Tag Archives: seasoned sausage

Tuscan-Style Sausages with Rich Onion Gravy, Mash & Spinach (serves 6-8)

The herds that are still thriving in my garden in late october

The herbs that are still thriving in my garden in late October (thyme, sage, rosemary)

I must be feeling the shiver of winter because my last few dinners have contained a hearty quality I am not drawn to when the weather is warmer. The changes in the season are visible to me every time I walk from the backdoor to my car via the garden. Right now my poor basil plants are all but dead and I am kicking myself for not getting that last good harvest picked for some extra jars of pesto to cheer me up when the bleakness of January hits. The earthier herbs are still determined to brave it out and it is their flavors that have influenced the kinds of things I have been feeling like cooking lately.

Sa

Sausages with rosemary infused onion gravy – nothing like it!

Yesterday I found a new style of sausage at my most favorite supermarket (I must write about it someday soon), an organic “Tuscan Style” sausage no less, and if there is any word that conjures up gastronomy in all it’s glory for me it is Tuscany! (there are some other words of course but this one is in the top five!). What made this sausage “Tuscan”? The words “spezza forte” on the package was a start but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t some marketing ploy intended for lovers of all things Italian like me!

Tuscan style sausages

Tuscan style sausages

So from my limited experience of living there last year and my determination to make a stab at learning or at least understanding the language I knew it loosely meant “strong spice” So what does that really translate into in North American? To this particular set of test/marketing chefs  it meant cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg but being that this sausage is made to please a huge cross-section of people the Tuscan flavor as I know it was rather mild (even thought they did get the spices right on). I am probably going to have to make the sausage myself if I want the real deal. What I am trying to say is that if you are going to make this any good quality sausage will do but if you happen to be lucky enough to go to a real Italian market where the meat is from the source then you will have the best dinner ever!

Romanesque church of in Lucca

Romanesque church in Lucca , Tuscany, a town where I had very good sausages

We had this with a big side of quickly sautéed spinach and it was the perfect thing! This dish was really all about the sausages and gravy so once you have that I’d say feel free to serve it with anything you like, or whatever you can scrounge from your fridge or pantry.

Spinach grwon from seeds from Naples

Spinach grown from seeds from Naples by my friend Catherine on her farm a few miles from me!

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You will Need:

for the sausage & onion gravy

2 to 2 1/2 lbs robust flavored sausages (I used a Tuscan-style pork sausage & a mild Italian style chicken sausage)

3 medium sweet onions – halved and sliced thin (not too thin however!)

3 tbs olive oil

1 sprig fresh rosemary, left whole

2 tbs unsalted butter

3 tbs all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth (or 1 good quality bouillon cube & 3 cups water – it’s what I did!). *You may need more so have some on hand*

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

for the mashed potatoes:

3 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (sometimes called Yukon golds or golden potatoes)

2 tbs unsalted butter

1/2 cup or more of milk or cream

1 tsp salt

lots of freshly ground black pepper

for the spinach:

10 or more cups roughly chopped spinach

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1 – Put big saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tbs of the oil. Place the sausages in an even layer in the pan (there will be about 12 or so). If the sausages are large you can cut them in half if you like. Brown on all sides and then turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook until cooked through. This will take about 20 minutes (internal temp should be 165* if you want to check with a thermometer). Turn the sausages occasionally as the cook. When done, remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm (no need to put in a warm oven as they will be going back in the gravy)

Fry sausages

Fry sausages

2 – Add some more oil to the pan (about 1 tbs) and add the sliced onions and sprig of rosemary. Turn the heat up to medium and cook stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, cover with lid and continue to cook until onions are nice and soft (about 10 more minutes).

cook onions with rosemary

cook onions with rosemary

3 – At this point the onions will have turned a lovely caramel color and picked up the scrapings from the sausages. Add the butter (*and the stock cube if you are using stock cube plus water instead of broth) and when it melts add the flour and stir very well with a wooden spoon. Add a cup of broth (or water)  and continue stirring into a smooth sauce. Add the next 1 1/2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Turn heat down until it has stopped boiling and continue to cook and stirring on and off for about 5 minutes.

