Friday, September 6, 2013

She's Got A Great Personality...Tastes So Much Better Than It Looks

How often has this happened to you?  The day has gotten away from you, now it's that toxic hour.  Dinner needs to be cooked immediately, but you still have no earthly idea what it is going to be.  You have been busy doing all the glamorous living most of us do and have not given supper a single thought all day.  That happened here a few nights ago.  Sometime close to 6 in the evening, I realized I had no clue what I would cook and equally no clue what I even had that was not frozen.  A quick look through the meat drawer provided me with my options: sliced luncheon ham ( appx 5 paper thin slices), 2 hot dogs, one leftover hamburger patty ( unknown date) and a pound of Conecuh sausage which had fallen out of the freezer a couple of days ago, unnoticed until it was nearly thawed. (This is the down side of having the freezer in the laundry room   So happy it had fallen into a basket of clothes waiting to be laundered.  I found it while sorting  darks and stuck it in the refrigerator when it was still a tad icy.)

OK so I determined I had a pound of smoked sausage but still had no real clue what I would do with it. A quick survey of available produce revealed 3 potatoes, 1 garlic clove,1 onion, a couple of tomatoes and 1/2 of a bell pepper. A quick glance in the pantry, and I saw a can of petite diced tomatoes and a can of whole chili peppers.

                                                        Blind Date Conecuh Sausage*

1 pound Conecuh Sausage or 1 lb of your favorite brand, sliced into 1/4 inch thick "coins"
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion coarsely chopped
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1/2 cup diced celery
2 large tomatoes cut into wedges
1 can diced tomatoes, juice and all
1 can whole chili peppers, drained and cut in long strips
3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and sliced in thick slices
dash of red pepper flakes
couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water

Pour the oil into a large enamel pot or dutch oven over a medium high heat.  Add the onion, celery,  and bell pepper and cook until it is wilted. Add the garlic and let it wilt but do not brown.  Immediately
add the canned tomatoes, juice and all and the fresh tomato wedges. Add the chili strips and the potato slices.  Sprinkle with the pepper flakes and ground black pepper.  Add the sausage on top of the potatoes and pour 1/2 cup of water over everything.  Plop on a lid, reduce to medium and just let it all get very happy in the pot.  Check after 15 minutes and add more water if necessary. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes.

I served it with some Brussels sprouts and biscuits ( both frozen, because I am trying to use everything that has been living in the freezer a while) The meal was a surprising success.  Every single bit of it was eaten. ( Well, maybe a few Brussels sprouts were still hanging around after the fact.)

This is one of those things I will do again.  I doubt I will make it exactly the same since I imagine my available products will change, but I will stick to the same recipe__mostly.  I think an additional onion would have been fabulous along with another garlic clove and more bell pepper.  I will definitely use the canned chili.  It added a different flavor profile to what might have been bland otherwise.  While I was eating it I thought that whole kernel corn might taste good in it, but only if I had about 1/2 cup leftover.  An entire can would be too much.  I had a similar thought about leftover black beans or kidney beans.

Give it a try if you are low on time and inspiration with limited items in the fridge.

* I am calling it Blind Date Conecuh Sausage because at first glance it might not be the best looking thing you have ever eaten, but after getting acquainted with it you realize what a gem it is.

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