March 31, 2015
Kielbasa Cassoulet Casserole
In this house the list of favorite sausages has to start with a good hot Italian sausage. After that, kielbasa is a close second.
Growing up it was knockwursts because it was a simple bologna mixture shaped into a fat hot dog shape, as cute as a bug and perfect for little kitty taste buds.
Hey, sorry but back in the 60's that was it, no bratwurst or kielbasa.
Today, somehow (and The Nudge still has no idea why) one knockwurst always sneaks into our annual grilled sausage board dinner, then disappears until next year. Kielbasa? must be the garlic, we adore it. Trust me when I tell you that Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa tastes as good as the original and so much healthier (compare the labels) and makes it OK to serve at least once a month.
Usually I prepare it this way unless grilled, but this time I wanted something different and I started to lean towards a baked presentation. Shame on me, I swore I would not go down that road unless it was a Mac 'n Cheese.
This is the time that you will find be staring at my canned goods and when I spotted a can of small white beans, I knew where I was going.
Since kielbasa is of European dissent (Polish & Ukrainian) I was actually thinking French and that wonderful dish Cassoulet.
A Cassoulet uses garlic sausage, duck, white beans and bacon. OK, no duck or bacon so I moved a country over and added an Italian twist. By infusing wonderful Italian flavors into the beans, I was able to make a broth that would flavor the whole dish. Sounds complicated? It was actually a two pan operation.
I sauteed aromatics in a small stock pot, added the beans, three cups of chicken broth, sliced red peppers and chopped kale and simmered them for 30 minutes.
I added another cup of water and drained the liquid into a measuring cup.
I needed three full cups of liquid to cook the noodles. 3 cups back into the stock pot, the noodles boiled for 5 minutes. Add the bean mixture, the kielbasa and a Knorr packet of Alfredo sauce and a packet of 4-Cheese sauce. Stir to combine and pour everything back into a baking pan. Top with bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 350° and 15 minutes at 400° to brown the top.
Over the top with flavor and texture, this version is healthier than a traditional Cassoulet and I know that tomorrow it will be even better.
Let's get cooking....
Kielbasa Cassoulet Casserole
makes 4 servings
* 1 turkey kielbasa, sliced into 1/3" coins
* 3 cups No Yolks broad noodles
* 3 cups chicken broth
* 1 can small white beans, drained and rinsed well
* 1/2 small white onion, chopped
* 1 large garlic cloves, chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (not ground)
* freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup chopped kale
* 1/2 large red pepper, 1" thin slices
* 1/2 cup dried croissant crumbs
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese
* EVOO for finishing
Preheat the oven to 350°.
1. In a 2 quart stockpot with a tablespoon of olive oil, add the white onion, garlic, bay, red pepper flakes, rosemary and saute until the onions are soft. Add the beans and the broth. Season with black pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile slice the red pepper and the kielbasa and chop the kale. Make the breadcrumb/cheese topping. Reserve.
3. After 30 minutes drain the bean mixture and pour the broth back into the pot. Remove the bay leaf. Add the egg noodles, kale and red pepper to the broth and gently boil for 5 minutes.
4. To the broth/egg noodles, add the packets of sauce mix, whisk to combine and bring back to a simmer. Add the beans to the noodles and then the kielbasa, stir and pour into a casserole pan.
5. Top with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture and a drizzle olive oil.
6. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and then up the heat to 400° and bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes. Remove, cool and serve.