Friday, April 11, 2008

Sausage Stuffed Chicken with Braised Endive

We were watching Food Trip with Todd English on WGBH here in Boston - which is now in HD! - one lazy Saturday morning. This morning was the first time we'd seen this show, Todd English goes on road trips around the U.S. checking out local cuisine with chefs in different areas of the country. On this episode he was in the Southwest learning about eating cactus and which greens grow in the desert - plus, he visited a local chef who made sausage-stuffed quail. We though that was a great idea, we've always stuffed chicken "roll-ups" with ham and other items - but never sausage.

So we gave it a shot - we butterflied and pounded flat some 1/2 chicken breasts and seasoned inside and out with salt, pepper, and an Italian seasoning mix (basil, oregano, fennel). Then, we simply added a couple of tablespoons of sweet Italian sausage (rolled sort of lengthwise) and a sage leaf to the middle of the flattened chicken. No need for toothpicks, you can just fold the chicken over the sausage and form it back into a half breast.

To cook - our new favorite method of pan sauteeing to brown over pretty high heat, then into a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. These came out pretty good, the less sausage the better - so it can keep up with the cooking time of the chicken. We'll certainly be trying this one again. With this we had braised Belgian endive...

Belgian endive reminds me of my time living in France when I was a young college girl. My French mother introduced me to a plethora of new foods and new ways to eat foods that I already loved. Madame Chesneau was my Julia Child -- she gave me the ideas and tools that will forever be a part of my kitchen experience. For the endive, she would serve a raw leaf with cheese and dried fruits. Or perhaps it would be sliced in a salad or braised. When braised, it is an interesting light veggie that is slight sweet and bitter.

At the store pick endives that have their leaves intact, not bruised and that are creamy white with yellowish-green tips. Slice it lengthwise without removing the root end. In a heavy bottom pan, melt 1-2 tbsp of unsalted butter and when bubbly, add the endives cut side down. Let that sautee/carmelize for about 5 minutes on that side, and then turn for a few minutes more. Return the endive to the first position and add some chicken stock (want the liquid to be at least 1/2 inch deep) salt and pepper, some lemon juice and a little bit of sugar. Cover, turn to medium low and let braise for 20 minutes. The liquid will actually turn a bit milky in its appearance, and that's ok.

The endive came out tangy and sweet and really tasty! Still a little firm at the "ends", was a great side with rice and the chicken...

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