Tag Archives: chicken sausage

Chicken, Sausage, and Capers on Polenta

29 Oct

Chicken, Sausage, and Peppers on Polenta 001

It was a year ago last Friday that I sat down at my computer and, with a short preamble, wrote down what I had for dinner that night. Thus began Dinner with Jonny. I started it solely for my own amusement, and that’s pretty much the same mindset I retain; I figure that if I’m entertained by what I write and share, then people who read my writing will be as well. If I, an amateur cook, make a kick ass dish, others might have similar success.

I also have kept in mind that a great many people are intimidated by cooking and I seek to ameliorate that problem by showing that a bit of levity and less convolution in trying to cook make the world a better place. The best teachers understand this as it relates to any subject, and as a teacher, I can’t help applying this principle to whatever I do.  For example, language acquisition scholars will tell you that, if you want to learn a language, have some drinks with native speakers of that language; it loosens you up, and after a few beers, you’ll forget that you’re shy about trying to speak another language (you’ll also realize that most native speakers love when people try to learn their language and you’ll make lifelong friends). While I won’t go on record that I promote alcohol consumption in learning new skills, the idea behind it resonates a truth: you learn more if you’re having fun, so lighten the fuck up, world.

Before I share the recipe for this beautiful and healthful dish, I think it’s high time that I share some insights about the general public that I have gleaned since I began writing this blog. You see, WordPress keeps statistics on a great many aspects of a blog: what countries read my blog, the busiest times of day, my most popular posts, etc.

One of the most fascinating features is the record of what search terms people use that bring up my blog via google, yahoo, or any other search engine. So for this blog post, I’ve decided to give you a sampling of the keyword searches that have brought up Dinner with Jonny in some regard since its inception. Just so you know, the three most common terms that brought up Dinner with Jonny are “burritos,” “torta rustica,” and “croutons,” in that order.

But here is a sampling of some less benign doozies, and reader discretion is advised:

  • drop your panties drink: ‘Tis fair enough, I suppose. A man’s gotta eat.
  • drink panty greaser: As an English teacher, I struggle understanding this, yet I’m intrigued. Is it a new form of Spanish fly?
  • forme pussys made of torta (sic): I have spent considerable time processing this one to no avail. If you have an idea, post it in the comments section.
  • cream my tight c**t: I’m guessing one of my creamy dishes helped this lady out marvelously. Hopefully.
  • roast chicken porn video: It must be southern. In fact, it has to be.
  • having cazzo for dinner: “Cazzo,” for your information, is “dick” in Italian. I admit, I have offered this to both my brothers a few times, but never literally.
  • pussy pot pie/ penis pies: If you search long enough, I bet you can find a penis pot pie, too, kids. Don’t limit yourselves.
  • Canada penty hot sexi porno lady (sic): It seems that I actually got Borat to read my blog. I’m honored.
  • make a frog sandwich: This could be a French delicacy or a French porno, if you think about it.

And my favorite,

  • candied nuts and students: It’s must be a fund-raiser or a person with considerable issues.

As always, my gimcrackery leads into an exceptional dish. This is yet another example of a Weight Watchers’ dish that’s easy to make, filling, and damn tasty. 1 1/2 cups of this is a 5 on the old Weight Watchers system (PointsPlus and 360° can fuck off very well), and if you serve it with two slices of tubed polenta, you’ve got a huge dinner for 7 points. I’m guessing you can make a sausage and pepper sandwich a la New Jersey just as easily, but you would need to adjust the points accordingly because of the bread.

Chicken, Sausage, and Capers with Polenta

Serves 4

Old Weight Watchers 7


2 tsp. olive oil

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (two small or one large), cut into 1″ pieces

1 18 oz. tube of pre-cooked polenta (Trader Joe’s has a fine one)

cooking spray

1/4 lb. precooked turkey or chicken Italian sausage, hot or mild, cut into 1/2″ slices

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp. grated parmesan plus a bit more for garnish

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Saute the chicken pieces until they’re golden and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pieces to a bowl and set aside.

Slice the polenta into eight disks. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the slices on it. Bake these for 20 minutes. They should be ready when the main dish is ready to serve, fyi.

