Sausage risotto

This is a favourite. It is probably not that authentic, but it is very tasty. As usual, the technique is to make a delicious stew, and then add the rice and stock to make the risotto. I allow around 60g rice per person, and 3x as much water as rice. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 sausages, chopped into chunks – around 200g
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g porcini mushrooms
  • approx 750ml hot chicken or beef stock
  • salt and pepper
  • around 50g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Melt half of the butter in a pan, and gently fry the onion and sausage until the sausage is cooked. 
  • Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in half a cup of hot water.
  • When the sausage is cooked, remove the soaked mushrooms from the water, chop them finely and add them to the pan, with the tomato puree and the mushroom water, to make a simple stew. Simmer for around 15 minutes. Keep an eye and add a little stock if the mixture is beginning to stick. 
  • Add all of the rice, stir to coat in the stew, and then cook gently. Add the stock one ladleful at the time, adding more stock only when the last bit has been absorbed. After 20 minutes, all the stock will be in and the rice will be cooked. 
  • Take the pan off the heat, and stir in the rest of the butter and half the parmesan cheese. Adjust the seasoning; I like a lot of pepper
  • Serve with more parmesan cheese on the side. 

I think the real version uses proper Italian sausages, but these are hard to come by locally. 

Rabbit risotto with olives

More rabbit recipes. This one is from Risotto Risotto by Valentina Harris. There are some risotto basics that crop up. Adding the ingredients one by one, and letting them cook together allows the flavours to build. Many of the meat risottos involve making a rich stew, and then adding the risotto rice and the stock, bit by bit. 

I allow around 60g risotto rice per serving, and multiply by 3 to get the volume of stock in ml. For example, for 100g rice, use 300ml stock. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 rabbit, jointed and rinsed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chopped pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 glass red wine
  • around 20 small black olives, chopped. 
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 1.2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock, simmering 

METHOD:

  • Fry the onion, celery, pancetta and parsley in the olive oil over a low heat, until the onion is soft
  • Add the rabbit and brown it all over. 
  • Mix the tomato puree and wine together, and stir it in, with the olives, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer over a low heat or cook in a low oven for an hour and a half, until the rabbit is really tender. Add stock to ensure that the stew does not stick or dry out. 
  • Let the stew cool, and strip the rabbit meat from the bones. Cut larger sections of meat into pieces the size of a walnut. Return to the stew and bring it back to a simmer
  • Add all of the rice, and stir to coat all the grains. Cook over a gentle heat, and add the stock a ladleful at a time, Make sure the rice absorbs the stock before adding the next ladleful.
  • After about 20 minutes the rice will be cooked. Remove the risotto from the heat, and let it stand for a couple of minutes before serving. 

Carrots with Marsala

I have some enormous carrots in the garden, and this was a delicious side-dish. It is great with lamb. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 500g carrots, peeled and chopped into large batons
  • 50g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml Marsala wine, (madeira or sherry might do instead)
  • Chopped parsley or a pinch of dried tarragon

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a saute pan, and when it is foaming, add the carrots. Mix well with the butter so that the flavour is taken up by the carrots. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • After a couple of minutes, add the Marsala, simmer for five minutes, and then add water so that the carrots are not quite covered. Bring back to a simmer, put the lid on the pan and cook the carrots until they are tender. 
  • Take of the lid, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid so that it becomes a syrupy sauce. 
  • Add the chopped parsley or tarragon, and serve. 

 

Rabbit with aubergines

I have been given some fresh local tender rabbits to cook, and I’m very excited. I don’t have many go-to recipes for rabbit, so I am trying some out. I’m hoping to get more and try out a Spanish recipe that uses chorizo. This time I went with an Italian vibe.

