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Posts Tagged ‘sausage’

For those with an Iron Chef mentality, the one that can open a fridge or pantry, see half a dozen different items and create a meal from them in a few blinks of an eye, giving them a workable name can often be a lesson in futility.

Take this amazing and delicious, light and airy breakfast I made for myself lately. It defied definability.

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You see, while it looks like scrambled eggs all fluffy and moist, it was comprised mostly of roasted acorn squash and baked potato, with eggs stirred into it to extend it’s nutritional value. Plus, the thought of just eating leftover spuds and squash for breakfast, without a protein or complimentary option, like crazy-delicious wild rice sausage, would have been unthinkable. I mean, yeah I’ve done it. It just hasn’t lasted me all that long, causing the ‘Second Breakfast’ syndrome to rear it’s ugly head.

But it has no name. It has defied all appointed options, like Scrambled Squash, or mundane offerings like Breakfast Scramble- this ain’t no Denny’s here- and yet ever since I made it, tasted it, loved it and then subsequently devoured it like I was starving, I have wanted more. Another shot at greatness to see if my one-time deal was more than some kind of fluke.

This is what I did. I had half a roasted acorn squash, all creamy moist and tender, and a baked potato in it’s wrinkly jacket and I placed them in a bowl and mashed them well with a fork. I stirred in two eggs that had also been blended well, then whisked the entire mass until it was smooth and fully homogenized. I poured it into a pan and crossed my fingers. Soon it was setting, thanks to the eggs, and I turned it gently. It started to act like a frittata, but with a loftier personality. It snubbed it’s nose at scrambled eggs, and ignored any attempt to be an omelet. It cooked up beautifully and smelled incredible, and when I finally scraped the finished product into a bowl with the cooked wild-rice sausage- have I mentioned how I LOVE this item? No? Oh my……L.O.V.E- and sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper over it, my first bite was rapturous and even a bit other worldly.

It tasted of potato, and it tasted of egg. It combined the best of both those ultra-favorite breakfast items into one big glorious dish, and yet as I sat enjoying it, savoring each bite and mentally patting myself on the back at my genius, I could not, for the life of me, decide what to christen it.

So fellow food lovers and bloggers, any ideas???

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September in Minnesota really could not have been any more beautiful. The weather was temperate throughout the entire month with warm sunshine and cool, crisp nights. It was also extremely dry. Like desolate and parched, desert-like dry.

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By the end of the month, the air was almost caustic, and any amount of wind kicked up rolling dust devils. The few zucchini left on my vine withered in the dryness and the grass, once again, became parched and crackly. And then, just when it seemed the haze that hung in the air would never break up, October came along and with it, a long and much needed drenching rain.

And cold. Those gorgeous September days of upper 70’s and purely blinding sunlight have given way to temps in the 50’s and a lot of clouds. I finally had to give in and turn on the heat when both the cats began fighting over who got to snuggle in my lap for warmth, and a cozy, comforting meal from the oven seemed like just the ticket to usher in a cold, blustery and rain-driven night.

Most any Wednesday finds me eagerly perusing the New York Times Dining and Wine section, skipping over the restaurant news and market talk to find the weekly recipes, eager for some new ammunition to add to my cooking arsenal. Sometimes I fall flat, or I print off an interesting specimen that ends up languishing, forgotten, in a pile somewhere.  But this recipe for Ratatouille and Sausage Pot Pie with Cornmeal Biscuits seemed to be one destined to go from the printer to the prep table in record time. And it did. One day was all it took and it was bubbling on the trivet, my stomach growling in desire as the rain pelted the rapidly darkening windows and the furnace hummed happily.

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What a wonderful twist on comfort food, a new definition for an age-old favorite. The recipe calls for italian sausage, but if you’ve got a meat market in your area, one that makes its own artisan sausages, pick a richly flavored one to use in this recipe. A local market near us makes it’s own bratwurst and the Wild Rice variety paired beautifully with this dish. Roasting the vegetables brings out so much sweetness and flavor; both Mike and I were really happy with this dish, the complex flavors and the ultra-comforting way it filled us up.

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Ratatouille and Sausage Pot Pie with Cornmeal Biscuits
From The New York Times Dining section, 9/30/09

For the Biscuits:
1 c. AP flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 t. sugar
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. kosher salt
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 c. sour cream or plain whole milk yogurt

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. With a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the yogurt or sour cream and fold in gently until mostly combined. Gather the dough with your fingers and press any remaining dry ingredients into it, kneading it lightly until it all comes together. It should be slightly sticky. If too wet, sprinkle with a little more cornmeal. If too dry, add a small amount of milk. Press dough into a ball and place plastic wrap over the top of it. Set aside.