add butter to make gravy

add butter to make gravy

4 – If you want a thinner sauce add another 1/2 cup or so of water or broth and let it get hot. Add liquid until you are happy with the consistency. Next add the sausages back to the pan and turn down  heat to lowest setting. Keep warm until ready to serve.

add sausages to cooked gravy

add sausages to cooked gravy

for the mash: put the prepared potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. When the pot comes to a boil, cover with lid and boil gently until potatoes are cooked all the way through (a knife should be able to go through a potato very easily). Drain water and add the butter, milk or cream, 1/2 tsp salt and several grinds of black pepper. Mash until there are no lumps and you have a nice smooth mash. cover gently with a tea towel and set aside until ready to serve.

mash and season potatoes

mash and season potatoes

for the spinach: Put a big pan on low to medium heat right before you are ready to serve. Add the spinach and sprinkle with the seasonings (salt, pepper, chili flakes). It will wilt quickly. Before it seems cooked turn the heat off. it will continue to cook while you get everything served.

saute spinach with oil and pepper flakes for 1 minute..

Saute spinach with oil and pepper flakes for 1 minute..

Sausages with onion gravy - nothing like it!

Serve with lots of gravy and spinach (or any green you like!)

Quick Weekend Pasta Dinner (Rigatoni with Savory sausage & Sweet Onions) – Serves 6

I don’t know what your weekend is like but for me I always move a little slower on Saturdays. The weekdays I am up early, busy all day and fall into bed exhausted each night, and so Saturday I think my body and brain go on strike in order to recoup. This means that making an easy dinner fits right into the relaxed pace I am in dire need of.

The easiest dinner in the world!

The easiest dinner in the world!

This is a family day for me, a day when I try to avoid having anyone over for dinner (unless of course it is a “weekend guest” weekend!) preferring to close the door on all things that are a hassle on Friday night. I love having friends over Friday as I am in work mode anyway and it is a great way to celebrate the beginning of a couple of days that are different from the rest.

Herbs from my garden save my life most nights

Herbs from my garden save my life most nights

If I go grocery shopping on Saturday I make sure to buy some very convenient items with an eye on making my dinner prep a breeze. This Saturday I found some great seasoned sausage and knew it would be all I would need to flavor the whole dish (save for throwing a few fresh herbs snagged from my garden).

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire lenght of the sausge adn sliding it off. then it is easy to cut or break the sasge into your pan

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire length of the sausage and sliding it off. After that it is easy to cut or break the sausage into your pan

 A good pasta dish can be one of the most delicious things in the world to eat if it is mixed with the right combo of flavors. It was so good that if I had happened to get in over my head and invite people to dinner it would have worked out very well indeed.

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You will need:

3 to 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbs unsalted cold butter

1lb savory sausage (I used an apple and onion sausage, but any flavor combination that appeals to you and is available will do!) – removed form casing

3 small/medium sweet onions – diced

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 small sprig fresh rosemary

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional – I always like a bit of heat!)

1/2 tsp salt (but taste dish before adding)

4 cups chopped greens (spinach, kale or chard work great)

1lb rigatoni (I use Barilla brand with ridges)

1/2 to 3/4 cup pasta cooking water (this is water reserved after cooking the pasta)

Method:

*Place the water on for the pasta. Rigatoni takes between 12 to 14 minutes to cook so plan on timing it to be ready when the rest of the dish is cooked. BEFORE YOU DRAIN THE PASTA WATER SCOOP OUT ABOUT 1 CUP AND SET SIDE.

1 – Place large pan (large enough to hold the entire finished dish) on low/medium heat and add 3 tbs of the oil. When it has wormed, Add the onions and garlic and cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until nice and soft. Add the herbs and pepper flakes (if using).

Saute onions in oil, add herbs after a bit

Saute onions in oil, add herbs after a bit

2 – Add the sausage either by cutting it was a scissors or breaking it off with your hands into the pan. Break it up further with a wooden spoon as it is cooking. Turn the heat up a little and cook until the sausage begins to brown a little and is cooked through (depends but anywhere up to 15 minutes).

