Italian-style sausages marry beautifully with finocchio, aka fennel, in this one-dish meal for all seasons. It’s a crowd pleaser that also includes potatoes, and you can round out the dish with a seasonal veggie — e.g. peas in springtime, butternut in the fall. Here in France I used the readily available saucisses de Toulouse, which like Italian sausages are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. But it could be argued that the Italian variety is better.
Saucisses-fenouil-pommes de terre / Sausages with finocchio and potato
The difference is that, in general, saucisses de Toulouse contain little seasoning, if any, other than salt and pepper, while Italian sausages are often seasoned with fennel seeds and sometimes include hot pepper and/or herbs, such as basil, as well. As Italian sausages are not that easy to find in Paris, while saucisses de Toulouse can be found in any supermarket, I chose the latter and compensated by adding fennel seeds, garlic and a crushed cayenne pepper to the mixture while sautéing the sausage and finocchio.
But, you may well ask, why are the French sausages called saucisses de Toulouse if they can be found in any supermarket across the country? Well, mes amis, this type of sausage is indeed said to originated in the venerable southwest city of Toulouse — also known as ‘the rosy city’ due to the color of its buildings. People from other regions tried it, liked it and began making it in their own neck of the woods. This, of course, incensed the fine people of Toulouse, who have since added a Red Label for ‘veritable saucisses de Toulouse‘ that are made according to traditional methods, with few additives.
What I like about this dish is its versatility. If it’s summer, you could add tomatoes — and even skip the potatoes if you like. In winter you could substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes, or use both. Preparation is very simple, with a little chopping and sautéing after which the dish simmers for about 20 minutes in water or, better, homemade chicken broth to allow the potatoes to cook and the flavors to blend. Start or finish with a green salad, accompany with a bottle of sturdy red and you’ll be all set.