I've been procrastinating on this one long enough. I told my mate John at the end of the football season that if his team (Motherwell) managed to avoid relegation then I would dedicate a recipe of The Missing Link to him and his team. So, I've spent the last few weeks racking my brains for inspiration on how to create a Motherwell FC themed recipe. Last week I cracked it, so this week I made it. The recipe is for Claret & Amber Bangers & Mash - claret and amber being the colours of Motherwell. The key ingredients being some Bordeaux red wine (Claret) and apricots (amber). Of course, there are sausages as well and I am using some of the ones I had frozen after the sausage making class I wrote about a couple of posts ago, but if you were making this I reckon you can use just about any sausage you fancy. The recipe is simple and easy to follow:
Ingredients (serves 2):
4 sausages of your choice (probably best with good quality pork sausages)
1/2 an onion (finely diced)
A handful of dried apricots cut into quarters
90ml of a Bordeaux red
100ml of vegetable stock
For the mash (although you probably have your own way of doing mash):
2 or 3 large Maris Piper potatoes (cubed)
50ml of milk
2 tsps of butter
Seasoning to taste
First step is to put some water on to boil. Then, put a little oil in a frying pan and place the sausages in straight away, don't wait until the pan is hot. This a good way of cooking sausages to make sure that your sausages stay juicy and the skin doesn't contract or split quickly. Cook the sausages at a medium heat until they are nicely browned and cooked through. Take the sausages out of the pan and set aside on a plate. During the time it has taken to cook the sausages you will have put the potatoes into the boiling water (let them boil for 15 - 20 mins).
Now add the onion and dried apricots into the same pan as you cooked the sausages (add a tiny bit more oil if you need to but you probably won't need to) and fry them for around 5-7 mins at a medium heat to soften the onions and apricot. At this point add the red wine and the vegetable stock. Also add the sausages back into the pan and let the sauce reduce.
This will bring the sausages back up to temperature for serving and help them take on the flavours of the sauce. Reducing the sauce down will help burn off some of the alcohol in the red wine, but I'm guessing the alcohol may not be a problem for many.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them then do your mashing thing, adding the milk, butter and seasoning to taste. When your mash is ready and you are happy that your red wine and apricot sauce has reduced sufficiently you can stick it all on a plate: make a bed of mashed potatoes, place two sausages on top and then spoon over the sauce. You may now eat it.
So, John, you have to wait a few weeks but I hope you are happy with the Claret & Amber Bangers & Mash in honour of you and your team. Do you think Motherwell's hospitality team would be interested, or are there not enough pies in this recipe to appeal to them? Kidding. Honest...
For future reference, if Motherwell stay up next season it will still be same recipe I churn out.
If you grew up in the 80's or the 90's in Britain, there is a good chance that chicken Kiev's were a regular feature on the weekly menu. They may not be as popular now but let's face it, you love them. I love them too. However, I want to do something a bit different with a chicken Kiev, in that I don't want to make a chicken Kiev. I want to replace the garlic butter centre with something ten times better, and ten times more exciting. I am going to replace it with 'nduja. You may not be familiar with 'nduja but it is a type of salami that comes from Calabria (the toe of the boot of Italy that is kicking little Sicily, for those of you that remember the rhyme). It is a spicy cured sausage made from pork shoulder, jowl and belly with chili and other spices. The unique thing about 'nduja is that it is spreadable, and can be eaten like a pate, but when it is cooked it takes on a saucy consistency which makes it perfect for this dish. 'Nduja isn't the easiest thing to get a hold of, however if you know of a good Italian deli you will probably find it there in jars. I have found it online from Ocado (where you can get an actual chunk cut out of the sausage instead of a jar), but for this recipe I am using a jar that I bought from Carluccio's deli section.
Now, because the 'nduja is a bit fiery I am going to calm it down a touch with ricotta cheese, which gives the filling for this Calabrian style chicken Kiev a lovely creamy texture. You may never have made chicken Kiev before but it is actually straight forward, albeit there a bit of a process to follow. Let me show you:
Ingredients (for 1):
1 boneless chicken breast
2 tbs of ricotta cheese
1.5 tbs of 'nduja sausage
Other things for the breadcrumb:
1 beaten egg
Some breadcrumbs (I cheated and used pre-seasoned breadcrumbs with
garlic and rosemary)
Step 2: Spoon the ricotta and 'nduja mixture into the middle of a sheet of cling film and then wrap it up to form a ball shape - this will form your stuffing for the chicken breast. Pop the mixture into the freezer for about 10 mins so that it will retain the ball shape when it comes to stuffing the chicken.
