Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Sausage & Barley Casserole

I'm ashamed to admit we have been living mostly on very basic pasta dishes or home-fried potatoes and eggs, when we've been at home, which hasn't been nearly as often as we would like. However, we are home for 3 entire days in a row at the moment, and so I am trying to get my brain back into gear for cooking other things.

We stopped on the way up at a little country market and got some plain but good quality Mennonite-made pork sausage. A little rummaging in the fridge and cupboards turned up everything else needed for this dish.

4 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Sausage and Barley Casserole
500 grams (1 pound) plain or garlic pork sausage meat
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if needed)
1 large leek
2 or 3 stalks of celery
3 or 4 cups finely chopped cabbage
1 or 2 cloves of garlic

1 or 2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup pot barley
3 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Cut the sausage into pieces, and set it aside while you prepare the vegetables. Trim and chop the leek, discarding any dark tough parts. Wash it well and drain it. Wash, trim and chop the celery. Chop the cabbage and the peeled clove of garlic.

Put the sausage into a large skillet with the oil (if you think your sausage is lean - otherwise don't bother) and about a quarter cup of water. Cook over high heat until the water evaporates and the sausage browns slightly. Turn the heat to medium.

Add the leeks, and stir them in well. Once they have softened and wilted, add the garlic and stir in well. After a minute or two, add the cabbage and another quarter of a cup of water. Cook, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are well wilted and the water has evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

If your skillet is large and can go into the oven, you can mix everything in the skillet and bake it that way. Otherwise, transfer the contents of the skillet to a large shallow casserole, such as a lasagne pan, and mix in the bay leaves, celery seed, barley, tomatoes and water. Season with salt and pepper, keeping in mind how salty your sausage is.

Cover the pan with foil. Bake the casserole for 1 hour and a quarter to 1 hour and a half, until the barley is tender.

Last year at this time I made Sformati di Broccoli, Clapshot, and Gehacktes Rinderschnitzel.

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