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Monday, June 8, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Apple Sausage Pasta

Do you ever find something on sale at the grocery store that sounds so good you can't pass it up, but then you get it home and have no idea how to use it? I do it all the time. I saw this chicken and apple sausage for a really great price (under $2 for the 1 lb package) and originally thought it would be great to just fry in the skillet and eat for lunch with some fruit and cheese. Then I got it home and lost my nerve to taste it so I threw it in the freezer until I could find a recipe for it.

Fast forward a month and that sausage seemed to be taunting me from the freezer so I turned to Pinterest. I found this awesome twist on one of my favorite dishes, Spicy Sausage Pasta, and thawed those sausages out to give it a try.

I was still a bit hesitant about the sausages. I didn't know if they would be super sweet or if they would have a different texture from the turkey smoked sausage I usually use. I was also concerned about combining apples with the zesty diced tomatoes and green chilies.

Here's what I discovered:

*Chicken and apple sausage is awesome! It has the same general texture and flavor as turkey smoked sausage with just a tiny bit of sweetness to it. In fact, the sweetness is almost an aftertaste, but a good one.
*Apples play well with tomatoes and green chilies. The sweetness of the apple tempers the spice of the green chilies and the tartness of the tomatoes. In the interest of full disclosure I will add that I used a Gala apple instead of a Granny Smith which probably added more sweetness but it was a sweetness that I personally enjoyed. I might try it again with the Granny Smith for a different texture and flavor, but the Gala worked fine for me.
*The cheese is completely optional. I love cheese, don't get me wrong. I just think it's unnecessary in this recipe. I might feel differently if I could finish it off under the broiler like the original recipe recommends, but I don't have an oven-safe skillet. I'll stick with the cheese-free version for now.

This is a fantastic spin on a recipe I already loved. I will be making this again as soon as that chicken and apple sausage goes on sale, and next time it won't spend nearly two months in the fridge before I get around to cooking it.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Apple Sausage Pasta

Source: Inspired by Charm

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb chicken and apple sausage, sliced
1 small onion, diced (optional)
1 small granny smith apple, chopped (or any other firm, tart apple)
2 cloves  garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup milk (the recipe says cream but I used 2% and it was just fine)
8 oz pasta shapes
1 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is beginning to soften and the sausage is mostly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the apple and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, just until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the diced tomatoes and green chilies, chicken broth, milk, and pasta.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low/medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender.

Remove from the heat and stir in about half of the cheese. Sprinkle the other half of the cheese on top. If you are using an oven-safe skillet feel free to stick it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese, but if not just give it a few minutes to melt and then serve.

Serve warm with bread to sop up the sauce.

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