Whanganui Midweek - 2021-11-24



Dog Whisperings

Serves 4

ACOOK’S BOOK IS the story of Nigel Slater’s life in the kitchen. From the first jam tart Nigel made with his mum, standing on a chair trying to reach the Aga, through to what he is cooking now, this is the ultimate Nigel Slater collection brimming with over 200 recipes. He writes about how his cooking has changed from discovering the best way to roast a chicken to the trick to smoky, smooth aubergine mash. He gives the tales behind the recipes and recalls the first time he ate a baguette in Paris, his love of jewelbright Japanese pickled radishes and his initial slice of buttercreamtopped chocolate cake. These are the favourite recipes Nigel Slater cooks at home every day; the heart and soul of his cooking. Chapters include: a slice of tart, a chicken in the pot, everyday greens, the solace of soup and the ritual of tea. This is the essential Nigel Slater. SAUSAGES and SAUCE Slowly does it. In a perfect world, I would make this a day before I needed it, leaving it to mellow overnight in its pan. (Ragu` is always better for a night’s sleep.) But even ladled onto pasta or soft polenta the day it is made, this is a splendid alternative to the traditional minced beef ragu` . The soul of a ragu` is in the browning of the meat and onion. Take your time when softening both — the onions need to be a deep golden brown, glossy to the eye and sticky to the touch before you add the rest of the ingredients. Ingredient 4 Tbsp olive oil 8 thick Italian sausages 250ml red wine 3 medium onions 4 cloves garlic 4 bushy sprigs of thyme 4 bushy sprigs of rosemary 3 bay leaves 1 tsp fennel seeds 2 × 400g tins plum tomatoes For the polenta: 500ml water 500ml milk 125g fine, quick-cooking polenta 100ml double cream 50g butter 50g Parmesan, grated Method Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat, tear the sausages into small pieces and add to the oil. Leave to brown and lightly crisp, turning from time to time. The crucial point here is to let each piece of sausage meat brown before you move it, so you encourage a build-up of sticky (and very tasty) goo on the bottom of the pan. Lift the sausage meat out into a bowl, turn up the heat under the pan, then pour in the red wine. As the wine starts to bubble, scrape away at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula — stirring the sticky goo from the sausages into the wine. After a couple of minutes of bubbling, remove from the heat. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Warm the remaining oil in a large, deep-sided saucepan or enamelled cast-iron casserole. Keeping the heat no more than moderately high, let the onions cook till translucent and starting to soften, stirring regularly. As they start to turn pale gold, peel, finely slice and add the garlic. Add the thyme and rosemary sprigs, the bay leaves and fennel seeds. Grind in a little black pepper, lower the heat and continue cooking till the onions are pale brown and very soft. Don’t hurry this. You should be able to crush them easily between finger and thumb. Stir in the sausage meat and the red wine, then add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a very low simmer — the liquid should blip and bubble lazily. Partially cover with a lid and leave to cook for a good hour to 75 minutes. The occasional stir will stop it sticking to the pan. Should the liquid level drop, add a little water or stock. For the polenta: Put half a litre each of water and milk on to boil in a deep, high-sided pan. As it boils rain in the polenta. Season very generously with salt and bring to the boil. Warm the double cream in a small pan. As the polenta thickens, pour in the warmed double cream, add the butter, then stir in the grated Parmesan. —


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