I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Italian Sausage Dip with Fontina and Sage

It’s nice to have a really hearty, hot dip as part of the spread when the ravenous football hordes are hungry. This is a jazzed up version of a classic sausage dip recipe, with warm, winter flavor.  Zesty Italian sausage with the bite of fennel is paired with woodsy sage and creamy, nutty fontina cheese, with a little kick of salty Parmesan to round it out.  Don’t skimp on the sage, as it really sets the tone for this dip.  Serve with hearty crackers, chips or toasted bread rounds, and maybe a knife for spreading should someone prefer to be dainty.

Italian Sausage Dip with Fontina and Sage

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

2 cloves garlic

1 generous handful sage leaves, finely chopped

8 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces fontina cheese. grated

8 ounces sour cream

1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated

Break the sausage into small pieces and cook in large sauté pan over medium heat. Use a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to break the meat up into very small pieces, almost crumbs.  Remember you will be eating this as a dip or spread and big chunks are too hard to eat.  Cook until the sausage is no longer pink.  Put the garlic cloves through a garlic press (or very finely mince them) into the pan, stir and cook for another minute.  Sprinkle half the chopped sage over the sausage and stir until wilted. Drain any excess fat from the pan.  Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and add to the sausage, stirring until it melts.  Add the fontina and stir until the cheese begins to melt and become creamy.  Stir in the sour cream and the remaining sage and cook over medium heat until everything is melted, smooth and bubbly.  Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese and stir.

Transfer the dip to an oven safe baker and serve immediately, or the dip can be cooled and refrigerated overnight at this point.  When ready to serve, heat the dip in a 350° oven until hot through and bubbly, stirring a few times. Serve with crackers, bread rounds or corn chips.

Serves 8 -1 0, can be doubled

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