6 fat links sweet Italian sausage with fennel, approximately 2 pounds
1 bulb fennel, trimmed, halved, cored, cut lengthwise in thin slices
2 medium Spanish onions, halved, cut lengthwise in thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
4‑6 sprigs fresh thyme
1‑1/4 cup rich (unsalted) chicken stock
3/4 cup Italian white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Prick each sausage several times to prevent bursting. Heat a Dutch oven large enough to accommodate the sausages in one layer over medium. Add sausages and brown on both sides – no need to cook through. Remove to a plate. Add another tablespoon of oil and add the fennel, onions, garlic, thyme and salt. Reduce heat and sauté, slowly, until soft, translucent and taking on color -- 10-15 minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir 30 seconds. Add the stock and wine. Bring to a boil and let reduce by half.
2. Put sausages back into the pot and bake 30 minutes. Remove pot, and platter sausages. Swirl mustard into the onions, check salt, correct, and add grindings of black pepper. Pour onions over sausages. Garnish with sprigs fresh thyme, if desired.