A Winter Warmer of a Supper…tagliatelle with leeks and sausages

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A simple yet luxuriant dish to greet your family with on a Jack Frost nipping night.

Try and get hold of the best pork sausages you can – preferably Italian, if not, choose ones with a high meat content.

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For 4

6 sausages

50 gm salted butter

4 tbsps olive oil

1 leek, cut in half lengthways, sliced and rinsed

A small handful of fresh thyme leaves or a good level tbsp of dried

200 gm chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly

100 ml dry white wine

200 mll double cream

500 gm tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta

A good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Skin the sausages and place in a bowl. Add the thyme, and a little salt and a good grind of black pepper. Melt the butter in a  large frying pan – I used a sauté pan. Fry the sausage meat and the leek for 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring and breaking up the sausage meat. Try to crumble the meat as it cooks and browns.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5minutes. Pour in the wine and cook for another minute before pouring in the cream, stirring and cook for 2 minutes on a low heat now.

Set to one side away from the heat. 

Cook your pasta. Drain and tip back into the same pan. Pour over the creamy sausage meat mixture and the parsley and stir everything together well.

I promise you – this is a dish your friends and loved ones will want you to do again and again. I loved making it – another brilliant recipe from Gino D’Acampo. Grazie!

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Chicken and Chestnut Mushroom Casserole…

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A wonderfully warming winter casserole courtesy of Italy and the mighty Gino D’acampo.. This is a dish to lift the spirits – simply and satisfyingly. No cogitation needed – just get on with it! I had some of the sauce left at that end which made the base of a fabulous soup the next evening.

Serves 6

Olive oil

6 medium skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 onion peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peelt and finely chopped

2 celery sticks finely chopped

200 gm chestnut mushrooms chopped roughly

150 ml Italian white wine

400gm tin of chopped tomatoes

100 ml passata

200 ml hot chicken stock

Tsp of sugar

1 tbsp of oregano

So, preheat the oven to 180c. Heat the several good splashes of olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat and fry the chicken breasts for 8 minutes until they are brown all over. Do not move them around. Remove with a slotted spoon and set to none side.

Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to the casserole and fry for 10 minutes over a gentle heat stirring now and then.

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Add the wine, stock, tinned toms and passata plus the sugar and oregano. Return the chicken to the dish along with any juices. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and pop in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. It look good if you can transfer it all at the end onto a large serving platter and bring to the table.

Serve with lots of crusty bread  and bonhomie!

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RED PEPPERS WITH GORGONZOLA

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PERFECT PEPPERS 

FOR 6

3 large red peppers, halved and deseeded

1 tbsp olive oil

200 gm gorgonzola cut into cubes – roughly 2 per pepper half (if poss. get the dolce not the piccante gorgonzola..

To dress

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped

3 tbsps olive oil

Balsamic to drizzle over – I use crema di balsamico – a balsamic glaze

Heat a large frying pan – brush the pepper halves with olive oil inside and out. Pop them in the hot pan cut side down for 5 minutes or so. Turn them over and add 2 pieces of cheese to each one. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Pop the pan then under a hot grill to finish off melting the cheese for about 2 minutes – keep an eye on them!

For the dressing – combine all the ingredients well in a bowl. Arrange the peppers in bowls – drizzle over a little of the dressing and then finish off with a squiggle of the balsamic glaze.

This is a fabulously simple Italian starter from the pages of Gino D’acampo – only tinkered with slightly! You could also use taleggio cheese like Gino…though I have to say the walnuts in the dressing combine mellifluously with the gorgonzola.

It is a surprisingly filling dish too when served with a slice or two of a good rustic bread to mop up the juices. It would be a great lunch dish on its own.

Risotto with Swiss Chard and Italian Sausages…

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When judgment day comes and someone high up in the angelic ranks is weighing everything in the balance, risotto will be marked down as one of the dishes that mankind got right. It is almost fool-proof….as long as you are patient soul. It rewards you with one of the most flavoursome, fulfilling dished that has ever hit a plate-anywhere!

