Saturday, April 14, 2012

Italian Sausage done right

I grew up in a time when there was no McDonald's, Burger King or such. There was fast food- White Castle with their baby burgers and a million hot dog stands.Places that were, for the most part independent and not concerned with product labeling.  This was the reality of life in the inner Chicago suburbs of the 1960's Most meals were eaten at home, but sometimes snacks were bought, and it was in the form of Sliders , Vienna Beef Hot Dogs or Italian Ice. Fast Food just was not thought of as a meal option- something to think about in light of today's obesity problem. It is not calories ingested, but the amount of chemically altered foodstuffs in the name of brand recognition that is the root cause of today s obesity and other health problems in my opinion. A hot dog or sausage sandwich was something you got as an afternoon snack or late night munchy, and not a meal. Meals were eaten at home, cooked by mom or grandma. There were a lot more shakes and fries consumed,as snacks, and obesity was not a big issue. Plain and simple.

I am getting off my point here ! There were more hot dog stands than anything else, and as a child I was fed many a hot dog sandwich as a snack, while mom and dad ate Italian Sausage or Italian beef because it was assumed that sausage was too spicy for my childish pallet. So not true !! I longed for the day that I would be allowed to have Italian sausage, and it happened one fine day at my great uncle's 4th of July Picnic when I was 8. I happened to be standing near the grill, looking hungry, and he offered me a small section on Italian bread. It was good, but not as good as I had presumed them to be.

Through the years I have used and consumed Italian Sausage grilled, in "spaghetti sauce", roasted, on pizza, and it has always struck me as tasty , but nothing to write home about.  I sensed that there had to be a better way to serve it, and the other day I discovered a method that is probably the most flavorful way I have found to date. It comes from the Naples region of Italy- an area who's cuisine is a bit denser and "meatier" than that of places slightly south such as Amalfi or Capri.
Salsiccia napoletana stile italiano e Patate
(Neapolitan Style Italian Sausage and Potatoes)

2 lbs italian sausage, cut into links
6 large red potatoes with skins on, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper and about 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Slice potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder and grated cheese. Mix (preferably with hands) to coat potatoes  with above ingredients. Preheat oven to about 350 degrees. Spray a roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread potatoes on bottom of roasting pan. Layer sausage links on top of potatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours (depending on your oven). Check after 1-1-2 hours. Remove foil and turn sausages to brown on other side. Brown for about 10 minutes.

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