For the Ratatouille:
1 large eggplant, cut to 1″chunks
2-3 medium zucchini, cut to 1″ chunks
1 large red pepper, cut to 1″ chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut to 1″ chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
3/4# italian sausage, casings removed
2 large tomatoes, cored and rough chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
3-4 large basil leaves, chopped

Oil for roasting, salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, place all the vegetables and drizzle them with about 3-4 T. of good quality olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and gently stir to coat. Spread the vegetables on two cookie sheets without crowding them. Roast until golden and browned in spots, about 20-25 minutes. Stir once during roasting.

Meanwhile, in an oven proof skillet with deep sides (or use a regular pan, then a separate baking dish) cook the sausage until browned, breaking up into small pieces. When sausage is cooked, add the tomato and stir gently. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes without disturbing. The tomato should break down slightly, but not too much.  At this point, if the vegetables are not done yet, turn the burner off under the skillet and wait for the vegetables to finish. You don’t want the tomato to become mushy.

When the vegetables are done, scrape them into the skillet with the sausage and tomato, or pour everything into a 2-3 quart baking dish. Divide the cornmeal biscuit dough into five or six workable pieces and flatten them with your palms, placing them on top of the vegetable and sausage mixture, pressing them down slightly. They can be in rounds, or you can cover the top as much as possible with the dough. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°. With a pastry brush, dip into the juices in the pan and brush the tops of the dough with the juices. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbly.

This dish would be just as good without the addition of any meat.


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I’m the total opposite of this guy.

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Instead of warily watching over the masses, determining who best to give a bowl of soup to and weeding out the undeserving, I would be holding the door open, waving folks inside and pushing bowls into their hands; bowls of steaming, hearty and delicious soup with plenty of great bread for dunking.

I am no Soup Nazi. I’m a Soup Queen. We’re in May now, and I still can be swayed by a bowl of soup; I can read a recipe that is more suited to November’s chill, a thick blanket of fleece and a crackling fire and regardless of the fact that Spring is quite literally bursting out of it’s seams outside, I find myself lusting for that soup. It’s really a huge turn from even a few years ago. I used to never make soup. In fact, it intimidated me and I can’t explain why. I think I tried to make it on several occasions and was met with a thin, watery extraction, flavorless and vague that did nothing to satisfy the need inside of me for warmth or comfort. I can’t say; I’ve obviously blanked out the bad experiences of it. Back then, soup was a can for me, sad as it is. I cranked open a tin container to achieve a highly prized level of comfort, and wistfully dreamed of the steaming pot, bobbing with colorful vegetables and thick cuts of meat, or dripping with toothsome noodles and wished for the ability to do it from the ground up.

Obviously, what I didn’t know about soup was that it really needs to be built from the ground up in order to achieve that amazing soup quality that we all crave. Getting this…..

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requires little else but a few tidbits of knowledge. Armed with that knowledge, I’ve knocked out soups by the score, at least one pot a week and often more.

Mmmmm, you can almost smell it, can’t you?

The origin of soup can be traced back nearly 6000 years. The word ‘soup’ is believed to have evolved from the term ‘sop’, when long before eating utensils were created and everything was consumed with your fingers, getting those precious drops of juices in the bottom of your bowl was necessary. A thick hunk of bread accomplished this task nicely.

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Surprisingly, the word ‘restaurant‘ comes from a term first associated with soup, when in the 16th century in France, a highly concentrated and nutritious food known as a ‘restaurer‘ was sold by street vendors, advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. A Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop in 1765 specializing in servings ‘restaurers’, and the term ‘restaurant’ was coined to describe it. The ‘restaurer’ being served was but a humble bowl of soup used as a means to rejuvenate from the trappings of modern life. It’s no wonder that now, many hundreds of years later, when we crave comfort and seek solace from our own modern world, that a bowl of soup feels like a restorative shot in the arm.

