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A classic Italian combination, meat and fruit. Like prosciutto and figs or melon, sausage and grapes is a fabulous and unexpected medley of flavors and textures. The wine and balsamic vinegar give this dish such a depth of flavor, it is a treat to your senses.
I have to say Mr. W is not a grape fan, short of grape flavored bubble gum that is. However, he devoured this dish. Half way through roasting time he showed up into the kitchen asking what smelled so good. I assured him he would love it. He absolutely did, 3 bites in and he was asking if there was more. That is the test, and we passed with flying colors.
Ina Garten featured this recipe from Al Forno restaurant, where they have had this fabulous dish with fresh grapes, hot sausage and a balsamic reduction on the menu for 30 years. I thought that it was a perfect rendition to try. Served with mashed potatoes this is an incredibly complete meal.
Recipe adapted from Johanne Killeen from Al Forno Restaurant
Roasted Grapes and Sausage
1 1/2 pounds Italian hot sausage
1 1/2 pounds Italian sweet sausage
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
5 to 6 cups (2 pounds) red and green seedless grapes, stems removed
6 tablespoons dry red wine, divided
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
Preheat the oven to 500°.
Parboil the sausages in water to cover for 8 minutes to rid them of excess fat.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large heatproof roasting pan, add the grapes, and toss to coat.
Over moderately high heat add 3 tablespoons of the wine. Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the wine has reduced by half.
Using tongs, transfer the parboiled sausages to the roasting pan and push them down in the grapes so the sausages will not brown too quickly. (I transferred to a baking sheet at this point, realizing that Pyrex is only oven safe to 450°).
Roast in the oven, turning the sausages once, until the grapes are soft and the sausages have browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the sausage to a serving tray and tent to keep warm.
Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over a medium-high heat and add the balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons of the butter and 3 tablespoons of the wine. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the roasting pan, and allow the vinegar and juices to reduce until they are thick and syrupy.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the grapes to a serving platter. Pour the sauce over the sausages and grapes and serve immediately, accompanied with fresh bread or mashed potatoes.
NOTE: you can also remove grapes (before moving roasting pan to stovetop) if you wish to have them less roasted – cooking them on the stove top will result in a very flavorful and very roasted grape and sausage dish, but less colorful.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you choose to use turkey or chicken sausage, skip the par boiling step. You will want the little fat that these sausages provide.