Roasted Sausages with Red Grapes, Polenta, & Gorgonzola

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Guys. I made this recipe for Roasted Sausages with Red Grapes, Polenta, & Gorgonzola and realized a few things about myself.

1. I have a really difficult time photographing sausages. I mean, it’s just not the easiest thing to take a pretty picture of.

2. I have the maturity of a tween. I had a tough time not writing “hard” and “sausage” in the same sentence up there. And, there, I did it anyway. There’s also a bit in the recipe below about pricking the sausages and I just can’t even…I’m so sorry. Now you know, I’m secretly twelve.

Anyway, innuendo and (lack of) maturity aside, this dinner was one of my favorites as of late! I mean, it’s SO EASY. I really love and appreciate that these days. Few dishes, few ingredients, little hands-on time, and tons of flavor. WIN. Also, I’ve been super intrigued/terrified of all the cooked grape dishes I’ve seen around the internets. I’m super picky about my grapes, I like them firm (heh). I like a taught grape, okay? The thing is, when you roast them, there’s no worry about having grapes in their prime. They can be going south and it’s all good. I first delved into the cooked-grape-territory a few weekends ago with this number from Smitten Kitchen. So amazingly good as part of a cheese spread. After I learned how amazing a warm grape could be, I totally bookmarked this recipe from Molly of Dunk and Crumble’s book Sheet Pan Suppers. It’s a cookbook I will certainly be referring to often. It’s such a clever concept and I am totally in love with this recipe. I mean it’s so simple, savory, sweet, spicy, and delicious. Perfect for weeknight dinners, a little different, a little fancy, and great for pretending to be a mature-adult-person who doesn’t crack-up at sausage jokes and stuff.

[recipe]

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Roasted Sausages with Red Grapes, Polenta, & Gorgonzola

Serves 4

From the book Sheet Pan Suppers

Olive oil cooking spray

1, 18 ounce, tube prepared polenta

1 small red onion cut into 1/4-inch thick half moons

2 cups, stemmed, red seedless grapes

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

6 links hot Italian sausages (or mild if you prefer)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus an additional 2 tablespoons for serving

Preheat the oven to 425ºF with one rack about 4 inches from the broiler and the other in the center. Mist a sheet pan with cooking spray, or lightly brush some olive oil over the entire surface (this is what I did).

Remove the polenta from it’s packaging and slice into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds. Place in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.

Toss the red onion and grapes with the olive oil and salt in a medium bowl. Scatter over the polenta and arrange the sausages evenly around the grapes and onions. Prick each sausage once or twice with a fork. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme leaves.

Bake until the sausages are cooked though and the grapes start to wrinkle, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and heat the broiler. Scatter 2 tablespoons of the gorgonzola over the sausages. Broil to melt the cheese and brown the sausages. About 3 minutes.

Serve the sausages over the polenta with the grapes and onions. Sprinkle with the additional gorgonzola to serve, if you like.

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Pumpkin, Leek, & Pecan Cornbread with Spicy Honey

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Guys, this is the prettiest cornbread I’ve ever made. I first saw it on Megan’s blog and thought it was such a stunnner back then, and I finally got around to making it. I’m so glad I did!

I decided to adapt this recipe to be baked in a cast iron skillet because the fine people of Finex (forged right here in Portland!) gifted me with one of their gorgeous skillets. I mean, look at that iron-beauty down there! I especially love that the cooking surface of the pan is smooth, instead of rough like most cast iron skillets, and the octagonal sides make for easy pouring. Anyway, it’s perfect for this recipe because we start  by browning butter–always a good idea–and the butter that coats the pan after pouring it out for the batter acts to make the surface even more non-stick. Plus, the pan stays hot, since we all know cast iron holds heat like a dream, creating a little sizzle when the batter hits the pan making for a nice golden-brown crust on this cornbread. Obviously, you can use any trusty cast iron skillet you have for this recipe and it will be just as delicious.

