet Vidalia onions. They are in season right now and a real bargain if you buy them in the 10 pound bags at Costco. Keep them in a cool place and they will last 3+ weeks.

There are two ways to serve this dish. The preferred method at our house is naked (the food, not my family): toss a heap of sauteed onions and peppers on a plate, place two grilled sausages on top and serve with a small side of spaghetti and a nice glass of Zinfandel. You can also place the Italian sausage in a brat bun and then fill the bun with the peppers and onions, served with fries and and an ice cold beer. You choose, as either way you can't lose. This recipe serves 4 big appetites.

8 Hot Italian sausage links
3 bell peppers (red, yellow and orange)
2 medium Vidalia onions
3 tablespoons olive oil (use garlic olive oil if you have it)
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt


  1. Fire up your grill to high.*
  2. Cut each bell pepper from pole-to-pole. Remove stem and seeds. Cut each half into half-inch strips.
  3. Remove paper onion skin. Cut each onion from pole to pole. Cut each half into half-inch strips.
  4. In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn heat to medium high. When oil shimmers, add onions and peppers. Sauté until they just begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add salt and continues to sauté until onions and peppers are limp. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
  5. Grill sausages until they are well browned, about 8 minutes, turning frequently. 
  6. Return skillet to  high heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil to onion/pepper mixture and stir (about 1 minute). When warm, divide among serving plates, top with two Italian sausages and serve with a side of spaghetti.  
* If you do not have a grill, sauté sausages in large skillet until well browned and cooked through.

Wine pairing: Zinfandel

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