Italian Sausage

I love American breakfast sausage, thin crusty patties, over-seasoned and excellent with pancakes, french toast and syrup. Nom nom nom. But it’s even better when it’s Italian-style – herby, flecked with colour and flavour. I’ve been making it for Big Breakfasts for a long time, it also does well as burgers for bbqs, meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta, and most recently it’s done duty as a meatball mix for my attempt at home-made Chicago deep dish stuffed pizza.

Just mix together:

3 lbs minced meat, not lean – beef, pork and veal are all excellent candidates. You could use chicken or turkey or venison, but you’d need to make sure you added some really fat pork to balance it out. You don’t have to make 3 pounds weight, it’s just an easy amount to buy.

Fresh vegetable flavours, finely chopped – you can pulse them in a processor but the mix will be wet. For this big a batch of meat, use fresh garlic, at least 6 cloves, a bunch of green onions, two fresh peppers (one green and one red). A red chilli if you like it hot.

Herbs and spices – fennel seeds, dried oregano, fresh basil, salt, black pepper. Start with a teaspoon of each and see how you go. Other things to sneak in are grated orange peel, nutmeg, sage if you have a lot of veal in the mixture, coriander or paprika.

The flavours meld well if you leave it overnight in the fridge, and it will keep a few days.

When you’re ready to cook it, pinch off a small ball and fry/grill it to check the seasoning’s OK, and adjust to preference.

Sausage Pie

I bought a tube of good sausagemeat at the farmers' market on Thursday. Today I spread it in the bottom of a square baking dish (it came out about a quarter inch thick). Then I topped it with some slabs of mature cheddar, and spread those with wholegrain mustard. I had a tin of pear halves hanging about, so I put a half a pear in each corner of the dish. Topped the whole lot with a square of ready rolled puff pastry, and baked at gas mark 7 for 40 minutes.

We ate all of it, with some peas, but with some more forethought and some potatoes and other veg, it would have easily served four.

I've been thinking of variations –

  • cheese and branston pickle
  • a layer of braised red cabbage, maybe with chestnuts
  • apple sauce or chunks of apple instead of the pear
  • cranberries
  • a chunky tomato sauce
  • hard boiled eggs
  • apricots / dried fruit and maybe some curry powder
  • blue cheese and braised celery or chicory

all of them easy to do, easy to make in advance, cheap, filling and tasty.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Yorkshire Wraps

Have just been out to The Museum pub in Orchard Square. John's in town for a job thing, so we had a treat lunch together. I noticed a strange item on the menu, but it was too hot to order it and see what it actually was. Luckily the woman on the next table had one, so I now understand the principle behind the Yorkshire Wrap.

In a lot of pubs round here you can get a yorkshire pudding, usually somewhere between 4 and 10 inches across, filled with meat and gravy. The meat is traditionally a roast dinner – beef in gravy, say, and you get chips or roast potatoes on the side, plus boiled veg sometimes. The puddings are thick and flabby, like a very stodgy round pancake but with high side edges to hold in the filling. Someone has had a flash of inspiration, and re-created it as finger food.

Take a ready-made catering size pudding, and warm it through. Don't let it get crisp (which I think of as one of the key criteria for a yorkshire pudding, oh well, never mind). Lay it out flat and top it with slices of roast beef smeared with horseradish. Roll it up. Put it (or, dear god, more than one) on a hot plate, add a portion of chips and a large ramekin of good gravy, a salad garnish to look healthy and colourful. Eat with your fingers, dunking as you go.

The pub does two of these, the beef one as described above and another one with sausages and fried red onions, each priced at £6.25. Which is slightly cheaper than one of their (rather good) burgers.

 

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Hogswatch Pork Pie

I wanted a giant pork pie for Hogswatch, and I've amalgamated ideas from various different recipes. The main starting point for the mixture was Glynn Christian's Basic Pork Pie from Pies, Pates and Terrines from Sainsbury's, plus some additions from the Artery-Hardening Hogswatch Pie in the Nanny Ogg Cookbook. And what felt good at the time.

I mixed:

  • 1.5 kg pork mince
  • 1 Bramley apple, peel on, coarsely grated
  • 1 onion, finely chopped, about 6 oz weight
  • 3 capfuls brandy
  • 0.25 pint white wine
  • 2 fl oz manzanilla
  • 1 tsp each dried sage, allspice, nutmeg, and black pepper
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 2 heaped dessertspoons wholegrain mustard

I made a hot water pastry crust with 24 oz flour, 2 tsps salt, 250 gms lard, and a quarter pint water. I took 400 gms fancy chipolatas, with honey and rosemary, and twisted them in half – cocktail sausages.

In a 9" springform cake tin, I put three-quarters of the pastry, then half the main mix, then a layer of sausages, then the rest of the mix, and put the rest of the crust on top, leaving a central hole for breathing and addiing jelly later.

It's currently in a Gas Mark 6 oven for half an hour. Looking at the weight of meat, I think after that it'll get 2.5 hours at Gas Mark 3-4. After an hour at the lower temperature, it'll get glazed with an egg-wash.

I haven't decided on the jelly, but I think a mixture of white wine and Calvados for the liquid. It was a very wet mix, it'll probably shrink quite a bit, so I'll make well over a pint of jelly. The 12 oz I made for the game pie the other week wasn't nearly enough.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Special Sausage Rolls

If you're home-making sausage rolls for Christmas, why not use good quality sausagemeat, mixed up with lots of fresh parsley, toasted chopped walnuts and crumbled Stilton? 

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Scotch Quail Eggs

Why not? especially when you can buy quail eggs ready-boiled and peeled. Little buggers.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend