Spaghetti with Italian pork sausage

I don’t really understand what’s hard about pork sausages. And yet, there it is. In Switzerland you can only get horrible Swiss pork sausages even though one might expect a better return for Italian being one of the national languages.

Adelaide Central Market: Marino make traditional Italian pork sausages. They are so good that the rest of it can be very simple.

Ingredients

  • 500-750g Italian pork sausage with fennel (or add a little ground fennel).
  • finely chopped garlic
  • a large onion diced
  • 2 tins tomatoes crushed
  • water
  • butter/olive oil

Method

Fry the onion and garlic gently in the butter/oil until softened. Turn up the heat, add the sausage which you have first skinned (slice it longwise and the skin will easily come off) and stir vigorously, breaking up lumps, until it has lost is raw colour. Add the tomatoes and water, bring to the boil. Then turn down to a slow simmer and cook for a couple of hours.

I guess this must be better the day after – it’s the sort of dish that is. We were not able to wait that long, however, and instead had a first helping of it with fresh spaghetti we bought at the Goodwood producers’ market this morning. From the Grain has a gloriously colourful display of pasta, which, much as my preference is for plain, I found irresistible. We tried a vivid green garlic and parsley spaghetti. It combined fabulously with the sauce, parmesan on top – perfecto.

Wherein I eat rabbit

Marta took me to Rive indoor market: I’d always assumed I couldn’t afford to buy anything there, but as I watched her purchase three pieces of boned and stuffed rabbit for 7.50CHF each, I couldn’t resist.

As it happened, I had some left over sauce in the fridge from panfrying some chicken in shallots, white wine, garlic, lemon and olive oil. Browned the rabbit as per instructions, added the sauce, popped the lid on. Twenty minutes later… Meat is such a treat when rarely eaten.

Potatoes were the obvious accompaniment, but the larder was lacking. I went instead for a salad of rocket, strawberries and pecans with a dressing of aged balsamic and as usual ‘best olive oil you can afford’.

Thinking about it, I like the idea of this risotto on the side: it has the slight sweetness as an ongoing theme of the prune stuffing of the rabbit.

 

Belinda Jeffery’s absolutely scrumptious pork pie

absolutely scrumptious pork, thyme and apple pie Belinda Jeffery

aka her family’s ‘Christmas pie’ which is when I make it too

Serves 6-8.

ingredients

  • shortcrust pastry (she makes her own, I buy it)
  • 500g pork mince
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 180g bacon, rind removed, cut fairly finely
  • 3 teasp finely chopped thyme or oregano
  • 2 tblesp finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • nutmeg or ground mace to taste (try 1/4 teasp)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 small eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (I use quail)
  • milk to brush the pastry top (she uses an egg yolk and water)

to serve:

  • red cabbage or beetroot pickle
  • tomato or apricot chutney

method

  • Preheat oven to 200C and lightly butter a 24cm springform cake tin. Put aside.
  • Mix the filling ingredients except for the small eggs.
  • Line the tin with pastry, leaving a 2 cm overhang. Half-fill tin with mixture and smooth it out. Make 4 little hollows in which the eggs go. Cover with the remaining filling.
  • Dampen the edges of the pastry overhang, add a pastry lid and pinch edges together tightly to seal. Crimp and trim the edges as you please.
  • Brush the top with the milk or eggwash. Prick holes into the top to allow steam to escape. You can embellish the top with left over pastry trim in shapes to taste if you haven’t already eaten it.
  • Put the pie on an oven tray and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 180C and cook for another 50 minutes. Belinda’s advice is that ‘If the juices bubble up in the final stages of cooking, just mop them up with paper towel and return the pie to the oven to dry out for a few minutes.’ When cooked, leave out to cook in the tin and then chill, preferably overnight.

To serve: run a blunt knife around the edges of the tin to loosen the pie, then release and remove the sides of the tin. Sit on a platter or board in thick slices with the pickles and/or chutney.

It keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Sauce for roast duck

I discuss how I cook duck breast here.

While that is happening, make the sauce:

Ingredients

  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Grapeseed oil (or cooking fat of your preference)
  • 2 teasps Dijon mustard
  • 2 teasps honey
  • 2 teasps Thai chilli paste
  • Several glugs of Swedish punsch

Method

Finely chop and then gently fry the shallot and garlic in the oil in a small saucepan. When softened, pour in a generous quantity of the punsch, increase heat to boiling and burn off the alcohol content. Turn down to low and stir in the mustard, honey and chilli paste. On a low heat this will reduce to a thick sauce while the duck is cooking.