In the same skillet, add in the sausage and brown them briefly. Add the red wine vinegar until it almost evaporates in a minute or two, scraping the fun stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Add in the bell peppers, onion, garlic, and oregano. Cook this until the peppers get soft, about 6 minutes or so, stirring fairly often.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, and capers, and bring it all to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet and add in the parmesan. Reduce the heat a bit and let it simmer for about 5 more minutes until it thickens a bit.

Place two polenta disks on each plate and divide the chicken mixture between the four plates. Top with some parmesan and you get this:

Chicken, Sausage, and Peppers on Polenta 006

For those of you that read this blog regularly, thank you for letting me indulge in my passion for cooking, eating, and writing for the last year. Still, I hope none of you is responsible for those search terms above, either.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013


Sausage and Beans with Mushrooms, a Favorite Anywhere, Anyhow

1 Dec

Sausage, Beans, and Mushroom

I think that sausage and beans have been around as long as men have been around.  Somewhere along the historical line, some guy (probably Italian or Spanish) looked at his male package and wanted to feed a representation of it to someone, perhaps to share goodness or sexuality, or to laugh inwardly at some gullible heel for a sophomoric prank.  Whatever may be the case, the results have been around for years, and no one is complaining.

Now that I’ve experienced and cooked an array of recipes across the cultural board, I tend to see concepts emerge.  I have written about the bread + meat + egg + sauce concept, or the ground meat + seasoning + starch concept.  The sausage and beans one is all over the place.  In the U.S., we have pork and beans, made popular through camping and through Something About Mary.  English and Irish breakfasts feature baked beans, eggs, and sausage, often.  In the few times I’ve been to Barcelona, Spain, they have a sausage called butifarra, served traditionally with white beans.  Pasta fagioli  in Italy (called “pasta fazool” in my family) is often made with Italian sausage.  Like a lot of Autumn meals, this is meant to warm, comfort, fill, and titillate.

This meal sort of riffs on all of these cultural traditions, and I made it for the first time tonight, kind of.  I have made pieces of it separately, but tonight I put them all together and got a “dish,” so to speak.  Here are the ingredients I had bought to get going on this:

Stuff for Italian Beans, Mushroom, and Sausage

I got a Sicilian chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s (chicken, tomato, and Romano cheese), white beans, a tube of pre-cooked polenta, some mushrooms, onion and garlic, and the means to cook them, like olive oil, butter, and spices.

From start to finish, you’re looking at 30 to 40 minutes, tops.

Sausage and Beans with Mushrooms


1 tube of precooked polenta (Trader Joe’s: $1.99.  Albertson’s: $5.99.  Do the math.)

6 sausages, grilled, Italian or Sicilian or whatever you’re in the mood for.  Make it mild or earthy sausages, rather than sweet or spicy.

1 package chevre/ goat cheese

1 recipe Mushrooms a la Jonny (

1 recipe Italian beans (recipe follows)

Italian beans:


1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. water

1 16 oz. can great northern or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Makin’ the beans:

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan or skillet and add the onion.  Saute it until it’s soft, 4 minutes, and then add the garlic and red pepper.  Saute this for 4 more minutes, and then add the water, the beans, and the salt and pepper.  Let it get happy for a few minutes and you’re done.

Putting It All Together:

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with cooking spray or coat it with olive oil (depending on how sexy you want to get).  Slice the polenta tube into 8 slices.  Lay them on the baking sheet and spray the tops of them with a bit more spray (or drizzle with olive oil, you sexy thing, you).  Bake this for 10 to 14 minutes.  Remove from the oven and get ready to assemble the big shebang.

My wife, Angela, and I put our plates together differently.  For mine, I did this:

Sausage, Beans, and Mushroom

I put three of the polenta slices on the plate.  On one, I smeared some of the goat cheese, which gives it a tartness that’s beautiful.  On one slice, I put beans all around it.  On the last slice, I put the mushrooms all around it.  I lay the sausages in the middle. I ground black pepper all over it, too. For each slice of sausage that I cut, I took a taste of one of the three options.  In other words, I didn’t mix them all up and rather got three distinct tastes in one dish.  Right on, I say to myself.