Add sausage

Add sausage

3 – Add the spinach and stir quickly. Turn heat off, taste for addition of salt and add if you think it needs it.  Cover with lid. until the pasta is ready.

Add greens

Add greens

4 – Add the pasta directly from draining into the pan (DO NOT RINSE PASTA UNDER COLD WATER), al with 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and cold butter. Replace lid and after a minute stir everything gently.

add cooked pasta and pasta water

add cooked pasta, cold butter and pasta water

Serve in warmed bowls and pass the cheese if you have it on hand. A few extra pepper flakes wouldn’t go astray either!

Did I menton how great this tastes topped with the cheese of the gods: Parmiagiano reggiano!

Did I mention how great this tastes topped with the cheese of the gods: Parmigiano Reggiano!

A Yummy Sausage and Pasta Dinner – Quick! (serves 6)

Have you every had one of those crazy spontaneous moments and asked people over to dinner that evening and it is already 5 o’ clock! Of course you have done this, and then arrived home to find yourself in a panic over what you can pull together quickly while screaming out loud, “what was I thinking inviting people over tonight!!!!”” That’s when you zoom to the supermarket (or do this before you go home to avoid this panic attack) and buy the few things you need to make this gorgeous, crowd-pleasing dinner! It is also a super inexpensive main course for six.

Quick and easy dinner for six!

Quick and easy dinner for six!

I also think when you see how easy this is, you might also decide to make a batch of brownies while everyone is sitting around after dinner: yes, it’s what I did and I wasn’t taxed a bit! (Recipe for Brownies below)

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You will need:

2 tbs olive oil

1 lb seasoned sausage (I used an Apple & Onion, but feel free to grab whatever is available: mild Italian, garlic, wine & herbs, etc – * If I were on the East coast of Ireland I would use Lavistown Sausages*)

ALSO: you can use chicken or turkey sausage

1 large Vidalia (sweet) onion, small dice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, including leaves, diced

4 sprigs fresh thyme (if you don’t have it, don’t worry)

4 cups chopped fresh spinach

2 tsp curry powder (any favorite variety)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or 1/2 bouillon cube & water)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 lb medium pasta shells (I use Barilla brand)

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (if you have it on hand)

*This can easily be a Blood Type A Diet recipe by using a poultry sausage (chicken or turkey) Also, substitute the cream with more stock (veggie or whole bouillon cube) and, if you are really strict, omitting the curry powder and chili flakes*

Method:

*Put large pot of water on for pasta, add about 2 tsp coarse salt to water. Cook according to instructions and reserve about 3/4 cup pasta water before draining. do not rinse pasta with cold water. It will take the pot of water about 5 or so minutes to come to a boil and the shells will take anywhere from 9 to 11 minutes (check package for cooking time). This adds up to about 16 to 20 minutes, so time the pasta to be ready at the same time as it is required in the dish*

first: dice onion, chop garlic

First: dice onion, chop garlic

1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and a the oil. When it has warmed add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire lenght of the sausge adn sliding it off. then it is easy to cut or break the sasge into your pan

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire length of the sausage and sliding it off. Then it is easy to cut or break the meat into your pan

2 – While onions are cooking remove the sausage from casing (instructions above)

kuh

Add Sausage and thyme

3 – Add the sausage to pan be cutting it into pieces as you go, or breaking it off into pieces with your hands. Add the thyme and celery. Turn pan up slightly and cook the sausage for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until starting to brown on all sides.

Add curry powder

Add curry powder

4 – Add the curry powder (and bouillon cube if using) and stir into sausage mixture until everything looks golden.

Add the liquids, then the spinach

Add the liquids, then the spinach

5 – Add the broth (or water) and let it come to a simmer. Add the cream and wait until it is also simmering before adding the chopped spinach. Cover and lower heat until everything is at a very gently simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed (purely personal). Add the just-drained shells and stir. If you like a looser sauce, add some of the reserved pasta water (and a little cream if you like) until desired consistency is reached.

