Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers is a classic Italian-American dish cooked on truck worktops at innumerable street fairs in New York City and elsewhere. I can smell that smell from my childhood as I write this. Ordinarily, the vehicle for this greasy, no-frills dish is a big chunk of Italian bread. Since I can’t eat bread, I supplement my recipe with my favorite vegetable: The Mightly Sweet Potato. You can leave that out, use different colored peppers in its place, and/or stuff this glorious mess into a bread roll of your choice. If you do use bread I’ll be jealous, but not too jealous, because it’s pretty great the way it is.

You’ll probably want a napkin for this:

  • One red bell pepper
  • One yellow onion
  • One small sweet potato
  • 2 mild or hot sausages of your choice, about 6 oz total (I like to use mild Italian chicken sausage–you can certainly use veggie sausage and the like)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Salt
  • Mild chili powder

Yes, the ingredients list is that short. The flavor of this dish rests mostly with the sausage, so pick one that’s seasoned the way you like. I use mild Italian sausages because they’re seasoned with fennel seeds, and I’m more or less obsessed with that flavor.

First, chop your veggies (see the photos for how I chop things for this dish). Core the pepper and cut it into thin strips, then cut those in half. Chop the onion in half, then each half into strips, and then into thirds. And cut the sweet potato into 1/2″-thick half-roundels or quarter-roundels. Place the veggies in a large frying pan, and drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil on top of them. Spinkle about a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of mild chili powder (don’t worry, it won’t make the dish spicy, just a bit bolder) into the pan. Give it all a toss with a wooden spoon.

Turn the heat to medium-high, and let the veggies cook down a bit. While that’s going–it should take 5-10 minutes–cut your sausages into roundels. Mine are about 1/2″ thick. Add the sausage to the pan once the onions are more or less transparent, the peppers have softened up, and the sweet potato is soft and beginning to brown. You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan, and possibly to turn the heat down a tad, once you do so.

Stir the pieces of sausage around as they cook. Once the outsides of these pieces begin to firm up, you can use your spoon to break them into smaller bits. Just make sure that, whatever your method, the sausage cooks all the way through before you take the pan off the heat. Taste the dish towards the end, to see if it needs more salt.

The dish is done when the sausage is cooked through and fully incorporated with the veggies (about 5, maybe 8, minutes). Things should be a somewhat wilted, browned (maybe even charred a bit, if you like it that way), juicy, and greasy. No shame with this one: if you didn’t come for the oil, you don’t get dinner! This recipe makes a large meal for one without the bread, or two with the bread.

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