January is often a “reset” month when it comes to cooking — an exciting time for broccoli and spinach, less so for filet of beef and cinnamon rolls. But after almost a year of pandemic cooking and a holiday season notably devoid of festivities, maybe a better goal for 2021 is just to find easier ways to get dinner on the table.
For that, there’s the sheet-pan dinner. It’s not a new concept. It’s just a great way to cook. And this recipe for sausages with caramelized shallots and apples is sheet-pan cooking at its most successful. It calls for only six ingredients (plus salt and olive oil) and doesn’t even require a mixing bowl, allowing you to make a delicious dinner with minimal groceries, chopping and cleanup.
Apples and shallots hit the pan first and roast, softening slightly, before being tossed with rosemary and whole-grain mustard. The sausages are arranged on top, and everything cooks together until the shallots are caramelized and the apples are soft and sweet. A drizzle of apple cider vinegar brightens the dish and balances the richness.
This recipe works well with sweet or hot Italian pork sausage, or raw chicken or turkey sausages. But steer clear of precooked sausages: Part of this dish’s appeal is the way the sausage juices flavor the apples and shallots as they roast. On that note, a mix of sweet-and-tart, red-and-green apples is nice here, but the recipe works with most varieties. (Just avoid tender-fleshed apples like McIntosh, which fall apart completely as they cook.) Fresh thyme would work instead of rosemary if that’s what you have on hand.
For a light dinner, serve everything alongside a green salad — maybe a wintry mix of arugula and radicchio — with a medium-bodied white wine or crisp hard cider. Or, for a heartier dinner that nods to a classic French bistro dish, pile the sausages, apples and shallots on top of Le Puy or Beluga lentils simmered with bay leaf and garlic.
However you serve it, this dish is a reminder that simple is often best, and a weeknight dinner made with few ingredients and fewer pans is even better.