Step 3: While you are waiting for the stuffing to set in the freezer, you can get on with tenderising the chicken breast. When I say tenderise, I mean you need to batter the living daylights out of it. You need to get the breast pretty thin so that it will wrap around the ball of ricotta and 'nduja. I advise using a layer of cling film or grease proof paper when doing this, otherwise things might get messy.
Step 4: Once your chicken has been hammered and your ricotta/'nduja mix has firmed up a bit, it is time to combine the two. Lay the chicken on a sheet of cling film then place the ball of stuffing in the centre of the chicken, and wrap the chicken round the ball until you end up with a parcel that you can wrap the cling film round (like in the picture below). Place the chicken parcel in the freezer for around 25 mins to allow it to set (again to allow it to hold its shape).
Step 6: The breadcrumbed chicken can now be fried in some oil - a minute or so either side just to give it a golden brown colour. I used rapeseed oil here, but ordinary vegetable oil will do the job too. Once the chicken has a nice colour to it, transfer it to a baking sheet and place in an oven that has been preheated to 190C for 15 mins to cook the chicken, ricotta and 'nduja through. During this cooking the 'nduja will work its magic and turn the mixture inside the chicken into a lovely creamy, but spicy, filling.
Step 7: Once the chicken is cooked, plate up with the accompaniment of your choice. I went for a nice, simple salad as there is so much taste going on with the chicken that you don't need much else. Cut the "Kiev" open and see the wonderful filling of 'nduja and ricotta spill out. A great visual experience, as well as a great taste experience! (see top picture)
So there you have it, it's a chicken Kiev that isn't a chicken Kiev. It's a Kid-on Kiev! The process for making it may seem fiddly but I promise you this recipe delivers an end product that will blow any fond memories of chicken Kiev's from the past out of the water - all thanks to the wonderful Calabrian 'nduja! I am particularly proud of this recipe and I really do think you should try it. Go on, you will love it!
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On Tuesday night I was at a sausage making class at the Ginger Pig in Shepherd's Bush, and it was fantastic! If ever there was a perfect way to learn how to make your own sausages, then in a top quality butcher shop like this is it. Even for someone who has a little experience of making sausages (although at times during the class that maybe didn't show) there was so much to learn and a lot of fun to be had.
At £155 for a class, this, on the face of it, isn't cheap. However, the real value of the class becomes apparent during the evening. You get to make three batches of sausages using good quality meat and seasoning - all of which you get to take home - and there is a lot of sausages in each batch. You are also treated to a brilliant meal consisting of a choice of various Ginger Pig sausages (look out for their smoked Toulouse, it is so good!), sautéed cabbage and mashed potatoes, washed down with a couple of glasses of wine. However, a big part of the true value of the evening is the instruction and help from Tom and Gemma. They were great teachers, very engaging, and rather patient with us all! A big thanks to them for a great night.
The sausage making itself was very hands-on, as you might expect, and using the large horizontal sausage stuffer was great fun. I went with the attitude that I still had plenty to learn about sausage making, and I wasn't wrong; learning how to do the linking in threes technique that I had shied away from when learning from books will be a huge help to me. I have previously avoided it as I thought it was unnecessarily complicated but once you get the hang of it and get into a good rhythm it makes a big difference to your end product, giving you a much more orderly bunch of sausages. I'm now a total convert to this technique,
The three sausage flavours we made were:
- A herby pork sausage with sage, thyme and onion that we curled into a Cumberland swirl;
- An Italian style pork sausage with basil, fennel and olive oil, twisted into links; and
- A delicious beef sausage flavoured with soy sauce and chili.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take away the recipe sheet so that I could share the recipes here but I could always email the lovely people at the Ginger Pig for that. Alternatively, I could experiment in trying to recreate the seasoning myself, but given how much space in my freezer is now occupied by sausages made on Tuesday night, I think I might have to leave that for a while!
A lot of people laughed when I told them I was going to do a sausage making class (including plenty of puns and innuendo) but it is such great fun, and a great way for novices to get started, and for folk like me who know a little bit to learn more. Yeah, it is a fair bit of money, and I was lucky enough to get a voucher for the class as a birthday present from my obedient family, but what you get out of it makes the £155 seem like a good deal. I mean, £155 wouldn't even get you a good night out... I've clearly let London go to my head, haven't I?
The Ginger Pig also do other butchery classes which look great too. Check them out at: http://www.thegingerpig.co.uk/butchery-classes/our-classes/
The sausages that were the subject of my last post were enjoyed by all on Saturday at the BBQ and, as at the time of writing, none of the attendees have succumbed to poisoning, which is always a bonus. I got a lot of positive feedback - thanks mum - and some jokingly asking if I take orders. If anyone from HMRC is reading, I do not take orders.
