Chicken Sausage Casserole (4)

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Sausages are great winter comfort food. Nothing better than ‘bangers’ ‘n mash with onion marmalade and a good gravy.  I like them in all their guises – the circular Cumberland sausage from the UK, chorizo, merguez, kielbasa, Italian sausage and the lighter and less fatty chicken sausage. Better still it is relatively easy to find them gluten free. This hearty casserole uses an Italian chicken sausage with fennel and kale from my local supermarket but probably any sausage could be substituted though I would try and find a type that had some extra flavor like herbs or spices. It is a filling dish as it includes cannellini beans, red lentils and kale – a winter winner!

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

2 rashers of bacon

1 pound of chicken sausage

2 sticks of celery – cut into 1 inch slices

2 carrots – cut into 1 inch slices

1 cup of chicken broth

1 can of cannellini beans

1/2 cup of uncooked red lentils

5 oz. baby kale

Heat the oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper in a Dutch oven and when sizzling add the onion. Let soften and brown slightly before adding the garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes.

While the onion is cooking, in a separate frying pan, cook the bacon until nice and crisp, remove from pan and when cool enough cut it into thinnish strips.

Then, sear the sausages on all sides (this will add more flavor to the dish). Then cut into bite size pieces.

Add the celery and carrots to the Dutch oven and cook for a couple of minutes till they slightly brown, then add the bacon, sausage pieces, broth, cannellini beans, lentils and kale.

Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding extra broth if you need it but the casserole is meant to be thick rather than soupy.

 

 

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Lemon Pepper Chicken with Blended Rice and Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs (4)

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Lovely, healthy mixture with the ingredients cooked separately then combined at the end. The chicken breast is amply sprinkled with lemon pepper – one of my favorite new spices (Simply Organic brand – you may have to order it online). The rice is a blend of rices – white, brown, wild and red (quite easily found in the supermarket) and the mushrooms are cooked with garlic, parsley and thyme.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

1 x large chicken breast – poached and cut into small bite size pieces

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and lemon pepper

1 cup of rice blend

1 1/2 cups boiling water, seasoned with salt

8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

2 x large garlic cloves – grated

1 tbsp. fresh parsley plus a little extra for garnish – finely chopped

1 tbsp. fresh thyme – finely chopped

Place chicken breast on aluminum foil in a baking dish, pour over the lemon juice and 1 tbsp. of oil, season with salt and a good sprinkling of lemon pepper. Cook in oven for around 30 minutes until chicken is fully cooked. Cut chicken into small bit seize pieces.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice and mushrooms.

Bring the rice to a boil, stir, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for a further 15 minutes.

Place the other tbsp. of oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in a frying pan. When just sizzling add the garlic (do not let garlic brown) and let cook for a minute or two then add the parsley and thyme and cook a further couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or so until mushrooms are cooked but there are still some juices left in the pan.

To assemble, place rice in a big mixing bowl. Add the chicken pieces followed by the mushrooms, herbs and their juices. Mix all together and season to taste. I added some of lemon juices from the poached chicken to moisten the mixture. Place in a nice dish, garnish with parsley and serve immediately, maybe with a tossed green salad.

Salmon Endive Canapes (makes around 18)

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Huge success over Christmas and New Year and everyone, young and old, loved them. This recipe combines two types of salmon – poached and smoked – lemon juice, mayonnaise and dill all mashed up and spread on endive leaves. Endives are perfect for certain canapes as they don’t go soggy. I try and use the middle to smaller size leaves and use the bigger ones in a salad. Decorate with a few capers if you want.

6 oz fresh salmon – skinned

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 oz. smoked salmon

1 x shallot – finely chopped

2 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. dill – finely chopped and some extra for optional garnish

2 – 3 endives – discard outer leaves

Capers for decoration – optional

Place the salmon on a piece of aluminum foil in a metal baking dish. Pour over juice of 1/2 a lemon and the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Make a parcel out of the foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or so until salmon is cooked to your liking.

Drain salmon, leave to cool then flake into a bowl.

Cut smoked salmon into small pieces and add to cool, flaked salmon along with the mayonnaise, the rest of the lemon juice and dill and mix gently together.

Spoon the salmon mixture onto the endive leaves and serve, decorated with capers/chopped dill (optional)