INGREDIENTS:

  •  1 rabbit, cut into five (2 front legs, 2 back legs, one saddle)
  • 30g butter
  • 30g pancetta or diced streaky bacon
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram, or a handful of fresh marjoram
  • Salt and pepper
  • A glass of dry sherry, or Marsala wine
  • Water or stock
  • A small aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes, set in a colander and salted
  • One red sweet pepper, or a pimento for preference, sliced into strips

METHOD:

  • Heat the butter in the bottom of a braising pan or shallow casserole dish. Fry the bacon and the celery together.
  • As the fat starts to run from the bacon, add the rabbit to the pan and turn the pieces over to let them brown. 
  • Add the tomatoes, chopped garlic, marjoram and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, before adding the Marsala. Bring back to a simmer and reduce by half. 
  • Add water or stock so that the rabbit is just about covered, put the lid on the pan and simmer for around half an hour.
  • Rinse the salted aubergine, and add to the top of the pan. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes, and then add the sliced red pepper. Cook for another ten minutes. 

We served this with potatoes, because we have a lot of them. I would think that polenta would be an excellent accompaniment. 

Beef cheeks with pappardelle

While we were away in Devon, we went to a farm shop, where there were a lot of organic and locally produced foods. In the interests of no waste, they were selling a lot of cuts of meat that are not readily available in supermarkets. We bought a couple of beef cheeks. This is a delicious cut of meat, rich and tender when cooked long and slow. This made four portions, and is based on a few recipes I looked up on the internet. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 10 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 beef cheeks
  • olive oil
  • 100g smoked pancetta
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/4 tsp powdered cloves
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a cinnamon stick
  • a bunch of mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, bay, rosemary, tied in a bundle.
  • 250ml wine
  • 300ml passata (or pureed tomatoes from a tin)
  • Salt and pepper
 
 
 

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 160C. Put the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Season the beef cheeks with salt and black pepper. Chop the vegetables into 1cm dice. 
  • In a small casserole dish, heat the olive oil, and then sear the beef cheeks on both sides until they are browned. 
  • When the beef cheeks are properly browned, turn the heat down a little, and add the pancetta and cinnamon, cooking and stirring until the pancetta is golden.  
  • Add the crushed garlic and diced vegetables. Reserving the liquor, drain the mushrooms and add them to the pan, along with the bundle of herbs. Cook and stir, cook and stir for 15 minutes. 
  • Pour in the wine, and bring to a simmer, reduce by half and then stir in the porcini water and the tomato puree. Add water, around 300ml. Scrunch up some greaseproof paper and dampen it, and put it on top, to retain steam, and then put the lid on. 
  • Cook in the oven for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until really tender. Check every so often to see if you need to add any water. 
  • When the beef cheeks are cooked, shred and stir. 
  • Serve with pappardelle, or with polenta. I’m sure it would be good with mashed potatoes as well. For pappardelle, I allow around 250g for four people. 

Local meat – it is the time that it is readily available as we head into winter. I have some plans for a duck ragu to go with pappardelle, and for a few lamb dishes. And some venison. 

 

Spaghetti with courgettes

This year has been a bit slow for growing vegetables, the lack of sun has not helped at all. I have now got a lot of carrots, some broad beans, we’ve had a couple of crops of mange tout peas as well. I headed up to Tagsa Community Gardens to get some chard to cook with the beans, and ended up coming away with a couple of delicious courgettes. 

I made this recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘, a book of Italian recipes, along with stories of the family that runs Valvona and Crolla. They used double these quantities; this made a good meal for the two of us. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 courgettes
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 180g spaghetti or similar pasta
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the courgettes.
  • Clean the courgettes, trip off the top and tail, and grate with a coarse grater
  • Warm the olive oil, and add the garlic, fry it gently until it just starts to colour brown, and then add  the courgettes. Turn the heat up a little and stir, cooking until the courgettes are beginning to brown a little at the edges. Add the rosemary and season with salt, and then cover, and turn the heat off. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add to the frying pan with the courgettes, toss and mix everything together, and serve with black pepper. 

