I am a list person. I have lists all over my house… things to do, things to cook, etc. I love a good list. (I especially love crossing items off of these lists!) This simple version of this typically complex dish was part of Bon Appétit’s list of the Most Popular Chicken Dishes of 2019. Bon Appétit loves lists too. 🙂
This dish is all about the rice, and I had some special Basmati rice given to me by a friend just waiting for an occasion to shine. Perfect. I loved the layers of flavor and different textures in the finished dish. It is loaded with spices, nuts, dried fruit, and topped with caramelized onions.
The raita and the chicken (in marinade) are prepared a day in advance. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in and modified the proportions. The creamy raita is essential to the finished dish. We also ate it with roasted cauliflower on the side. It was buttery, rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Onion Raita and Chicken Marinade:
½ tsp granulated sugar
1½ cups whole-milk yogurt, divided (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 red onion
1 4″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamon
10 boneless, skinless, chicken things or 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 dried bay leaves
For the Rice and Assembly:
¾ cup kosher salt
2 cups Basmati rice, preferably aged, such as Daawat (I used Aahu Barah)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup melted ghee
½ cup mixed coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and/or walnuts
1 T granulated sugar
¾ cup mixed dried fruit, such as prunes, apricots, pineapple, and/or cranberries (I used chopped dried mango and dried cranberries)
To Make the Onion Raita:
Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp) into a small bowl.
Squeeze in juice from one half of the lemon.
Add sugar, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.
Finely chop one-quarter of the onion and stir into raita.
Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or chill up to overnight.
To Marinate the Chicken:
Purée ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, juice of remaining lemon half, and remaining three-quarters of onion, ½ cup yogurt, 2 tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.) Transfer to a medium bowl.
If using bone-in chicken thighs, pull skin off chicken thighs and discard.
Transfer the chicken to the bowl with ginger mixture, add bay leaves, and toss to combine.
Cover with a plate and let marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or preferably chill up to overnight.
To Make the Rice and Assemble the Dish:
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
Bring salt and 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large pot over high heat.
Meanwhile, place rice in a medium bowl. Cover with cool tap water, use your hand to gently agitate the grains, and drain. Repeat at least 2 more times until water runs clear enough to see your hand through it.
Add drained rice all at once to boiling salted water. Initially the water will stop boiling and the rice will sink to the bottom. Stir a few times with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, then stop stirring. After a couple of minutes, the water will return to a simmer and a few grains will begin appearing near the surface. The rice is ready to drain when the grains have nearly doubled in size, the water returns to a boil, and most of the rice rapidly bubbles to the surface. When you bite into a grain, you want to see a hard white core; just like pasta cooked al dente, the grains should remain firm. Depending on the quality of your rice, this can take anywhere from 3–7 minutes, so begin tasting the grains early. (I boiled my rice for 7 minutes.)
Drain rice and rinse with water until cool. Set aside.
Cook onion and ghee in a 4–6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until onions are golden and crisp, 8–10 minutes. The sides and bottom of pot may brown and even develop some char. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a plate. (I used a 6-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
Reduce heat to medium-low and toast nuts in ghee in same pot, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and darkened in color, 2–3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer nuts to another plate; set aside for serving. (I used raw slivered almonds and raw walnut pieces.)
Transfer half of ghee in pot to a small bowl; set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle sugar over remaining ghee in pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar forms deeply caramelized clumps, 3–5 minutes.
Add chicken, scraping in marinade, and bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat and arrange chicken and marinade in an even layer.
Sprinkle with dried fruit and one-third of fried onions.
Top with rice.
Poke 5–7 holes into rice with the back of a wooden spoon until you reach the chicken. Drizzle reserved ghee over and top with another third of fried onions.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and return to medium heat. Cook until you can hear the chicken gurgling in the pot and wisps of steam just begin to escape from lid, about 5 minutes. Do not open the lid at any point! If you peek, you will risk losing too much steam, preventing the rice from properly cooking through.
Transfer pot to oven and bake, covered, 45 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before uncovering.
Using a large spoon or small plate, gently scoop rice off chicken and transfer to a platter. Carefully spoon chicken thighs and any sauce over rice. Top with reserved fried nuts and remaining onions.