This was lunch today. It was a joy to make and a pleasure to consume. It hit every spot that Eros has thought about.

You may have worked out by now that I am navigating my way through a marvellous book by the wonderful Gino D’acampo and this is my take on his risotto al radicchio rosso e salsiccia. I was fresh out of radicchio but I substituted some sumptuous red swiss chard that was passing the time of day in my fridge. It was a great substitute.

For 4

2 tbsps olive oil

6 Italian sausages or ant really good bangers, skins removed

1 onion finely chopped

2 celery sticks finely chopped

400 gm arborio rice

100 ml white wine

1 litre of chicken stock

150 gm frozen peas

4 leaves of swiss chard finely sliced – or half a head of radicchio – in fact if you were struggling, a bag of spinach would do

125 gm butter

80 grams of grated Parmesan

Black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil and 25 gm of butter in a large sauté pan on a high heat and add the sausage. Fry until golden brown, breaking it up along the way with a wooden spoon. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper and keep warm.

2. In the same pan, add the onion and celery and fry gently for 2 minutes. Add the rice and allow to toast in the pan for 3 minutes. Stir continuously and then pour in the wine. Continue to cook for a further minute.

3. Add 2 ladles of the hot stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue doing this for about 15 minutes – adding a ladle of stock, stirring continuously each time until it has been absorbed. It will be ready when all the stock apart from a ladleful has been absorbed and the rice is al dente.

4. Add the peas and chard, or whatever you are using, and add a final ladle of stock – remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Once the butter has melted, add three quarters of the cooked sausage and stir in. 

5. Serve straight away on plates and add a little drizzle of olive oil to each and a smattering of black pepper.

 A winner of a dish for a Sunday…indeed any day.

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Pollo all’aceto balsamico…

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Chicken with Lardons, Garlic, Thyme and Balsamic Vinegar

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I saw this being cooked on a fabulous t.v. programme by the Italian cook, Gino D’acampo and knew instantly that I had to give it a go. It is simple and the flavours are beyond mere words doing them any justice! I cooked it last Friday, starting at 6.30 pm and we sat down to eat at 8.15pm  – perfect. You could use pancetta instead of lardons. The original recipe calls for asparagus in the salad but it is out of season now, so I went for two greens that complimented each other harmoniously.

For 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
4 chicken drumsticks, bone in and skin on  I just went for the thighs but if you are hungry…do both!
200g smoked lardons, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
A few fresh thyme sprigs
150ml white wine
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the salad

100 gm of young purple sprouting broccoli
100 gm of sliced green beans

200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
A few fresh flat leaf parsley leaves – I used fresh basil leaves instead as I had no parsley!
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid or a casserole dish. Put the chicken pieces in the pan skin-side down and fry for 5–7 minutes until the skin is golden brown and really crispy. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over, season the skin and add the pancetta. Cook for a minute before adding the garlic and thyme. The lardons should be almost crispy when done.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up all the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the alcohol to bubble for a minute, then add the stock. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, adding more stock if the contents of the pan become dry.

While the chicken is cooking, par boil the beans for 6 minutes and remove from pan and drain – pop the broccoli into boiling water for just about 4 minutes until the stems are al dente – so you can just pierce them with a knife. Drain these too. Rinse beans and broc in cold water. Leave to one side – 20 minutes before the chicken is ready pop the broccoli, beans, tomatoes, basil leaves, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then toss everything together. Leave to stand.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat – the sauce should have reduced and thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, return the pan to the heat for 1 minute to warm the sauce, then serve the chicken and sauce with the scrumptious salad.

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This is simply….fantastico! A dish with a wow factor – the salad is such a marvellous change from usual chicken accompaniments and the delectability of the sauce in the chicken dish is remarkable.

Buon appetito!