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Minimalism: Roasted Sausages with Grapes and Creamy Pearl Couscous ‘Risotto’

Minimalism. It seems to be the theme for 2012. I’ve been reading all sorts of blog posts and articles about people cleaning out their inboxes, unsubscribing from mailing lists, unfollowing blogs, deleting their cable, uninstalling apps from their mobile devices, and throwing out unnecessary items. I’ve gone through occasional purges in my life: stepping away from social media, canceling magazine subscriptions, throwing out old clothes by the bin-ful, chopping off my hair. There is something cathartic about cleaning out your real and digital life. A clean slate makes us feel ready to take on more challenges, start something new, and just feel fresh.

I realize that there’s probably a lot of noise in your life, so I want you to know — each and every one of you out there — how much I appreciate you returning to Turntable Kitchen. I’m waving from my little box in the cloud and doing a little dance, just for you. When I first started blogging, several years ago, I could hardly believe that ten people wanted to come to my website, no less two hundred or ONE THOUSAND! It feels surreal to — once in a while — realize that what I write here is read by people I do not know in real life. Some of you comment here. Some of you Tweet. Some of you Like stuff we post on Facebook. Some of you have sent me long, heart-felt emails! Some of you have made me shed a tear because you’ve said some really, really nice and encouraging things about what I write about.

Writing can be a solitary journey. But it’s when you realize that people are reading that it becomes a joint adventure. So back to minimalism. Of late, I’ve become more and more aware of my time. Of wanting to spend it wisely. And while some bloggers have been reflecting on wanting to spend more time away from their blogs, I actually want to spend as much time here as I’ve ever spent. I’m not saying that I don’t want to devote uninterrupted time to riding my bike, having dinner with my family, or going on a hike with a friend, but I also want you to know that this space is really, really important to me. It makes me happy. It lets me flex my muscles. It lets me explore my hopes and dreams. And the thing I love so much: cooking. In a much deeper way than if I weren’t here. With you guys. So I guess my takeaway is that I want to minimize: I think I’m going to cancel my cable, since I hardly watch TV anyways. And I think I’m going to unsubscribe from a few more mailing lists. And I think I will stop worrying about not responding to emails from people who aren’t really that important to me. But I’m not going to spend less time here, at least not if I can help it!

In that vain, I’d like to share a recipe with you that I think you’ll really love. It’s my favorite mix of casual and fancy. Sausages are Matt and I’s version of Mac and Cheese: they’re easy, delicious, comforting, and can be eaten in any number of ways. In this recipe, the sausages are cooked with white wine and whole grapes, which caramelize and deepen in flavor as they cook. The special touch? A tip I picked up from Mark Bittman: cooking Israeli couscous (large pearls) as you would a risotto (and adding a splash of cream to make it just a little bit over the top). Are you still with me, or are you running to the grocery store?

Roasted Sausages with Grapes and Creamy Pearl Couscous ‘Risotto’
Sausage + Grapes recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, Creamy Couscous recipe adapted from Mark Bittman
*serves 2  

For the sausages and grapes:

2 sprigs of thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 uncooked chicken or turkey sausages (we used chicken and sage)
1/3 cup of chicken broth
3 cups of seedless red grapes, separated into bunches, with stems attached
1/4 cup of chopped shallots
1/3 cup of dry white wine
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped (for serving)

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning, until they are browned nicely. This should only take a few minutes.
3. Pour in the broth and add a few sprigs of thyme, grapes, and diced shallot.
4. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for approximately 15 minutes, tossing the grapes and sausages midway through. Once the grapes begin to pucker and caramelize and the sausages are cooked through, remove the skillet from the oven. While the sausages are roasting, prepare the creamy pearl couscous (recipe, below).
5. Divide the couscous between plates. Top with sausages and grapes. Pour the wine into the skillet and stir around with a wooden spoon, scraping up the bits. Drizzle the sauce over the dishes and sprinkle with parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the couscous:

1/2 cup of Israeli (pearl) couscous
approximately 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon of minced shallot
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of dry white wine

1. Add the butter to a medium stockpot, heated over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the thyme and shallots, and saute for a few minutes.
2. Next, add the couscous, stir and toast for about a minute.
3. Add the wine and let it boil off.
4. Pour in the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring continuously (as you would when making risotto). Keep adding more broth and stirring until the couscous is soft and cooked.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the whipping cream right before serving.

Musical Pairings: Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker + Roasted Sausages with Grapes and Creamy Pearl Couscous ‘Risotto’

There’s more on the Turntable.

