When we gather with my husband’s extended family for Thanksgiving, this is the dish that everyone loves and that I look forward to the most. Plus, I’ve been a personal trainer almost as long as I’ve been going to this gathering and a flavorful dish filled with quality, nutritious ingredients is a very welcome treat!
So here’s the general idea of what’s inside.
- Wild Rice
- Sausage – hot
This is what I had in my head when I headed to the store with no recipe, just fond memories of delicious ingredients and a plan to call the chef, Aunt Beth, for the details later! I knew there had to be more to the recipe to be so flavorful.
Truth be told, I have asked for this recipe in the past. I recall the past three Thanksgivings telling Aunt Beth how much I love this dish and her telling me how simple it is. She then proceeds to rattle off a basic list of ingredients and directions and every year I foolishly think that somehow I will retain enough of it without writing it down to be successful. I would call it silly but having done it many times, it’s just insanity at this point.
So I put in a call the night before Thanksgiving. Did I have the right ingredients? How exactly should I make this dish? Could she email me the recipe? Much to my surprise, there is no written recipe!!! However, she kindly spent 15 minutes sharing the recipe details and rough measurements that were fresh in her head from having made it for her own, pandemically small Thanksgiving the day prior as I took passable notes.
If you like exact measurements, you will hate this recipe! If you can make do with ball-park measurements and are in search of a healthy recipe that has all the holiday flavor vibes, you will love it. The recipe below makes A LOT, like almost a full crockpot. Surely enough to share at a family gathering (when those become a thing again). My plan was to make the full amount, eat some that week and immediately freeze the rest for a delicious side dish I could easily pull out and heat anytime.
- 2 lbs. hot or sage ground sausage (like Jimmy Dean)
- 4 cups uncooked Native American Wild Rice, roughly 2 packs
- 1 & 1/2 packs celery, chopped
- 1 & 1/2 packs matchstick carrots
- 4 packs of fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped (4 of the small packs or roughly 1 of the huge packs like from Costco)
- White wine
- Chicken stock base – use Better Than Bullion brand for great flavor
- Poultry seasoning
- Fresh sage, minced (can use dried sage)
- Hot/Red pepper flakes
- In a large stock pot, add enough water per the package directions to cook 4 cups of wild rice. Boil the rice like pasta until the rice cracks open, about 50 minutes to an hour. Once rice is popped open but still a little chewy, strain the rice and add it to the crockpot. I was told to specifically use Native American wild rice because it pops open better than other kinds.
- Set a large wok on the stove and a crockpot on the counter. Place each ingredient as it is finished cooking into the crockpot. This will be where you’ll add all the cooked ingredients and seasonings, mix and heat to bring everything together. Cooking each ingredient separately ensures more even cooking.
- Heat the wok to medium high heat and add the sausage. Stir and chop into crumbles. Once cooked thoroughly, drain the fat in a colander. Turn the crockpot to low heat and add the sausage once drained.
- Place the wok back on the heat and add enough butter to sauté all of the chopped celery. Cook to preferred consistency, like slightly al dente and transfer to the crockpot. (I don’t like crunchy celery so it worked well form to cook the celery and carrots together as pictured above).
- Place the wok back on the heat and add enough butter to sauté all of the chopped mushrooms. Cook to preferred consistency. I like to see the majority of the mushrooms browning before transferring to the crockpot.
- Place the wok back on the heat and add enough butter to sauté all of the matchstick carrots. Cook until softening but still al dente then transfer to the crockpot.
- Once the wild rice is popped open but still a little chewy, strain the rice and add it to the crockpot.
- Place the wok back on the heat to make a slurry of sorts (a semi-liquid mixture). Add approximately 1 cup of white wine, 1/2 cup of water and 1-2 Tablespoons of Better Than Bullion chicken base. Go easy on the bullion if you’re sensitive to salty foods.Heat and deglaze the pan of any flavorful bits from the previous items cooked in it. Add 1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning and 1 Tablespoon or more minced fresh sage. Continue to stir until the mixture reduces down quite a bit and becomes thicker but still liquid, this will take several minutes.
- Add about half of the slurry to the crockpot mixture and mix thoroughly. Taste test and add more if needed. Add pepper flakes to taste. The slurry packs a surprising amount of flavor so add and taste until it’s just right.
- Allow rice mixture to cool before scooping 2 cups into quart sized freezer bags, squeeze all the air out and seal. Place in freezer.
- When ready to enjoy, pull from the freezer 1 day prior in order to thaw in the fridge. Heat in a small saucepan over medium heat with the lid on.
- The above measurements left me 7 bags of 2 cup freezer portions along with 2-3 cups I did not freeze.
Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.