Serve alongside onion raita while ghee is still hot and rice is steamy.
My husband and I traditionally celebrate our wedding anniversary by having an extravagant dinner at VOLT in Frederick, Maryland. It is the restaurant of Bryan Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame. On our 19th anniversary, we brought home an autographed cookbook after enjoying our lovely meal. Last Thanksgiving, I made two side dishes from this special book. ❤
This stuffing recipe was adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio. I modified the proportions and used prepared stock as well as store-bought sausage as shortcuts.
Both the cornbread and the poultry seasoning can be made days in advance, which is always helpful. It was interesting to me that the cornbread was made without a leavening agent, making it more dense than a typical cornbread. The stuffing had a deep celery flavor from the celery seed and chopped celery. Nice.
Yield: 10 servings
For the Cornbread:
nonstick cooking spray
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
5 T (1/3 cup, 75g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp (9g) fine sea salt
3 large eggs
2 tsp (12g) molasses, honey, or sorghum syrup
1/4 tsp (0.6g) freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup (240g) buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 1/2 T whole milk
2 2/3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (276g) cornmeal
For the Poultry Seasoning:
2 tsp (2g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp (0.5g) finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp (1g) finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp (1g) finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp (2g) ground celery seed
1 tsp (2g) ground coriander
1 tsp (2g) onion powder
1/2 tsp (3g) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (1.5g) freshly ground black pepper
For the Topping:
2/3 cup (50g) panko breadcrumbs
2 1/2 T (25g) poultry seasoning (above)
2 T unsalted butter, melted
For the Stuffing:
nonstick cooking spray
3 T extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
4 1/2 cups (300g) freshly baked and cubed cornbread
1 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 to 6 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken or turkey stock (preferably homemade)
For the Royale:
3 large eggs
1 cup (240g) milk or heavy cream
To Make the Cornbread:
Preheat the oven heat to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray or butter the bottom and sides of two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. (One 13-by-18 inch casserole pan can be substituted.)
Put the sugar, 5 tablespoons butter and the salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding another.
Beat in the molasses and nutmeg.
Reduce the mixer to low speed, add the buttermilk and milk, and beat until incorporated.
Add the flour and cornmeal, and beat on low speed until well combined.
Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is well-blended and thick, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times, 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour the batter onto the prepared baking dishes. Tap each dish on the counter to settle the batter.
Bake until the cornbread springs back lightly when pressed with your finger, 22 minutes on convection or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven.
Cool completely in the dish on a wire rack.
The cornbread may be made 3 days in advance, covered with plastic wrap, and held at room temperature.
To Make the Poultry Seasoning:
Combine the parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme in a small bowl.
Add the celery seeds, coriander, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
The seasoning can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
To Make the Topping:
Put the panko breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and add the poultry seasoning (the remainder may be used to season gravies and other holiday dishes).
Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with your fingers to moisten the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
To Make the Stuffing:
Preheat the oven heat to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray a 9-by-13-inch flameproof casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Cube the cornbread and put into a large mixing bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up into small pieces with the back of a spoon so it cooks evenly, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the cornbread.
Return the same skillet with the drippings to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the carrots and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the cornbread and sausage.
Put the eggs in a blender to make the Royale. Start the blender on low-speed and mix until the eggs are just blended.
Put the milk or cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and heat until a thermometer registers 180 degrees F. Add to the eggs in the blender and mix on low speed until homogenized.
Add the egg mixture to the cornbread mixture.
Add 2 cups of stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Fold everything together with a rubber spatula until fully combined and the stock has mostly been absorbed. The stuffing will seem a little too wet before baking.
Spread the stuffing in the baking dish. Lightly tap the dish on the counter to even out the mixture in the pan.
Add the topping, letting it fall from your fingers in an even layer across the top.
Bake the stuffing until very hot and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.
Turn the broiler on high, and broil the stuffing until the crust is GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious), 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve family-style from the casserole dish.
Note: When blending hot liquids, first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open; this will prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters and pulse until smooth.
Baked chicken and rice dishes are an absolute favorite in my house, so I was immediately drawn to this dish adapted from Diana Henry’s From the Oven to the Table: Simple Dishes that Look After Themselves, contributed to The New York Times by Margaux Laskey.
