Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sausage & Peppers To Dirty Rice

Italian sausages and peppers
August 4, 2010

Italian sausage and bell peppers make a hearty pair, no matter how you do them — grilled and lightly charred, braised in beer, slow cooked, served on a bun, or tossed with pasta.

Another great way to present the satisfying duo is to cook them in a skillet and spoon them over soft polenta. Brown the sausages and remove them from the pan, then cook the onions and peppers in the meaty bits. Simmer them together in beer. Stir a potful of golden polenta while they cook. Slowly stream polenta flour into boiling water and keep stirring until it thickens. Season with butter and cheese.

The following day, leftover sausages, peppers, and onions become dirty rice, a Cajun specialty in which ground meat muddies (in a good way) white grains. The mixture is cooked pilaf style, typically with chicken livers. Cooking the livers separately guarantees a crispy exterior and pleasant flavor. Chop them finely and stir them into the cooked rice with a classic New Orleans garnish of scallions and parsley. Serve with a splash of Louisiana hot sauce. Beads optional.

Serves 4, with leftovers


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 Italian sausage links (mixture of hot and sweet), pricked well all over
5 bell peppers (red, yellow, green), cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh oregano
12 ounces lager beer
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large flameproof casserole with a tight fitting lid, heat the oil over high heat. Add sausages and cook, turning several times, for 5 to 7 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add peppers and onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Return sausages to pan. Add bay leaf, oregano, beer, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more.

3. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. (Reserve 4 sausages and 1 1/2 cups peppers and onions for dirty rice.)


3 1/3 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup coarse polenta flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup freshly grated asiago or Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water and a large pinch of salt to a boil. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the polenta in a slow, steady stream. Reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the polenta is thick and smooth.

2. Stir in butter, cheese, and pepper. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

Dirty rice

Serves 4

Cajun seasoning is a ready-made mixture of ground peppers, usually including garlic powder. You can make your own combination of ground chili powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cooked Italian sausages, crumbled
1 1/2 cups cooked peppers and onions
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (available at specialty markets)
1 1/2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice, rinsed
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 pound chicken livers (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Hot sauce (for serving)

1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Cook the celery and garlic, stirring often, for 3 minutes.

2. Add the sausage and pepper mixture, and 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3. Stir in the rice, chicken stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. In a shallow bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, flour, and salt.

5. Pat the chicken livers dry with paper towels. Toss chicken livers in flour mixture to coat them.

6. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When it is hot, add the butter. Cook the chicken livers 3 to 5 minutes on a side until they are firm and golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. When livers are cool enough to handle, chop roughly.

7. Stir livers into the rice mixture. Add scallions and parsley. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, if you like. Serve with hot sauce.

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