Sausages with Grapes and Pearl Onions is my go-to frantic week night meal. I’ve been making some form of this dish for nearly ten years because I guess I’m perpetually frantic. I mean, what’s not to love about a one-pan meal that requires little more than arranging food items in a casserole dish? And on top of the ease of this dish, I think it’s drop dead gorgeous and a little more interesting than your usual chicken breasts and roasted carrots.
Okay, maybe I’m selling this a little too hard, but I love Sausages with Roasted Grapes and Pearl Onions and my inner history nerd does too. The combination of sausages and grapes provides a window to a long tradition in a very particular place. My recipe today is loosely based on Salsicce all’uva, a common vineyard workers’ dish enjoyed by the people of Umbria for centuries. I often find myself drawn to dishes like this because of their connection to a very intimate aspect of the past – they give me goosebumps in the best way.
In my experience dishes of necessity tend to have the most longevity. Most comfort food favourites are descendants of meals consisting of the odds and ends of a harvest. Salsicce all’uva is one such dish. Umbria is known for both its sausages and its wine, so when you have sausages and grapes in abundance it is extremely cost effective to feed them to every echelon of society. Today, Salsicce all’uva is still a prominent dish in Umbria and it’s not hard to see why. Although it may not be as necessary as it once was, the dish still unites the region’s two cultural obsessions making it a delicious emblem of the province’s shared history.
Now, I will ask you to disregard my mini-history lesson because if my recipe for Sausages with Roasted Grapes and Pearl Onions is authentic it is by fluke. I did not travel across Umbria in search of local culinary traditions but if I had the chance I most definitely and enthusiastically would. The truth is I’ve been making some form of this dish for so long I can’t remember where I found the original recipe and it has changed so much over the years that I am certain it is almost entirely different. I only say this, because I don’t want to give the impression that I know anything about how an Umbrian would handle this dish. This is just how a Susan handles this dish. I just felt it necessary to point out that this flavour pairing is part of a wider culinary culture. But enough of these disclaimers.
In the recipe below I deglaze the pan with dry vermouth, which I’m bananas about, but having said that you can use a dry white wine or Pernod or whatever you have in your home bar instead. Just make sure it’s not overly sweet. And if you’re not so much about the booze, a little chicken or veggie broth will do just fine. Also, the variety of grapes is flexible as well. I used black grapes this time around, but I have used concord grapes in the past. And in the course of researching Salsicce all’uva to impress you, I learned that the variety of grapes used in the traditional dish varied based on where the dish was prepared. In other words, areas of Umbria that cultivated white varietals used white grapes and areas that cultivated red used red. Really, you can use just about any grape, but I will say that I like black and concord grapes for their strong flavour and colour.
Enjoy this one! Sausages with Roasted Grapes and Pearl Onions is one of my all-time favourite meals.
- 4 Italian sausages
- 1 large bunch black grapes, washed
- 10-12 red pearl onions, peeled and halved
- 1/8 cup fresh rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (2-inch) knob ginger, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth ( I used Dolin)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a deep cast iron frying pan or braiser over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the sausages and brown them on both sides. Remove the sausages from the pan.
- Deglaze the pan with the Vermouth. Pour the resulting pan sauce into a small bowl and set aside. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a small mixing bowl combine garlic, ginger, olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
- Arrange the grapes and pearl onions in the frying pan. Place the sausages on top followed by the rosemary.
- Pour the balsamic mixture and pan sauce evenly over the grapes, sausages and onions. Finish with a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.
- Bake the dish for 20-25 minutes and let sit for an additional 10 before serving.
- Serve with mashed sweet potatoes.