Anyway, after the weekend I've been thinking a lot about condiments, particularly mustard. I've made my own beer mustard before and I want to do it again but with a bit of a twist. The idea is beer and peanuts mustard - a kind of dive bar condiment. It could be genius, or it could be madness. I'll put it together then tell you all the result in two weeks once it is ready (mustard takes time you know).
I hope to have another midweek post up this week, as tomorrow I am going to a sausage making class at the Ginger Pig butchers in Shepherd's Bush. That should give me plenty of material for the next post. If it doesn't, I'll just make it up...
It’s BBQ season now, right? The summer weather’s invite seems to have been lost in the post but it’s definitely BBQ season now, and this coming Saturday the Hampshire branch of my family are having a BBQ. They asked me if I wouldn’t mind making some sausages for the BBQ. Of course not, says I. All our friends will be there, they said. Oh, merde.
So I took up the challenge to make 24 sausages (I don’t even know if that’s enough). Faced with this daunting prospect I had to call on Sausage Man! No, not a superhero, but THE sausage guru himself Paul Peacock and his book: The Sausage Book (real imaginative, Paul). The recipe I plumped for was the all-round-safe-bet, no-drama, everybody-likes-them Lincolnshire. The recipe in Paul’s book is straightforward:
1kg pork shoulder
15g chopped fresh sage
2m of hog casings
*Paul’s recipe makes around 10-12 sausages, so for making 24 I just extrapolated out (fancy word) the quantities.
OK, there are a tonne of great resources on the web for a complete run through of the sausage making process, and in fact, I recommend just buying Paul Peacock’s book if you are interested in making sausages. I won’t try to give a full guide here as it would ramble on for ages. Instead, I am going to summarise some key things I have learned since I started making sausages.
1) Things: One cannot make sausages without the things that one needs to make sausages. These being:
Meat grinder with sausage stuffing attachments/tubes
Sausage skins - by far the most intimidating part of sausage making. Finding them is the first hurdle. You can buy them online, from some butchers or you can find collagen skins in Lakeland. I recommend ordering skins online, and preferably spooled on plastic tubes.
A good recipe – see Paul Peacock’s book.
Ingredients – see a shop.
2) What’s cooler than being cool? ICE COLD (thanks Outkast): Keep everything cold when you are working with sausages. Cold meat, cold equipment, and if possible a cold room. Keeping everything cold while grinding meat, and stuffing the sausages prevents the fat from smearing. Smearing is bad, as it can ruin the texture of your sausage. Before grinding meat I put it in the freezer until it becomes crunchy on the outside. I also put the metal parts of my grinder that will come into contact with the meat in the freezer for half an hour before grinding, and I do the same with the kit before stuffing the sausage meat into the casings (of course I clean it first!)
3) Give me some skin: As mentioned above, I prefer to get skins that have already been spooled onto a tube like these ones here. These have been preserved with salt and need to have a good soak of at least two hours, but once soaked they can be transferred onto the stuffing tube of your machine really easily. No messing about.
4) Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance: The first few times you try stuffing meat into sausage skins, accept that something will probably go wrong. The skins might burst, your machine might get too warm, you’ll use the wrong size of tube in relation to the diameter of the skins. Just take it. Accept it. It won’t be the end of the world and I bet your batch of sausages will still be salvageable.
5) Going round the twist: Watch videos on YooChoob to learn how to twist links into a string of sausage – like this one. No matter how many times you read the explanation in a book, seeing is always better and will lead to you becoming a lot less emotional about it.
Right, back to my batch of sausages for Saturday. This was the first time I had made a batch larger than a dozen. No biggie, the process is just the same, right? Hmm, yeah but when you have only one pair of hands, a small kitchen and need to work quickly while everything is cool, it can get a bit daunting. Luckily, I only had a couple of mishaps with small skin breakages (the sausage skin not mine – no one is being fed my blood, calm down) and air bubbles, so this could have gone a lot worse. However, I have to admit I nearly did cock it up slightly right at the end (not the best expression to use when talking about sausages, is it?). I had read on a sausage making blog that you can get that annoying last bit of sausage meat that always gets stuck in the machine pushed through the stuffer by scrunching up a paper towel and pushing it down the grinder head. NEVER DO THIS. Never, ever, ever, ever do this. It jammed my machine up completely. No sausages were harmed during this incident as I had already tied off the string I needed for the 24 sausages (and two little runts of the litter).
To keep the sausages fresh for Saturday I have frozen them, which is fine in my book.
It was time consuming – as making sausages tends to be – but it was so worth it to see the finished product and say “I did that”. And that’s what it’s all about. Try making your own sausages – I really can’t recommend it enough!