Summer vegetable minestrone

The vegetable garden is growing really well in spite of the high winds trashing the potatoes and the beans. This afternoon I started thinning out the root vegetables and removing some random kale plants that had self-seeded in amongst the leeks. I used about 500g of thinnings and leaves to make this soup. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • A mixture of vegetables. I had some mizuna greens, orache, Russian kale, carrots, mange tout, and some small beetroot tops. All washed and chopped small
  • A small onion, finely chopped. 
  • Celery salt
  • Marigold stock
  • 2 tbsp Green pesto sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Around 1/5 litres of boiling water
  • A handful of soup pasta, such as quadretti or stelline
  • Freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil on a low flame, and gently fry the onion until it is soft. 
  • Add the vegetables in the order in which they will cook, slowest to fastest. I added the carrots, then the beetroot tops, mizuna and kale, then poured over the boiling water, and seasoned with celery salt, black pepper, and some marigold stock powder. 
  • Once the kale is beginning to cook, then add the orache and peas, and the soup pasta. Check for taste and simmer until the pasta is just about done. 
  • Stir the pesto into the soup, and serve sprinkled heavily with grated parmesan or pecorino. 

Italian potato pie

My potatoes are getting harvested, and I am trying out potato recipes. The first lot that I lifted were Arran Pilot, with white flesh that mashes very well. I made this from a recipe in Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. I also used some local free-range eggs. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Kg of potatoes that mash well
  • 100g Gruyere or Emmental cheese, sliced
  • 75g cooked ham or Italian sausage (I used Fonteluna sausage from Valvona and Crolla), sliced
  • 2 eggs, boiled for around 7 minutes and peeled
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 75g butter
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

METHOD

  • Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked, around 16 minutes. Mash them with about 40g butter and the milk, and put them through a mouli or potato ricer to make a very soft smooth mash. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Grease a dish with butter (I used a small lasagne dish) and then coat the bottom and sides with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Put half the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the dish, then add the cheese, ham and chopped boiled eggs in a layer. Cover this with the rest of the mashed potato. Sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs over the top and dot with butter.
  • Cook the pie in a hot oven (around 200C) for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden. 

I served this with shredded kale. It is good with any green vegetable, or with a green salad. 

 

Maccheroni alla carbonara

This is one of the classic Italian sauces. I like to add tarragon but it is not essential. Here is a recipe to serve two, based on ingredients available locally. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 egg
  • Approx. 60g streaky bacon, not smoked
  • Approx. 120g pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, rigatoni)
  • 30g butter
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper
  • 30g grated parmesan or pecorino

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it boils, add the pasta and set the timer for 8 minutes (or cooking time on the manufacturer’s packaging), and set the dishes to warm.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan. Cut the bacon into small match-stick strips and fry on a low heat in the butter. 
  • Beat the egg with the tarragon, pepper and salt. 
  • When the timer goes, drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the egg to the bacon pan and stir until they begin to thicken. 
  • While the eggs and bacon are still semi-solid, add to the pasta and stir to mix, along with half the cheese
  • Serve in warmed dishes with the rest of the cheese. 

Spaghetti with mushrooms and bacon

This is based on a recipe using tonnarelle, which is similar to spaghetti. I am trying to get the fridge a bit emptier, and we had some streaky bacon and some fonteluna sausage from Valvona and Crolla, as well as some pecorino cheese. This is so simple, and very filling. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g spaghetti, or tagliolini or tonnarelle, if available
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut in thin strips (should be pancetta, but I didn’t have any)
  • 75g fonteluna sausage cut into small pieces (if you have no sausage, use 150g bacon or pancetta)
  • 30g butter
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 60g Pecorino cheese

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a pan, and fry the bacon and sausage very slowly, and when it is starting to cook, add the mushrooms, and continue to simmer together
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it comes to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes or so. 
  • When the mushrooms are cooked, season with salt and add the grated pecorino cheese. 
  • When the pasta is done, drain it, and return it to the plan. Pour the sauce over the top and serve. You can stir extra butter in, and add extra cheese as well. 

I had a side salad with it, it is a bit rich without.