These savory sausage and pepper sandwiches are the perfect “something different” for your holiday get-together—or any time you have time to grill more than hot dogs and hamburgers. They’re great for entertaining, because both the sausages and the peppers can be done ahead. Fresh fennel and fennel seed give these peppers a luscious flavor—perfect for pairing with the turkey fennel sausage and our Grilled Flatbread. (Of course, you can serve them with store-bought flatbreads or rolls and you’ll still have a delicious meal.) Be sure to allow at least 30 minutes to 1 hour for the sausage mixture to chill before you attempt to cook the patties. The peppers will make more than you need for 4 sandwiches, but the folks at your table will gobble it up as a side dish. —tw
Smoky Turkey Fennel Sausage
ground turkey, a mixture of white and dark meat or all dark meat preferred
fennel seeds, toasted and roughly cracked
cloves garlic, peeled, finely minced, any green center discarded
sweet smoked paprika
red wine, dry and full-bodied
2 1/2 teaspoons
smoked salt or kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for the grill
red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
cubanelle pepper or light green mild pepper, stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
large sweet onion, peeled, halved, and cut into 1½-inch slices
cloves garlic, peeled, halved, and grated or finely minced, any bitter green center removed
crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
ground fennel seeds
Grilled Flatbreads, homemade or storebought
In This Recipe
Smoky Turkey Fennel Sausage
Combine the turkey, egg yolks, cashew meal, fennel seeds, garlic, paprika, sugar, wine, salt, and red pepper flakes in a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, mix gently to combine. Form into 8 patties or 6- inch-by-1½-inch log-shaped sausages and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until thoroughly chilled. Now would be a good time to prepare the peppers. (Or if you are cooking ahead, at this point, the sausage mixture can refrigerated for up to 8 hours before cooking. If you wish, it can be wrapped tightly in individual packages and frozen for about 1 week; it can be cooked from a frozen state.)
When you are ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high. Prepare the grill grates with a light coating of oil, using a paper towel and tongs. Place the patties on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; then, to make professional-looking diamond grill markings, use tongs to rotate (not turn over!) each patty ¼ turn and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Then turn them over, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and make diamond grill markings on that side by using tongs to rotate each burger ¼ turn. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through.
Slice the fennel in half and remove the core and “fingers.” Slice the bulb into 3 inch long by 1½ inch wide pieces.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat until it shimmers.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 30 to 40 seconds, until just toasted. Add the fennel, the peppers, onion, garlic, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and fennel seed, and mix until combined.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. (At this point you can refrigerate the mixture for up to 2 days and reheat it just prior to serving, or if you are cooking everything the same day, proceed with the rest of the recipe.)
Assemble the sandwiches:
Once the sausages have chilled and the peppers are cooking, you can grill the sausages according to the instructions above (or reheat them if you have already prepared them). You can also grill the flatbreads.
When you are ready to serve, place some of the pepper mixture on a flatbread and top with two patties. Serve the remaining pepper mixture on the side.