Chicken sausage and cauliflower mash form a healthy spin on a classic dish

Chicken Sausage and Mashed Cauliflower. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Chicken Sausage and Mashed Cauliflower. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Published May 29 2018

Raise your hand if you like eating meat but donít love preparing it in your own kitchen.

Itís the raw meat factor, for sure, but itís also that it can be easy to undercook or overcook, and hard to think of innovative ways to serve our favorite kinds. I have cooked chicken breast every way imaginable, and have lately been searching for another protein to work into the rotation.

Bangers and Mash, a traditional British dish of sausages and mashed potatoes, was top of my mind a couple of weeks ago, when I was putting together our section that featured suggestions for a British meal to celebrate the royal wedding in London.

I set out to create a less sinful version using chicken sausages, which were calling to me from the refrigerated aisle during a recent Sunday grocery run. It helps that some brands like Publix and Al Fresco now have tantalizing flavors like Apple and Gouda and Sweet Italian.

Chicken sausage is a lazy way to make sure you have a tasty protein on your plate. For one thing, many brands are already cooked. It really just needs to be warmed; I like to cook it in a skillet with olive oil so that it gets nice and browned and caramelized on all sides. And even the more plain varieties are packed with flavor.

For the mashed component, I swapped potatoes for cauliflower, which was one of the first things my husband cooked for me when we were dating and has been a favorite carb alternative in our household ever since. I love that with a little bit of fat, in the form of butter and cheese, it blends effortlessly into a creamy puree. Itís not exactly like mashed potatoes, but thatís a good thing. The unique texture and slightly sweet flavor bring their own special something to the dish.

Cooking hack: You could definitely use store-bought mashed cauliflower for this recipe, which is everywhere these days, and bring the cooking time of this meal down to about 15 minutes. I recently tried Alexiaís new frozen mashed cauliflower with sea salt and was impressed with the simple ingredient list and texture of the cauliflower.

This dish is a sort of blank canvas on which you can heap lots of other accoutrements. Diced red bell peppers would be a solid addition to the sausage mixture, as would tomatoes or summer squash. Go heavy on the fresh herbs if you have them, and a sprinkling of a hard, nutty freshly grated cheese like Parmesan to finish things off.