Sunday, September 27, 2015

Creamy Penne Pasta with Sausage

This dish is a total sausage-fest, dudes.

Sorry, I just couldn't help saying that.  Those responsible have been sacked.  Anyhoo, this dish is just something I whipped up one night when I didn't have a lot on hand nor did I have anything planned.  It came about pretty dang great, for a quick dish, anyway, so I decided to add it to my repertoire.

Creamy Penne Pasta with Sausage

1 Lb Penne Pasta, Cooked Al Denté
12 Oz Smoked Sausage (or what have you)
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
6 Oz or so Crimini Mushrooms or Similar, Sliced
1 Cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Italian Dressing
1.5 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
4 Oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Heat oil over medium heat in skillet.

We had some store-bought smoked sausage on hand, so that's what I used.

It ain't bad, but it ain't exactly ambrosia either.  Use what you like.  Some hot Italian sausage would be great.  Andouille?  C'est Bon!  Chorizo, Muy Bueno.  Shoot, buy some fresh sausage and smoke your own.  Whatever you do, just make sure it is something you and your guests like.

Slice sausage into quarter inch thick disks.

Sauté these in the oil for a couple minutes a side, just to wake 'em up a bit.

Remove from skillet and reserve.

Dice your onion.

Slice your mushrooms.

Add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and do the same.

Add the white wine and stir to break up any browned bits.  Simmer until the wine is reduced by a half.

Next up, the Italian dressing.

Use whatever kind you like.  This is one of them there secret ingredients.  Adds a little zing to the dish.

Add the heavy cream and reduce heat to low.

Let simmer a few minutes, stirring frequently.  During this time, add the Italian seasoning.

This isn't something I use a lot.  I generally prefer to make my own blends of herbs for whatever dish I'm making.  But someone once brought this seasoning to my house and left it, so I keep it on hand now and use it in times like these, when I'm being lazy, or just when I'm going for a 'general' Italian flavor without putting too much effort into it.

Return sausage to the sauce and warm through.  Add the Parmesan at the very end and stir.

Serve over the pasta with a little extra Parmesan on top.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mini Salisbury Steaks

Salisbury Steak has sort of had a bad rap over the years, most likely because most of us first encountered it in it fetid school cafeteria form, or else maybe as a frozen hockey puck of a steak in a Swanson TV dinner.  Things like this can tarnish an otherwise good reputation.  But truth be told, Salisbury Steak done right is a pleasure to be had.  Now, I know, we are using the term ‘steak’ here a little loosely—after all, this ain’t a prime, butcher-cut filet mignon, it’s ground beef, but seasoned and sauced correctly, this baby will satisfy. 

I first encountered a good—hell, I’ll even say great—Salisbury steak when my wife cooked one for me early in our marriage.  I remember when she mentioned that she was making Salisbury steak, I sort of cringed, thinking of those TV dinner ‘gems.’  But of course, her steak was wonderful, and opened me up to the possibility that things can be better than their lowest common denominator. 

I’ve never attempted to make Salisbury Steak—hers was so good that I’ll leave that dish to her, but here’s a different version that I half-stole and bastardized into my own that I present to you now:  Mini-Salisbury Steaks. 

The original recipe I started with made Salisbury Steak meatballs, but I decided that if I pressed ‘em flat into little disks (or ‘steaks,’ by cracky) then they might cook a little more evenly, and thus, the ‘mini’ Salisbury Steak was born.  I hope you’ll enjoy it:

Mini Salisbury Steaks

8 ounces egg noodles
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large egg yolks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Gravy

2 cups beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Start some water boiling for the egg noodles.  Add the ground beef to a bowl and then add the breadcrumbs, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, egg yolks and salt/pepper, 

Mix thoroughly.  

Then take a palmful portion and pat out into a patty about two inches across.  

Place this on a tray or plate and continue making patties until all the meat mixture is used up.  

Melt butter in a skillet.  

Sauté the patties, a few at a time, 

until they are slightly seared and cooked through.  

Reserve patties and keep hot.  

Add addtional butter if necessary to skillet, then sauté your onions.  

Until they are soft and slightly browned.  

Add the rest of the ingredients from the 'gravy ingredients list' except for the cornstarch and parsley.  Simmer for a few minutes, then mix the cornstarch with an ounce or two of warm water, then pour this in the gravy to thicken.  

Serve the mini Salisbury steaks over the egg noodles with plenty of the flavorful gravy and some flakes of the minced parsley.  

Until next time,