January 22, 2010
I agree that at first glance the looks of this dish are nothing to write home about. It’s so…so…blah looking. Blah looking and brown. Blah looking and beige. Couldn’t I have stuck a sprig of sage leaves in there somewhere? I admit I considered it. I also admit I considered doing away with this whole post. But then I came to my senses because this was good and I wanted to share it with you. It’s one of those recipes that surprises you after you’ve read the ingredient list and feared it lacked some wow or zing or oh la la la. But then it emerges from the oven smelling of sage and toasted breadcrumbs and tasting of home and you are grateful for have given it a chance.
What this dish lacks in appearance it makes up for in taste and aroma. Just a few simple steps, namely infusing the olive oil with fresh sage leaves, deglazing the pan with white wine and adding a whole wheat breadcrumb topping, elevate this dish from ordinary mid-week fare to mid-week leftovers you actually look forward to. I’d argue this was even better the next day.
And here’s a little confession: This was my first time cooking with chicken sausage. If I’m trying to lighten up a dish, I usually opt for turkey sausage. The reason? No idea, really. Maybe I fear chicken sausage will dry out more quickly or that it won’t stand up to pork the way turkey sausage does. But this recipe proved my preconceived notions unfounded and just plain wrong. And thank goodness for that. Turkey sausage can’t have all the fun.
Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Sage(Adapted from Everyday Food)
- 4 oz (about 4 slices) whole grain bakery bread, torn into pieces
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup whole fresh sage leaves (about 25)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb chicken sausage (I used Italian), casings removed
- ½ cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
- 3 14.5-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a shallow 4-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse the bread until coarse crumbs form. Drizzle in 1 T olive oil and pulse 1-2 times to moisten crumbs. Season breadcrumbs with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and saute, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are lightly golden. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon, leaving the olive oil in the pan. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a large fork. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove brown bits. Add the beans and cook, stirring occassionally, for 3-5 minutes, or until beans have softened and become creamy. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.