Monday, 11 December 2006

Spicing Up A Winter Evening

Pure meat sausages flown in from TuscanyWith recent climate change and all that, we don't see the winter evenings that my parents used to tell me about, when the snow piled up against the door and carol singers wore woolly mittens and ear muffs.

But all things are relative and it's been feeling pretty cold in London over the past few evenings, so I thought I'd send dad to our favourite Italian deli Gallo Nero in Stoke Newington to buy some of owner Michael's beautiful gluten-free, preservative-free peppered sausages.

This meal is the very simple but quite wonderful Tuscan spicy sausages with leek & onion. Just over an hour to prepare and cook.

By the time these sausages have disembarked from the morning flight from Florence and passed through UK Customs & Excise, their individual appearance fee has risen to about 80p (€1.20/$1.60). It may be tempting to go for something cheaper, but this meal depends on the product, so accept no substitutes!

Braising gently in the pan with leek and onionUnlike cheap sausages, these pure meat beasts take quite a long time to cook properly. I sear them and then braise in beer or red wine with leek and onions, which are sweated off first and then introduced in batches while the sausages are cooking, to give a gradation in texture from lightly cooked to thoroughly cooked.

I add yet more black pepper - as much as my guests and I can stand - and some herbs. Best for sausages are marjoram, bay and fennel.

Now for a winter comfort dinnerYou can serve this dish with almost anything and my dad has even been known to eat it with a crispy green salad.

But I think these sausages go best with a very dry mash potato, so that's what we had last night. Very different from pomme purée, this potato dish is made by boiling scrubbed young potatoes in their skins until just soft enough to mash, then adding a little butter, double cream, salt and pepper.

The result is a rustic, robust and well-textured potato that stands up for itself and is not drowned out by the sausage and leek & onion. If I'd remembered to photograph the result before dimming the lights (doh!) it would have looked even better, but believe me it tasted just great. So what's wrong with winter, eh? I can feel the mulled wine coming on...


Izzie said...

do you shop often at borough market? It is a most wonderful place, but I am sure you go there all the time...

Trig said...

You must either be psychic or a friend of my mum. It was her birthday the other week and one of the presents that dad and I bought her was a book of London markets. This resulted in a conversation about Borough Market, which she says is fantastic and I've also read about on several other blogs.

So now for the confession. I live in NE London and my travels take me across to SW London. And I almost never get to SE London. It's not a great excuse, is it?

My dad has suggested a visit soon (college finishes in another week and a bit). I've been thinking about using either a food market scene or a London skyline for a new blog banner to replace my fish. So when we visit I will take a load of photos. If there's one I really like you may see it as my masthead by Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, my kind of food. I love cosy winter nights and eating comfort food indoors. Shame we don't get those real wintery, snowy days anymore.

I've just come across your blog and it looks great! Good to see another fellow food blogging Brit!

izzie said...

It's brilliant, all sorts of things, I am going through a stage of buying ostrich meat; it tastes very nice i go there every saturday with my best m8.
O and u wer rite, that excuse wos rubbish

Voodoo said...

Darlin, that looks and sounds completely outstanding....I can almost smell it!!!

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