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Soup grew in popularity with the onset of canning in the 19th century, and today there are hundreds of options available in the supermarket; dried, canned and all designed to be quick and easy. There is soup for all weather too, and a soup found in all cultures, all cuisines and in every form from around the world. We have classic soups, cold soups, fruit soups and herb soups. It can be called bisque, chowder, stew and consomme. The Chinese have Egg Drop and Birds Nest soup; the Greek have their Avgolemono, Scots their Cock-a-Leekie, the French serve Bouillabaise, Hungarians love their Goulash, Russians their Borscht, the Spanish and Portugese revere their Gazpacho. Heated arguments ensue over which clam chowder is better- New England cream based, or Manhattan tomato based- and Gumbo pots simmer throughout the Southern United States. Ever heard of  Canh Chua? Revithia? Caldo Verde? Lan Sikik? Callaloo? Fasolada? Bourou-Bourou? Kharcho? Snert? They’re all traditional, cultural representations of soup. Anthony Bourdain claimed that he fell in love with food after eating a bowl of Vichyssoise when he was a boy. And in the 80’s, a flash in the pan boy band went by the name Menudo. Soup is everywhere.

There tends to be a mindset about making soup that it has to take a long time in order for it to be good. While there is something to be said about creating a deep and flavorful pot, simmered for hours at a time, with the ingredients on hand and a quick turn with your knife, soup can be on the table in less than an hour. My Recipe Index has lots of good options for both an easy spin on the stove and a good pot to create over a lazy afternoon.

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This soup- Zuppa Arcidossana or Rustic Italian Bread Soup- the recipe that prompted me to make a hearty rich Fall-like pot on a beautiful- but cool- Spring afternoon, was one of the simple means to that steaming goodness. Browsing through the New York Times Dining section each Wednesday often gets me in a state like this; I spot a recipe I know I would love and my mad culinary brain must have it. Now. It’s all Bittman’s fault. The soup was simple, hearty and really flavorful, not to mention very quick.

Zuppa Arcidossana

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 cup 1/2-inch-diced carrots
1 large onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 cup stale bread (use coarse, country-style bread), cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 pound spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup ricotta salata, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (feta may be substituted)
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley, optional.

Put oil in a large pot or deep skillet and brown sausage over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When sausage is cooked through and leaving brown bits in pan, add carrots, onion and garlic, and continue to cook until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add bread to pan and stir for a minute or 2; add spinach and continue cooking just until it wilts, a couple of minutes.

Add about 2 cups water and stir to loosen any remaining brown bits from pan. This is more of a stew than a soup, but there should be some broth, so add another cup of water if necessary. When broth is consistency of thin gravy, ladle stew into serving bowls and top with cheese and some freshly chopped parsley if you have it. Serve immediately.

Mark Bittman, NY Times, 4/29/09

KATE’S NOTES:
Browning the vegetables adds a lot of flavor. I browned the carrot, garlic and onion for quite some time before adding in the sausage and giving it a good searing as well. Since you are only adding water, the fond on the pan will add an immense depth to the pot.

I had some leftover green beans from a previous dinner that ended up in the soup as well. The bread I used was a baguette, and it wasn’t stale; I just cut off the super crusty ends and added them into the soup pot. The slices were toasted to make them nice and crunchy, then set in the broth to soften slightly. I added about a teaspoon of fresh rosemary for extra flavor.

Instead of ricotta, I used fresh mozzarella and of course, shaved parmesan which this soup absolutely cries out for in droves. Basil would also make a good garnish on the top.

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Jambalaya

2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (1 green, 1 red), chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 links smoked sausage, diced
3 links andouille sausage, diced
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 ½ c. long grain rice
1 ½ c. tomato sauce, or puree
3 1/2 c. water
2 c. frozen whole kernel corn

Heat oil in large dutch oven or heavy pot with lid. Add the onions, and the green pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add in the red and jalapeno pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, brown the andouille and smoked sausage. Drain off any accumulated fat and add in chicken. Sear and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat. Meat can be slightly underdone at this point; it will cook further with the rice and vegetable mix. Add rice to pepper/onion mixture and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring frequently until rice browns slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Add in tomato product and stir to coat. Pour in water, corn and meats, stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until liquid is gone and rice is cooked

RECIPE NOTES: Feel free to sub any kind of sausage you wish; chorizo would be good in this. I used smoked turkey sausage, along with the andouille and it was very nice. I use uncooked andouille and removed the casings, browning and breaking the meat up in the skillet.

If shrimp is your thing, toss those in as well. Skip the corn if you don’t care for it, or add in some legumes if you want. A 15-oz can of black beans is a nice addition. They can be stirred in at the end and allowed to gently warm.

