Slow and Savory Easy Italian Sausage

or a weeknight crockpot debut for colder then grilling weather

We love our local butcher shop.  And somehow, that may even be an understatement.  Buying our meat from some of the local shops has opened our eyes to how delicious it can be when the time from the butcher to the table is drastically reduced.  We started out with steaks and have moved on to pork, chicken, and sausage as well.  The cost is comparable to the major supermarkets if you find a good neighborhood shop, unfortunately the high end grocers that have their own butcher on staff are definitely more expensive so if you can't find a family style shop it could be pricey.  Lucky for us, we have!  And we have been buying our meat there ever since.  Our most recent purchases have frequently included kielbasa and Italian sausage, I know it isn't grilling weather quite yet but a girl can hope right?  And we have been using the grill pan on the stove or this kielbasa recipe (often modified for brats too) but lately we have burned out on those a bit so we wanted something new.

We all know how much I love my slow cooker, and the combination of the slow cooker and this delicious fresh meat couldn't fail right?  Well, I did some research to make sure.  Turns out if you are cooking sausage over time whether in the slow cooker, on the stove, or in the oven it will become greasy if you don't take precautions.  Most recipes advised broiling, sauteing, or boiling the sausage and since I wanted to preserve the flavor both of the sausage itself and the sauce it seemed that boiling was the best way to keep new flavors from being introduced.  That little bit of extra effort, if it can even be called that tossing some sausages into boiling water while you are getting ready in the morning, was a huge success.  We were still talking about how delicious this dish was two days later.  The sausage was filled with flavor and the texture was surprisingly moist while it broke easily into bites without even needing a knife, the sauce was savory and rich in flavor after cooking all day amidst the sausage.  A wonderfully balanced and flavor infused meal with such little effort was truly a dream to enjoy after work, and what better to greet you when you walk in the door then the savory aroma of Italian spices?  A comfort to the mind and body alike.  So simple, so cheap, and so delicious.  So how do you bring this into your home you may ask?  Well, let me tell you.... it won't take long...

5 Italian sausages, raw in casings
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp celery salt
½ tsp parsley
1 tsp minced garlic

Hardware: slow cooker/crockpot

1. Boil sausage for 10-15 min on the stove.

2. Dump all of the other ingredients into the slow cooker and mix well.

3. Add the sausage and move around to cover with the sauce, make sure all the pieces get settled down and are mostly submerged.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs

The sausage will most likely break in half while cooking, don't worry this won't effect the flavor.  Serve alongside mashed potatoes or toss on a sub roll with some sauce for a quick and easy meal.  The leftovers are fantastic reheated for lunch, just make sure to throw in some of the sauce though to keep it moist.  If you would like to serve over pasta I would recommend transferring some of the sauce to a pot and reducing for a few minutes on the stove to thicken, but it really is a personal preference on this point.  However you choose to indulge give it a shot and try it in your own kitchen, you'll be surprised how much flavor can be found in this simple dish.  Enjoy!

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