Serve

Serve

Serve in warmed shallow bowls with a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano.

lovely brownies

If you want to make brownies quickly, click HERE for recipe!

Make Your Own Sausages (makes 8 – serves 4)

Yes, it’s true: there is no reason in the world you cannot make your own homemade sausages. I was reading an old Darina Allen cookbook and she had a recipe for sausages. From what I could see, and I am a cook who feels that recipes should be used as a guideline only, sausages can be made with just about any ground meat and a combination of flavors. Fatty meat was one of the key ingredients and since I had bacon and the dregs of a bunch of cilantro in the fridge, I decided to try my hand at making sausages last night!

Make Your Own Sausages

Make Your Own Sausages

Darina Allen made her sausages using just streaky bacon but I felt that my bacon was a little too fatty so used a combination of bacon and ground pork. I added some heat with cayenne pepper flakes, and cilantro was the only fresh herb I had so that would have to do.

Homemade sausages with homemade freis adn sauteed spinach for dinner last night

Homemade sausages with homemade fries and sautéed spinach for dinner last night

They were really fun to make and so quick. I served them with homemade fries and after the sausages were done frying, I cooked a giant bunch of spinach in the flavorful fat. It was a wonderful start to our weekend and I can’t wait to try other combinations of meat and  spices the next time.

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*This is a great blood Type A Diet recipe if you use only ground chicken or turkey with the rest of the ingredients, and follow the same recipe below! Also omit the black pepper and pepper flakes if you are being very strict*

You will need:

1/2 lb streaky back, roughly chopped

3/4 lb ground pork

OR – 1 1/4 lbs of ground turkey or chicken (instead of pork and bacon)

1 egg

1 cup + 2 tbs fine bread crumbs (about 2 slices of bread in the food processor)

2 cloves garlic (1 clove if large), roughly chopped

3 tbls chopped cilantro (or combination of your favorite strong herbs: oregano, thyme, parsley, sage)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes Or 1/2 tsp good quality curry powder

freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1 – Put the bread crumbs (or broken bread slices) in the food processor with the herbs, garlic, pepper flakes (or curry powder) and several grinds of black pepper.

blend breadcrumbs with seasonings of your choice

Blend breadcrumbs with seasonings of your choice

2 – Pulse until everything is well mixed and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

set aside seasonings

Set aside seasonings

3 – Pace the chopped bacon into the processor (no need to rinse the processor) and pulse until it is a rough grind consistency (if you over do it, it will become gluey).

Pulse bacon in food processor

Pulse bacon in food processor

4 – Crack egg into a big bowl and mix with a fork. Add the ground pork, bacon and bread crumb mixture to the eggs and mix together with your hands until everything is one solid mass. If the mixture feels too sticky to handle, add a little more bread crumbs (not too much however or it will be too bread-like)

Mix everything together

Mix everything together

5 – Rub some oil in the palms of your hands (makes for easy handling) and divide mixture into 8  pieces of roughly the same size. Fashion each piece into a thick sausage shape and set on a lightly oiled plate or wax paper as you go, (this makes for easy removal to the frying pan).

Make sausages

Make sausages

6 – Put a small amount of oil on a pan under medium/low heat and fry the sausages until brown on all sides.

Fry on all sides until nice adn brown

Fry on all sides until nice and brown

Serve any way you like: on a sandwich with mustard and your favorite toppings, or like I did, with fries and sautéed greens. They are also good for a big breakfast with eggs and toast.

Serve with anything you like!

Serve with anything you like!

*You can also freeze them between wax paper and a plastic bag ready to fry whenever you want!

Seasoned Sausage & Chicken in Curried Cream

 This is the kind of dinner that requires little work but has great results. When I am at a loss as to what sorts of flavors I want to come up with for dinner, and I am low on things like fresh herbs, I turn to the foods that I buy specifically to get around these problems; these apple & onion sausages did all the work for this dinner in the flavor department.

Seasoned Sausage & Chicken in Curried Cream

Seasoned Sausage & Chicken in Curried Cream

I can’t say that I ever buy instant food to get me out of those nights when time is precious and hungry offspring are gnawing at my heels in search of dinner. I know that there are some frozen and packet meals that are good enough, but honestly, what is out there is mostly not that great (and I’m being nice).

