I took a bloggy-break for Thanksgiving, as I was hosting my first big holiday in our new house. I have done several holiday meals, both as a private chef and for my family, but never in my own home with lots of relatives visiting. It went fantastically, with guests ranging from 5 to 75 years old, including some bonus firemen who couldn’t go home for the holidays, there were about 15 of us by the time we all sat down to the feast. All the food barely fit on the tables and nobody left their seats hungry.
When the dust settled, we found out that we A LOT of leftovers. So, I portioned up the turkey pickin’s, mashed potatoes and ham bits for the freezer to use up when I start feeling the pinch of Christmas expenses.
I figure that, by now, everyone is tired of turkey sandwiches and Thanksgiving leftovers by now, so this turkey-free recipe is based the ‘Sausage and Leek Buffet Casserole’ recipe from the cookbook ‘PIG: King of the Southern Table’ by Villas. I had got a bunch of breakfast sausage for free with my coupons and whenever I need to find a Southern, pork based recipe, this book is always my secret weapon. However delicious it was, even my fireman, who could eat a stick of butter straight, said it was very, very rich.
I could tell from the start that this recipe had great flavors but needed some tweaking to turn it into a healthy(er) week-night meal. I toned down the richness of this casserole by substituting condensed soup for the heavy cream in the original. I toned down the cost by combing onions with the leeks and putting the mixture over a base of egg noodles. And, of course, everything is better with a nice gratin topping. So good.
Leeky Sausage Casserole –served with garlic bread
Serves 4-5 – cost approx $.99 per serving
- 12 oz package egg noodles ($.89)
- 8 oz breakfast sausage ($0 with coupons!)
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced ($.14)
- 3 leeks, whites thinly sliced – save the green parts for stock! ($1.67)
- salt and black pepper – to taste
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp dry sage
- 2 Tbs minced parsley
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper – optional if you don’t like spicyness
- 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup ($.50)
- 3/4 cup / 1 can milk ($.24)
- 3/4 cup / 1 can vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan ($.25)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a 9″x13″ baking pan with some sort of grease of your choosing, spray oil, bacon fat, butter…
Put on a pot of water to boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt it liberally and par cook the egg noodles, then drain them.
Brown the breakfast sausage in a large saute pan, breaking it into small pieces, then remove, keeping the sausage fat in the pan. Saute the onions and leeks in the sausage fat, season with the salt and pepper. When the vegetables are cooked, add in the nutmeg, sage, parsley and crushed red pepper. Saute one minute more. Stir in the cream of mushroom soup, then add in one can’s worth of milk and vegetable stock, swishing the can to get out any soup sticking to the sides. Mix the vegetables and liquids together and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste it and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
To assemble the casserole: lay the egg noodles in the prepared pan, cover the noodles with the veggie and soup mixture, then the browned sausage crumbles. Mix the bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese to make the gratin topping, spread over the casserole for the final layer. Bake at 375F for 15-20 minute, or until the top is golden brown and delicious.