Every once in awhile I come across a recipe that defies every known law of cooking! That’s this one. Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes. It has a handful of ingredients, one admittedly a little strange, that you might have at home. It’s no effort, drop-dead simple and ready in about 35 minutes. And it’s so absolutely delish you’re gonna be flabbergasted by how good it is. Sound like a small miracle? Yep. And we all need small miracles every now and then.
What you get in this very simple dish is beautifully browned sausages (I don’t think I’ll ever brown a link sausage of any kind in a skillet again) and sweet grapes, concentrated in all the juices (don’t stress if that sounds odd to you; think how sweet little cherry tomatoes get when they’re roasted) along with the most amazing onions, luscious and caramelized, mostly soft but with a few intriguing crispy bits.
About Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes:
The sausages are fabulous but it’s jammy grapes and onions that steal the show. And those flavors are punctuated with just a touch of sherry vinegar (I used white wine vinegar because I was out of sherry vinegar) and the result is one incredible alchemy of flavors.
To say this is one of the best meals I’ve made this year wouldn’t be an exaggeration. As I go on about this recipe, I want you to keep in mind that I like sausage well enough and always enjoy it when I have it but I’m a bit indifferent. I don’t usually seek it out. The fact that this meal blew me away is saying a lot. If you’re passionate about sausages, you’re gonna be over the moon.
I love, too, that this is easy and rustic but rustic in that way which means it’s great to make it just at home for the fam on a hurried weeknight, maybe with some roasted potatoes. But Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes would be right at home for a casual company dinner, served over polenta (check out my Instant Pot Polenta) with a good hunk of bread (maybe my No-Knead Overnight Crusty Bread) to soak up those juices A glass of wine wouldn’t be out of place.
A comment at the original recipe from Melissa Clark in the New York Times (you might not be able to see that link w/o a subscription) said this dish has been on the menu at the famed Al Forno in Rhode Island for ages; I didn’t see it on the menu but it sounds like just the thing you might find there.
I’m in the Midwest and can throw down with a beer brat like my Better than Classic Beer Brats now and then and Boston Sausage & Pepper Grinders are fab, and both would be great for a game day party. And that’s just where I think these sausages would really shine, maybe for the Super Bowl. You could easily make trays and trays of them if needed and serve the sausages stuffed in buns with a smattering of the grapes and onions. It’s familiar enough that everyone would go for them and different enough to stand out.
Making Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes:
This recipe works best on a heavy sheet tray; a thin, cheapy might warp under the high heat. You’re going to give the onions, tossed in a little oil with salt and pepper a bit of a head start, about 10 minutes, then when the edges are golden brown, stir them, add in the spices, the grapes and nestle the sausages in. After about 15 minutes, when the tops of the sausages have browned, give the whole works a stir and turn the sausages over.
If at that point, it looks like the onions might be getting dark or any of the sausages not quite brown enough, put the sausages to the outside of the tray with the onions in the center, surrounded by the sausage; that will protect them enough so they won’t burn.
When the sausages are done, remove the sausages to a plate or platter, sprinkle the herbs (parsley and chives) on the onions and grapes, drizzle them with the vinegar and using a spatula, scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Then just pour and/or arrange everything over and around the sausages. Boom! You’re done!
Variations on Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes:
I think really the grapes and onions are the key flavors, spiked with the vinegar. It gives this a bit of a sweet, tangy vibe, luscious with a kick. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tinker away if you want, with the ingredients.
This will work with just about any kind of sausages, for one. This recipe works with smoked, precooked or uncooked link sausage, from the fanciest artisanal sausage to the usual suspects you might find at the grocery. It would be fabulous with those little apple/chicken sausages. You can go hot or mild or anything in between. Whatever floats your boat. Myself, next time I’ll try some kind of ground bulk sausage; I’m thinking of trying this with patties of my Homemade Chorizo nestled into those onions.
