Monday, November 28, 2011

Sausage and Mushroom stew

I freely admit that I took Rachel Ray's rather complicated recipe and simplified it so I could easily toss it together after work.  Honestly, it's a great dish for fall/winter, served over cheesy polenta.  It looks more complicated than it is, so don't let it intimidate you out of trying it.  Once you have the mushrooms chopped, it's almost as easy as making spaghetti.

That's why measurements are just approximations, I didn't actually measure anything.  You'll need:

For the polenta:

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quick-cooking polenta (found on the aisle with the flour, at my store)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1 clove garlic

For the stew:

1 lb hot italian sausage  (or you can use 2 links mild, 2 links hot for the tender tummies)
1 package portobello mushrooms, or 2 large caps, chopped
1 package shitaake mushrooms (fresh), chopped
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Stew directions #1:

If you bought sausage links, remove the casing before you start.  Brown in a nonstick pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, breaking the sausage up.  When it's almost done cooking, add the chopped garlic, all of the chopped mushrooms, and the basil and sage.  Sautee for 4 minutes until the mushrooms start to release their juices, then add the red wine. 

Polenta directions:

At this point, the stock and milk should be boiling in a pot for the polenta, with the clove of garlic in the liquid.  You can leave it whole after smashing it a little to release the juice for removal later, or if you want to keep it in you can mince it really fine, the choice is yours.  When the liquid reaches boiling, whisk in the polenta.  It should reach an almost pudding-like consistency very quickly, at which point you'll remove from heat, whisk in the cheese to melt, and set aside. 

Stew #2:

Now that you've got the polenta done and cooling so you don't burn the roof of your mouth off eating it, let's finish the stew off.  The wine should have simmered all of the alcohol off by now, so mix the cornstarch with about 3 tablespoons of the beef stock.  Add the stock and the cornstarch mixture to the pan of mushrooms, and simmer til it thickens up a bit.  It won't be as thick as beef stew gravy, but it won't be watery either. 

All that's left is to serve some polenta up in a bowl, and ladle some of the stew on top of it, and enjoy!   I don't recommend making this recipe vegetarian/vegan, because the different flavors of stock really add to the complexity of the flavor profile for the whole dish.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Name that dish!

I need your help.  My creativity is totally blank on this one.

I'll change the subject of this post to the winning name, but we need to find something simple to call it.  Please, keep the name suggestions family-friendly and easy to say.  The most popular name in a week will be the winner!

I took the recipe for my favorite dip, and turned it into a side dish to go with our Thanksgiving meal.  The neufchatel cheese is mostly to bind things together a bit, but the slight bit of tartness works well with both the spinach and artichoke hearts.


12 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 slices good quality center-cut bacon
3 tbsp Neufchatel cheese (because it's 1/3 the fat of cream cheese)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


I used a non-stick pan for this, to keep the fat content lower.  Cook the bacon til crisp, remove from pan to drain on paper towels then crumble for later.  Into the hot bacon fat (there should only be about 1 tbsp in the pan, so drain some if there's more) add the chopped garlic and stir for 2 minutes.  Add the artichoke hearts and spinach, and stir occasionally while they sautee.  Put the crumbled bacon in, and mix well.  Add the Neufchatel cheese and pepper, and stir until the cheese is melted into the vegetables.  Remove from heat and stir in the shredded Parmesan, and serve.

Assuming you get 6 servings out of this, the nutrition information per serving is as follows:

 89 Calories; 4g Fat (43.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 216mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

Surprised that I included Nutrition Information?  Well, expect it in the future.  I'm using the MasterCook software to keep my recipes in instead of in a folder on my hard drive, and it provides the nutritional information so I thought I'd share it from now on.