Fennel seeds in the tomato sauce boost the flavor of the sliced fennel bulb in this satisfying dish. A thin layer of fontina cheese on top bakes to a golden brown. For a spicy version, use hot Italian sausages rather than mild.
Great Comfort Food Recipes
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pound mild Italian sausages
1 onion, cut into thin slices
1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 pound baking potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Heat the oven to 450°. In a large deep frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausages and cook until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove. When the sausages are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1/4-inch slices.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over moderately low heat. Add the onion, fennel bulb, garlic, and fennel seeds and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and salt and cook, covered, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the wine and simmer until evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes. Raise the heat to moderately high and simmer until no liquid remains in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in the sausages and transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Bake the sausage mixture for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the fontina. Bake until the vegetables are tender and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes longer.
More often than not, red wine is best with sausage, but the relative delicacy of this delicious dish will shine through better with a crisp, herbal-flavored white wine, such as an inexpensive white Bordeaux from France.
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