Category Archives: Recipes & Cooking

Recipe: Mario’s Big Batch Chili

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I make only two recipes in big batches with the intention of freezing most of it – tomato sauce and chili.  They both freeze well, make prepping great dinners on rushed nights a breeze, and other than having to chop a few extra ingredients the overall time it takes to make them is the same.

There are 3,000 variations of chili, and I love every one of them.  My go-to chili however is easy, relatively quick, and I cheat by using a premixed chili mix (Organic of course).   If you want to kick it up a notch, check out our previous posts like this Mexican Chili Braised Short Ribs, Spicy Balsamic Chili, or Bacon Bison Chili.

Ingredients (4 servings + freezer portions for another 2 meals)
2-3lbs of ground meat (all ground beef, or all ground bison, or mix one of them 50/50 with ground pork.  If you use 3lbs of meat, it’ll be a meatier chili… 2lbs is fine)
4 -5 onions, diced (I like to use 1 or 2 spanish onions in the mix, but all yellow/white is fine as well – just use whatever is in your fridge)
6 or so carrots, peeled and sliced
6 or so celery stocks, peeled and diced
6 or so garlic cloves (more is fine, you can never have too much garlic)
1 package of chili seasoning
1 package of lardons (optional – this will give you a bacony smoky flavour)
3 cans of whole tomatoes
2 cans white Cannellini beans
1 can of Kidney beans  (listen, you need beans to make a chili… whether you use the combo of Cannellini and Kidney I’ve said, or Northern beans, or Black beans it really doesn’t matter – use what you have in your pantry.  And of course, you could use dried beans, but then there’s the process of dealing with them.  So for the purposes of this easy recipe, stick with canned beans)
OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS FOR THE TABLE:  Grated cheddar or other cheese, diced up green onions, diced up hot pepper like jalapeno, Fresh crusty bread.

  1. In a large pot on medium heat, cook the carrots, onions and celery (otherwise known as the mirepoix).   Give them time to reduce down – this is where the base flavour of the chili is born, don’t rush it.   When the carrots are soft and can be cut with a wooden spatula, it’s ready.
  2. In a separate frying pan, brown the meat.  You don’t have to do this in a separate pan, but I do it because I can get a good browning of the meat and also reduce the total cooking time to half. Add the chili seasoning.
  3. Add the meat to the large pot.   Depending on how much fat you have, you can choose to remove some.  I usually don’t.
  4. Add the whole tomatoes, but you need to squish them by hand one-by-one.  Keep your fist up/palm down so that the juices squirt down into the pot and not up on to you.  You might ask why I don’t use diced tomatoes… I simply find the resulting chili is better with hand crushed whole tomatoes.   But if you used diced tomatoes, that’ll be fine.  Do not use crushed tomatoes, the chili ends up with the consistency of a tomato sauce rather than a nice chunky chili.   Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir occasionally, taste and adjust your seasoning.   You can add more chili, kick up the heat with cayenne, or add other spices if you wish.
  6. Add the beans and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.   The longer you simmer, the thicker your chili will be.
  7. Serve with fresh bread, grated cheese,  diced up chili peppers, or whatever else you want.

 

 

Recipe: Pork Belly – 2 ways

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Everyone loves pork belly.   That’s because everyone loves bacon, and bacon is made from pork belly.   But making bacon at home is not easy; you have to brine & cure the belly, then smoke it.   Pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, is cured but not smoked and still is slightly involved.  Both of those preparations of pork belly overlook the sheer simplicity of roasting.

I can assure you that a simple roasted pork belly will be amongst the most impressive dishes you can make.  This week, we’ve selected two preparations and included instructions and video.   The first is Gordon Ramsay’s roasted pork belly – it’s simple and epic.  The second is a common chinese preparation of pork belly.

Either way, (raw) pork belly costs a fraction of the loin, ham, or even shoulder cuts of pork and is absolutely delicious and extremely easy to make.

Slow-Roasted Pork Belly – by Gordon Ramsay

  1. Score the fat side of the pork belly into diamonds
  2. Rub salt all over the belly
  3. In a roasting pan, cook  down some fresh fennel, garlic, fennel seeds, star anise, and cardomom
  4. Sear the fat side of the pork belly, and rub some fennel seeds into the cracks of the pork skin.
  5. Now with the belly in the roasting pan, fat side up, add white wine, reduce, then add stock up to the level of the skin but not covering it.
  6. Roast the pork belly for 2.5hrs at about 350C.
  7. Remove the belly, skim the fat in the remaining juice, and then bring to a simmer, add mustard, and simmer before moving to a serving jug.
  8. Slice and serve.

