Saturday, October 11, 2008


Trenton, New Jersey; New York and Chicago, Illinois all have something in common: Italian sections where you can get, among other things, great sausage. (There are other cities, as well, that have Italian sections.) My husband grew up in Trenton, New Jersey; and sausage and peppers were part of his tradition. I'd like to make sausage and peppers with turkey sausage, but he would never eat it. So, when we go to Trenton, we visit Porfirio's and bring back some of the best sausage you could ever eat. It's fairly lean, as pork sausage goes. Porfirio's (in the Chambersburg section of Trenton) makes it fresh every day. We take it home packed in dry ice and regular ice, then freeze it in 1-1/2 lb. packages. Some of it goes into our homemade spaghetti sauce (a secret recipe from Guy's aunt, who owned restaurants and cooked for Dean Martin when she lived in Las Vegas.)
Some of it gets cooked on the grill, and some in a skillet with sausage and peppers. Sometimes I add potatoes to the peppers and onions, and sometimes I add fennel. The other item we buy when we go to Trenton, is Italian rolls from Italian People's Bakery. There is no other roll on earth that can compare. These are very lightly crispy on the outside and light as a feather inside. It's very easy to eat too many of these, because they go down so easily, kind of like Dunkin' Donuts. In our little town of New Bern, North Carolina, we've tried every Italian sausage that is made, and Guy just won't eat any of them. Our local Harris Teeter, however, has started to carry some nice rolls. While they can't compare with Italian People's, they do hold sausage and peppers quite nicely. So, right now, when we still have sausage in the freezer, but no more Italian People's rolls, Guy can have his sausage in a decent roll. I eat the sausage and peppers sans roll.

Here is how I make sausage and peppers.

Cut approx. 1-1/2 lbs. Italian pork or turkey sausage into links, about 4" each, or the size to fit your roll. Pour about 2 Tbsp. olive oil in 10" or 12" skillet, tilting to coat bottom, and heat on medium-high heat. Add sausage when oil is hot and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage from pan; drain on paper towels; keep warm. (Porfirio's sausage does not give off a lot of fat; if the sausage you are using does, you might want to wipe out the skillet and add a little olive oil before adding the veggies.) Slice 1 large onion and 1 large pepper (green or red, or mixture) and add to skillet. Salt and pepper to taste (I go lightly because the sausage is salty, and because I tend to undersalt.) Saute` the onions and peppers about 5 minutes, then add the sausage. Sprinkle about 1-2 tsp. balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar) over all, and stir. Cook till veggies are crisp-tender, sausage is thoroughly cooked but not overdone, and liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Serve as is or on rolls. (We had this for dinner the other night, no rolls, with homemade tomato soup for a filling and satisfying meal. Guy eats the leftovers for lunch with roll.)

There are a lot of variations on this theme: add sweet potatoes or white potatoes to the peppers and onions; add fennel; add tomato paste and sauce to the skillet, or fresh cut-up tomatoes; add beans. You can also add any herbs you want -- typically, basil and oregano are herbs of choice. Some people add crushed red pepper. Adding potatoes or beans would not be authentic Italian. But then, speaking as a German-Hungarian, who cares what's authentic? If you like the way it tastes, that's all that counts.

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