Chicken, Sausage, Peppers and Onions

May 9th

Some Becca history; my dad is 100% Italian and my mom is of the Irish/Scottish persuasion. That being said, my mom made it her life’s goal to  become the kind of plucky Italian cook that my dad was lucky enough to be raised around.
While authentically Italian dishes were in the mix there was also a moderate amount of Italian-American dishes, such has her “Sausage and Peppers”. Americanized to begin with, my mom took it a step further by adding chicken and potatoes. It was one of those “throw everything in the oven and forget about it for over an hour” kind of dinners that made the house smell AMAZING. I can still remember the smells making me swoon after coming home from practice in high school and being nearly out of my head with hunger.
What happens is that the sausage renders its fat, (as does the chicken skin) which coats the onions and peppers as they caramelize in the high heat. The potatoes soak up the juiciness and quickly turn into the most flavorful potatoes you’ll ever happen upon. It’s also a dish that is chock full of saturated fat. Could I swap saturated for monounsaturated fat (aka, olive oil) and still capture that delicious flavor? It was worth a try.
I swapped the pork sausage for Italian-style chicken sausage and pulled the skin off my chicken. I couldn’t switch out the type of meat, though, as the dark meat in thighs and legs stays moist throughout a long roast. I generously coated the whole she-bang with olive oil and hoped for the best.
This is how I knew I’d done it. As we dug in on Sunday night my husband says to me, “dude, how good is sausage”. I was like… “wait, you know this is chicken sausage, right?” He DIDN’T! I fooled him. The potatoes were still flavorful and the chicken stayed moist without it’s skin. I’d saved us loads of unhealthy saturated fat and calories and the dish was none the worse for wear.
For Monday’s dinner I chopped up the leftovers, added some jarred sauce and crushed red pepper and tossed it with whole wheat pasta – a whole different meal that only took me 11 minutes (because that’s how long it takes pasta to boil).
Momma – thanks for being my first cooking teacher and pretty much the best mom I could imagine.

Chicken, Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Makes 4-6 servings

4 skinless, bone in chicken leg quarters (or just thighs)

1 package Italian style chicken sausage, cut into 3 inch chunks

4 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped into large pieces

2 large onions, cut into large chunks

6 garlic cloves, smashed

2 red-skinned potatoes, chopped into large chunks

1/3 c. olive oil

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 425. Arrange chicken, sausage, peppers, onions, garlic, and potatoes in a 13 x 9 inch. baking dish. You want everything to have room to roast, so by all means use two different baking dishes if that seems easier for you. If you use leg quarters you will definitely need two dishes.

2. Splash olive oil over mixture and toss with your hands, covering each item with oil.

3. Sprinkle salt and oregano over mixture and mix again.

4. Place in oven and roast for at least 1 hour or up to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

5. Serve (all you need to complement this is a tossed green salad).

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