I had seen this Oktoberfest recipe when I got the others from Williams-Sonoma and just recently got around to making this one. I did alter the idea slightly as the original recipe that I will post has this as something of a salad with a nice shallot vinaigrette. I didn’t have any watercress, or any lettuce at all as a matter of fact, in the house when I made this so I simply made the dish and served it over rice instead. I think it came out just as well and makes good use of the slow cooker for this meal.
Balsamic-Braised Sausages with Grapes and Watercress
1 1/2 pounds fresh sweet or hot Italian pork sausages
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine
2 1/2 cups seedless red or green grapes, halved
1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
For the Shallot Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat a broiler. Arrange the sausages on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning as needed, until the sausages are a golden brown all over, about 8 to 9 minutes total. Transfer the sausages to a plate.
In a slow cooker, stir together the shallot, fennel, celery, garlic, salt and several grinds of pepper. Top with the broiled sausages and add the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar and white wine. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours on the high setting or 5 1/2 hours on the low setting, turning the sausages halfway through if possible. The sausages should be tender and cooked through.
To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, combine the grapes and watercress. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, shallot, red wine vinegar, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified; you will need about 1/3 cup of vinaigrette for this recipe; reserve the rest for another use. Drizzle the grapes and watercress with enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly and toss to coat everything evenly.
Divide the sausages among warm individual plates, spoon some of the braising liquid around the sausages, and top with the grapes and watercress. Serve.
All three of us loved the flavor of the sausages and the braising liquid. This is one of the few meals where we actually didn’t have any leftovers as the sausages went quite quickly. Browning the sausages before putting them in the slow cooker makes them nice and meaty and the slow cooking makes them very tender, so it is a great combination. I really liked the flavor of the braising liquid with the shallot and fennel and the balsamic vinegar really adds a lot to the dish as well. I think this would go very nicely with the grapes and watercress, and I did make the shallot vinaigrette anyway to have as a salad dressing for another day and even put a bit on my rice with this meal for some added flavor. Sean has already asked me to make this one again, so I think it’s going to be a favorite.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe that I have tried recently. I still have a bunch that I want to try out in the coming weeks, so there is still lots of good stuff to come, including some Halloween ideas and somethings to think about as possible Thanksgiving dishes. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!