- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Bulk sausage is one of my favorite convenience ingredients. You may wonder how a breakfast meat, and a raw one at that, fits the convenience category. The answer is that I don’t use sausage as a morning food but as a flavoring.

Check the ingredient list of most sausage products, and you’ll see garlic, chilies and herbs. This is such a well-seasoned food, I don’t need to add a lot of other ingredients to enhance the taste of whatever I’m preparing.

When I make a soup or stew, I start with sausage and skip a lot of herbs and spices. I can vary the flavor of a dish by choosing different brands or styles of sausage. My favorites are pork sausage; chorizo, a spicy raw Mexican sausage; Italian sausage; and, as a lean, healthy alternative, vegetarian sausage with a chorizo flavor profile. I use hot bulk pork sausage in chili, hot or sweet Italian sausage in a pasta sauce, and sausage with sage for stuffed turkey breast.

Flavor is just part of the sausage advantage. This product delivers meals in minutes. Looking for an almost instant dinner? Brown chorizo in a skillet.

Drop in a couple of eggs and scramble, and you’ll have a delicious and filling two-ingredient dinner. Or brown chorizo or hot Italian sausage, depending on your preference, then add a can of pinto beans, stir and top with a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese. Let the cheese melt, and dig in.

As you start experimenting, you’ll discover how versatile sausage can be. The one drawback is that sausage is usually sold in 1-pound packages. Use half of that to serve two. If you’re not going to use the remainder in a day or two, cook the sausage and then freeze it. You’ll have a jump-start to another meal.

Sausage and kale stew

Salt

½ cup orzo

1 small delicata squash

8 ounces hot pork sausage or chorizo

1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped

2 cups coarsely chopped kale (1 small bunch)

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with roasted onion and garlic

1½ cups chicken broth

Pepper

Bring 1 quart salted water to boiling in a small pot. Stir in orzo, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Pierce delicata squash in several places. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, turning over once. Peel, seed and dice squash in ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

Place sausage in nonstick skillet. Break up with fork. Add onion or shallot and kale. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat 5 minutes, or until sausage is cooked and vegetables are limp. Add squash, thyme, canned tomatoes with liquid and chicken broth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover skillet, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until kale and squash are tender. Stir in cooked orzo. Serves 2.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES INTERNATIONAL

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