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Chinese-Style Juicy Braised Pork Belly with Garlic, Chili and Tofu

This recipe is a modified version of the one found here: https://kitchenstories.io/en/recipes/braised-pork-belly

Ingredients (4 servings)
9 g ginger
1 stalk green onion
2 cloves garlic
500 g pork belly
50 g sugar
1 l water
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 chilis (dried)
2 star anise
0.5 cinnamon stick
5 bay leaves
5 g soy sauce
2 tsp shaoxing wine (or a dry sherry  or Japanese Sake)
vegetable oil for frying
cornstarch

  1. Cut ginger into thin slices and green onion into large chunks. Mince garlic. Cut pork into bite-sized cubes.
  2. Fill wok one third of the way full with hot water. Place pork belly in water, bring to a boil, and cook for approx. 5 – 7 min. Strain and set aside.
  3. Add vegetable oil and sugar to wok and cook over medium-low heat for approx. 3 – 5 min. until it begins to lightly caramelize . Carefully add a bit of water to thin out caramel. Remove caramel from wok and set aside .
  4. Heat oil over medium-high heat, return pork to pan, and cook until fat has rendered, approx. 4 – 6 min. Discard excess oil from pan and then add green onion, ginger, garlic, chilis, star anise, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Return caramelized sugar to pan and cook for approx. 1 – 2 min. until all ingredients are evenly coated in sugar. Next, add soy sauce, wine, and water. Reduce heat to low and cook for approx. 1 – 2 hrs. until volume has reduced by half and sauce has thickened. Enjoy with aromatic rice

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Recipe: Ratatouille

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We received multiple positive comments regarding last week’s White Wine Braised Bison Stew with Figs and Raisins… so this week we are sticking with a stew theme but instead featuring a classic vegetarian stew.

Ratatouille was made famous by the Pixar animated movie by the same name (if you haven’t seen Ratatouille, definitely watch it – it is brilliant for adults and children alike). In that movie, a rat named Remy cooks up a version of Ratatoille called “Confit Byaldi”. Aside: famous Chef Thomas Keller was the food consultant for the movie. The Confit Byaldi is a very pretty version of Ratatouille, but the dish at its heart is a simple to make, peasant stew.

We’ve provided the recipe and a quick video to the simple version… and if you’re feeling courageous and have time on your hands, we’ve also provided a video for the Confit Byaldi version.

Either way, this dish should be in everyone’s repertoire.

 

Simple Ratatouille:

Ingredients:

  • 2 red onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 courgettes
  • 3 red or yellow peppers
  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • ½ a bunch of fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 x 400 g tin of quality plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ a lemon

Directions:

  1.  Prep your ingredients before you start – peel and cut the onions into wedges, then peel and finely slice the garlic. Trim the aubergines (eggplants) and courgettes (zucchini), deseed the peppers and chop into 2.5cm chunks. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Pick the basil leaves and set aside, then finely slice the stalks.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole pan or saucepan over a medium heat, add the chopped aubergines, courgettes and peppers (you may need to do this in batches) and fry for around 5 minutes, or until golden and softened, but not cooked through. Spoon the cooked veg into a large bowl.
  3. To the pan, add the onion, garlic, basil stalks and thyme leaves with another drizzle of oil, if needed. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until softened and golden.
  4. Return the cooked veg to the pan and stir in the fresh and tinned tomatoes, the balsamic and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Mix well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until reduced, sticky and sweet.
  6. Tear in the basil leaves, finely grate in the lemon zest and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve with a hunk of bread or steamed rice.

Pixar Style Ratatouille

 

 

Real Recipe: Bison (or Beef) Braised in White Wine, Finished with Figs and Raisins

By Mario Fiorucci, Co-Founder of The Healthy Butcher

About this recipe.

This recipe is one of my all time favourites.  Most people automatically assume that beef or bison, being big red meat, must be paired with red wine when stewed; on the contrary, white wine works wonders to bring out the delicate flavour of quality red meat.  The addition of figs and raisins brings sweetness at an equal level to the savoriness of a meat stew.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs beef stew or bison stew or beef blade steaks or bison blade steaks
  • Olive oil and butter
  • 3 carrots
  • 3-4 celery stalks
  • 6 or so garlic cloves
  • 4 cups beef stock (if bison or game stock is available, go with that!)
  • 2-3 cups white wine
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Good handful of dried figs
  • Good handful of raisins (I prefer golden or Sultanas, but any raisins will do)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A large pot, preferably an enameled cast iron French oven about 5-6 litres.

