Thursday, February 4, 2010

Recipes We Tried: Autumn Sausage Casserole (crockpot)

This is technically the first installment of Recipes We Tried (I know — catchy, right?)...however, I'm going to try to back-date the other recipes I'd intended to blog about but never got around to actually blogging.

So, my biggest fear about cooking is screwing up. That is a pretty broad category that spans the mini-fear spectrum from Choosing Bad Produce to Using the Wrong Spice to Picking a Horrible Recipe. As you can imagine, when I find a reliable source of recipes that taste good and include detailed steps (no "season to taste" here, thank you very much), I tend to use a lot of their dishes.

One such treasure trove is A Year of Slow Cooking. Stephanie O'Dea challenged herself to make something in a CrockPot once a day for an entire year, be it entree, dessert, or craft project. She reviewed every recipe and mentioned how her family liked it. The steps are written for real people, and she even answers questions posed in the comments of each post. Hallelujah! Bonus: the recipes are all gluten-free.

On Monday, we made Autumn Sausage Casserole. This is one of my favorite kinds of recipes: dump stuff in the CrockPot and leave it alone. This recipe is technically a small step up from that, as it required actually chopping some of the ingredients, but it made up for it by using up the leftover already-cooked rice that was sitting in my fridge. Her picture was a lot prettier than mine, but boy-howdy did it taste FABULOUS! Here's what the cold leftovers look like a few days later:

Here are the changes I made:
  • used my 6qt CrockPot
  • used 7oz of leftover Butterball turkey sausage, sliced thinly (next time, I'll do it chunkier)
  • sliced onion thinly then cut each ring in fourths (again, next time I'll do it in chunks)
  • used 1½c carrots, sliced into thin wheels (this worked; she diced in the original)
  • used leftover brown rice (brown is super-great in this!)
  • as per a comment suggestion, added a can of black beans, mostly drained
  • used water as liquid, plus added an extra ½c to compensate for the size of my CrockPot
After just 3 hours on high, the carrot wheels were tender and the apples were still not mushy — perfect! The seasonings were spot-on and very autumnal. DH said the black beans distracted from the texture of the rest of the dish, but I liked the heartiness they added, particularly since I used so little sausage (and it was sliced so thinly). Caspian was reticent, but ended up eating his entire portion (he also said we should make it tomorrow). DH and I each had two helpings. The reheated leftovers tasted great to me, but DH said the distinct flavors were lost.

Charlie: 8 for fresh, 6-7 for leftovers
Hilary: 8
Effort: 8 (chopping and lots of measuring)

Final Rating: 8 Sporks