Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's Almost That Time of the Year

My husband Marc is a football-a-holic,

and even after living in New York for over 30 years is still a Philadelphia Eagles Fan...I use the word fan here sparingly, because fans of Philadelphia teams are a different breed. They root for their teams in strange ways, usually involving many explicatives, not fit for a G-rated blog. Even when their team is winning, they are yelling that they didn't play right, they deserve to lose, etc. It is quite an experience watching the games with them. If they (my sons) aren't together with their father when this is taking place, they call each other on the phone and commiserate with each other (really what they do is yell and curse into the phone.)

My husband's dream is to manage the Eagles for a day. He spends his spare time coaching from the sidelines, so much so that our good friends Rae and Steve bought him an an Eagles Jersey and an official referee shirt and whistle (we'll save that for another day.) He prepares Andy Reid's resume on a daily basis so when he fires him, he'll be ready to send it out.

As it draws closer to Super Bowl Sunday, where by some miracle of fate, the Eagles may actually find themselves playing, we need to think of Super Bowl food. Something easily picked up in your hand so that when you throw your hands in the air, it won't make a mess to clean up (less work for mother.)

I am a New Yorker, I root for the Mets, the Jets, sometimes even the New York Giants, it makes sports in this house quite interesting. It pains me that my children root for Pennsylvania teams, my gene pool was weakened somewhere along the line - for shame!

When I buy prepared sausage rolls locally, I find they are a little flat, just sausage and some cheese. I like to add the peppers and onions to my sausage roll. That being said, here is a recipe for a nice, easy, sausage roll you can make (you can even do it in advance and freeze it) but it smells so good when it bakes (like an Italian street fest) that I like to do it on game day. Once you make your own, you'll never buy them ready made again.

This recipe makes two rolls. I only make one today for demonstration purposes, so I eliminated the yellow pepper, and the Asiago Cheese.

Sausage Roll Supreme

2 packages fresh pizza dough (at room temperature)
2 (1 pound) packages Italian Sweet Sausage Links or bulk sweet sausage
1 (16 oz) mozzarella, cut into small cubes or shredded
3 peppers, one yellow, one red, one green, seeded and cut into thin strips
3 medium onions, peeled and diced
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Garlic salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Asiago cheese grated about 1 cup
Parmesan cheese or grating cheese of your choice about ½ cup divided plus about 1 tablespoon for the top
Plain breadcrumbs about 4 tablespoons divided
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water beaten together for an egg wash

Place about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Heat being careful, not to let it smoke. Add the sausage and sauté the sausage until it is thoroughly cooked. If you are not using bulk sausage, remove the sausage from the casing before browning it. Remove from the frying pan and set aside, draining off any excess liquid. In the same pan, heat about another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter together and sauté the peppers and onions until they are soft and caramelized about 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside, again draining off any liquid. Mix the sausage with the onions and peppers. When cool, add in the mozzarella and asiago and parmesan cheeses, or you can layer it on the loaf.

Roll one of the pizza dough’s into a large rectangle. Sprinkle ½ of the breadcrumbs over the dough. Divide the sausage mixture in half, and place on the dough leaving about 1-inch border all around. Brush the border with the egg wash. Roll the dough into a loaf of bread in a jelly roll style, and pinch the edges to seal it. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle a little parmesan cheese and garlic salt on the top. Place the loaf on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with PAM, or you can place it on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, so you have two loaves. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for about 45 -60 minutes or until golden brown. Check after 20-25 minutes, if it is getting too brown cover with aluminum foil.

I know you are tired of hearing this but since there may be people new to the blog - always read through the recipe first. Prep anything that you can do in advance, put things away as you use them.

Here are the ingredients you will need for the sausage roll

Wash your peppers

Cut them in half

remove the seeds from the area surrounding the stem

Place the halves on a cutting board and cut into thin strips

Peel your onions

Cut them in half
Place the onions flat side down on a cutting board

and cut into thin slices

Grate your asiago cheese if you haven't bought it grated (obviously
open the package, I didn't put it in today, this is just a reminder)

Mix the mozzerella and asiago together (I didn't do this today,
since one of my guests didn't care for asiago)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a frying pan (non stick is good if you have one) If you haven't bought bulk sausage (by the way, if you like your sausage hotter, buy what you like) remove the sausage from the casing (use a scissor or knife, make the job easy to do) Heat the olive oil over low to medium heat so it doesn't burn

Place the sausage into the olive oil

Use a spoon to break up the sausage
(you can do this with your hands before
you put it in the pan if you want to)

The sausage should be in small pieces

Cook the sausage until it is brown and no pink shows

Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan
Place the sausage into a strainer so any remaining grease will drain

Throw away any grease left in the pan

Add about 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan

another tablespoon of olive oil

Melt and

add the peppers

and onions

Season with garlic salt to taste

Add freshly grated black pepper to taste

Mix well

Saute for about 7-10 minutes until the onions are
caramelized, and the peppers are
softened, but still firm

Remove from heat with a slotted spoon and drain well. Set aside

Make your egg wash; beat one egg yolk with a tablespoon of water

Again, I just put a little water in the egg shell and mix it in

Having the pizza dough at room temperature makes it easier to work with

When I am doing the rolls, I prefer to lay out a large piece of the heavy duty aluminum foil (the really long roll) instead of a wooden board or counter top. The reason being, it makes it easier to transfer the roll to the baking sheet later. It also makes clean-up a lot easier. If you want to use a board or your counter, go right ahead.