The pumpkin in the cornbread makes it so moist, with extra tenderness from the addition of buttermilk. In addition to the brown butter flavor punch, we have lots of leeks, sliced super thinly, throughout the batter and on top. Along with pecans for a sweet and nutty bite. The leeks on top get crisp and sweet and so perfect. I’m sort of obsessed with them (I’ve been using them as a pizza topping lately, too…so killer!). But, the thing that really makes this cornbread sing is the spicy honey drizzle. It’s a sweetly spiced, sticky counterpart to the earthy-sweet and savory cornbread…and it’s SO simple!! It’s just honey and tabasco. Done.

Anyway, I urge you to make this cornbread sooner than later. Don’t wait a whole dang year like I did. And, I have to say it, it’d be a great addition to a Thanksgiving spread. Hint, hint.

[recipe]

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Pumpkin, Leek, & Pecan Cornbread with Spicy Honey 

Makes 8-12 servings

Adapted from Take A Megabite

Leeks can be super gritty, so I like to clean them by slicing them and swishing around in a large bowl of cold water. Then I scoop them out and pat them dry on a clean tea towel.

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup (4 ounces) brown butter

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1 large leek, sliced thinly into rounds and rinsed well

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Spicy Honey:

1/2 cup honey

2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet until it gets foamy, once it begins to foam, continue to cook the butter, stirring until the solid bits in the butter turn deep brown and smell fragrant like toffee (if you aren’t using a cast iron skillet, refer to Megan’s recipe for alternate instructions). Pour the butter into a dish and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and cooled brown butter. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold until just combined, then fold in half of the leeks. Scrape the batter into the cast iron pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining leeks, as well as the pecans. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool at least 10 minutes before serving with the spicy honey.

To make the spicy honey, stir together both of the ingredients until combine.

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Full disclosure, Finex sent me one of their skillet to use. I was not compensated for this post, I just really like this skillet! As always, all opinions and words are my own. 

Spicy Pecan Banana Bread

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Yesterday, I shared some sriracha-maple pecans on my Instagram feed. The pecans are coated in a mixture of maple syrup and sriracha, making for a sweet-savory combination that is seriously addictive.

Seriously. I cannot stop eating them.

The pecans are delicious enough on their own, as a snack, but I had to put ‘em in some banana bread. This spicy situation began this weekend when we went to Salt & Straw for a waffle cone with Sean’s brother and girlfriend, who are visiting this week. This month at Salt and Straw they have a spicy banana walnut ice cream…gah! it’s so good! It’s so good that Sean and I both got a scoop. Which is major since we almost never order the same things–so we can share, obvs. As we were enjoying our treats, I immediately told Sean I wanted to make a bread version using pecans.  Thus, this banana bread.

Plenty of chopped pecans get folded into the banana batter–that also contains a bit of sriracha for a little background hint of savory-spice. The sriracha isn’t super pronounced here, it just brings a bit of salty-heat that plays so nicely with the sweetness of the bananas in the bread and the maple syrup on the pecans. Then, more of those spiced pecans stud the top of the bread so you get a bit of sweet-crunchy-spice in every bite.

[recipe]

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Spicy Pecan Banana Bread

Adapted from this recipe.

For the pecans:

2 cups whole, raw pecans

1 tablespoon sriracha

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

For the bread:

4 very ripe bananas

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sriracha

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil spray or other cooking spray. Line the sprayed loaf pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides, secure the overhang with binder clips. Set both pans aside.

In a bowl toss the pecans with the sriracha, maple, and cinnamon until evenly coated. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes. Remove the pecans from the oven and toss with the 2 teaspoons of sugar to coat, cool slighty. Chop 1 cup of the pecans coarsely and set aside while you make the batter.

In a bowl mash the bananas well and mix with the cooled butter, sugar, beaten egg, vanilla, sriracha, and milk until well combined. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chopped pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and arrange as many whole pecans (from the remaining 1 cup of pecans) on top of the batter as you’d like. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. If the pecans begin to get too dark part of the way through, tent the bread with foil and continue to bake until done. Cool on a rack before slicing and serving. [/recipe]