If You Give a Gal an Idea, or Using Every KitchenAid Attachment You Own

Sometimes there’s a serendipitous weekend where things don’t go as you planned, but it was an terrific weekend anyway. I had hoped that it would be a lovely weekend outside. Alas, it was fairly cool outside. [Note to Mother Nature: it’s May. In this part of the world, most of us would like to wear shorts now!] Not a great weekend to work outdoors in the garden, nor ride bikes, or even run. Nope, this was an inside weekend.

I had been wanting to try some new recipes. Since the weather wasn’t a distraction, I decided this weekend would be a great weekend to try making either some chicken sausage or some sort of ravioli.

You know that children’s book, “If You Give A Moose A Muffin?” The one where they give a moose a muffin, and he needs jam, and a knife, and he gets all distracted and messes up the whole house before finally eating the muffin?  Wait ‘til you hear how I got from chicken sausage to ravioli…

I told my husband about my (generally half-baked) idea to create with food. He decided it was a good idea, too. We’d have homemade chicken sausages with collards and sweet potatoes from our CSA box for dinner on Saturday, then make some sort of ravioli on Sunday. Off to the store to get some supplies: some chicken and some snacks would do it. (Yes, I have sausage casings on hand, as well as everything else needed. Really.) Of course, now that we’re at the store, the 7 layer dip sounds really good. And then we need some tortilla chips to go with it. And garlic. I ran out of garlic (no, not for the dip, for the sausages!). And coffee…it’s on sale! (Oops…sold out. It was a really good sale.)

Back from the store, we start boning the chicken quarters to grind for the sausages; here’s the recipe I used from Food Mayhem. It took a while to cut up the chicken! I notice the knives need to be sharpened, so I take a few minutes to do that. Soon we have reduced six pounds of chicken quarters to about three pounds of meat and skin. To grind them successfully, they should be slightly frozen, so off to the freezer. While I’m poking around the freezer, my husband takes out the 7 layer dip and opens the chips. Mmmmm…tasty! I work on grinding the spices together with the garlic for the sausages. That dip is pretty tasty, y’know.

Once the chicken is a bit “crunchy,” it’s time to grind it. There’s something zen about grinding meat with a KitchenAid stand mixer grinder attachment. I slather the garlic/spice concoction on the semi-frozen chicken and pop it in the grinder. Eventually I have a bowl full of chicken with a wonderful garlicy, herby aroma. I find a couple of lengths of sausage casings, rinse them out, then use the stuffer attachment on my KitchenAid. Three pounds of ground chicken becomes thirteen meaty links.

Now…to grill outside (in the cool weather with rain threatening) or to pan fry; that is the question. Neither my husband nor I can make a decision. Alas, we’ve eaten entirely too much dip. We’re simply not hungry. Into the fridge go the sausages for dinner tomorrow night. Instead, we watch the movie Lincoln (it’s a good movie, too).

We wake up early on Sunday, go to Bojangle’s for breakfast, and try to determine what to do after we work out for an hour. After we finish our swim, we’re still debating. Finally, we decide to tackle the ravioli. But what flavor to make? I’m voting for sweet potato, as I’m eyeing the seven sweet potatoes from our CSA box. My better half is looking on the Internet, and finds an Italian sausage, ricotta, and spinach ravioli. Sounds great! Would he mind if I used the chicken sausages? And y’know, I’ve been wanting to make my own ricotta cheese – it’s not that hard! And I’ve got turnip greens from the CSA – can I substitute? To my surprise, he’s agreeable to all of this! Off to the store again, for milk, cream, flour, and more snacks.

Before we leave, I get the collards and sweet potatoes baking for dinner. We come back with our ingredients, and I set off to heat the milk and make some ricotta cheese. It’s pretty simple: bring 9 cups of whole milk, 1.5 cups of heavy cream, and a teaspoon of salt slowly up to 190F over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the stove, then mix 3T bottled lemon juice and 5T distilled vinegar (or a similar amount of fresh squeezed lemon juice, if you happened to remember to purchase some on your trip) and add to the hot milk mixture and stir a couple of times. Wait 5 minutes, then strain. You can use cheesecloth, or I prefer lining a colander with coffee filters and setting this inside a larger bowl to catch the whey. [If anyone has any idea what to do with the whey, other than “add it to baked goods,” please let me know!] The directions said to strain for an hour or so for a creamy spread for bread, or about 2 hours for a dryer texture suitable for cooking.

While the milk was heating, I was busy multitasking and starting the pasta dough. I used 6 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, 7 eggs, 6T olive oil, and added a little water at the end until it came together in a ball. My trusty KitchenAid was fitted with its dough hook, and it made short work of turning the raw ingredients into dough. I covered it with a damp cloth to let it rest so the gluten can develop.

I pan fried the chicken sausages, 4 for dinner, 4 for the ravioli. Mmmmm….they smell fantastic! As soon as they were finished, I served them with the sweet potatoes that had been baking long enough for the sugars to caramelize and the collards that had been simmering in the delectable bacon-y pot liquor. The chicken sausages exceeded our expectations. They tasted so fresh and far less fatty than the store-bought kind. I will definitely be making these again!

After dinner, the ricotta was well drained – and absolutely delicious! That was easy enough, I’ll be making it instead of buying store-bought. The taste difference is amazing! I put half of the ricotta cheese in a big bowl, and added the remaining chicken sausages that I cut into small pieces. I added some shredded parmesan cheese (shredded on Friday with the KitchenAid shredder that is taking up space in the top rack of my dishwasher, right next to the grinder and stuffer attachments). I cleaned the turnip greens and sautéed them for a few minutes until they were bright green and tender; chopped ‘em up and added them to the sausage and cheese mixture. [If you’re following along for the recipe: that’s about 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese, four chicken sausages finely chopped, a mess (that means “bunch”) of cooked turnip greens, and a generous cup of shredded parmesan cheese.]

The trusty KitchenAid was loaded up with the pasta rollers, rolling out the ravioli dough into long sheets. Tablespoons of filling are dropped onto the sheets of dough and an egg wash added to adhere the top sheet to the bottom (trying carefully to squeeze out as much air as possible). About 30 minutes later, I have lots of ravioli! I used about half of the dough, so I used the noodle cutters to cut the remainder of the dough into noodles.

I now have lots of ravioli for dinner tomorrow night, along with the leftover collards. I’ll make a light sauce with the tomatoes from my CSA box. Plus there are still 5 chicken sausages left, about a pound of fresh egg noodles, and about a cup and a half of fresh ricotta begging to be put on toast for breakfast.

It’s a great weekend when you can turn chicken quarters, milk, flour, eggs, collards, turnip greens, and sweet potatoes into fresh chicken sausages, fresh ricotta, sausage and greens ravioli, and fresh egg noodles — enough for at least four nights of dinners! An even better weekend when you can use every single KitchenAid attachment you own!

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