This Mexican-inspired dish was incredibly flavorful. I loved serving it with all of the garnishes as well. We ate it with sautéed greens on the side. Fabulous!
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
8 to 10 (5 pounds) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2T extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil
1large yellow, Vidalia or white onion, chopped
2green or red bell peppers, halved, seeded and sliced (I used my CSA long green peppers)
2 ½cups chicken stock
2red Fresno chiles or jalapeños, halved, seeded and chopped, plus one sliced chile for garnish
1(3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken in half
6garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
1tsp ground cumin
1(15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
6 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1cup white Basmati rice, rinsed in a sieve until the water runs clear
3 T chopped cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, pickled chiles, sliced fresh chiles, sour cream and sliced avocado, for serving, as desired
Heat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet (the pan size is very important) over medium-high. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
In two batches, brown the chicken on both sides to give it good color, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion and bell peppers to the pan and sauté until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.
Meanwhile, add the chiles, cinnamon, garlic and cumin to the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the black beans and cherry tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the rice on top in an even layer. (It’s important that the black beans are beneath the rice and chicken. The rice will burn otherwise.)
Add the stock and return the chicken to the pan, skin-side up.
Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. The chicken should be lovely and golden, the stock should be absorbed and the rice should be tender.
Sprinkle with the cilantro.
Serve with lime wedges, pickled chiles, sliced fresh chiles, sour cream and avocado (squeeze some lime juice over the avocados in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper), as desired.
I used to make my husband a dish similar to this WAY back in the day before we were married. He was thrilled with this upgraded version.
I was inspired to recreate the dish after seeing a creamy chicken and mushroom casserole post on Kitchen Sanctuary.com. It just looked like it should be served over waffles! The cornbread waffle recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour.com. They were absolutely amazing. (We will be eating them for breakfast in the near future.) To make it a complete meal, I layered steamed baby greens between the saucy chicken and crispy waffle.
I adapted the sauce recipe by using chicken thighs, cremini mushrooms, fresh thyme, increasing the garlic, and omitting the celery salt. I used sweet onions in the sauce but would possibly substitute shallots next time. To make the waffle batter, I measured the liquid by volume and the dry ingredients by weight. Perfection.
We ate this dish for dinner but it would also be wonderful served for brunch.
For the Creamy Chicken-Mushroom Sauce:
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,chopped into big chunks or strips
9 T all-purpose flour
1tsp coarse salt
2 T canola oil
2 T unsalted butter
3 yellow or sweet onions,peeled and finely diced (can substitute shallots)
10clovesgarlic,peeled and minced
5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1tspdried thyme
1 quart chicken stock
3 Tfreshly squeezed lemon juice
24 oz cremini mushrooms,thickly sliced
6 T cornstarch (mixed with 10 T pan sauce – to make a slurry)
fresh parsley, minced
Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with 6 tablespoons of the flour plus 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Toss to cover the chicken in the flour and seasoning.
Finely chop the garlic and onions/shallots in a food processor.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and add the chicken. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.) Brown all over (it doesn’t need to be cooked through at this point). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side.
Place the butter in the same pan and melt over a low-medium heat.
Add the onions, garlic, and thyme sprigs and cook for 5 minutes until the onion softens, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle on the remaining 3 T of flour and stir for a minute (it will be lumpy).
Pour in a splash of the stock and stir, using a whisk until combined. Continue to add in stock, a little at a time, while stirring, until all the stock is added and you have a smooth sauce with no lumps.
Remove thyme sprigs.
Add the milk, bring to a boil, and continue to stir over the heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice.
Add the mushrooms, the chicken and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Place a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the cream, then heat through for a further 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and test for seasoning. Add a little more salt and pepper if needed.
If you’d like the sauce to be any thicker, then at this point you can stir in the slurry. Add a little splash at a time, while stirring, until you get the thickness you want. (I incorporated all of it.)
Serve garnished with minced parsley, as desired.
For the Cornmeal Waffles:
1 3/4 cups (397 g) buttermilk
2 large eggs
5 T (85 g) butter, melted and cooled OR 3/8 cup (74 g) vegetable oil
177 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
138 g (1 cup) yellow cornmeal
25 g (2 T) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter or oil.