Directions:

1. Season the blade steaks generously with salt and pepper. Heat the pot and place butter and olive oil inside. Sear the meat on both sides (you’ll have to do this in batches, don’t crowd the meat), then remove from heat and set aside.

2. Add vegetables and garlic and sweat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits (deglazing).

3. Add wine and reduce at least half way.

4. Place meat back in pan, add stock to just barely cover the meat, then bring to a bare simmer (add more wine if you wish as well).  Add thyme and bay leaves, and check the seasoning of the liquid. It should be fully seasoned now so add salt and pepper if it is needed. Cover with a tight fitting lid and continue cooking on stove top or in oven at 300˚F to 325.

5. After about 2 hours, remove the meat and strain the liquid.  Add back the meat, figs and raisins, bring back to a bare simmer.   Depending on the pot you are using and the exact quantity of meat, it will another hour or two before it is finished.  Remove the meat when “fork-tender”.  The meat will get very tough during the cooking process so don’t worry.  If you are using blade steaks instead of stewing meat, they will fall apart so you may find it best to separate nice pieces of meat and serve on top of a bed of mashed potatoes or yams.

6. About 15 minutes before serving, strain some of the braising liquid into a pot or saucier and reduce it until thick; drizzle this sauce over your finished dish.  Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Real Recipe: PORK CHOP, DANDELION GREENS & MAPLE-MUSTARD

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Paleo Master Ronny Joseph (cookingprimalgourmet.com) has created the following simple, yet divine recipe.  All photos currently of Ronny Joseph.

Aside from bacon, I’m not a huge fan of pork. I’m much more of a beef guy. Also really big into fish, in case you were wondering. Setting my carnal preferences aside, the folks at RealFoodToronto.com, which is the grocery delivery service offered by The Healthy Butcher, carry some of the absolute best pork products you can find in Toronto. In fact, I’m going to venture a guess that it’s about as good as you can get anywhere in the world. They carry heritage breed pork, Berkshire and Tamworth, and the animals are raised on a happy, local, Ontario farm. By happy I mean free of antibiotics, hormones, and allowed to pasture year-round. Believe me when I say that you can taste the difference. You may already know that I am a huge fan of their grass-fed beef, which I used in my YouTube recipe on How to Cook the Best Steak. If you want to take a break from beef, this Pork chop will hit the spot.

I love these bone-in, centre-cut loin chop with the fat cap still in tact. Maximum flavour at a very reasonable price. Especially considering the quality and size of the chop. You can have a look at their website for the different prices but it was low enough that I decided to order two.

This pork is very rich in flavour, partly because of the bone and amazing fat cap. Look at that thing. It’s a crescent moon of all things right in this world. If you’re looking for something to pair the meat with, try dandelion greens. They are bitter and cut through the rich, fattiness of the pork. You’ll want something to counteract the bitterness of the greens though. I like to make a really simple vinaigrette with maple syrup and whole-grain mustard. The grains of the mustard also give a really nice texture.

If you go to Big Crow in Toronto, my favourite BBQ joint in the city, you may come across a similar dish. A few years back I had a spectacular BBQ pork belly with dandelion greens and honey mustard. This dish is my riff on the flavour combination. Sadly the dish is no longer on their rotating menu. So if you work at Big Crow and are reading this, please put it back on the menu. Pretty please!

This is also my first time cooking with my brand new Hestan Nanobond Stainless Steel Skillet. The generous folks at Hestan very kindly sent me this pan for free. It’s still too early to give the skillet a fair review but I can tell you that it worked wonders with this recipe. Very responsive, even heat distribution, comfortable handle and superior non-stick capabilities. It will be very interesting to see how this pan performs after a month or two. I will be sure to follow-up with a separate review of the pan after I have a chance to cook some more with it.

Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Cheers,

Ronny

 

Ingredients:

FOR THE MAPLE-MUSTARD:

  1. To a mason jar, add the mustard, maple syrup, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Seal the top of the jar and shake the Dickens out of it. Taste for seasoning and adjust as required. Set aside.