Sprinkle a liberally amount of flour (I like Wondra flour here)
over the sheet of foil (this is called bench flour,
and it will prevent the dough from sticking

Place the dough on the flour and sprinkle the top with some more bench flour

Using your finger tips or a rolling pin, shape the dough into a large rectangle

I find it easier to use my hands,
turning the dough a few times,
but do what your comfortable with

When the dough reaches the desired size,
sprinkle liberally with unflavored breadcrumbs
(this will absorb any remaining liquid)

Since I am only making one loaf today,
I browned two pounds of sausage and I am setting aside
some for a sausage pizza tomorrow, once less step to do tomorrow

Sprinkle the sausage over the top of the dough leaving at least a 1-inch border all around

Place the onion - pepper mix over the sausage

Sprinkle the mozzerella and asiago cheese over the vegetables

Sprinkle the grating cheese on the top

Gently pull one end of the short side of the dough
and fold it up over the mix about 2 to 3-inches

Now begin to roll the long end of the dough about 1 turn

Fold the other short end of the dough in

Finish rolling the loaf

You will see the seam - try to pinch it into the loaf

Brush the seams with the egg wash and
try to push them together with your fingers

Spray a baking sheet with PAM

Using the foil fold it around the loaf
to almost make a basket support

Lift the foil over the prepared pan, and ease the loaf off
seam side down

Don't worry if you have a little breaking of the dough
Take a little piece of dough from the thicker ends
and patch up the holes, it doesn't have to be perfect,
no one will notice it when it's all baked.
Look at the upper left hand corner, I had to patch a piece there

Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash

Sprinkle with a little garlic salt and grating cheese if desired

Bake for 45- 60 minutes or until golden brown. I usually check it after 20 minutes and if it is getting too brown cover it with foil. After 40 minutes, I check it in 5 minute intervals. Everything is cooked, so you just want it nicely brown.

You will see that there may have been a little leakage
of the cheese on the baking sheet, and some grease as well.
Let the loaf cool a little trying to keep it on a
slight angle to drain the grease away from the loaf.

Place on a rack when you can move it, over a sheet of paper towelling

Here is the patched piece after it is baked, it looks fine

Let bread cool about 30 minutes before you slice it

Place on a cutting board and

use a serrated blade (or electric knife) to slice it

I cut it into about 2- slices

You won't see any store bought roll
look like this when you cut it

Place on a serving dish

You can also cut each slice into 2 squares

You can serve it warm or at room temperature


Please note: The reason I put the mistakes in, and show how things don't always look perfect, or come out perfect, is because, I make mistakes, as we all do when we cook. Years ago, cookbooks used to show things the way they would look in your kitchen. Today, the food stylist takes 10 hours to get the food ready before it hits the page of the cookbook. They airbrush, they use props, no wonder when you cook something, it never looks like the pictures. These pictures are taken in my kitchen, usually I am there by myself, trying to cook, photograph, and show you the real thing. Many of the visitors to my blog are novice cooks, and I don't want them to get turned off when something they make is not like the picture in a book or magazine.
This is real cooking, real time, and what real people like you and I eat. Have fun cooking because cooking is fun-da-mental!


  1. Hi Elise,

    I do love that you show "real" cooking and not some fancy, fixed up food. I was shocked to learn not too long ago that many pictures in cookbooks or magazines aren't even real food! They use plastic and paint and all sorts of weird things to create a great photo. No wonder home cooks get intimidated by those fancy photos when their results don't look the same. I'd much rather see the real thing, even if it's not perfect.

    This recipe looks wonderful for me to make for a friend of mine who loves sausage. I'll make it for me too and substitute sauteed mushrooms for my half! The photos of the peppers and onions have me smelling that wonderful aroma. There's nothing like peppers and onions cooking. Yummm.

    Be well,
    Nancy in NY

  2. dear mom....seriously a jets fan... sometimes the giants... thats heartbreaking...

  3. dear not really anonymous... seriously, you are rooting for the wrong color green.

  4. I am a New York Girl, an original Joe Namath groupie, I know which green to root for, lol.