Sundays are for football. Jim, a die-hard Steelers fan, asserted this fact almost as soon as we started dating seven years ago. Fortunately I had grown up in a Giants household and thoroughly understood this weekend ritual.
But football games need football food, so Jim and I also set time aside on Sundays for cooking. Sometimes we cooked for groups of friends, sometimes just for the two of us. In the spirit of America’s favorite pastime, we didn’t always make the healthiest meals. Cheese balls stuffed with olives, pizza, chicken wings—you name it, we’ve fried it.
On this past Sunday we found ourselves at home and Super Bowl party-less. So we revived our football food tradition with a slow-cooked, sloppy meal for two. At 3:30 we lit up our new Dutch oven, browned some spicy sausages, and simmered them with red peppers, sliced onions, and crushed tomatoes for four hours.
(If you are a frequent reader of this blog you might now be asking, “What is it with you people and spicy sausage? Don’t you cook anything else?” All I can say is yes, we do cook other things, but we also like sausage. A lot.)
While the links simmered, I leaned forward on the couch, hands clenched, eyes riveted on the TV. “Don’t mess up Eli, please don’t mess up,” I begged. As we know by now, he must have heard me.
We indulged in our dripping, hard-to-handle sausage sandwiches at half time. Cushioned by the sturdy rolls, the tender, sauce-enveloped meat fell apart as we ate it, a mess of slow-cooked comfort tinged with spicy heat. It wasn’t an elegant meal by any means, but it was appropriately hearty fare for the rough-and-tumble football game. Our sandwiches made our private Super Bowl party a success. Oh, right, and the Giants won.
Recipe for Spicy Sausage Sandwiches
8 links of fresh, spicy pork sausage
2 red peppers, cored and sliced into thin strips
2 onions, sliced into thin strips
1 28-ounce can plus 14 ounces crushed tomatoes
roughly 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
long sandwich rolls, halved
Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron Dutch oven under low heat. When oil is heated, add the sausages. Turn sausages frequently until all sides are thoroughly browned. Remove sausages to a plate. Add the onions and peppers to the pot and sauté until slightly soft. Return the sausages to the pot.
Add the crushed tomatoes and bring the pot’s contents to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 4 hours. Stir every once in a while to prevent burning. Sausages should be soft and should fall apart easily when ready.
Split the bread rolls in half, but do not cut them all the way through. Spoon about 1 and 1/2 sausages per sandwich into the rolls, and then add more of the accompanying tomato sauce. This recipe serves about 4 people. Remember to provide plenty of napkins. Enjoy!