The challenge with relying on the farmers market is that you never know what you are going to get. When I made my trip yesterday, it was my first in nearly a month and things had changed a little. Some of the vendors that I rely on weren’t there and a few others were carrying a different mix of produce. I had gone with the expectation that I’d make some sort of vegetable enchiladas with my favorite roasted tomatillo salsa. Except no tomatillos or chilies were to be found yesterday.
So, I loaded up my backpack with a bunch of stuff and tried to think through a plan on my walk home. A quick look in my Flavor Bible confirmed my suspicion that fennel and apple would taste nicely together and I set to work.
I relied on this recipe from Food & Wine in executing my vision. The fennel sausage comes from The Fatted Calf and all the other produce comes from various vendors at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. The salad is a mix of arugula, radicchio, and delicious local walnuts, dressed with a lemon vinagrette (though my olive oil is not local). While the cider is from the Farmers’ Market as well, the wine I used, admittedly, was purchased at Trader Joe’s, but hails from Healdsburg.
Braised Sausage with Fennel and Apple
Inspired by this recipe from Food and Wine
4 fennel sausages, approximately 1 pound total
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 heads of fennel, thinly sliced. Mine were quite small so I used two, but if you find a big one, it’s probably enough.
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 cup of cider
1/4 cup of dry white wine (or more cider, chicken stock, or even just water)
a pat of butter
salt and pepper to taste
Place the sausages in a large skillet. Add a half cup of cider and a half cup or so of water…just enough so they are at least halfway covered, but not so much that they are completely covered. Simmer on medium high heat for about 7-8 minutes or so. Remove from pan, cover, and set aside. At this point, there may still be some liquid in the pan, but either way, it’s OK.
Reduce heat to medium and add a pat of butter. Add the leek and saute for a few minutes. Add the wine and let that simmer, scraping up the carmelized bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the apples and fennel, and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occassionally. When they start to soften, add the remaining cider. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another minute or two, until it starts to reduce.
Add the sausage and any juices that are on the plate. Cook for another minute or two, until the sausages are warmed up again, and you are ready to serve.
I garnished mine with a few fennel fronds just before serving. I really liked the dish. I’ve never been a big fennel fan, but I liked it here. I think the apples made it sweet and the fennel cut the sweetness of the apple, so it didn’t taste sugary. Great combo!