Stewed Sweet Sausages in Fennel-Tomato Sauce

A big pot of simmering red sauce makes chef April Bloomfield think of the home kitchen of her former boss Ruth Rogers. This is Bloomfield's version of the sauce, with sausage and big pieces of fresh fennel added. “I just love slow-cooked fennel,” she says. “It gives the dish a nice, soft creaminess with the slightly bouncy sausage.”

  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 sweet Italian sausages (4 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 fennel bulbs—trimmed, each bulb cut into 8 wedges, fronds chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • One 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands, juices reserved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 pequin chiles (see Note) or 2 chiles de árbol
  • Creamy polenta, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add half of the sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with the remaining sausages.

  2. Add the fennel wedges to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, until the fennel is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine and chiles. Tuck the sausages into the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes longer. Garnish the stew with fennel fronds and serve over polenta.

Make Ahead

The stewed sausages can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; rewarm before serving.


Small, spicy dried red Mexican pequin chiles are available at Latin American markets and specialty food stores.

Suggested Pairing

For these sausages, look for a wine that has a lot of juicy red fruit but not a lot of tannins.

Contributed By Photo © Christina Holmes Published January 2015

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