Here’s a dish perfect for this time of year, but still doesn’t feel like stodge-o-rama thanks to the amount of veg involved. The star ingredient is the sausage, a meaty banger from Simply Sausages. I used their No.1 Recipe Smithfield Original, a relatively unadorned sausage which gives the pork plenty of space for flavour. Mrs. Spud and I thought it was quite simply the best sausage we’ve ever eaten.
The technique is inspired by a similar recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. Essentially process a whole bunch of root veg and fry with bacon and tomatoes as a sauce base! It’s a recipe with lots of room to maneuver, by just swapping the veg in and out you get a different taste each time. And even if you take it easy it should be 20 mins work, tops.
Thanks to Amanda from ZPR for the sausages!
Simply sausage ragu (serves 4):
6 No.1 Recipe Simply Sausages
2 rashers of bacon
2 carrots, trimmed and peeled
1 stick of celery, trimmed
Bunch of sage
1 red onion, peeled
½ butternut squash
2 cloves garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
1 Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot
Good-quality balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the grill on medium, get a large pan of salted water on to boil and put a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Get your food processor ready too.
- Pop the sausages under the grill and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, turning regularly.
- In the food processor whizz up the bacon and add to the pan. While that fries add the carrots, celery, sage and onion to the food processor, whizz that up and add that to the pan. Finally blitz the squash and add that to the same pan. Add some salt and pepper. Toss the veg regularly.
- While that cooks in the pan, add the pasta to the water and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Crush the garlic into the veg pan, and after a minute or so more’s cooking, add the tin of tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water and add to the pan along with the stock pot. Stir well. If it’s looking a little dry add some of the pasta cooking water to loosen it.
- When the sausages are cooked cut into slices, drain the pasta and toss both through the veg. Check for seasoning and serve, dressing with balsamic vinegar.
This is largely based on a recipe from Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (yes, I still haven’t cooked them all) but without the crazy Ryvita-apple salad (?). I’ll be honest: the only reason I made it was to have a squirly-whirly sausage which somehow makes me grin more than regular daisy-chained sausages. But the leek gravy is the surprise star, all sweet and silky. I’ve added a dollop of creme fraiche to make it even more smooth and tasty. Great stuff as the nights draw in.
Catherine wheel sausage with leek gravy (serves 4):
12 linked chipolatas
1 large teaspoon dried sage
500g potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 leeks, quartered and sliced
1 chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon flour
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
- Get the grill on medium, and two lidded saucepans on a low heat. Fill one of the pans with boiling water, add the potatoes and garlic, a large pinch of salt and get them simmering away.
- Allow the sausages to unravel and squidge the meat together so you get one long sausage as opposed to lots of links. Push a couple of skewers through the sausage to hold it in place. Douse with olive oil and sprinkle with half the sage. Pop under the grill for 10 minutes.
- Chuck the leeks along with some olive oil and the remaining sage into the other pan and a splash of boiling water, then clamp the lid on. Let these whistle away for 5 minutes until tender, then sprinkle in the stock cube and flour. Stir well and when well combined add the cider. After a minute or two bubbling away top up with the same amount of hot water and simmer.
- Flip the sausage over for a further 5 minutes or so until browned. In the meantime check the potatoes are cooked through; when done drain well and add the butter and mustard. Allow to sit for a minute and then mash until it’s a smooth as you like. Check for seasoning.
- Take the leek gravy off the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche. Serve up the sausages with a pile of mash and drown with leeky gravy.
This post is dedicated to Laissez Fare.
Twitter friend and all-round good egg Laissez Fare was upping sticks and moving back to his homeland, USA. He was throwing a party but wouldn’t you know it, it was during my only week’s holiday of the year. So we managed to arrange a separate lunch where we could chat, eat and give him a little send-off. Using his wiles he’d booked us a table at the titchy-but-perfectly-formed Polpetto.
We had a lovely meal and sampled many dishes – including a £7.50 sandwich I couldn’t ignore. Ironically the disappointment was the polpetti, which tasted only of the fennel marinade they were in. However lots of them were top drawer, such as the pigeon saltimbocca cooked to a perfect purple-pink with fragrant sage, and finely-sliced zucchini fries with a light tempura-style crunch. I enjoyed these so much I attempted to recreate them later that week at home.
I happened to have some turkey and veal hanging around the freezer so chose those over the pigeon version, and made one each of those. They were great, yet surprisingly the turkey version was more interesting than the veal. And the courgette fries were equally tasty. I had the oil a touch too hot at the start, but once it calmed down the fries were much more consistent. I was very pleased with the results.
If you’re in the Leicester Square area, forego those touristy places and try to grab a seat at Polpetto – tasty food, kind and informal service and very reasonable prices. +1 for the non-matching crockery too.
Saltimbocca with courgette fries:
For the saltimbocca:
4 breasts of turkey or veal
4 slices of prosciutto
4 sage leaves
100ml beef stock
For the fries:
2 courgettes, diced to approx 4mm matchsticks
100g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon honey
200ml carbonated water
Vegetable oil (or similar) for deep-frying
- First make the batter. Stir the flour, baking powder and honey together with a pinch of sugar and whisk in the water. Clingfilm and pop in the fridge for half an hour. (This will ‘set’ the batter and hold the bubbles in place).
- Place the breasts between two pieces of clingfilm and pound until it’s about half a centimetre thick. Discard the clingfilm, place a sage leaf on each breast, season and wrap in a slice of prosciutto.
- Get a frying pan to a medium heat and add a little oil. Fry the saltimbocca for 7 – 8 minutes until cooked through, and put to one side to rest. Add the stock to the pan and boil hard to reduce and get the good stuff off the pan.
- Bring enough oil to fill 2/3 of a pan to 190°C. Dip the courgette in the batter, shake off the excess and deep-fry in batches. They will only take 45 seconds – 1 minute to cook and turn light brown. Put to kitchen paper to drain and toss over some sea salt.
- Serve the saltimbocca on soft polenta, pouring the pan juice / stock over.