Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sausage and roasted chickpea frieze salad with lemon vinaigrette

Anyone who eats at my house always assumes that everything I attempt comes out right every time.  What a joke!  I have a list of bloopers a mile long and one of these days I will take some photos of my little kitchen disasters and make a post out of it.  I rarely burn anything, unless you count caramel, which I burn every single time, but I ruin things all the time… For example, I have never been able to make buttercream without it separating, or make a perfect meringue without it going soggy.  Some things go straight from the stove top to the garbage, do not stop and taste, and do not collect 200 dollars….  More often, I will try to pass things off as if they came out exactly how I intended… interestingly enough, it works almost always.  When something drops to the floor I immediately think of Julia Child and look around if anyone saw it, if not, dust it, rinse it, serve it and pretend that nothing happened.

A few weeks ago, I had a party for my now very teenage son, and having been on a huge kick for vintage Soviet recipes I tried to make a Kiev cake.  I will save the explanation of what it actually is for when I make it right and post it, for now, all you need to know that I have never…. Ever… ever… had this much trouble with any cake.   I found a great base recipe online, not the true thing but close enough; do you think I followed it?  Like my mother used to say “ I thought I was smarter than the choo choo train”.  I “loosely” followed directions (meaning I did not follow them at all), and then tried to salvage the situation at every turn.  My Meringue was soggy, my filling was tight, my cake was slightly lopsided, but guesses what, it got eaten… every bit of it…. And I learned from my mistakes so the recipe will get refined, tested and posted… I promise.
See... lopsided...

I do have sheer moments of brilliance, though… and most of the time when I am not even trying.  Last weekend I was cooking out of my freezer… ( I get very surprised by the things I find there, I am a food hoarder, so if I freeze a lot of interesting things).  I found the boudin blanc sausage I made for Thanksgiving (I froze what I didn't use)and  duck fat (apparently I had a lot of it, didn't even know).  So I thought salad, how awesome it would be to create a salad that is deliciously unhealthy, but decadent.  And here came the sheer moment of brilliance….salty, nutty, fatty with something light, fresh and acidic… And the star was born, Sausage and roasted chickpea frisee salad with lemon vinaigrette. 

This would make a wonderful side dish to something light like a pan seared flaky fish or even a grilled chicken breast. 

 Sausage and roasted chickpea frieze salad with lemon vinaigrette

1 Can of chickpeas rinsed and dried on paper towels
¾ lb of mild sausage meat… I had my attempt at boudin blanc, but any sweet Italian sausage would do just fine
2 cups of small button mushrooms, I used the kind you find at the Asian market ( sorry, don’t know what they are called) but any tiny mushrooms would do
1 ½ tbs of duck fat
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of curry powder
2 heads of Frisee lettuce roughly chopped
1 cup watercress leaves
¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
1 tsp French grainy mustard or Dijon
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F.  On a baking sheet spread the chickpeas, season with salt, curry powder and cayenne pepper.  Roast for 15 -2o min until the chickpeas are toasted gold brown and feel dry.

In a skillet, melt the duck fat.  Add the chopped sausage meat and cook until the sausage is crispy.  Lower the heat slightly and add the mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms are well browned.  Take off the heat and season with salt and pepper. 

Make the vinaigrette, whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and sugar until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture comes together.  The dressing should be very acidic (you will need it to cut through the fatness of the sausage and duck fat). 

To assemble the salad, add the chickpeas to the skillet with sausage and mushrooms and warm through.  The mixture should be warm but not piping hot.  Toss the frisee and watercress with the vinaigrette, dried cherries and the sausage mixture.  The hot temperature of the sausage and mushrooms will wilt the lettuce slightly. 

Dig in and don’t even try to pretend that this salad is low in calories… not all things should, sometimes you deserve a little duck fat…. Don’t be ashamed…just run an extra mile tomorrow (or not).