My idea of instant food is buying say a piece of meat or fish that has been marinated in a mixture of herbs and spices for quick and convenient cooking, or the likes of the sausages that I used to whip up this great curry. And yes, curry powder is my other instant go-to food. Nowadays you can find some fabulous mixes and they last forever. The other trick is to buying a cut of meat that has no bones or skin to contend with (the chicken thighs for this dinner to be precise). I’m all for bouillon cubes and fresh frozen peas if it will keep you cooking healthy meals most evenings.

This dinner is a demonstration in how to make something that takes just a little longer to cook than a large frozen pizza or pasta dinner. Don’t you think that you and your family are worth it!

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You will need:

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs unsalted butter

sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper for seasoning meat and to taste

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 lb seasoned sausage, cut into big pieces if it comes in a rope style (I used an Apple & Onion flavored sausage, but another kind will do just as well – do not use an Italian-style sausage as these flavors are too strong – stick with things like a Rosemary & White Wine sausage, Garlic & Onion etc)

2 medium sweet onions, cut in half, then into thin 1/2 rounds

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbs curry powder (I used a medium/hot variety from a great spice shop in NYC)

2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes

1 bouillon cube & 2 cups water OR 2 cups chicken stock

1/2 tbs all-purpose flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

Method:

1 – Season chicken things with a little sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put pan or heavy casserole on high heat and add a couple of tbs of olive oil. When oil is hot sear chicken things until browned. Transfer to a plate as you go.

sear chicken

Sear the chicken

2 – Brown the sausages in the same way and set aside.

cook sausages seperatly

Brown the sausages

3 – Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter. When it melts add the onions and garlic. cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Next add the spices and flour and mix together.

saute onions, add spices

Saute onions, add spices

4 – Add the bouillon cube and water (or chicken broth) and bring to a simmer. Add the cream and stir.

make sauce

Make sauce

5 – Place the chicken and sausage back into the pan in an even layer and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and cover with lid. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

assemble curry adn place in oven

Assemble curry and place in oven

Remove from oven and check to season more and if the sauce is the right consistency for you. If it is too thick add a little more cream or hot water and mix gently. serve with rice, pasta or bread. Of course a salad would be welcome too.

Serve with rice

Serve with rice, pasta or bread

Chicken with Seasoned Sausage, Baby Potatoes & Green Beans (serves 6)

I will never tire of the different combinations of one-pot meals that can be thrown into the oven. All you are required to have to make a decent dinner is some chicken, and, I also happen to have some sausage this particular night, and you can add whatever dregs you have left in your fridge or pantry.

Chicken with Seasoned sausage, Baby Potatoes & Green Beans

This time I happen to have a handful of green beans and a dozen baby yellow potatoes to get rid of. Into the oven they went for a stint, along with anything else I could find

I love little potatoes.

Keeping the oven busy is a great way to disperse pleasant smells  throughout the house, while you languish over a glass of wine, a little unimportant chatter, or, a peruse in a book or magazine.

After which time, you produce a delicious dinner, and keep everyone happy for another night!

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You will need: 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, 1 lb seasoned sausage (I used apple & onion, but any seasoned sausage will do), cut into 6″ pieces, 3 sprigs thyme, 6 or 7 sage leaves, 1 onion, halved and sliced into 1/2 moons, 1 doz baby yellow or white potatoes, 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half if very long, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup chicken or veggie broth, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, sea-salt and black pepper for seasoning, and to taste.

Preheat oven 425*

1 – Prep veggies & herbs and layer into the bottom of a heavy saute or roasting pan.

lay veggies into bottom of pan

2 – Lay meat on top in an even layer and add the liquids, a sprinkle of salt and pepper on the meat, followed by a drizzle of olive oil.

lay meat on top

3 – Place in oven for 35 minutes. Take out and turn sausages and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.Remove from oven and let everything rest for about 10 minutes.

remove from the oven

Serve in warm bowls or plate.

ready to eat