Apologies for the dark photo....
This recipe has a secret ingredient.
An ingredient I don't use very often in savory cooking.
In fact, if I am making up a recipe as I go, I usually neglect to think about this ingredient at all.
But not this weekend! Butter made its proud presence known! That's right, butter. And this dish was all the better for it.
This story starts the way most of my stories have been starting lately. X grocery store had Y product on sale, so I just had to buy Y product and now I am trying to figure out what to do with it. The product today is Al Fresco's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage. (To sweeten the deal, I also had a coupon for an Al Fresco product! Lucky day!) I think that apples work well with fennel and onion, so I figured chicken sausage with apples should work well too. I usually have fennel and onion on hand - it is a sad sad day in the BlB kitchen if there is no fennel or onion around!
This dish turned out wonderfully. The fennel and the onions practically melted into the sauce, which got body and richness from a small amount of butter and pasta cooking water. The sausage was delicious: sweet and maple-kissed. I would certainly recommend picking up a package of Al Fresco's sweet apple chicken sausage if you see it at the store!
Fusilli with Fennel and Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage
Extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced, some fronds reserved
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 lb dried fusilli
1 lb fully cooked sweet apple chicken sausage, cut into rounds
1/2 cup dry white wine
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 - 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan/skillet/braiser over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, until meltingly soft, 20-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving at least a cup of pasta water.
3. When vegetables are about done, move them to the sides of the pan and add the chicken sausage to the center of the pan. Cook for a couple minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Cook for a couple minutes. Mix in a tablespoon or two of the butter and a splash or two of the pasta water.
4. Add the drained pasta to the pan and combine. Remove from the heat, stir in an additional tablespoon or two of the butter, the cheese and more pasta water if it is too dry. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the reserved fronds.