Staying inspired for cooking from the hotel room, is a bit challenging because of the limits of not having my arsenal of spices, knives, pots, pans and of course a full-size fridge. It is a challenge I have enjoyed since it forces me to use my crock pot more.
I love the taste tests at Costco. Yes, they cause problems with getting around in the store but they give me a chance to try out a product before having to buy LARGE quantities of it and finding out we hate it later. In a recent trip, some lovely ladies from Texas were offering up their smoked beef jalapeño sausages for sampling. Hubby loves sausage of almost any kind, so I zoomed in to grab a taste. Completely yummy and no added artificial anything. Clean, simple and tasty. Three pounds into the cart with no idea how I was going to serve them up.
Well half of the sausages found their way into our freezer at home and some others became destined for a play on the Italian cassoulet. I love cassoulets! They generally involve beans cooked with a meat and veggies but vegetarian options are tasty as well.
Now this is one of those slow cooker recipes that is not a throw everything in the pot and forget it recipe. If you do, things will end up overcooked. I layered in the ingredients at different points of time, to still have crunch in the veggies and not to over cook the canned beans into mush. Everything came out tasting beautiful.
Slow Cooker Sausage and Fennel Cassoulet
2 fennel bulbs, each bulb sliced into 6 to 8 wedges
1/2 lb. baby carrots
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tsp. garlic, minced
4 cured sausages, sliced (I used a beef jalapeño sausage for a little kick)
3 cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
Cantanzaro herb or Italian herb mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Small bunch kale, chopped
Place fennel, carrots, onion, garlic, sausages, herbs and chicken broth into the crock pot. Turn on low and cook for about 2 hours or until veggies are beginning to soften. Add in beans, check seasoning, add salt and pepper and cook for 30 minutes. Adjust chicken broth for your level of liquid. Drop chopped kale into the top of the crock pot and recover. Cook until kale is wilted, around 30 minutes.
Serve immediately with crusty bread or place in fridge for flavors to meld until the next day. This dish also works well as a freezer dish.