Monday, July 28, 2014

Sweet Potato, Kale and Sausage Bake with White Cheese Sauce

This recipe is perfect for a cold, rainy day like today. I originally made it with some frozen kale, but I’ve since decided to boycott bags of pre-chopped kale altogether. You see, for some reasons, the kale in those bags is always chopped with the stem, so I have to spend extra time picking out the tough bits from my food, which is actually longer than washing and chopping my own kale. Plus, fresh kale tastes better anyway, so that’s what I’d recommend. I cut my sweet potatoes a little too big to my taste, too; I’d do even smaller cubes next time, maybe ½”. I actually didn’t find the sauce cheesy enough, and I had to use a cornstarch slurry to thicken it. I’m therefore changing the measurements of broth from 2 cups to 1 ½ cups below, to counteract that problem (this will also make a more realistic amount of sauce for the dish). I’m also adding salt and pepper to the ingredients, because I thought it was a little bland. In the end, this was a comforting dish, and while it took a little time to grow on me, it eventually did; the Engineer gave it his seal of approval.

2 tsp. olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (3-4 cups; I’d go with ½” cubes)
16 oz. Italian pork or chicken sausage, cut into small rounds
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
¾ cup lactose-free milk, divided
¼ cup flour
¾ cup shredded lactose-free Gruyère cheese, divided
2 cups finely chopped kale (see note above)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, Italian sausage, salt and pepper. Shake to coat in oil, let sit for a few minutes to brown, and shake the pan gently again to move everything around. Repeat until the sweet potatoes and sausage both have golden brown exteriors. Toss with the kale and transfer to a greased 9”-square baking dish.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 °F. Bring the broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil, then turn the heat to keep it at a low simmer. Whisk the flour and remaining ¼ cup milk to form a thick paste. Add this to the broth, whisking to keep the sauce smooth. Add ¼ cup Gruyère and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes, kale, and sausage in the baking dish. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

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