Cassoulet Chicken Thighs and Sausage

Typically, the first thing people want to know when I tell them about Cassoulet Chicken & Sausage, is what in the world is Cassoulet?

In simple terms, it’s a French style of cooking which typically contains meat (many different varieties) and white beans.  Cassoulet is common enough in France to be sold in grocery stores in cans.  The higher-end dishes may include lamb, duck, goose, etc.  But, we’re balling on a budget here so this is in the cassoulet with ingredients available to the every day shopper (and not terribly unhealthy either).  Assuming you have the spices and keep cooking wine on hand (also not expensive), you can make this recipe for under $15.

First off… the ingredients:

  • 2 cans of white beans (great northern or cannellini work great)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (or “EVOO” as Rachael Ray calls it)
  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs (trim the fat!)
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Black Pepper
  • White wine
  • Reduced-sodium fat free chicken broth
  • Water
  • 1 package Bilinski’s Organic Chicken Italian Herb Sausages with Porcini Mushrooms, sliced 1 inch thick

For a time saving tip… use 2 cutting boards, one for your raw chicken and one for your ready to eat sausage and veggies (avoid cross contamination!).  Trim the fat from the chicken, cut into 1/3 size pieces and then cut each 1/3 size piece in half.  In a large skillet, heat up about a tablespoon of “EVOO” on medium high heat and then add the chicken in a single layer (if it’s piled up it will not cook evenly) with the heat turned down to medium.

Who are you calling chicken?!?

While the chicken is cooking, this is a great chance to prep the other items.  Cut the sausage into about half-inch pieces, and give the garlic and onion a rough chop.  You don’t want to dice or mince the garlic and onion as the bigger chunks will equal bigger flavors and texture in the final dish.

Somewhere in here (usually 3 or 4 minutes in) you would want to turn the pieces of chicken over to brown the other side and cook it another 3 or 4 minutes.  Once the chicken is nicely browned, remove it from the skillet. Do not rinse the skillet… you want the oil and pan drippings for the nextstep.

Pollo!

Now you will want to add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir every minute or two.  You want the onion and garlic to soften but not deeply browned.  While the onions and garlic are cooking, take a handful of the white beans and mash them up with a fork.

Onions and garlic, one of life’s great couples!

What beans look like on the inside.

After the onions and garlic have softened, you will now want to add the rosemary, pepper, and thyme.  Seasonings, as always, are to taste… go for somewhere between 1/2 teaspoon and one teaspoon each, but keep the measurements about equal so no one flavor profile is dominating the dish.  Keep stirring and you’re about 30 seconds away from aroma central (this is about the time neighbors will start peeking their heads around your windows to find out what you’re cooking in there).  After about half a minute, add 1/2 cup of white wine.

Onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper.

 Disclaimer:  Normally I do not recommend (in fact, I insist against) stove top cooking on high… your stove has a “high” option which is pretty much meant to boil water, but the point here is to reduce the white wine by about half… so on high it goes!

Once the wine has reduced by half, it’s time to bring the entire flavor party onto the dance floor (i.e. put everything in the skillet).  Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of water, the sausage, beans (mashed from earlier along with the remaining whole beans) and the chicken.  Give everything a good stir and let it come to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, put a lid on it, reduce to medium heat, and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the chicken is done.

You should end up with a delicious, fragrant, filling, and economic (see: budget friendly) recipe the whole family should love.  Our 4-year old loves this so much he actually eats as much of it (if not more) than the adults.

The finished product!

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of this recipe, and of course definitely let us know if you try it for yourself!

Until next time… happy cooking… and enjoy eating!

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Ultimate Beer Brats

Beer bathed bratwurst (beer brats) are a staple in some parts of the country and virtually unknown in others.  I think this is a great first recipe to share as it’s simple and has been a hit every time with both people who have eaten brats their whole lives and those who are being introduced to them for the first time.

The most important piece of this recipe is to get the correct bratwurst.  You want Johnsonville uncooked (usually in the meat section near the hamburger) original bratwurst.  I’ve tried other brands in the past and trust me, Johnsonville is where it’s at.  Here are the items you will need:

  • Beer (3 pints or 4 12 oz. bottles or cans… brand is entirely up to you)
  • 1 large onion (as big as you can get your hands on) diced
  • 10 Johnsonville bratwurst (did I mention it should be Johnsonville if you’re going to do it right?)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 Tbs (or 1/2 of a stick) of butter

The first thing I always do is get my grill ready.  A common mistake for grillers is to cook on it before it’s ready.  For charcoal users, light the coals and then let them burn down and get hot.  You want to cook over heat, not fire!  For gas grillers, turn the grill on and let it come to temperature (usually 20-30 minutes) so that your meat cooks and not just over the flame… you want to keep your juices and flavor in your meats!

The next step is to get the seasonings together.  I feel strongly that seasonings should be to taste but here’s some approximate starting points (note:  I like to bring a bit of heat, so you may want less crushed red pepper if you don’t like a bit of spice in your food):  2 Tbs crushed red pepper, 1 Tbs each of garlic powder and salt and 1/2 Tbs of black pepper.

Brat Seasonings!

The next step is to bring the beer, butter, and onion to a boil in a large pot (make sure it is good size as you’re going to be adding 10 good size bratwurst into the pot):

Onions, butter, and beer… oh my!

Next add the brats and the seasonings to the mix and simmer on medium to medium-high for 12 minutes.

We’re On the Way!

Once the brats have been in the bath for 12 minutes, it’s time to get them over to our medium-high grill.  Put the brats on the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on heat of the grill).  Do not keep flipping your brats from side to side as this will not allow for even cooking.  Put them on the grill and leave them alone.  When they’re halfway done… flip them and leave them until they’re done!

Fired Up!

While the brats are on the grill, leave the onions cooking in the beer mixture over medium low as this will make a great topping for the brats once they are done.  The onions simmering with the beer and seasonings (particularly the red pepper flakes) will add some good heat and flavor… the red pepper infused into them will really build heat with each bite.

If done properly, you should end up with something like this:

Good To Go!

Onions Too!

It’s been a fun journey and now you’re ready to eat.  Use toppings of your choice.  While hot dog buns are acceptable, check with your local bread monger to see if they carry actual brat rolls as they are ideal.  If you try these… please come back and leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Happy cooking, and enjoy eating!

Beginning to End!

Send Me the Recipe!

Hello from Houston, TX!  My name is Eric and I love to cook (in the kitchen and/or on the grill).  I don’t bake… baking requires measuring and I’m not really into measuring.  Cassey loves to bake and I’m sure we’ll see some recipes (baking and cooking) from her on occasion as well.  When interacting with family, friends, and acquaintances on Facebook and I mention what I’m making, without fail someone will usually say “Send me the recipe!”  Hence… this blog is born.

Whether original, found (I’ll give credit when due if I know where I got it from), or adapted from something I found… this is where I’ll show photos and instructions for recipes we’ve enjoyed. If you find this blog and decide to try something you see here… please take the time to come back and let me know what you think of it!

You should expect to find here… great foods for entertaining friends and family or just eating at home.  Don’t expect to find… classical French cooking techniques (I’m sure there’s other blogs for that sort of thing?).  Most of these will be simple, budget friendly, and at times nutritiously balanced recipes.

Recipes may be as simple as combining a couple of items which are a big hit at parties and get requests to be made again by friends and family to the more complex.  If it is here, I’ve done it and people have liked it (or at least we did).  It’s that simple.

Happy cooking, and enjoy eating!