Mon 09 Sep 2013

Food Without Fuss: Harvest Home


This recipe, while hopefully of use and interest to all, was written with the autumn 2013 selections of The Society’s Wine Without Fuss subscription scheme particularly in mind. Voted Best Wine Club by both The Independent and Which? Magazine, Wine Without Fuss offers regular selections of delicious wines with the minimum of fuss. Why not join the growing band of members who let their Society take the strain, and are regularly glad they do? 

Janet Wynne Evans

Janet Wynne Evans

You can watch a video about Wine Without Fuss on our website.

Recipes abound for the autumnal and classically simple Italian dish of sausages and grapes. The version below is served at Al Forno, a restaurant based not in Tuscany but in Providence, Rhode Island and it piqued my interest when it was demonstrated on the small screen by chef-proprietor Johanne Killeen.

So taken with it was I that I hastily scribbled it down in my own write, and promptly cooked it, using my initiative to fill any gaps. The recipe is available on but I’ve hopefully saved members a few keystrokes, as well as adding a few observations of my own, which I hope Ms Killeen and her hostess, the Barefoot Contessa, won’t mind. The sweetness of the grapes combined with the meatiness of the bangers is a real success.

As ever, anything better than the sum of its parts relies on good parts, so get the best, meatiest sausages going, and don’t stint on the quality of the balsamic vinegar. This is no place for the really expensive, treacly kind sold in pipettes, but do get a decent, sweetish nicely-matured one. You could give the dish a Spanish twist with a similarly good Sherry vinegar. Whatever you do, make sure the grapes are seedless – crunchy is not an option here. Finally, if your oven, like mine, has a maximum temperature of only 220ºC (190ºFan)/Gas 7, add ten minutes to the cooking time.

Wine matches

Poderi Colla Barbera d'Alba, 2011

Poderi Colla Barbera d’Alba, 2011

This recipe will embrace any number of the wines in the Autumn Wine Without Fuss selection. Much depends on your choice of sausage. Reds that come to mind for meaty British bangers are Zarcillo Pinot Noir 2012 and Aliança Bairrada Reserve 2011 (Buyers’ Everyday Reds). If going Italian, temper the garlic and fennel with Barbera d’Alba Poderi Colla 2011 (Premium Reds), or, from the same selection, Cruz de Piedra Garnacha if you want to use baking chorizos. Richer whites also work – try Le Pélérin Chartreuse de Mougères 2012 (Buyers’ Everyday Reds), Corbières Blanc Roque Sestière 2012 (Premium Whites) and for the spicier characters, Gewurztraminer Schlumberger 2011 (French Classic Dry Whites).

Serves 6-8

1.5kg best-quality sausages, a mixture of different kinds, if you like
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
900g seedless grapes eg Thomson or Flame, washed and dried
2–4 tablespoons dry red wine – Chianti for preference
3 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 250ºC/500ºF/Gas 9.

Bring a large pan of water – enough to cover the sausages – to the boil. Parboil the sausages for 8 minutes to get rid of excess fat. This was a new one on me, but it certainly makes for crisper skin. Drain the sausages well and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Melt the butter in a large flameproof roasting tin, set on a moderate hob. Add the grapes and coat well. Add the wine and turn up the heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until it’s reduced by half.

Now grab some tongs, add the sausages and arrange under the grapes to stop them burning. Bake for 20–25 minutes, turning once to ensure even browning. Conscious of my slightly cooler oven and having a horror of semi-tanned bangers, I cooked them for a good 30 minutes and put them on top of the grapes for the last few minutes, but I did keep an eye on them.

Return the tin to the hob on a moderately high heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and let the juices reduce until thick and syrupy, scraping up any crusty bits on the base of the pan. I transferred the sausages to a warm plate before doing that, certain that they would stick resolutely to the tin but do leave them in if you feel brave. When the juices feel right, transfer all to a heated serving platter.

Serve with squares of focaccia, to mop up the juices.

Janet Wynne Evans
Specialist Wine Manager

Categories : Wine Without Fuss

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