Test Cook Reports – Brenda Vaccaro’s T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C Italian Sausages

Here are 2 test cook reports on Brenda’s T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C Italian Sausages – were they terrific?  Read on to find out!
 
 
Brenda appeared in the Columbo episode Murder in Malibu and it’s this recipe that appears in the Cooking With Columbo Cookbook.  When I made these back in 2006 I forgot to remove the excess salt and squeeze the lemons over.  Which I think, gives me an excuse to make this dish again sometime.
 
 
Brenda’s original recipe is at the very bottom of this post.  Plus there is my chum Peter’s take on the recipe with COSTINGS – I loved this.  I didn’t ask for this in the feedback, he just thought of it (as my mum would say) all by his ownself.  Peter is the curator of the Vincent Price Legacy UK website amongst other things, do go and check it out…
 
 
Peter’s Version of Brenda Vaccaro’s Terrific Italian Sausages
 
1 pound / 450 grams sweet Italian pork sausages (Salsiccia fresca toscana 15perkg cost 7.90)
Salt
2 tablespoons fine grade olive oil (did not have to use)
1 yellow onion, peeled, chopped. (I used Spanish white as I’ve never heard of yellow ones). (1.00)
3 large sweet peppers (green, red or yellow) diced.. I used yellow (4.99)
2-3 Italian plum tomatoes (I used 4.5 because I had 485g of sausage). (2.62)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cut lemon (35p)
 
Separate sausages into individual links.  Spread thin layer of salt evenly on large iron skillet/frying pan; heat over high flame.  Add sausages.  Reduce heat, cook sausages slowly until brown and crisp on all sides.  (I took them out to drain at this point).
 
In separate skillet/frying pan heat olive oil (I missed this and used the sausage skillet with all the nice juices and oils).
 
Add onion and peppers; cook over low heat, stirring.  Cut and seed tomatoes, press through a sieve (i smashed them in a pestle then sieved through) Add to skillet/frying pan with peppers.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring until thickened and nicely coloured.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 
Drain cooked hot sausages on absorbent paper, removing excess salt and grease. (I did this before making the sauce. To keep them warm Iput them in a ramekin in a low oven.)
 
Serve sausages on plate, squeeze lemon juice over sausages.  Serve sauce hot on the side, or spoon over sausages.
 
Here’s Brenda, dreaming about her T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C sausages!
 
PETER’S VERDICT
 
Is it Terrific? Well yes and no. Yes if you use great sausages. They are the hero of the dish so I hunted down some Salsiccia from an Italian deli in Soho. They were delicious with or without the sauce which doesn’t taste like a traditional ragu which what I was expecting All those peppers make it more like a sauteed pepper side dish. I used yellow ones which were nice and sweet but apart from the seasoning had very little taste. I was missing my garlic and herbs that I like in a pasta ragu. But it was nice nevertheless. Also I’m glad I used more toms as there was very little liquid from them after sieving through. Will I make again? Yes, I want try them with green and red peppers to see if there is any taste difference. Quite nice with a green salad and reheats well (I had the leftovers for lunch).
 
Thanks Peter, your version of this dish sounds TERRIFIC!  Here’s another write up from test cook Bethany B. in the USA.
 
MMMM – SAUSAGES!
 
For the most part this recipe will work. Everything appeared in the method but I personally found the salt step unnecessary as the salt browned instead of the sausages. Next time I make them (and I will definitely make them again as they were great) I would just leave out that step and brown them like normal and serve with the sauce. There was a small typo in the instructions, it says chickened instead of thickened. [This is exactly the kind of thing I needed my test cooks for!] A few things could have been clearer, mainly what temperature to have your burner on while cooking and how long to cook the onions and peppers; I cooked them until they were softened and the onions were translucent.

The only ingredients that I substituted were coconut oil for the olive oil and small vine-ripened tomatoes for the Roma’s as that was what I had on hand.
 
I also changed my cooking temperature for the sauce. I cooked in on medium-high to get it going and then bumped it down to medium. I found that low took much too long to get too little done.
 
I also seeded and chopped my tomatoes because, no matter how I tried, they would not go through a sieve. I actually don’t think sieving is even necessary, perhaps not even seeding the tomatoes. It still cooks down into a nice topping.
 
I shared this with my mom and we both agreed that the salt technique left it too salty. I would really like to try this on a warm sub bun and top the sausage with the sauce, I bet it would be great.
 
I totally agree with that Bethany!  Mmm, I really want to make this dish again now!
 
When I finish this shift I am going to have some sausages…
 
When I sent out recipes to my test cooks I had a little form and one of the questions was to ask how the person had found my blog.  I absolutely loved Bethany’s answer, which made perfect sense to me, although it might not if you are not a knitter.
 
I found out by visiting Ravelry, then finding the Stitch in Time designs, the finding that one of the models had a free pattern on her website, and your website was listed as one she followed.
 
That’s my Shellac Sister Theo of Theodora Goes Wild! Six degrees of separation!
 
 
Here we are DJing together – I’m the one with the enormous false eyelashes!
 

I soooooo love the wonderful world of the internet – connecting people through Columbo, food, and knitting!

Brenda Vaccaro’s T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C Italian Sausages

1 lb / 450g sweet Italian pork sausages
Salt
2 tablespoons fine grade olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 large sweet peppers (green, red or yellow), diced
2-3 Italian plum tomatoes
1 cut lemon

Separate sausages into individual links. Spread a thin layer of salt evenly on large iron frying pan; heat over high flame. Add sausages. Reduce heat, cook sausages slowly until brown and crisp on all sides. In a separate frying pan, heat olive oil. Add onion and peppers; cook over low heat, stirring. Cut and seed tomatoes and press through a sieve. Add to frying pan with peppers. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until thickened and nicely colored. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain cooked, hot sausages on absorbent paper, removing excess salt and grease. Serve sausages on a plate, squeeze lemon juice over sausages. Serve sauce hot, on the side, or spoon over the sausages.

Serves 2

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