And you might want to vary the herbs and spices to match your sausage. Since I was making Italian sausages (I unearthed a few in my pre-Thanksgiving, try to make room in my fridge/freezer cleanout) that was lurking around from the last time I made Zuppa Toscana, I used my fave seasoning, Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub. A little Italian Seasoning, storebought or homemade would be great, too. Maybe a little caraway or celery seed with brats or a smoked sausage like kielbasa, coriander with any kind chicken or lamb sausage. You get the idea!
While I kept it simple and mostly to the original recipe, I gotta say that you can riff and add other things to your sheet tray sausages. Just don’t overcrowd your sheet pan. Maybe you want to add in broccoli rabe or broccolini or some other green like my fave kale. That would be marvelous. Maybe a mix of bell peppers, or hot ones if you lean that way; if you try chorizo why not toss down jalapeno or poblanos to blister in the heat, peel them and cut them into strips when serving.? Mushrooms might be more your style? Or maybe you’d like cubes of potatoes to brown in all the drippings? Keep them small or better yet, par-cook them, covered, with little water in the microwave first. As long as you like it, you’ll never be wrong!
Saving Money on Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes:
Sausages at the grocery are really super inexpensive, especially in the fall. I can never resist picking up a few when they’re on special. I may even pick them up more often now that I’ve tried this recipe! They freeze well for several months (wrap them again if they’re in flimsy packaging) especially in a deep freeze and take up very little room.
Grapes, of course, are always inexpensive at the store; they’re kind of a “staple” fruit and one kind or another is always going on sale. You’re gonna think I’m cray cray, but I actually used grapes I poached from my Vanilla Citrus Fruit Salad. I somehow forgot to serve it at Thanksgiving; we had so many things to eat. Then I was stuck with that huge amount of fruit. What to do with the rest of your fruit salad or fruit tray is def gonna be a future post, lol!
Onions, I buy in large bags and usually pick mine up at Aldi. They never really seem to go on sale at the grocery but usually the larger the bag, the less expensive it is (per pound.) Check through the bags as much as possible to make sure they’re all good before you buy and keep them stored away from potatoes, in the dark where air can circulate.
I admit to being a little freakish about my herbs; they bring a freshness (and a lot of micronutrients) to the table. I bring mine in every fall, or at least a portion of them, and put them out every spring. And baby them along trying not to kill them all off in our long Minnesota winter. Even if all you can do is a pot on your windowsill, it makes so much sense to grow your own.Print
Sheet Tray Sausages with Onions & Grapes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main Dish Pork
- Cuisine: German, Italian or Other
- 1 large Spanish onion, sliced pole to pole about 3/8ths of an inch thick
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups (more or less) seedless red grapes (1 1/4 pounds), destemmed
- 1 teaspoon fennel, coriander, cumin, caraway or other complementary seeds, lightly crushed (see note)
- 1 package or amount needed, any sausages, poked all over with a fork
- 1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a large, heavy (13-by-18-inch) rimmed baking sheet, toss together onion slices, 2 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper, and spread in an even layer; do not spread too thinly. it’s okay to have a lot of space around the edges. Roast for 8 to 12 minutes, until the onions turn translucent and the thinnest pieces take on a pale gold color at the edges.
Add grapes, seeds and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan with onions, and toss well. Spread in an even layer and nestle sausage into the mixture.
Roast until sausage has browned, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping sausage and tossing grapes and onions halfway through. If at the halfway point it looks as if the sausages are a little pale and/or the onion mixture is getting a bit dark, move the sausages towards the edge of the onions and grapes where they’ll brown better and protect the onions from the heat.
Transfer sausages to a platter or to individual plates. Add parsley and chives to pan with grapes and onions and gently toss (this warms up and wilts the herbs). Sprinkle with the herbs and vinegar and toss the sausage grape mixture gently (do not break open the grapes) with a spatula, scraping any browned bits up. Taste and adjust for salt and/or vinegar. Add grapes and onions to the sausages and drizzle any juices over.
- Poke the sausages multiple times, about 10 times on all four sides with a fork.
- With Italian sausage, try Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub. Note that it has salt in.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, German, Grapes, Italian, Italian sausage, kielbasa, Pork, Sandwiches, Sausage, sheet tray