Sausage and peppers is one of the most forgiving dishes you can make, because the basic recipe stretches easily from dinner for two to a feast for a crowd. As with so many tomato-sauce based dishes, preparing sausage and peppers the day before is a real time-saver. Prepping in advance also allows the acidity of the sauce to mellow out and the tastes of the disparate ingredients to become more integrated, creating a much richer flavor profile.
Prepare the Peppers
Any type of peppers will work for sausage and peppers. For visual oomph, go for a colorful stoplight collection of red, yellow and green peppers. Add as few or as many as you like; one or two of each color for every 1 pound of meat is a good rule of thumb. Slice peppers and keep them for as long as several days in the refrigerator. Wash and core the peppers, removing the stems, fibers and seeds. Slice the peppers lengthwise into thin strips, keeping the thickness as even as possible. Wrap the slices tightly in a double thickness of dampened paper towels and place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Sear the Sausages
Searing whole sausages gives them a slightly crisp bite that perfectly complements the softness of the savory meat within. Searing loose sausage meat caramelizes it, bringing its deepest flavors to the fore. Use any type of sausage, or mix and match. If you decide to mix sweet and hot whole sausages, slice one end off of each hot sausage so that you can tell them apart easily when they are cooked. To get the party started, place your sausages or loose sausage meat into a Dutch oven or deep skillet that has been preheated over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Cook them, turning whole sausages or stirring loose sausage meat, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the outsides have turned a deep, golden brown.
Start the Sauce
Basic tomato sauce is simple to make. Add chopped garlic and sliced onions to the sausage. Cover them with tomato sauce, and add seasonings and a splash of red wine. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes or so to let the flavors blend, then check to see if the sausages are done by inserting an instant-read thermometer into a random sausage. Pork sausages are done at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and poultry at 165 F.
Store It Away
Turn the heat off under the Dutch skillet. Let the sausage and sauce mixture come to room temperature before placing it in several small airtight containers with lids. Storing it in smaller containers ensures that the sauce cools at a more even rate, which makes it less likely that bacteria will develop. Place the containers near the back of the refrigerator, which tends to stay cooler.
Putting It Together
Heat the sauce to a gentle simmer approximately 20 minutes before you intend to serve the sausage and peppers. Stir in the sliced peppers and let them simmer. Serve whole sausages in grilled buns and loose sausage meat with peppers either on a toasted bun as well, or over pasta or polenta. Add a green salad for a complete meal.
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