Italian-sausage-and-kale gratin (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)
Aromatic vegetables suspended in a rich sauce, maybe a little melted cheese, all of it hidden under a crisp golden brown crust. Behold the glory that is the gratin. One of the oldest dishes in the comfort-food playbook, the gratin is a celebration of lush creaminess and crisp crust that is often based on the simplest of ingredients.
For the perfect rustic weeknight meal, combine crumbled Italian sausage with fresh kale in a creamy goat cheese sauce. Top the gratin with a seasoned breadcrumb topping before baking, and you've got dinner in just over an hour.
For more quick-fix dinner ideas, check out our video recipe gallery here. Food Editor Russ Parsons and Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter show you how to fix a dozen dishes in an hour or less.
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Italian sausage and kale gratin
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh mild Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 bunches (about 1 pound) kale, stemmed and torn into large pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (such as a combination of parsley, oregano and basil)
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large, heavy-bottom saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the sausage and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the wine and cook, scraping the flavoring from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine reduces and is mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium.
4. Stir in the kale, one handful at a time. Cook the kale, stirring it in with the sausage, until it begins to wilt and turn a bright green. Continue adding kale by the handful until it is all added to the saute pan and is just wilted. Do not overcook the kale. Remove from heat and set the pan aside.
5. In a large saucepan, melt one-half cup (1 stick) butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to get rid of any lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
6. Crumble the goat cheese into the sauce and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, then stir in the sausage and kale. Remove from heat.
7. Spoon the mixture into a shallow, 2-quart gratin dish.
8. In a medium bowl, combine the Parmigiano-Reggiano, bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs. Pour over the 3 tablespoons melted butter and stir until the butter is evenly distributed to form the topping.
9. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sausage-and-kale mixture.
10. Bake the gratin until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
11. Cool slightly before serving.
Each of 8 servings: 494 calories; 14 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 40 grams fat; 21 grams saturated fat; 85 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 600 mg sodium.