Sausage and Potatoes with Local Tomatoes, Spinach, Garlic, and Shallots

July 7, 2011

I was out of town this past weekend, so I missed the Boulder Farmers’ Market on Saturday, and a last minute meeting at work thwarted my plans to go on Wednesday.  I found that I was having withdrawal symptoms from the lack of fresh, local produce.  So I did the next best thing(s).  I looked for something from Colorado in the supermarket, and made a lunch trip to the farm store at Cure Organic Farm.  I love the fact that the local grocery stores are starting to have signs showing where the produce is from, and if they don’t you can often tell from the little produce stickers on individual items or the twist ties around bunched vegetables.  At King Soopers, I got some spinach from Weld County (80 miles, not too bad), and some tomatoes with ‘Colorado Proud’ stickers.  Okay, so far so good.  At Cure, I got a bunch of nice looking shallots and some garlic with the stalks attached.  I had been wanting to do something smoky flavored with sausage and spinach, so planned to use all of the aforementioned produce, and I decided to throw some potatoes in the mix as well.

We’ve found several companies who make different varieties of chicken sausage which are really quite good (and much lower in fat than pork sausages).  We’ve tried several types from Aidells as well as Applegate. I had some Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach sausages from Causal Gourmet left over from a previous meal, and thought those would be perfect.

Raw materials

Ingredients

I had some wonderful smoked paprika from The Savory Spice Shop, but discovered that I had run out, so had to make do with regular paprika and liquid smoke.  I’ve also recently started using some great smoked olive oil by Miguel and Valentino – it’s smoked over pine cones and has a really nice aroma.

I hadn’t ever used the type of garlic with the stalk still attached, so kind made things up as I went.  I took off the outer layers around the bulb until I got down to the four cloves inside, and then took off the remaining thin layer around those.  If you don’t have this kind of garlic, I would suggest using a few cloves of the conventional garlic from the supermarket.  In place of shallots, you could use about 1/2 a cup of chopped white onion.

I fantasized that sautéing the potatoes would work just fine if I used a whole tablespoon of olive oil.  Uh…that would be a no.  Maybe okay in a non-stick pan, and if you spent a long time sautéing them before adding everything else, but I found this method to be not quite right for what I was trying to do.  So the recipe below is how I will do it next time. I’ve cooked many other dishes with potatoes by parboiling them first, and that works much nicer.  I ended up using 4 tsp of olive oil (1 tsp for the garlic and shallots, and 1 Tbsp for the potatoes, but since the recipe below parboils the potatoes, I switched to 1 Tbsp for the garlic and shallots – you can use less if you want.

I always use the mise en place method when I cook, which basically means getting everything you need for cooking ready beforehand.  I don’t do it because it’s French and sounds like I know what I’m doing.  I do it because this way I can avoid having something overcooking in a pan while I am messing around trying to get something chopped or doing an archaeological survey of the pantry.  Plus, I kind of like looking at all the chopped ingredients and bottles of olive oil and vinegar and the spices or whatever I am using sitting together before I cook.  It’s fun to see how different things look before and after.  Hey – an engineer will take art wherever she can get it.

I learned a great trick for seeding tomatoes at a class at the Culinary School of the Rockies.  Cut the tomato in half through the equator (i.e. with the stem side pointed towards the wall), and then dig the seeds out with your fingers. Much quicker than trying to do it after cutting slices.

Sausage and Potatoes with Local Tomatoes, Spinach, Garlic, and Shallots
serves 4

3-4 chicken sausages – something smoky or spicy*
1 lb white or red potatoes (not russet)
2 large tomatoes
2 bunches of spinach
1 stalk of garlic, or 3 cloves conventional garlic
6 shallots
1 Tbsp olive oil (smoked if you have it)
1 tsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
liquid smoke (optional)

* The chicken sausage that I use is fully cooked already.  If you use sausage that isn’t, cook it first following the directions that come with it, to ensure food safety since it’s poultry.

Mise en place:

  • Chop potatoes into small cubes (about 1/3″ on each side)
  • Cut sausages in half lengthwise, then again lengthwise.  Then cut into small pieces
  • Seed and chop the tomatoes
  • Take the spinach leaves off of the stems, wash them and spin and/or towel dry
  • Remove the green stems, roots, and outer few layers from the shallot bulbs, and finely chop them
  • Remove the green part from the garlic stalk, peel off the outer layers until you get to the inner cloves. Remove the thin membrane from the cloves if there is one, and then mince them.
Directions:

Parboil the potatoes.  You can do this either by covering them with water in a pot on the stove and bringing it to a boil, or you can cover them with water in a glass bowl, and put it in the microwave on high.  It generally takes about 7-10 minutes (usually a little longer in the microwave), but check them early, and frequently just to be sure.  Stop parboiling right when they are slightly tender when poking with a fork.  Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, and sauté until they start to turn translucent.  Add potatoes, tomatoes, sausage, and paprika. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes break down and become liquid.  Taste the liquid, and add 2-6 shakes of liquid smoke as desired.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook until most of the liquid has boiled off.  Add the spinach (in bunches if if doesn’t fit all at once).  I usually just keep turning the spinach under the other ingredients, as if I were folding something into a batter.  Cook just until the spinach is wilted, but still bright green.

Sausage and Potatoes with Local Produce

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