FOR THE PORK AND DANDELION GREENS:

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat pork chop dry with paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle one tbsp avocado oil into the pan and carefully add the pork chop by laying it away from you to avoid oil splatter.
  3. Sear the pork for 4-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness). Remove pork chop once internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 145F – use a meat thermometer for accuracy. Let rest on a wire rack or cutting board.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add dandelion greens to the skillet. If the skillet is dry, add 1 tbsp avocado oil.
  5. Season the greens with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook greens for 3-4 minutes while stirring constantly. Note: it’s ok if the leaves get a bit charred.
  6. Transfer the dandelion greens to a serving dish along with the rested pork chop. Drizzle everything with the Maple-Mustard and enjoy!

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Real Recipe: Eggplant, Feta & Crispy Lamb Crumbs

Photo by Chef Mike Ward

Photo by Chef Mike Ward

Chef Mike Ward (www.chefmikeward.com) came up with this simple, yet delicious recipe…

We all know eggplant left to it’s own devices is kinda meh. This dish however brings an entire army of monster flavours and textures. You’ll never see these humble little fruits in the same light again (yes, it’s a fruit).

 

Ingredients:

Serves 4 – prep 25 mins, cooks in 1 hour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place eggplant on parchment paper lined oven-roasting tray (slicing a slither off the skin side will help them lay flat). Drizzle soy into the scores of the eggplant, then drizzle over a healthy splash of olive oil. Don’t add salt. Roast for 40 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, in fry pan on med/high heat add a splash of olive oil, add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 to 3 mins. Then add lamb and a good pinch of salt. Fry until lamb is crispy (but not burnt). With the back of a wooden spoon crush ground lamb into a chunky crumb like texture. Reduce heat if required.
  3. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine crumbled feta, cumin, chili flakes (if desired), lemon zest and juice. Don’t add salt. Set aside.
  4. After 40 mins remove eggplant from oven and top with feta mixture. Switch oven to broil and slide back in for 10 to 15 mins (until feta has browned slightly). Remove from broiler, spoon over warm lamb crumbs, garnish with coriander and finely sliced chili peppers to taste. A drizzle of olive oil is always welcome.

Real Recipe: Chicken Barley Biryani

This deliciously simple recipe by our friend Chef Mike Ward.  Visit his website for more great recipes and videos: www.chefmikeward.com

Great cooking for me is about trying new ingredients, I created a similar dish to this recently using rice, But this time I tried it with barley. Holy smokes, what a gorgeous change. Barley has a nuttiness and texture you don’t get from rice.

Ingredients:

Serves 6 – prep 15 mins/cook time 50 mins.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350°F.
  2. In an ovenproof pan with high sides, heat a splash of olive oil on medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt/pepper, lay thighs skin-side down once pan is hot. Let chicken sear until skin is golden then flip and do the same on the other side. Don’t fuss around with them or you’ll tear the skin, place them and let them sear. Once golden brown on both sides remove from pan.
  3. Add chopped onion and chili flakes to the pan, sear until the onions are brown and crispy.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few seconds (you may need to turn the heat down).
  5. Add the chicken stock and stir with a wooden spoon. Remove all the crispy bits from pot base.
  6. Add thyme and barley, give a quick stir, place the seared chicken thighs back into the pan.
  7. Place the lid on and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove, add a little more fresh thyme for garnish and check barley for seasoning.
Chicken Barley Biryani by Chef Mike Ward

Chicken Barley Biryani by Chef Mike Ward

 

Real Recipe: Sunday Shepherd’s Pie with Yams (Paleo Friendly!)

Shepherd's Pie by Ronny Joseph

Shepherd’s Pie by Ronny Joseph

by Ronny Joseph, cookprimalgourmet.com

Sunday’s should be about relaxing and catching up on a bit of me-time. But the old adage rings true, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Unless you’ve got a game plan for the coming week of meals, you’re likely going to scramble for unhealthy options at the last minute. If you’ve ever meal prepped before you know that some foods simply don’t stand the test of time and taste goes out the window by day 2.  My absolute favorite way to avoid this is to cook a big shepherd’s pie. Not only does it taste better the second and third day, you can portion-out individual servings and freeze them for a few weeks if needed. Problem solved! Once again, swap traditional potatoes with Japanese yams for a delicious, low-glycemic alternative.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a pinch of salt and add-in the cubed yams – cook until fork tender (approx. 12-15 min).  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the yams to a food processor along with 1.5 tbsp ghee and a pinch of salt.  Purée until very smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a large Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed stock-pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle ½ tbsp. avocado oil and add-in the ground lamb – cook until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Lower the heat to med-low and discard all but 3 tbsp of the rendered fat in the pot. Add-in the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Cook until the carrots have softened (approx. 12-15 min), stirring occasionally. Add-in the zucchini and garlic and cook an additional 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add-in spicy paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to coat and toast the spices for 60 seconds. Add the browned lamb back to the pot along with the chicken stock and chopped parsley. Bring everything to a steady simmer and allow the liquid to reduce by half.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, spoon the meat mixture into a shallow baking dish or casserole and spread mashed yams overtop. Place the baking dish onto a baking sheet to catch any spill over from the juices. (Tip: To achieve a fancier look, spread the yams using a piping bag or heavy-duty zip-top bag fitted with a metal tip.)
  6. Bake at 400F approx. 20-25 minutes or until yams are golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Real Recipe: Burrito Bowl

