I just finished watching the PBS documentary about The Little Inn at Washington (for the sixth time – and you’ll find it now on Amazon Prime if looking for it before PBS releases it again this coming August). I remembered when I went there, I don’t remember everything I ate but I do remember the ambiance, the decadence and the cow they brought into the dining room with all the various cheeses on its back.
I think of Chef Patrick O’Connell’s story into becoming the Chef that he is – and how it had nothing to do (not once in his forty year career) with formal training… He has famously attributed his level of perfection to repetition in his early life. He made the same meal from Julia Child’s cookbook over and over again and then, with his gained confidence, he got creative.
Like Chef O’Connell, Ina Garten also came from a background that held no formal training and learned as she went.
I think food should be gorgeous but easy, be made from the best ingredients you can afford and be sumptuous. Those are the rules I live by when I cook. And this recipe ticks all those boxes. (If you’re just starting out, try vegetables you feel comfortable with – that are forgiving. If you’re not yet comfortable with how long to cook certain proteins, buy them precooked.)
You will need:
* Sweet Italian Sausage (we like Applegate Farms as their sausage is uncured and has no sugar)
* Cauliflower Florets (frozen or raw)
* Onion (yellow or sweet)
* Heavy Whipping Cream
* Unsalted (real) Butter (we like the Kelly Gold brand)
* Salt and Pepper
* Unsalted Dry Chipotle Seasoning (Mrs Dash)
* Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
Get out a cookie sheet and either leave it or line it with foil. Place all your florets on the sheet and drizzle with the oil. Slice your onion (I used a quarter of the onion). You can decide how much cauliflower based on the people you’re feeding – this amount was for two people.
Roast on 400 degrees for 40 minutes. At the 20 min mark, take the cauliflower out of the oven and add the onions – drizzling them too in the oil. Place it all back in the oven for the remaining time.
Meanwhile, place a tablespoon of butter in a pan and let it melt, then turn the stovetop down to medium low. Cut the sausage on a bias and place it in the pan.
Let the sausage sit, do not move it – you will notice the butter starting to get a bit darker. After a few minutes, turn the sausage and see if it has browned any – if not, roll it back to its original position. If it has, leave it it its new position so you’ll have a nice crispy outside to the sausage.
These sausages are already cooked so you’re just looking to awaken the flavors and bring some more texture. You can see the cut ends getting some color as well.
At the point where the sausages are a bit browned and the butter has also darkened, you can take the pan off the heat and set it aside. I planned to also serve in this same dish which made it so much easier. This pan is the Ballarini ServinTavola Fry Pan.
The cauliflower and onions should be done by now, take the sheet pan out and immediately season with salt and pepper. I find the seasonings stick better when the food is hot.
Get out a potato masher or preferably, a food processor, and blend a portion of the veggies with a splash of heavy whipping cream and a generous amount of parmesan. Then, add your chipotle.
If you’re not sure how much – start small and not in your entire batch. I use about a half a tablespoon, and I do two batches of veggie pass through the mini food processor. The machine holds over four cups but florets take up quite a bit of room.
Take your sausages out of your pan, leaving the butter behind if you plan to serve in the same vessel or, transfer the butter into another oven safe dish (like a ramekin) and plop as much of the vegetable puree as you’d like to serve into the dish over the browned butter.
Place a small amount of parmesan over the surface and then add again your sausage.
At this point you can go ahead and pop this in the oven to combine the cheese, veggies and butter into a glorious cheesy creamy concoction or, you can place this all in the fridge to be reheated at a later point.
When placing in the oven, make sure to put the pan on a cookie sheet incase anything spills over.
My sausage dish was in the fridge for about two hours before I reheated it so I had it on 350 for 30 minutes (remember, the dish was also in the fridge so it was also cold). If you’re placing it in the oven while anything is still warm you could probably go with just 20 but, check and see if it’s as bubbly as you want it. The full 30 mins won’t hurt it regardless.
It came out crispy on the top along with the juicy sausage. Top with some parsley if you’d like… Very flavorful, very easy – and the kitchen smelled amazing!
If you’re more of a fish person, I also made this meal with salmon.
The ingredients changed just slightly – using dried basil instead of chipotle, wild caught Sockeye salmon instead of sausage, and I added garlic to the pan with the melting butter. This was precooked salmon however, you can certainly pan fry the salmon in the garlic butter.
I drizzled a bit of oil over the salmon before popping it in the oven so it remained juicy.