With Christmas coming so quickly, there’s just not much time to recover from Thanksgiving, is there? I’ll start the cookie parade soon, but I wanted to post another warm, comforting fall recipe first – Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage from the November 2007 issue of Everyday Food. I love a good casserole, and I was especially interested to try this one because of the fried sage leaves. (They reminded me of the fried rosemary I loved so much in the Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce.)
The original recipe is great for a casual dinner party (it serves eight people), but I just made a half recipe for the two of us. Double up the ingredients and use a 4-quart dish if you want to make a full recipe.
In the small bowl of my food processor, I pulsed 2 ounces of a baguette (about 1/4 of the loaf) until coarse crumbs formed. (I needed 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.) I added 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pulsed briefly to moisten the crumbs, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and then set them aside.
In a medium saucepan, I heated another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. I added 12 large, fresh sage leaves and cooked until they were crisp (2 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the sage leaves to a paper towel-lined plate and set them aside.
Using the same skillet and the leftover oil (I didn’t have much), I cooked 1/2 of a large onion (chopped) and 2 minced garlic cloves, stirring occasionally, until the onion was tender (6 minutes). Since the recipe didn’t say to drop the heat, I started out cooking the onion and garlic over medium-high heat but dropped the heat to medium because my onion was browning too quickly. Next, I added a 1/2 pound of fresh chicken sausage (casings removed) and 1/4 cup of dry white wine. I cooked the mixture, breaking the sausage up with a wooden spoon, until the sausage was cooked through (about 5 minutes). Lastly, I stirred in 1 1/2 cans (about 29 ounces) of drained and rinsed cannellini beans. I cooked the mixture until the beans were tender and creamy (about 6 minutes) and seasoned with salt and pepper.
I transferred the sausage-and-bean mixture to a shallow 2-quart baking dish and topped it with the fresh breadcrumbs I had prepared earlier. I placed the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and baked it at 350F until the topping was golden (about 27 minutes). I cooled it for about 5 minutes and then crumbled the fried sage over the top to serve.
I wasn’t expecting this dish to pack a ton of flavor due to the simple ingredient list, but it was soooo good. I loved the light crunch of the breadcrumbs, the creaminess of beans, and the way the fried sage and sage-infused oil enhanced the dish. It was *the* perfect dish for a cold night.
Having pre-seasoned sausage might have helped… My grocery store didn’t have plain, fresh chicken sausage, so I chose the flavor I thought would best complement the dish – spinach and garlic. (It certainly sounded like a better match than the southwestern flavor, hehe.) Next time, I may run over to Tony’s Market for the plain stuff, but I was really pleased with the flavor combination I got this time around.
TIPS: *Be careful* when you add the sage to the pan early in the recipe. My oil jumped and spit quite a bit. (Why have I still not purchased a splatter screen???)
Recipe link: Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage