Monday, February 11, 2013

Get some Italian sausage in your stew

My husband and I have always been fans of Italian sausage, the sweet or mild variety. (No hot stuff for us!)
    Italian sausage delivers a hit of awesome to the three things to which it is most commonly added: Pasta, soups and stews (except when it is eaten on its own as a breakfast sausage or grilled and served on a hot dog bun – also delicious, by the way).
    Italian sausage is pork sausage seasoned with fennel and/or anise. It is easily found in supermarkets, most often in the breakfast sausage section. It is packaged in two ways: In links, or in bulk, which does not have casings, similar to ground beef.
    If you know someone who has never eaten sweet or mild Italian sausage, you’re in luck: You’ll really wow them if you make a dish with it in it. They will wonder about the wonderous sweet meat they are eating. How did they go through life without it so long?
    Here is a stew and a soup that use Italian sausage to its delicious utmost. Both are fantastic to make on a chilly weeknight. Add some crusty bread on the side and you’ve got supper.

Chorizo and White Bean Stew (click for the recipe): Ignore the title of the recipe. The recipe calls for Mexican chorizo, a type of pork sausage seasoned with chili peppers, OR Italian sausage, which is what I used. And I used the mild kind.
    This recipe calls for the Italian sausage to be in link form. The recipe says to cook the links on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until browned and cooked through. I found medium to be too hot – the links started burning slightly about 10 minutes in, so I turned the heat down to medium-low and finished off the cooking time.
    The recipe says to crush a few of the cannellini or white kidney beans with the back of a spoon while the stew is cooking, but I found that entirely unnecessary. It is a bit frustrating to do, in fact, so skip this step if you want.

Sausage, Potato and Fennel Chowder (Click for the recipe): The recipe calls for sweet Italian sausage in links, casings removed. If you can find Italian sausage in bulk or ground form without casings in the supermarket, you won’t have to do this step. However, if you can only find it in links, no worries – the casings are easily peeled off in just a matter of minutes.
    This recipe calls for mashing the potatoes in the stew after it has cooked, but as with the white beans in the stew recipe above, I found this to be a useless step which just wastes time. Skip it if you want!

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