Italian Chicken and Sausage Casserole

Yum yum! We’re having Italian Chicken and Sausage Casserole for dinner tonight! We always look forward to this dish. It is tasty and healthy, and I love the combination of peppers, tomatoes and olives.

The meat in this casserole is a mixture of bone-in chicken pieces (such as drums and thighs) and sausage of your choice (bratwurst, sweet or spicy Italian etc), provided its not pre-cooked sausage. This gives you the flexibility to adjust the meat to whatever your family prefers – kids will only eat the sausages? Then throw in extra sausages, but make sure you still use some bone-in chicken pieces as well, because the bones and cartilage will impart gelatin, minerals and other good stuff to the sauce.

Italian Chicken and Sausage Casserole

2 tablespoons oil (ghee/olive oil)
5-6 chicken pieces – drums or thighs (with skin and bone)
2 uncooked sausages (such as bratwurst, sweet or spicy Italian), cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (approx)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 14oz can tomatoes
4 tablespoons tomate paste
1-2 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sugar (Sucanat or palm sugar)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
10-12 black or kalmata olives, pitted and cut into quarters

1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pot/dutch oven.
2. Add chicken pieces, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and brown on all sides. Add the chunks of sausage to brown at the same time – or brown the chicken and sausage in batches depending on how much you have.
3. Add onion and garlic and stir in with the meat.
4. Sprinkle over the chopped celery, herbs, salt and pepper.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.
6. With the lid on (I always leave it open a crack), turn down to low and let it simmer gently for an hour.
7. After an hour, add the green bell pepper and olives.
8. Remove the lid and simmer (with the lid off) for another half hour to reduce and thicken the sauce.
9. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding the sugar if the sauce needs mellowing.

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