Burrito Bowl, by Michelle Tirmandi

Burrito Bowl, by Michelle Tirmandi

Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist Michelle Tirmandi (michellenutrition.ca) brings us this quick and easy Burrito Bowl recipe.  This is truly a go-to quick, easy and healthy dish that can be changed up depending on what you have in your fridge and pantry.

This recipe takes 30 minutes start to finish, including cooking the rice.  And if that’s not reason enough to give it a try, I will let you know that it’s colourful, plant-based ingredients are filled with phytonutrient power:

  • Black Beans: contain fibre, folate (mega important for mamas-to-be), and a decent amount of protein to help with blood sugar stabilization.
  • Cilantro: contains a high amount of antioxidants (required for healthy, glowing skin) and also acts as a natural cleansing agent, specifically binding to heavy metals and helping them to be removed from the tissues.
  • Tomatoes: a very rich source of antioxidants including Lycopene and Vitamin C (the precursor to collagen production). They also contain Vitamin A which helps to keep your hair shiny and strong.
  • Avocados: an excellent source of good fats, as well as folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fibre (a major pregnancy power food!).
    Bell Peppers:  an excellent source of carotenoids, which help to protect the skin, tissue and cells from environmental toxins and disease.
  • Brown Rice: contains fibre (important for natural detoxification) as well as the beautifying & anti-cancerous antioxidant, Selenium.

Ingredients for the Burrito Bowl:

 Ingredients for the Seasoning Mix:

Directions:

  1. Add 1 cup rice and 2 cups water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, chop the onions and peppers.
  3. Chop tomatoes, avocado , cilantro, set aside.
  4. Shred the cheese, set aside.
  5. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil to a pan over medium heat and sauté the onions for 4-5 minutes. Add the peppers and stir together.
  6. Add all of the spices together and stir in to the onion and pepper mixture, continuing string for another few minutes until everything is well mixed.
  7. Heat the corn and beans in a separate pan.
  8. Once the rice is cooked add all ingredients together and enjoy!

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Real Recipe: Kale, Sausage & Pepper Skillet

Photo by Ronny Joseph

Photo by Ronny Joseph

Primal Gourmet writer Ronny Joseph brings us this simple, delicious and healthy paleo recipe.

This kale, sausage and pepper skillet recipe is a perfect example of how you can make a delicious and healthy meal with plenty of leftovers in around 30 minutes. It’s especially great for anyone trying to work more greens into their diet. Braising roughage like kale, spinach or collards softens the leaves, gets rid of excess moisture, and saves your jaw from all that unnecessary chewing. Feel free to use your favorite sausages as long as they are free of junk like wheat-fillers, sugars and preservatives. Best bet is to get sausages that are made by a quality butcher in-house, like The Healthy Butcher or RealFoodToronto.com.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F
  2. Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add 2 tbsp EVOO. Add sausages to the skillet and brown for 4-5 minutes or until a golden brown crust is formed. Flip and brown the other side for another 4-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer sausages to a plate and set aside for the moment.
  4. Drain all but 3 tbsp of the rendered juices in the skillet. Add in the onions, peppers, garlic and chilies. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sautée until the onions are translucent and the peppers have softened (approx. 7-10 minutes). Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
  5. Add 1 tsp fennel seeds and cook for 1 minute to release their essential oils.
  6. Add 1/2 cup water and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the skillet with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  7. Working in batches, start to add in the kale 1-2 handfuls at a time. Don’t worry, as the kale heats, it will significantly reduce in volume. Continue to toss it with the hot vegetables and water until it all fits into the skillet. Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once all of the kale is all in, lay the sausages overtop of the wilted greens and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Cook approx. 15minutes at 400F (cooking time varies according to size of sausages and heat of oven).
  9. Remove from oven and serve directly in the pan alongside some baked sweet potato or cauliflower rice.

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