Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quick supper starts with flavor-packed andouille sausage

If you're looking for ideas for a quick supper, start with your freezer. That's where I found the main ingredients in this recipe. I chopped, stirred, simmered and sautéed -- and within 20 minutes, our meal was on the table.

I've found that smoked andouille sausage contains all the seasonings this dish needs. If you like things hot, however, add a shake of pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne. I like the chicken andouille sold at Trader Joe's, but you can find tasty varieties elsewhere. I had used two of the four links in the package for another meal, then wrapped and froze the leftovers. A quick zap in the microwave and the sausage was thawed enough to slice and toss into the skillet.

I also had a bag of frozen okra, which I had bought on a whim. I've found that brand makes a big difference with frozen vegetables. Some are watery, with an unpleasant texture and little flavor. I used Whole Food's house brand, 365. The okra was as good as a frozen vegetable could be -- not quite the same as fresh, but tasty and with nice texture.

I also had frozen brown rice on hand. This is a great time saver. It zaps in 3 minutes, as opposed to cooking regular brown rice for 45 minutes. I always have a package or two in the freezer.

Finally, I poured in 1/4 cup of beer, left in the can after I used 10 ounces in a recipe for brisket that I was making for a future meal. Leave the beer out if you wish, or pop a can or bottle open, splash some into the skillet, and drink the rest.

Yield: 2 servings (can be doubled)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 rib celery, chopped
2 links smoked chicken andouille sausage (about 6 ounces total)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup beer, optional
1 cup frozen sliced okra
Hot cooked rice

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook until they begin to soften. As they cook, slice each sausage lengthwise into quarters, then cut the quarters into 1/2-inch chucks. Add to the skillet and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides.

Add tomatoes and their juice, beer (if using) and okra. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until okra is cooked through and the juices have thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Ladle over hot cooked rice and serve immediately.

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