Smoky Turkey Fennel Sausage with Peppers on Grilled Flatbread
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes
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.
Smoky Turkey Fennel Sausage:
2 pounds ground turkey, a mixture of white and dark meat or all dark meat preferred
2 egg yolks
1 cup cashew meal
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and roughly cracked
4 cloves garlic, peeled, finely minced, any green center discarded
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon red wine, dry and full-bodied
2½ teaspoons smoked salt or kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Vegetable oil, for the grill
1 bulb fennel
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
1 orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
1 cubanelle pepper or light green mild pepper, stemmed, seeded and pith removed, and sliced lengthwise into 3- by 1½-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved, and cut into 1½-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, peeled, halved, and grated or finely minced, any bitter green center removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
8 Grilled Flatbreads, homemade or storebought
Make the turkey 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.
Make the peppers:
- 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.
- The sausages can be refrigerated for 8 hours before cooking. Or freeze for up to a week and grill from a frozen state. The fennel and peppers can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Turkey should be cooked thoroughly; it is not meant to be served rare. If you are grilling frozen patties, adjust the grilling time accordingly and make sure there is no trace of pink pink inside.
- Always use a fresh plate for fully cooked sausages or any meat cooked on the grill; NEVER place it back on the plate that held them when they were raw, as it holds uncooked juices that might carry foodborne bacteria. These microorganisms are killed during cooking, but placing the cooked meat back into the uncooked juices can contaminate them and cause food borne illness.
- This is just great with slaw , our Pomegranate Tomato Sauce or our Homemade Ketchup.