BEYOND BANGERS AND MASH


     There was a fantastic turn out of friendly people for my sausage cookery demonstration as part of the Chiswick Literary Festival, Cook Book division on Saturday 14 September. The lovely ladies from Cook Book Festival, who did all the preparations and planning for all the events, were so supportive and helpful. Sadly Rodney from Macken’s, our wonderful butcher here in Turnham Green Terrace, couldn’t join us due to a nasty cut tendon (not done in the shop!) but I was very happy to promote Macken’s sausages, all made with 85% pork (belly and shoulder), herbs and cereals, using natural hog casings and an average weight of 125g. Here as promised, are the recipes.

SAUSAGE POLPETTE WITH SAUCE VIERGE AND PEAS

The first recipe I cooked is the one in the photo; little Italian meatballs. It’s useful to know about using Macken’s meaty sausages like this, speeding up the cooking, so supper is on the table in minutes. Running a sharp knife down the sausage and peeling away the skin speeds up cooking considerably. To make little polpette, you divide the sausage in eight pieces. The pieces are quickly worked into little balls, rolling one by one in your palms. They’re quickly fried in a little hot oil, shaking the pan pretty much all the time, so they brown and firm and cook through. It takes about 3 minutes. They’re served in little cazuelas but any small, shallow bowl would be suitable. They are topped with boiled peas – I prefer frozen petits pois – then sauced with one of my all time favourite sauces-cum-vinaigrette. It’s made by quickly pickling wafer-thin scraps of new season garlic in red wine vinegar then stirring in peeled and seeded, diced tomato, preferably a firm, ripe variety. I bought large plum tomatoes when I tested my recipes from www.lemonandlimes.co.uk 88 Turnham Green Terrace and they gave terrific results. It’s finished with peppery olive oil – vierge means virginal, in this case referring to new season garlic and olive oil – and shredded basil. The dish taps into mixing hot and cold food, which I love. It’s colourful, quick, easy, a bit different and makes a lovely light supper with crusty bread and butter.

Serves 2

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 10 min

4 vine tomatoes

1 large clove new season garlic

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 tbsp best olive oil

6 leaves basil

4 meaty pork sausages (Macken’s Cumberland sausages)

150g frozen petits pois

pat of butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

First make the vinaigrette. Peel and slice the garlic into wafer-thin scraps. Place in a small mixing bowl and add the vinegar. Stir. Place tomatoes etched with a cross in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds or until the cross begins to peel open. Drain and splash with cold water. Cut out the core in a pointed plug shape, quarter through the core and scrape seeds into a sieve over a bowl. Crush the seeds to extract the juice. Dice the flesh. Stir diced tomato and 1 tbsp tomato juice into the garlic. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir then leave for a few minutes. Beat in the olive oil to make a thick luscious vinaigrette. Shred the basil and stir into the sauce. Boil the peas in salted water for about 5 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the pan with a pat of butter. Cover to keep warm. Working on one sausage at a time, run a sharp knife down the length to cut the sausage casing. Peel it away and discard. Pinch off lumps of sausage, bearing in mind that you want to make 8 balls per sausage, and quickly roll between your palms to make firm little balls. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, swirling it round the pan. When hot, add the balls, shaking the pan, tossing it back and forth so the balls roll and brown. Adjust the heat as you toss, to ensure they brown quickly but don’t burn or sweat. Allow 3-4 minutes for this. Tip onto kitchen paper to drain. Transfer to serving dishes, top with half the peas and spoon over the vinaigrette. That’s it.

SAUSAGE RAGU

I make ragu with all kinds of meat from duck to chuck.  This version, made with meaty pork sausages, is blessedly quick to conjure and richly flavoured. Perfect for faux spag bol, lasagne-style pile ups or spooned over halved and roasted aubergine. In the latter case, finish with slabs of feta, pop under the grill until molten and you’ve almost got slipper moussaka.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 min

Cook:35 min

1 onion

1 garlic clove

1 ½ (half) tbsp vegetable oil

2 medium carrots, 150g

600g meaty pork sausages (Macken’s Cumberland)

1 tsp finely chopped sage or

¼ (quarter) tsp dried

½ (half) chicken stock cube

150ml water

600g vine tomatoes

cored, peeled, chopped and briefly liquidized 

1 tbsp tomato puree or ketchup

juice 1 small lemon

handful flat leaf parsley

     Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Scrape and grate the carrots on the large hole of a box cheese grater or using the processor attachment. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, lidded sauté/frying pan, stir in the onion and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes over a medium-low heat until slippery soft. Stir in the garlic. Run a small sharp knife down the sausages. Peel away the skin and drop lumps of sausage into the onions. Scatter sage over the top. Use the back of a wooden spoon or fork and cook, stir-frying, encouraging the pieces to crumble and brown; you don’t want big lumps. Keep at it, as it cooks, it becomes more malleable. Stir in the stock cube then add 150ml water and stir as it reduces slightly. Meanwhile, cut the core out the tomatoes, roughly chop and liquidize to make passata. Stir in carrot, passata and tomato puree. Season generously with salt and pepper, reduce the heat, cover and simmer, giving the occasional stir, for 20 minutes or until thick and homogenous. Add salt to taste; it shouldn’t be necessary. Stir in the lemon juice. Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley leaves.

POACHED PORKERS WITH FENNEL TOMATO SAUCE

The final recipe also features tomatoes, but this time they’re cooked into a thick sauce flavoured with aniseedy fennel seed. The sausages are poached while the tomato sauce is made; both can be made ahead to save time, the dish quickly put together five minutes or so before you are ready to eat. I’ve used Festival Sausages – the slightly pinky/orange ones on the left of the sausage counter previously (and still) known as Sweet Italian. Like all Macken’s sausages, it’s 85% pork with finely chopped mixed peppers, fresh fennel, mustard, spice and onion powder. The sausages are halved on the diagonal and then fried to create crusty, golden edges then immersed in the tomato sauce. The dish can be reheated from the finished stage and is delicious with peas, pasta, lentils, or crusty bread and butter.

Serves 2

Prep: 25 min

Cook: 30 min

4 meaty pork sausages

1 onion

2 bay leaves

½ (half) tsp fennel seeds

600g large vine tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp olive oil

10g flat leaf parsley

     Place sausages in a medium-sized pan and just cover with water. Halve, peel and roughly chop the onion. Add to the pan with the bay leaves. Slowly bring to simmer and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Leave thus to keep warm or remove sausages to a plate for finishing the dish later. Boil the kettle. Place tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Count 30 seconds, drain, quarter, remove skin and scrape seeds into a sieve over a bowl. Press seeds to extract juice. Chop the tomato flesh. Peel and chop the garlic. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a spacious, lidded frying pan. Stir in the garlic and lightly crushed fennel seeds, stirring briefly until aromatic then add tomatoes and juices. Season with salt, and simmer briskly until thickened but still chunky rather than smooth. Hold at this point and reheat later or, heat remaining oil in a frying pan and quickly brown the sausages, previously halved on the diagonal to make chunky pieces. Add them to the hot tomato sauce, bubble up briefly and serve now or reheat later. Add chopped flat leap parsley.