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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Broccoli, White Bean and Bacon Soup (4)

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Another soup – different ingredients. I really like using white beans as a thickener, better for you than potatoes. Bacon adds a nice saltiness. I used back bacon (in the supermarket you may find it names ‘Irish bacon’) which is leaner cut. Dilute with extra broth after cooking if you prefer a thinner soup.

2 rashers of back bacon – halved and sliced

1 onion – diced

1 head of broccoli – cut into florets and I used the stem also

1 can of cannellini beans – drained

2 cups chicken broth (or more if you like a thinner soup)

Heat a frying pan until nice and hot and then add the bacon.

Once bacon is a little browned and giving off juices, add the onion.

Cook stirring occasionally until bacon and onion and nicely browned.

Add the broccoli, beans and broth, bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

Process in a food processor or use a hand held blender.

Tomato and Bacon Chutney (1 1/2 cups)

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A dollop of tomato and bacon jam was served atop my bun-less, cheese-less burger the other day and it was a delicious surprise. I used maple bacon, but if you can’t find it regular bacon will do. After cooking the bacon I removed it from the skillet and placed paper towel underneath and on to of it so I could get rid of the grease. Then I browned and softened the onion and garlic in the bacon fat left in the pan. That needed paper towel too. The sauce is an interesting mixture of mustard, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Goes well with sausages too.

8 oz. maple bacon – cut into thin strips

1 medium onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

12 oz. plum tomatoes – sliced and then chopped into small chunks

2 tbsp. each of Dijon mustard, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire Sauce

Heat a lidded skillet and when hot add the bacon strips and cook until nicely browned but not too crisp. Then remove from skillet and place between two pieces of paper towel to get rid of extra grease.

Add onion and garlic to the remainder of the bacon fat and cooked until softened and the onions are a little browned. Place onion and garlic mixture between two pieces of paper towel as above.

Place bacon, onion and garlic mixture back into the skillet and add the tomatoes.

Whisk the mustard, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce together in a bowl, then pour into the skillet.

Bring to a boil then turn heat down low and cook for 25 minutes removing the skillet lid every once in a while to give the mixture a stir.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (4)

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Growing up in the UK we always had sprouts as a side dish at Christmas –  usually picked  from the garden on a cold morning and our fingers went numb! Sprouts go well with turkey as does bacon (often wrapped around a sausage). Hence, sprouts and bacon make a good team.  The sprouts are tossed in olive oil before roasting. The bacon – thickly sliced and cut into small strips – is mixed with the sprouts and then put in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees.

2 pounds of sprouts – prepared by cutting the bottoms off and removing the outer leaves. Ideally the sprouts should be relatively small, so if not, cut them into halves or quarters.

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

6 rashers of thick bacon – cut into thin slices

Place sprouts in a bowl and toss well with seasoned oil, then place in a roasting dish.

Add the bacon and mix well.

Roast in oven for an hour and turn them over every 20 minutes.

Bacon Dippy Eggs

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How about instead of dipping toast ‘soldiers’ in your boiled egg, you dip a rasher of bacon – yum! Takes guests by surprise!

Cook a rasher or two of bacon per egg to your liking.

Boil an egg or two per person to your desired runniness.

Cut off top of egg and dip bacon in the yolk.

Braised Lettuce, Peas and Bacon (4)

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Lovely, light summery dish made using shallots, buttery lettuce, peas, bacon and a good dollop of mustard.

3 rashers of bacon – cut into small pieces

2 x shallots – finely chopped

1 large head of buttery lettuce – finely sliced and chopped

2 cups of frozen peas

1 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Heat a skillet/frying pan and when nice and hot add the bacon and let brown for a few minutes, then add shallots and let them brown a little too.

Then add lettuce, peas, broth and mustard. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.