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Poor Girl Gourmet
by Amy McCoy
Serves 4, $5.00 to $10.00


• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 4 (6-inch) links sweet Italian sausage (approximately 1 pound)
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium yellow onion, quartered lengthwise, layers separated
• 1/4 cup dry white wine (not dessert wine)
• 1 Macintosh apple, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
• 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper


1. Alrighty now, at the start of this recipe, you must focus solely on the stovetop for the first 2 minutes, lest you burn your fennel seeds and deny yourself the sweet, toasty, mild anisette flavor they bestow upon this dish. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds, stirring constantly, until the majority are lightly browned and you are enjoying the aroma of toasty fennel in the air, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the seeds to a bowl, and set aside.

2. Next, prepare the sausage. Remove the meat from the casings by using a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut the casings away, then discard them. Break the meat up into 1-inch pieces such that the pieces resemble small meatballs.

3. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 2 minutes before adding the sausage. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage is browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the wine, apple, and beans, and give them all a good stir. Simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve four equal portions out and top with a sprinkle each of the toasted fennel seeds. I'll advise you to bring the remaining toasted fennel seeds to the table because it is highly unlikely that your family or friends will not want to scatter a few more over their plates once they get underway with the eating.

ESTIMATED COST FOR FOUR: S8.00. The fennel seeds are 1 teaspoon of a container that costs $4.29 for 5.12 tablespoons, and that means the teaspoon costs us 29¢.  The olive oil costs 48¢. The onion was around 1/2 pound, and a pound costs 65¢, so rounding up, that's 33¢. The sausage would be $4.99 if we did not buy it on sale, but we surely do buy it on sale, which would save us a couple of dollars from the tally here. Of course, I'm still using the higher price for this accounting session. The apple was just about 50¢, and the beans were 99¢. The wine is one-twelfth of a bottle containing 3 cups—which is the approximate cup measurement for 750ml, so, knowing that we would not spend more than $5.00 per bottle on wine we are cooking with, that would be 42¢, or it's leftover wine that you either stashed in the refrigerator for a week, or it is leftover wine that you froze in an ice- cube tray for a use such as this.

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