- 4 large Idaho® potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 8 cups lightly salted water (see note below)
- 1 tablespoon soft unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- ½ cup pecorino cheese, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 large fennel bulbs, reserve fronds
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups onion, sliced into half-moons
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
- Place potatoes in a large pot, add salted water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook until very soft, 20 to 30 minutes.
- When potatoes are soft, drain and return them to the pot to mash by hand or place them in a bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt to taste and the butter.
- Beat ingredients. Adjust seasonings and add the cream and pecorino cheese and beat again.
- Trim the fennel bulbs and cut into matchstick pieces. Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion slices and sauté until they begin to wilt. Add the fennel and crushed red peppers flakes and cook until fennel begins to wilt.
- Clear a spot in the center of the pan, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring it in the spot for a good minute or more, until it begins to caramelize; then mix it in with everything else.
- Ladle 3 cups of boiling potato water from the pot into the skillet, stir well and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer all over the pan.
- Continue to simmer the sauce until the flavors have developed and the fennel is soft but not mushy, 6 minutes or more. The sauce should not get too thick: stir in another cup or 2 of boiling potato water, if it reduces rapidly. When the sauce is done, taste and add salt if needed.
- Grill sausage, about 10-15 minutes on each side.
- Plate the potatoes topped with fennel onion sauce and sausage. Sprinkle the dish with fennel fronds for serving.
This may seem like more water than you need but it gets used to make the sauce.