In a separate bowl, blend together the dry ingredients, then quickly and gently combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Let the batter sit for 10 minutes, to allow the cornmeal to soften.
Drop the batter by 1/3-cupfuls onto a hot waffle iron, and cook it until steam stops seeping from the iron, about 5 minutes.
Set aside on a cooling rack to allow steam to release. Keep warm in an oven or warming drawer until ready to serve.
For the Steamed Greens:
4-8 cups mixed baby greens (kale, chard, spinach)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Microwave greens in a covered glass dish with 2 T water for about 4 minutes, or until wilted. (Alternatively, greens can be steamed on the stove top or sautéed.)
Season with salt and pepper.
Top 1-2 waffles with steamed greens.
Smother with creamy chicken-mushroom sauce, garnish with minced parsley. Serve immediately.
I have made this wonderfully cheesy dish a couple of times already- just to get the proportions right. I knew that I had to increase the amount of simple and flavorful sauce after making it the first time.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I lightened the dish by baking the cauliflower after coating it instead of frying it. We ate it over linguini fini with sautéed broccoli rabe on the side. Wonderful!
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Simple Tomato Sauce:
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red Chile flakes, optional
3 (28-ounce) cans whole or diced plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
3 sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Parmesan rind, optional
In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot with a glass lid.)
Add garlic and cook until just lightly golden.
Add chile flakes if desired and cook 30 seconds.
Stir in tomatoes and juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
Bring sauce to a simmer, add the Parmesan rind, if using, and cook until sauce is thick and tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep at a steady simmer. If using whole plum tomatoes, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down.
Remove sauce from heat and discard basil or bay leaf.
For the Cauliflower & To Finish the Dish:
3/4cup all-purpose flour
4large eggs, lightly beaten
3cups panko or plain unseasoned bread crumbs
Kosher salt, as needed
freshly ground black pepper, as needed
1 large or 2 small/medium heads cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 2-inch florets (I used 1 small and 1 medium)
Ina Garten uses the genius idea of roasting all of the vegetables in this lasagna filling, as well as using no-boil lasagna noodles, to remove the excess liquid that often makes a vegetable lasagna too watery. Perfect comfort food.
This recipe was adapted from Make It Ahead: a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten, via The Kitchn, contributed by Emma Christensen. I used a mandoline to slice the eggplant and zucchini. I also increased the garlic and goat cheese, modified the technique, and used the noodles without pre-soaking them.
It was very cheesy and indulgent so we gobbled it up with a giant green salad. 😉
Yield: Serves 10
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 medium/large), unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick using a mandoline
3/4 pound zucchini (2 medium/large), unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick using a mandoline
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 T dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
12-14 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Trader Joe’s)
16 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta
10 ounces creamy garlic-and-herb goat cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 1/2 cups, 40 oz, bottled marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Italian Marinara with Barolo Wine)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, very thinly sliced (I used pre-sliced and cut them in half)
Preheat the oven to 375°F preferably on convection roast.
Arrange the eggplant and zucchini in single layers on 3 sheet pans lined with parchment paper. (I had 1 2/3 trays of eggplant and 1 1/3 trays of zucchini.)
Brush them generously with the olive oil on both sides, using all of the oil.
Sprinkle with the oregano (I crush it in my hands), 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
Roast for 25 minutes, rotating after 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the garlic evenly over the vegetables, and roast for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
Remove all 3 trays from the oven and lower the temperature to 350°F, preferably on convection.
Combine the ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
Spread 1 cup of the marinara in a 9×13×2-inch baking dish.
Arrange a third of the vegetables on top, then a layer of the noodles (6 noodles per layer), a third of the mozzarella (9 1/2 pieces per layer), and a third of the ricotta mixture in large dollops between the mozzarella.
Repeat twice, starting with the marinara.
Spread the last 1 1/2 cups of marinara on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan.
Place the dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake an additional 30-35 minutes, until the lasagna is browned and bubbly.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve hot.
Make-Ahead: Assemble the lasagna completely and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost (if necessary) and bake before dinner.
I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!
4 to 6 servings
1 small to medium kabocha squash
7 large garlic cloves
3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
½ cup heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
2 medium shallots
1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
2 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.