I have made sausage and peppers many different ways but this recipe is my very favorite. I have to say that I have never tried a Lidia Bastianich recipe I did not like. This is a very flexible and forgiving recipe....I sometimes add potatoes, sometimes leave out the mushrooms, use different colored peppers. If I do not have the pickled cherry peppers I have subbed peppadews and even a few slices of pickled jalapeno peppers. The recipe still comes out really well. If I do not add potatoes we sometimes have these on crusty Italian rolls with mustard or with potatoes we eat them on a plate with crusty bread to sop up the delicious juices. I also like to add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary to the baking dish. This time I used Italian frying peppers and red peppers as that was what I had on hand.
Sausage and Peppers
Lidia Bastianich/Lidia's Italian -American Kitchen
Those of you who have been to Italian-American street fairs in New York City will certainly be familiar with this dish, usually served as is or packed into a crusty hero roll. It is a great dish for a crowd, as part of a buffet or as the centerpiece of a dinner, served family-style.
You may be surprised to see that there is no stock or wine in this dish. I prefer to let the sausages and vegetables simmer in their own juices. The flavors blend and mellow a little, but still stay intense. The key to making really wonderful sausage and peppers is to carmelize each ingredient separtately, then to pile them into a baking dish and finish them in the oven.
16 links sweet Italian sausages, with or without fennel seeds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound white, shiitake, or cremini mushrooms (or a mix of them)
3 large yellow onions, cut into 1-inch wedges
6 pickled cherry peppers, stemmed and seeded, but left whole
2 medium yellow and 2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips
Poke the sausages all over with a fork. Divide 1/4 cup olive oil between two large, heavy skillets and heat them over medium heat. Divide the sausages between the skillets and cook, turning occasionally, until the sausages are well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. About halfway through browning the sausages, whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife and toss half the cloves into each skillet. Transfer the browned sausages and garlic to a 13x9-inch baking dish, leaving the fat behind.
While the sausages are browning, prepare the mushrooms. Trim the stems from the shitakes, if using. Trim the stems from the white and cremini mushrooms if you like. Cut any mushrooms with caps larger than 2 inches in half; leave smaller mushrooms whole.The mushrooms can be omitted.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scatter the onions and cherry peppers over the fat in one of the skillets, and the mushrooms over the fat in the other. Cook the onions, stirring often, until browned and wilted but still quite crunchy, about 8 minutes. Cook the mushrooms until they have absorbed the fat in the skillet and have begun to brown, about 6 minutes.
Slide the mushrooms into the baking dish. Spoon the onions into the baking dish, leaving behind some of the fat in the skillet. (If there is not enough fat left to coat the bottom of the skillet, pour in enough olive oil to do so). Add the peppers to the skillet and cook, tossing frequently, just until wilted but still quite crunchy, about 6 minutes. Slide the peppers into the baking dish, toss all the ingredients together well, and place in the oven.
Bake uncovered, tossing occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but still firm and no trace of pink remains in the sausages, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.