The wife did this:

Sausage, Beans, and Mushrooms 2

She’s a goat cheese freak, so she slathered it on each polenta slice.  She also sliced the sausage first.  She piled on beans, mushrooms, and sausage, and got a beautiful dish with a rustic flair.

But there’s no green?  The food shows, like Chopped or Iron Chef, always emphasize that colors are important, like textures.  Yeah?  Well they can piss off.  This tasted out of this world, and we were full enough, to be sure.  This looks like home cookin’. Notice that the placemat is an olive green, which is good enough for me on a Friday night two weeks before Christmas vacation.

Drinks!  This is a great Chianti from Trader Joe’s:


It goes perfectly with this because although the meal is chicken based, it’s rich, so it needs a good red to break it down, if you will.

And that’s that.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino, 2012


Cock in the Hole

5 Nov


I’m an Anglo- and Hiberno-phile (a lover of things English and Irish, that is).  I’ve been to Ireland twice and I have seen Toad in the Hole on a few pub menus, but I never ordered it.  For whatever reason, one day I remembered it on the way home from work…sausages in a pastry with gravy.  How can that be bad?  It can’t.  It’s one of the best dishes ever on an autumnal or wintery evening.  I mean, just look at it!  It’s just tits!

When I remembered the dish, I started doing some research.  I found a few recipes and sort of blended them all together (if you want the individual ones, let me know and I will look them up).  Toad in the Hole is traditionally made with bangers, English pork sausages made with breadcrumbs.  They are just not found around the central coast of California, except for one butcher in Arroyo Grande, who makes exceptional ones.  So, I thought that perhaps chicken and apple sausage might work  (I use Aidell’s from the supermarket…foodies can piss off).  Indeed, they do work famously, and I have thus created a new California/ English/ Irish fusion comfort food called Cock in the Hole because of its chicken sausage.


1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter melted

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon canola oil (or something equivalent)

1 pound of cooked chicken and apple sausages (or whatever your little heart desires in the sausage category) *Note: if you use uncooked sausages, brown them in a pan first to make sure they get cooked through!

Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper, and then make a well in the center of it.  In the well, pour the melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk, and whisk it until it’s smooth like a pancake batter.  Cover it and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Make sure you have two racks in your oven. When you’re ready, coat an 8 x 12 baking disk with the tablespoon of oil, put it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 425 F (the dish will be piping hot when you put in the sausages and batter.).

For the gravy, you need:

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of oil

1 teaspoon of superfine sugar or regular sugar

2 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon of mustard powder

2 teaspoons of flour

salt and pepper to taste

Toss the sliced onions with the sugar and oil, and put them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  When the oven is ready,  put the onions on the top rack.  In the heated baking dish on the bottom rack, carefully place the sausages in there and watch so you don’t get splattered.  Spoon the batter over the sausages in the dish evenly, scraping the bowl so everything is used.  Close the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the stock (or make the stock from bullion cubes) and add the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard powder to it, mixing well.

After 15 minutes, remove the onions, which should be roasted and brown and even black in some parts.

In a saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add the onions and the flour.  Cook it about a minute or two until it’s pastey, and then start adding the stock little by little, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan.  After all of the stock is added, let it simmer until the Cock (or Toad, depending on the sausage and your sauciness) is ready.  Season it with salt and pepper.

After thje 30 minute timer goes off, it should be golden brown and fairly firm, as the picture above shows.  Let it rest a few minutes, and then slice the Cock between the cocks, and serve with a gravy boat with which to smother it.  I love roasted potatoes and green beans smothered in the gravy  with it.  Britons say that mashed potatoes are the key.  Whatever blows you hair back will work fine.

Drink:  Beer makes this heavenly, especially a Bass or a Harp.

One of the best parts of being American is that I get to simulate, interpret, and amalgamate.    I have served this to people and they have been blown away.  They might say it’s an inside-out hot dog, but I think that’s oversimplifying, like we Americans tend to do.  In any case, this has become a regular menu item in our house, and perhaps it will be in your house too.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.