My aim was to end up with something sweet – as complements duck so well – but with a little kick.

Serve

With mash, to which I added a little of the rendered duck fat and milk. I served the sauce on the side.

Notes

This is one of those recipes you alter according to what is on hand. I wanted something sweet by way of alcohol, hence the punsch that was in the fridge, but otherwise I would have used a combination of sake and mirin.

I happened to have Dijon mustard, but any mustard would do, I’m sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meat Maharaja

Meat Maharaja – and a detour into pornography

I will never understand the fact that it is obvious to me that all the best cookbooks have almost no pictures and yet what people buy are books with pictures. ‘Oh’ they will say ‘I need the picture, it’s what makes me want to cook the dish’. Rubbish! The ingredients, the story of the making as it unfolds, this is what makes your imagination understand the dish. Not a picture, least of all one by a food ‘stylist’ who has patently faked what you look at. And yet, this seems to be the cooking version of sexual pornography. Just as men are all too happy to watch ummm, actresses, pretending to have orgasms, so women seem perfectly content to know that these pictures are fake and yet not be the least put off by that. Amazing. The book for this recipe – Classic Indian Cooking – is no exception to the rule. Full of fabulous recipes, no pics, nobody has heard of it!

The title of this one is absolutely not the least of an exaggeration. This is a royal dish. I love it.

4 tbsp ghee
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1” piece of ginger, ditto
4-6 cloves garlic, ditto
1 fresh green chilli, seeded and chopped
1-2 dried red chillies, chopped
150g natural yoghurt
1 teasp black cumin seeds
3 teasps ground coriander
1 teasp garam masala
1 teasp turmeric
freshly ground black pepper
1 teasp salt
2 tbsps white poppy seeds, ground
1 kg leg of lamb in 1” cubes

2 tbsps blanched almonds, ground
2 tbsps fresh coriander leaves chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
30g unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped

Melt half the ghee over a medium heat and fry the onions, ginger, garlic and fresh chilli until the onions are just soft. Remove, cool a little and then blend/food process with the yoghurt to create a puree. I use a Bamix stick thing for this. Leave.

Heat the rest of the ghee over a low heat, we do not want the ghee to be too hot, and add the black cumin and then the other ground spices along with the poppy seeds. Fry for a minute or so, add the meat, increase meat to heading towards high and fry until browned, five minutes or so. Cover the pan, lower heat and let the meat cook in its own juices for fifteen minutes or so, stirring now and then.

Stir in the yoghurt and onion puree, mix well. Rinse out the container with the warm water and add this to the meat. Add the salt, bring to the boil, then simmer at very low heat until meat is tender, stirring now and then. The sauce will get thicker and require more attention towards the end of this process. If possible now leave overnight before finishing the next day thus: add the almonds and half the coriander leaves and stir uncovered for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and mix.

Garnish with the crushed/chopped pistachios and the rest of the coriander leaves. Serve. Utterly divine.

Wherein meat is eaten.

Stay off the stuff for long enough and even Manor mince tastes mmmmmm. It’s been a couple of weeks since we had anything remotely resembling meat, of any colour, I might add.

For years I’ve stuck to the Italian way of doing spag bol, think cream and chicken liver as distinguishing features, along with minimal tomato. And although I love chicken livers, and the authenticity of Margaret Fulton, I’ve never been altogether happy with the result.

It was a revelation to me to discover that the American version is actually worthy of cooking and couldn’t be more different from my notion of the traditional version. This is the famous Italian-American cook Lidia’s version.

Spaghetti bolognese

Ingredients

olive oil for frying
an onion finely chopped
a carrot grated
a stick of celery and leaves finely chopped
glass of red wine
1/2 kg beef mince
1/2 kg pork mince
1 tblesp tomato paste
2 cans crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
water as necessary

Method

On med-high heat, fry the onion, carrot and celery until onion is softened. Add the meats and fry, stirring constantly to avoid lumps, for about 10 minutes until browned. Throw in the wine, bring to the boil and burn off the alcohol. Add the tomato paste, stir in thoroughly, and then the tomatoes. Add a reasonably generous quantity of water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and leave on a lively simmer covered. You are going to cook it at this temperature for at least several hours. The longer the better. Six hours is better. Because it’s actually bubbling away, it means that you do need to check it from time to time to add water as required.

Yum. This is really good, just some parmesan on top to serve. True it takes a while on the way in, but on the way out you have, for two people, four meals ready at the push of a defrost button. And most of the cooking time, you are reading or knitting or doing Goodreads or….whatever your idle preference is.