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Hearty Minestrone (from a certain FN chef)

2 quarts chicken stock
1 head garlic, halved
1/2 # small rigatoni
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
3/4 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 15-oz can cannelloni or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
12 slices baguette
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

-Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.
-Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.
-Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. -Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
-To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
-Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup. Add the parsley, and salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.
-To serve, preheat the broiler. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top.

RECIPE NOTES: For the chicken stock, I used about a half a head of garlic and took off the paper, smashing the cloves with my knife to release the flavor. The result was such a delicious garlic infusion. I only poured in 1 1/2 qts of broth too; this should be a thick soup, and along with the tomato puree, the 2 qts was too much. I used mild italian sausage because the meat counter at the grocer had it in bulk and I could buy exactly what I needed. In addition to the fresh herbs in the oil, I added a handful of chopped celery leaves because I just love that flavor. I used extra carrots too.

The 15 minute simmer time once all the ingredients are together doesn’t seem like enough, and I think I would go an extra 15 next time I make it. The vegetables were still super crispy after 15 min, and my preference is to have them slightly softer. I also thought it could have used more time to build its flavor, even though it tasted really wonderful. The parmesan croutons were delicious; they broiled super fast though, so watch carefully. I set off our smoke detector (hehehe). A really crusty loaf makes for a perfect boat in this broth.

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Red Rice and Sausage

2 T.  vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced (i was out of onion and used shallot)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8-14-oz spicy sausage, diced (I used andouille)

1 1/2 c. long grain rice

1 1/2 c. crushed canned tomato

1 1/2 c. water or broth of choice

1 14-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 c. frozen corn

In a heavy skillet with tight fitting lid, saute onion in oil over medium high heat until tender, add garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add in sausage and cook until slightly browned. Add in rice and saute until slightly golden and fragrant. Stir in water and tomato product, add in black beans and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover pan and cook until liquid is evaporated and rice is tender. Fluff before serving. Can be topped with cilantro.

I was slightly skeptical of this recipe but forged ahead because it just looked really good. I am often leery of using canned tomato products because they tend to taste….well, canned. Tinny. Y’know….not so great. But all the flavors came together in this dish and blended beautifully. It was well received by Griffin, who got up and helped himself to another bowl. That is a rarity when I try something new. Usually he will eat a helping without too much commentary, then disappear like a rocket from the table. Second helpings is two thumbs up in his book. It was warming and comforting and not too heavy, with a good tomato flavor, hearty with sausage and had a nice contrast with the beans.

This recipe can be varied widely. Use less sausage if you wish for a lighter taste, or try any one of the delicious artisan sausages on the market these days. Adjust the amount of rice according to your needs, but always remember that the liquid should be double the rice amount. I think this dish would also be wonderful with sauteed red or poblano peppers in it too. And of course, fresh pureed tomato would make it killer. I will be curious how it tastes after sitting a day in the fridge to meld together.

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Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli (from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2007)

1# small shape pasta (i used orriechiette)

3 chicken sausage links, cut to bite size

2# broccoli (or broccoli rabe) cut into bite size

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. white wine

1/8 c. good olive oil

Salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh whole nutmeg

Heat salted water for pasta. In a large saute pan, sear sausage until browned; add garlic, stir and cook for one minute, pour in wine. Allow to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl. Add broccoli to pan and cook, stirring occasionally until bright green. Add about 1/2 c. water and cover to steam until broccoli is fork tender but still somewhat firm. Add sausage back to saute pan with liquid, toss to coat broccoli. Cook pasta to taste, then drain. Add sausage and broccoli to pasta and toss well to coat. Season with salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh whole nutmeg grated over the top. Serve with parmesan/asiago/romano cheese if desired

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What a great meal! It had good flavor but not really overwhelming or anything. There was the tang of the wine, the flavor of the seasonings, the sausage and good broccoli. It was light, hearty and best of all, really really easy. I would make it again, maybe add more vegetables and make the sauce more noticeable. Any time I can cook with some good wine is all right with me. I liked the flavor that a good olive oil gave to the sauce, a nice rich taste but without the heaviness of butter. (I do LIKE butter, don’t get me wrong, but….y’know, my personal poundage and all isn’t really where I would like it to be right now)

But that won’t stop me from jumping into the Annual Mac-n-Cheese Off that’s coming! Co-sponsored by Kevin at Seriously Good and Cookiecrumb of I’m Mad and I Eat, bloggers have been challenged to post their best scratch Mac-n-Cheese recipe, complete with ooozing cheesy photos to make everyone drool. So stay toooooooned……..!!!!!!

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