Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Perhaps you have seen the cartoon? Two buzzards, sitting on a tree branch overlooking the desert. One turns to the other and states flatly "Patience my ass, I'm gonna kill something!".

I've felt that way about braising and cool weather. We had a spate of chilly mornings. Texans are constitutionally capable of ignoring the afternoon highs in order to declare with real affection, "It's Fall!" and start into braising and stewing and all those autumnal foody activities that make perfect sense when there is a certain crispness to the air.

So even though our afternoon highs are still in the 70s (or above, shhhh, I know, I know) I decided to make this delicious reading recipe from bitchincamero's blog post featuring all sorts of Fall Goodies.

Mel lives in Florida where the weather isn't exactly cooperating chilly temperature wise either.Whenever I have tried her recipes I have been amply rewarded.  I trust Mel's taste buds now.  If she was willing to heat up her kitchen for this delicious dish then that was all the encouragement I needed.

Besides, this particular recipe calls for a braise of sausage, apples, onions, pears, cranberries and stout. What's not to love?

When I think of beer (or stout) braised sausages, I immediately think "Brats!".
Me holding my baby brother in his pre-grilling days.
The best brats I ever had were in my baby brother's backyard just north of Chicago, years ago. It was partly the delight of getting our two families together (a rarity) and partly the delight of watching my baby brother (the classic picky eater as a child) manning the grill to prepare us a delicious dinner. 

Here's the recipe - for once I didn't change a thing except since the package of brats came with 5 links, I threw them all in. Read it and drool while I turn the sausages so they don't over brown, OK?

Stout-Braised Sausages with Apples, Pears and Cranberries
4 large sausage links
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium or large yellow onions, sliced
2 ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 apples peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 pint fresh cranberries
12 oz bottle of your favorite stout, brown ale or mocha porter

1) Preheat oven to 350. Set a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.
2) Once it's hot, add the onions and saute five minutes or until they begin to soften.
3) Add the sausages and brown on each side, turning them to prevent sticking, about 5-7 minutes.
[OK - one adjustment early on. Since I am using 5 links which crowds the pan a bit?I took the softened onions out so the sausages were the ones doing the browning and not the onions.Excelsior!]
4) Add the apples, pears, cranberries and stout.
5) Give everything a good stir and pop, uncovered, into the oven for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
[Adjustment number two. Since I have this crowded pan, when it came time to add the pile of Fall Goodies, I took the sausage links out first, added the Goodies, stirred, then nestled my nicely browned brats back into the liquid.In addition, I am declaring "occasionally" to be every 20 minutes at this point so I can keep an eye on the level of the cooking liquid.]
6) When the 90 minutes are up, turn on the broiler and brown the top for about 5 minutes to add color and make for a prettier presentation.Serve with a loaf or two of crusty bread. Makes 4 large servings.

Mel notes you should feel free to use any variety of sausage, apple or pear that you have on hand. When I asked her about potentially using dried cranberries (in case it was some time of year you didn't have a pint of cranberries sitting in the refrigerator, she responded: "Dried cranberries should be fine here. I used fresh because I didn’t want the dish to get too sweet. So in your case, [using dried cranberries she meant] I think I’d use just one apple, one pear and an extra onion or some shredded cabbage to keep it from tasting like dessert.".

As it turned out I did have fresh cranberries on hand. I also have a lot of dried cranberries thanks to my daughter gifting me with all of hers when she moved out of state to attend law school in Ann Arbor Michigan where it is not only chilly it is cold, and - SNOWING!! (which naturally when you are rising when it is still dark and driving to catch a commuter bus is not quite so delightful as it might sound).

Anyway - at the first 20 minute "stirring" mark the braise was gently bubbling, smelled fab-u-lous, and as I was just finishing off a Guinness Stout "for the cook" I decided to let the pot go undisturbed for another 40 minutes. At that point I will check the liquid, give it all a good stir since things should be giving their all to the dish by then, and then give it another 20-30 minutes in the oven before serving.  

That should give me the time I need to get the bread sliced up and in some foil to warm prior to dinner.  I'll set the table, see if anybody else wants a Guinness with dinner (besides me, naturally), and haul out some of the amazing local butter from Remember When dairy.  

Then a quick run up under the broiler, plating, photo opping, and we will be all about dinner around here (and not a moment too soon).

Because I am in an expansive mood, this dinner post goes out in honor of Mel for the great recipe and also to Johnny Flapjacks who is visiting "across the pond" in Britain.  Doubtless Johnny is enjoying a couple pints of some sort of wonderful ale or stout tonight with his hostesses.  Thanks for the recipe, Mel!  Raise a glass for those of us still stateside, Flapper!OK - all done. And the envelope please? Wow folks. I mean, really, truly, WOW. If you are at all a fan of the meat/fruit combinations in any form, this is your recipe. I now know why Mel suggested a loaf or two of bread, because the braise liquid is amazing all on it's own. You won't want to leave a drop on your plate.

I'd say this might be a new favorite for me. It was easy if not quick, and since most of the time involved didn't involve me, it is great for even a busy day. Or especially for a busy day so you can relax at dinnertime and enjoy a deeply complex dish layered with all sorts of meaty, and slightly muted fruity flavors as your reward. I am honestly having a hard time not hauling the leftovers out and heating them up for breakfast. It was that good.

If you are not such a meat/fruit fan (like my Hub it turns out) then put out a nice grainy mustard as an accoutrement. He was stating last night that he was missing the acidity of the sauerkraut I usually serve alongside brats or other similar sausage. Although truth be told, when I make kraut I do it Bavarian style with grated apple and sliced onion and a touch of brown sugar and caraway that to me yields a fairly similar melange of flavors as this braise. Eh! To each their own. I am happy to claim the leftovers for lunch this week. Very very happy...

Or maybe leftovers for brunch.....hmmmmm.


bitchincamero said...

Deb - these look great! Glad you liked them :)

Your daughter's at UM? My husband is from Michigan (a UM alum) and we're going up there for 10 days over the holidays. I think I may die of cold!!

TexasDeb said...

They tasted great too. I guess I already said that. : )

Yup - the baby of the family is in Ann Arbor at UM Law.

Wow - quite the opposite of December in Miami, that's for sure. My question - why aren't they all coming to visit YOU?!

Enjoy eating cold weather foods while you are there and if we find ourselves yearning for a white Christmas here in Central Texas we'll just have to focus on the salt on the rims of our magaritas.

PassivePastry said...

i approve of meat and fruit whole-heartedly.
i approve of meat period.

i almost bought some wursty sausage yumness in HEB... but stuck with crappy turkey wieners instead- trying to watch the waistline. :)

Anonymous said...

My hubby cannot tolerate the fruit with meat - nertz!

Looks good, except without the onions!

TexasDeb said...

PPastry - Yeah...sigh...waistlines - what a problem they can be. If only I would grow two inches taller I think it would all work out. What are the odds though....

Biz - a thought - the meat tastes great and you could do what I did - eat the rest on its own like a stewy soup or whatever. (Anybody have a question why I am having waistline issues?)

The onions completely dissolve into the sauce after 90 minutes of braising. You'd never know they were in there.

Flapjacks said...

hells. yeah.

a shout out, and a great looking meal.


i had some beers, i retroactively toast one in your honor! shit, two!

that sounds like fall. in meat.

don't worry about waistlines. just eat well. you look thin, you shoot eat some more (in my best grandma voice!).