Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sausage Gravy over Cannellini Bean Puree

For awhile now I've been thinking about all the recipes that I make off the cuff.  Staple dishes that I create in my own kitchen that have become favorites and can be relied on again and again.  Often times these are my very best dishes and yet I never think to post them and I have no idea why.

This recipe, which we call Sausage Gravy, is a real family favorite and happens to be one of my favorite things to eat.  Basically is it a version of sausage with peppers and onions, but instead of keeping the peppers and onions visible and firm, I cook them down with some form of liquid (chicken stock, beef stock, tomato juice, etc.) until the peppers and onions melt into a deeply rich and flavorful gravy of sorts.  Sometimes I follow the same guideline while other times I throw in all kinds of things, depending on what I have on hand. 

Sausage Gravy is something we eat at least once a month, if not more.  If I haven't had a chance to plan my menu and I need something quick that I can grab in the store in a jiffy then I'll grab a pack of sausage and be on my way.  Most often we serve our Sausage Gravy with pierogi.  Other times we serve it with potatoes, pasta, or polenta. 

As a bean lover I will tell you that I am quite disappointed in myself that it took me this long to pair beans with my Sausage Gravy.  However, once I chose the Cannellini Bean Puree as my recipe for IHCC I knew there was only one thing that would pair perfectly with it:  My Sausage Gravy.  I actually had a visual in my mind of a decadent and creamy white bean puree with a deeply hued dark and rich Sausage Gravy sitting on top and I was so obsessed I could think of nothing else.  I just imagined it as the perfect plate of food...and it was.  
 Sausage Gravy
Created in the Stirring the Pot Kitchen
Serves 4

1 pack good Italian sausages (Johnsonville has 5 per pack)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 bell peppers, sliced
1 tablespoons olive oil
2-4cloves of garlic, minced
About 4-6 cups chicken stock/beef stock/diced or crushed tomatoes 
Possible Add In's: Tomatoes, Jalapenos, Zucchini, Red Pepper Flakes

In a large skillet (preferably cast iron)  place about 1 tablespoon of oil and sear the sausages over medium heat until they reach a golden brown color, or deep dark color (whichever you prefer).  Remove the browned sausages to a plate (adding more oil to the pan if necessary) and saute the onion and pepper until they begin to soften.  Add in the garlic and place the sausages back in the pan with the onions and peppers and begin adding your liquid about 1/2 cup at a time (beef broth, chicken broth, and/or diced or crushed tomatoes).  As the onions and peppers begin to melt into the liquid a thick sauce will start to form.  When the liquid starts to cook out and the sauce becomes to thicken, add another 1/2 cup of sauce, making sure to scrap all the goodies off the bottom of the pan and incorporate them into the sauce.  Repeat this process over and over, cooking the sausages for about a total of 20 minutes, or until they are cooked through and the sauce has the desired consistency you want (sometimes we enjoy the sauce thin and sometimes we like it thicker, depending on what we are serving it with).  Serve on it's own or over pierogi, potatoes, pasta, polenta, beans or Cannellini Bean Puree.

 Cannellini Bean Puree
Adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros
Serves 6 - 8 as a side dish

2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 small carrot
1 small celery stalk
1 small onion
3 or 4 fresh/dried sage leaves
1/2 cup olive oil (I used a scant 1/4 cup and it was too much)
2-3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed with the flat of a knife
2 small springs of rosemary

Drain the soaked beans and put them in a large saucepan (I used my Dutch oven).  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Remove the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon and decrease the heat slightly.  Add the whole carrot, celery, onion, and sage leaves.  Cook for about 1-1/4 hours, or until the beans are tender.  Remove the beans from the heat and remove as much of the carrot, celery, onion, and sage bits as you can manage.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a saucepan with the garlic, rosemary springs, and some ground black pepper.  Heat until the oil is is well-flavored and you can smell the garlic and rosemary, taking care that they don't burn.  Let cool. 

Drain the beans, reserving the water.  Puree the beans and about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the bean water in a blender or with a handheld mixer directly in the saucepan.  You should have a very smooth, thick, puree that is not too dense.  If it seems to be too liquid, put it back over the heat in a saucepan to thicken a bit, stirring all the time.  Season to taste and serve warm, drizzled with the flavored oil.
(Note: Take care when drizzling the oil over the bean puree.  My hand slipped and I ended up pouring a bit too much over my beans.  Secondly, I don't think you need all of the oil called for in the recipe.)
Theme: Bean There, Done That!

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