Over leftovers lunches in the break room, George and I commented on how our best laid dinner plans of paella can turn easily into pan-fried chicken or something even less ambitious. With roommates who log in long hours at the lab, I find myself unwilling to bake bread, knowing there will be no one to break it with me. Cooking is the art least inclined to solitude I know of, ill-suited to work in a vacuum. I struggle for inspiration, lacking the laughter and chorus of an army of chopping knives, the many hands making light work and other embodied kitchen platitudes. The fleet-footed daylight of winter means I tramp home in frigid darkness, ready to eat something warm long before I cross my threshold.
It was with these thoughts that I reached for the package of D’Artagnan sausage. The combination of rabbit, pork and ginger piqued my interest, and in my experience, the homey, full flavor of sausage is a ready weapon against listlessness in the kitchen. Still, I dallied too long with vegetarianism not to be daunted at the prospect of eating a whole sausage in its barren glory. I’d stumbled upon a recipe on Orangette—an enticing combination of roasted sausage and red grapes—that seemed like a savory winter supper, low in fussiness yet high in flavor. Being already favorably disposed to the red-grape-red-onion pairing , I decided the three would make good bunkmates.
The kids played together nicely, indeed. The onions, softened initially in the pan, were then spun into a creamy bed by the heat of the oven. They drank up greedily the meat’s juices, sponging up the splash of Chateau Virgile with a reckless abandon. Against this smoky introduction, the sausage was a crispy counterpoint, while maintaining a succulent interior. The rabbit meat made it softly gamey without being fatty. The grapes were sweet and bright, bringing out the gingery bits of sausage and making dinner seem almost like dessert. A savory scent with notes of mulled wine warmed the apartment, and I heard the slam of the secret side door to our entryway. Which means, I think, that sometimes you just need to cook till the cows (or someone) come home
Rabbit sausage with red grapes and red onions
Modified from Orangette
2 D’Artagnan or Fabrique Delices Rabbit sausage links
1 med-large red onion, thinly sliced
one small bunch red grapes
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 475 F. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper. When starting to soften, turn heat to high and add sausage. Brown for about four minutes on each side. In the meantime, was grapes and toss with olive oil to cover lightly and sprinkle with salt. Remove skillet from heat and transfer onions and sausage to a cazuela or baking dish. Pour about a quarter cup of red wine into the skillet to remove browned bits stuck to the
bottom, and pour over onions. Top with grapes and place on middle rack of oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, turning sausage once if desired, until grapes are wrinkled and sizzling.
Serve with potatoes, roasted, mashed or baked in salt a la Paula Wolfert (The Cooking of Southwest France).