Monday, April 20, 2009

Sausage, Peppers and Onions in White Wine over Jerusalem Artichokes

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

(for the sauce)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large links (1/2 pound) pork sausage, casings removed (we used naturally raised sundried tomato-chardonnay sausage from the Union Square farmers' market)
1 very large Spanish onion, sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, chopped rough
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large Anaheim (mild bright green) chile (or any sort of bell pepper), sliced thin
1 tbsp. ground fennel
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. honey or sugar
2 chives, white and green parts, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat the oil in a large skillet and add sausage. Saute until thoroughly browned, breaking apart as the meat cooks, about 5 minutes.
2) Add onions and garlic. Sweat 5 minutes.
3) Add fennel, basil, thyme and cayenne and toast spices for about 30 seconds.
4) Stir in white wine, deglazing the pan and incorporating the browned bits. Add tomatoes and cover, turning heat down to low. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.
5) Add the peppers and cover pan again, simmering for 5 minutes.
6) Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste when the sauce has thickened slightly and all the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes covered total. Stir in chives.

(for the sunchokes)

1 pound sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped, kept in a bowl of water with a large splash of citrus or vinegar to prevent discoloring
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed or cast iron skillet until shimmering.
2) Add chopped, drained sunchokes to skillet and fry, turning approx. every 2 minutes, until browned and cooked through, about ten minutes depending on the size they were chopped.
3) Season with salt and pepper. Top sauteed sunchokes with the sausage-pepper sauce, garnish with chives, and serve.

(for the beer)
1 12-oz. bottle Peak Organic IPA

1) Open Peak Organic IPA.
2) Enjoy together.

Peak is a hip little coastal Maine brewing company who use all organic hops and malts for their beer, and they do a fine job of it. I'm coming around to the fact (slowly, for a rabid liberal like myself) that "organic" beer and wine no longer means "tastes like the back end of a farm." (Ok, come on, it used to mean that whether you like it or not--free range eggs and produce were a little ahead of the Adult Beverage products, to my mind. And for the privilege of tasting Eau de Barndoor After the Horse Has Fled, you got to pay an extra 40% too! But that was SO 'nineties. The tables have changed.) Peak's Nut Brown Ale is a very tasty example of the style, so we were stoked to try this new concoction (made from only the happiest, best-adjusted plant life). They used Amarillo, Simcoe, and Nugget hops, but the real surprise here is how toffeelike and caramelized the malts are in the background. It's a very drinkable IPA, not too bitter, dry finish with a nice level of biscuity yeast, and very good on the palate with food.

We're back in business, baby! The period of mourning for our favorite West Side watering hole--named, so we could remember it easily, West Side Brewing Company--is over. And why? Because it's open again! Mr. Kirk Struble is once again slinging the malted hop juice on the UWS, with a name equally well calculated to prevent confusion: Amsterdam Ale House! Yes, it's on Amsterdam! Yes, Kirk still picks the beers (like the smooth operator Peak Organic IPA)! Yes, they still have bison! Yes, their nachos are still awesome! What more could we ask for? Here we are with Herr Struble last New Year's Eve, and yes, that's beer in our glasses, not a double espesso.