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Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • http://kitchenconfidante.com/ Liren

    I love your approach to minimalism and how you are embracing your space here. The sausages are just perfect this time of year – simple but comforting! And the grapes! They have been just so good lately, and while I’ve never paired them with sausages, it just makes a whole lot of sense :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Liren! I’ve heard of the grapes and sausage pairing before but it wasn’t until this recipe that I decided to try it. Now I think I may be hooked!

  • Hannah Simon

    Gah. Yum. I want dinner for breakfast.

  • Lindsey Z

    I love what the two of you are doing. You inspire me!

  • http://www.ladomestique.com Jess O’Toole

    During summer, I can’t get enough of roast cherry tomatoes, and I’m thinking I would love this method of cooking grapes for the same reason. Beautiful dish and great combination of flavors and textures.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    You are so sweet, Lindsey! Thank you for being such an awesome friend and a great supporter of TK! xoxo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    That happens all too often for me :)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I, too, love a good roasted tomato. I have all sorts of ideas for ways that roasted grapes will be making their appearance in summer dishes. xo

  • Kkoseck

    Mmmm. I love roasted grapes! I usually pair them with a nice roasted chicken, but this sounds heavenly! Thanks for the ideas!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Great idea! I haven’t tried that but it’s now on my list of ‘musts.’

  • Ashley

    It is that time of year when you have a chance to hit the reset button and stop to think what is really important and what can be tossed aside. I’m with you, I’m turning the volume down on the things in my life that don’t produce sound that is uplifting but it’s my blog that I want to return to. And blogs like yours that are such a sweet respit in these crazy, noisy, busy days. Looking forward to what’s to come for you in 2012.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    You are so sweet, Ashley. I hope that I get to finally meet you in person in 2012!! Your site is one of my favorites, and I’m just in awe of your creations lately…Here’s to cutting the stuff we don’t really need, and focusing our attention on the stuff that really brings joy and value into our lives! xoxo

  • http://www.dulanotes.com/ NicoleD

    I’m glad to hear that you won’t be cutting back on blogging, Kasey. I love your writing and your recipes and Matt’s tunes. I hope there will be an opportunity to see each other in 2012! We decided when we were first married to not get cable and I’ve never regretted that decision, but it’s why I get sucked into the Style Network when at my parents’! This dish sounds really comforting and wonderful. Marc will love it!

  • Tracy

    I forgot about roasting grapes!!! This is totally a good go-to weeknight meal.

    And I’m totally with you on the clutter in my life. I just added three more blogs to my google reader and am now wondering WHHHHYY??!! As much as I tell myself to temper it all, I am a glutton for more. It’s kinda like how I say to myself OK this Target trip I’m only going to get essentials and then I come back with stuff I don’t need.

    I’m rambling…but I guess what I’m looking for in my life is discipline!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Nicole. You’re the best!! I am glad to know that you don’t miss cable. We hardly ever watch TV (unless it’s Mad Men or How I Met Your Mother) – ever since I cut down my TV time, I realized how much time I was wasting there! I hope you guys enjoy this dish!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    It’s kind of hard to stop following blogs…especially with blogrolls, pinterest, twitter…I feel like there could always be more awesome blogs I’m not reading. But, sometimes, you just gotta pare down. And speaking of Target – I never spend less than $200 there. What is up with that?? I’ve actually kinda stopped going just so I can avoid my ridiculous spending sprees there! So excited to see you next week!

  • http://www.dulanotes.com/ NicoleD

    Oh, also, instead of cable we have Netflix plus a Roku for streaming on our tv. Both Mad Men and HIMYM are available on Netflix instant streaming :) Mad Men is such a stellar show!!

  • Renee

    Your blog is one I look forward to reading – so happy to hear you won’t be scaling back attention to it! From the writing, to the recipes, your words resonate with me, and for that I thank you lots and lots. Happy weekend :)

  • http://www.lovefoodeat.com/ Chinmayie @ lovefoodeat.com

    I am new to your blog and I must tell you that I simply love it!!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks so much!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    That is so sweet, Renee! I really enjoy reading your blog, too!

  • Yvonne

    Beautiful combination, I love it.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you , Yvonne!

  • http://www.kitchenkonfidence.com Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Quite the nice sausage. *blushing* I had to say it! But in all seriousness, great post. I love spending time on my blog interacting with readers. It’s a way for me to connect with people that love the same things I do! Glad you will continue spending time here. I always enjoy your posts!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Brandon! I agree, it’s really nice to be able to connect with people that love the same things that you and I do. I’m glad to see you here, and I really appreciate the nice words about my writing!

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