There's nothing like fennel seed to make Italian sausages taste even more of themselves (probably because it's one of the main flavorings). If you've ever bitten into a fennel seed, then you know what I mean. It's fragrant and herbaceous, tasting lightly of licorice and, well, of sausage. Roasting the sausages like this, chopped up into small bite-size pieces, also means they crisp up and curl into themselves as they bake, essentially turning into little meatballs—zero rolling involved.
The sheet-pan method saves the day again because all of the ingredients will sweeten and caramelize in the oven (while you go about your night, e.g. feeding the dog, taking a bath, pouring yourself a glass of wine). More importantly, the fat from the sausages will flavor the entire contents of the pan. This fennel-scented fat will be especially useful when tossed into a pound of cooked fusilli, because it both seasons and enriches the pasta like nothing else. —Eric Kim
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.