Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sage and Sausage Stuffed Chicken Bundles Braised in Beer

A couple weeks ago I was visiting mom and she was de-boning some chicken thighs for dinner.  She by chance remembered one time she made a surprise dinner for my dad years before my sister and I came along that involved using leftover breakfast sausage links rolled up inside the de-boned chicken thigh and then braised quickly on the stove top.  Well, Matt and I love chicken thighs, and we really love sausage (of all varieties).  So, I gave thought to how to dress up the dish easily (roasted red pepper) and a braising liquid that could boil down to make a savory, but slightly sweet pan sauce (beer and tomatoes).  Although sausage-stuffed chicken thighs are a common dish, what makes these a different take is the time-saving of using an already seasoned sausage link in the perfect size and shape instead of making a sausage stuffing.  To make this dish I give you options for short cuts, but if you have a few extra minutes, and want to save a buck or two that works as well. You can make this dish either with leftover sausage links from breakfast, or just thaw out some fully cooked "brown and serve" links.  I discovered that Wellshire farms makes a great classic breakfast sausage link.

Serves 4

  • 4 large skinless, de-boned chicken thighs, fat trimmed (you can take the short cut and buy already boned chicken thighs, or save a dollar and bone the chicken thighs yourself, and then also make a quick, small batch of chicken stock with the bones)
  • 4 breakfast sausage links, leftover from breakfast or thawed, either way, room temperature (classic flavoring, sage and black pepper, do not use maple-flavored)
  • Fresh Sage, 2 tsp chopped for bundles, plus 2 tsp for finishing pan sauce
  • Roasted red pepper, 4 1/2" by 2" strips plus 1/4 cup chopped  (roast a small red pepper oiled up under your broiler, turning regularly until charred all over, when cool, stem, seed and remove skin...or take the short cut and used jarred ones or ones from the antipasti bar at the store)
  • Flour for bundles
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 6 ounces brown or red ale, something malty and nutty (as I've mentioned before, when I don't have Matt's homebrew, my go-to cooking beer is Smutty's Old Brown Dog)
  • Layout the chicken thighs on a board, and where the bone used to be, place a single sausage link and roasted red pepper strip and 1/2 tsp chopped sage into each thigh.  Roll up each chicken thigh into a bundle and tie with butcher's twine.
  • Lightly flour each bundle and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a sauté pan that has a lid, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Add bundles, brown on all sides, then remove to a plate.
  • Lower heat to medium low and add chopped onion.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add chopped tomato and stir until juices begin to release, about 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken bundles back to pan and pour in beer.  Raise heat and bring to a boil, then lower heat to super low, put lid on and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  • Remove chicken bundles to a warm plate and boil sauce until thick and only a half cup, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour pan sauce over chicken bundles and sprinkle on remaining 1 TBS of freshly chopped sage and 1/4 cup of chopped roasted red pepper.
  • Serve with crusty bread or rolls
The dish also makes good leftovers, just remember to reheat slowly.  Enjoy!

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