Johnnie C’s Sweet Italian Sausage Subs with Fennel and Onions

Spirits and sautéed fennel add new flavors to grilled sausage subs. Plus, Rach’s hubby, John, throws in a few of his favorites as suggestions!


  • 8 good-quality sweet Italian sausages (about 2 pounds), such as John’s pick, Fra’ Mani
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil EVOO, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 bulbs fennel with fronds, quartered, cored and thinly sliced, with a handful of fronds reserved
  • 2 medium or 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1/3 cup Pernod (or other licorice-flavored liqueur) or John’s current fave, St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 Italian-style 8-inch-long sub or hoagie rolls
  • Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish
  • A handful of torn basil leaves or a few stems of tarragon, chopped
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish


Parboil the sausages in a few inches of water until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat an outdoor grill, indoor griddle or cast-iron pan to medium-high heat.

While the grill heats up, add 2 tablespoons EVOO, a couple turns of the pan, to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced fennel, onion, garlic and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 12-15 minutes. Deglaze with the Pernod or St-Germain, then with the white wine; reduce the liquids at a simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, split the sausages lengthwise but do not cut through; drizzle with EVOO. Grill the sausages on both sides. Place in the sub rolls and top with the fennel-onion mixture and cheese; garnish with the basil or tarragon, reserved fennel fronds and parsley.

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