Preparing this dish will fill your home with the most intoxicating aroma ever. The smell alone may be enough to inspire the occasional home cook to prepare dinner on a regular basis. A mixture of orange juice and wine is infused with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and anise seed, then poured over sautéed apples, pears, and sweet Italian sausage and baked. The meal tastes just as wonderful as it smells.
By the way, don't limit sausages to this recipe -- there are many excellent quality types at the market these days, everything from hot and spicy to sweet and aromatic. And the best part is that they can be prepared in minutes, making dinner almost instantaneous. For this recipe, use a sweeter variety sausage for best results.
1. Heat the oven to 375°F
2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cook until it is melted. Add the pears and apples, cut side down, in a single layer, and cook until they are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the pears and apples in a large baking dish in a single layer. Season with salt.
3. In the meantime, add the orange juice, late-harvest wine, orange zest, ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick, and anise seed to the frying pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from the heat. Discard the ginger, cinnamon stick, and cloves.
4. Add the sausages to the baking dish with the pears and apples. Pour the orange juice and wine mixture over the pears, apples, and sausages and season with salt. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the sausages are cooked and the pears and apples are tender but still hold their shape, 25 to 35 minutes.
5. To serve, cut each sausage in half on the diagonal. Place 3 pieces of sausage and half of a pear and apple on each plate. Drizzle with the pan juices and serve immediately.
Wine pairing: Riesling or Gewürztraminer
For a first course, serve roasted butternut squash soup garnished with honey-pecan butter. Serve rum raisin and butter cookies for dessert.
From Joanne Weir's Cooking Confidence by Joanne Weir. Published by The Tauton Press © copyright 2012.
Richard Wrangham, a professor at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire, studies the role of cooking in human evolution. "Once you start thinking about the importance of cooking -- its supply of energy, its strange distribution compared to natural foods -- it's bound to have affected our evolution hugely, our behavior, our society, our cognition, all sorts of features about us," he says.