Chewy grains and sausage casserole

Chef hatWell, that didn’t work. I tried adapting a recipe yesterday and it was a total frost. The right way to cook this recipe creates a great side dish for a pot luck, or a solid meal for two with leftovers. The grains are chewy and smoky and savory and salty, with just enough sausage grease mixed in to flavor them, and there’s just enough meat to make you feel virtuous about your protein intake.

It reheats well, too. Try it as a hot or cold filling for wraps or tacos, or reheat it in a frying pan (with a few fresh veggies if you absolutely must) and pour beaten eggs over it for a hearty frittata.

Normally this recipe should be made like this:

¾ cup each dried barley, brown rice, and wheat berries
4 cups stock or water
1 lb. sweet, mild, or spicy Italian sausage links pricked all over with a fork

ItalianSausage-340x260-150x150I throw all that into a casserole, cover it, and put it in the oven for an hour at 325 degrees. Then, when it’s done, I slice up the sausage links into nibbles, return them to the casserole, and stir ’em in.

Yesterday I was feeling creative. You know how that goes. Because I had no wheat berries, I used barley, sweet sticky rice (like for sushi), and brown rice. Also, I had no Italian sausage but I did have two smoked ham hocks that had been frosting over in the freezer for goodness knows how long. I cooked ’em the same way, using plain water.

hamhock-311x285-150x137This did not work out. It turns out sushi rice is a very persnickety substance. Also, the ham hocks have a simpler flavor, and maybe they were kind of old and stale. The result was greasy without being tasty, and the grains, instead of coming out smoky and chewy, were a weird texture, both gluey and lumpy.

Memo to self: Don’t fix a recipe if it ain’t broke.

About Jennifer Stevenson

Jennifer Stevenson’s Trash Sex Magic was shortlisted for the Locus First Fantasy Novel Award and longlisted for the Nebula two years running. Try her fantasy series Hinky Chicago, which is up to five novels, her paranormal romances Slacker Demons, which are about retired deities who find work as incubi, or her women’s fiction fantasy series Coed Demon Sluts, about women solving life’s ordinary problems by becoming succubi. She has published more than 20 short stories.

Find Jennifer at the Book View Cafe blog, at the second row at fast roller derby bouts in Chicago, or on Facebook.