Monday, June 29, 2009

Sausage & Pepper Casserole

I'm not certain if every Italian American child growing up was stuck eating sausage and peppers every week, but I was. To make matters worse, every family function seemed to have acres of the stuff in addition to the obligatory pasta dishes and meatballs. Luckily, the trend seemed to die and the dish is almost never thought of.

I work as a part-time private chef and have secretly prided myself in the fact that I have not yet served the family the same meal twice. As you can imagine, coming up with interesting dishes that are also kid friendly is sometimes challenging. I find myself pulling from every source possible, including my childhood. Of course sausage and peppers came to mind-but then quickly got discarded. I couldn't possibly make this nice family eat this simple casserole I was forced to eat, could I?

The answer was no...and yes. I could jazz it up and combine a few recipes and come up with something 100 times better than the basic sausage, green pepper and potato dish I was stuck with. And that's just what I did. The changes were rather simple-I switched from green peppers to red, added a crunchy topping and roasted the potatoes separately. Apparently I did good because everyone-including the littlest girl-had seconds.

Sausage & Pepper Casserole

1 # Sweet Italian Sausage, sliced on a bias
1 White Onion chopped
2 Red Pepper, Julienned
1 Can Cannellini Beans, Drained
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 C. Chicken Stock
2 T. Brown Sugar
2 T. Tomato Paste
1/2 t. Thyme
Black Pepper, to taste
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 C. Panko
Olive Oil
1 1/2 # Roasted Potatoes

1. Saute onion & sausage together until brown. Add garlic & red peppers. Saute 3 minutes.

2. Combine stock, sugar and tomato paste. Add to pan & stir.

3. Add thyme, beans, bay leaves and pepper. Boil and simmer about 7 minutes or until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove from heat.

4. Using the same pan, top with panko, sprinkle more thyme and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until browned. Allow to rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, add a few potatoes to each bowl. Top with sausage mixture and serve.

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