Staring at a garden filled, again, with basil, sweet Genovese and purple opal varieties, I got the idea to make a chicken sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and basil last week. We had already had Chicken Basil Saltimbocca, twice, and Pesto with Homemade Fettuccini… and now the culinary creative juice was flowing in another direction.
I am squeamish about making sausage in the warmer months. Having always thought it is best to keep everything cold when grinding meat; including the outside, I usually make sausage in the winter and fall months, which are cooler in south Florida (Really it is!). But then again, I thought, why not make a chicken sausage, studded with the most fragrant summer herb – basil. My basil is growing out of control in my garden this year…. which is NOT a bad thing.
As I gathered the ingredients and begin “mentally-tasting” and visualizing the sausage, I decided to make a leaner sausage than most of us could normally find in the market or in any cookbook on sausage. Believe me; I am not squeamish about fat. I completely understand and respect it’s culinary purpose in the life of the food-lover. Though with propensity to eat lighter and leaner in the summer months, I thought a leaner sausage was the way to go…. hence, I start with boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs.
The flavor must be assertive to make a leaner sausage work. So, instead of one cup of fresh basil, I used two. I amped up the flavor of the sun-dried tomato by adding tomato paste. Use very fragrant olive oil and your favorite robust red wine to boost the flavor of boneless, skinless chicken even more.
If boneless, skinless chicken is too expensive, or not in your budget, just buy a whole chicken, de-bone it, and, if you prefer, remove the skin. You can always freeze the bones for chicken stock later.
The Recipe: BASIL & SUN-DRIED TOMATO CHICKEN SAUSAGE
2 # boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
2 # boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
2 c fresh basil, rough chopped
1 c sun-dried tomatoes, minced
2 T tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
¼ c really fragrant olive oil
¼ c really robust red wine
1 c shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
1 T kosher salt, or more to taste
1 T fresh cracked black pepper, or more to taste
beef collagen or hog casing, 32mm
chill all of the grinding equipment; including any mixing bowls you will need
combine the chopped basil, chopped sun-dried tomato, minced garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, red wine, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper in a mixing bowl
grind chicken using a fine grinding plate; alternating with the basil-tomato mixture
using your hands, latex gloves are your best friend right now; mix the ground meat-herb mixture with the shredded Parmigiano Reggiano until thoroughly combined; cover and set in the refrigerator to chill for an hour
meanwhile, clean and wash the entire meat grinding equipment with warm soapy water, cleaning all of the cracks and crevices to make sure no chicken is left to ferment, fester, while the grinder is stored in the cabinet
after the sausage as chilled, make a small patty; cook it; and taste it
adjust seasoning, if necessary, as this is important before you stuff the casing; a bland sausage is never good
if stuffing the sausage in casing, use 32mm beef collagen casing or hog casing, depending on your preference, which
will yield 14 to 16 3-inch sausages
after stuffing, twist the sausage in 3-inch links and use a clean safety pin to prick the sausage, releasing any air bubbles trapped inside the casings
allow the sausage to rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before cooking; or freeze immediately
These are good on the grill, served with your favorite pasta… the The Super-Fantastic Wife’s favorite way – on a soft roll topped with sauteed onions and peppers.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!