Black pudding and sausage pasta

2

A GREAT AND RICH TAKE ON SUGO DI SALSICCE 

IMG_5577

This is a richly satisfying, luxurious pasta dish and a great way to eat the mighty black pudding. I adore the stuff. It goes well with the pasta and the sausages and looks velvety dark on the plate. Be bold and brave – give it a go as soon as possible!

You will be glad you did!

FOR 4

2 tbsps Olive oil
4 Italian fresh pork sausages, meat removed from skins and crumbled (if you can’t get them easily – just use good quality pork sausages)
100 gm of a good black pudding sliced
1 small  onion peeled and chopped.
Good pinch of dried red chillies
2 bay leaves
Small handful of fresh rosemary or tbsp of dried
Half a glass of red wine
500 gm passata
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500 gm rigatoni

Parmesan to serve

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the sausage meat, stirring and breaking up the pieces.
After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run, add the onion, garlic, chilli, rosemary bay leaves and a little grind of sea salt and black pepper.

Cook gently for almost 30 mins until the onions are browning. Add the black pudding. Stir for about five minutes to let the black pudding cook and crumble slightly with the sausage mixture.

Pour in the wine, increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates. Now add the passata, lower the heat, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Cook the pasta and  drain well. Add the pasta back to its pan and stir in the sauce mix then serve to a hushed reverence!

Morcilla Puttanesca…hot stuff

2

Morcilla Puttanesca...hot stuff

Tonight was a time for a store cupboard piece of magic. And it happened. We all fancied something with bite, something with a kick…but the cupboards seemed bare. So…imagination kicked in…ingenuity….and I came up with this dish…which I will definitely make again.

For 4

Half a black pudding
400gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Pinch of dried chilli seeds
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 red pepper cut into strips
2 slices smoked bacon cut into small pieces
Small bunch of coriander chopped
Mix of borlotti beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans
Olive oil

In a wok, heat the olive oil and add the red pepper and garlic. Fry for about 2 minutes then add the red chilli, chill seeds and the bacon. Fry for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans and coriander. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick. Pan fry separately the black pudding and then crumble into the sauce.

Serve with steamed saffron rice. This is a winner of a dish. Simple, fragrant, tasty and rich. And cheap too!

Top Tapas Types and Tips…and an Olé to Olives!

1

 “Eat when you drink, drink when you eat” is the Spanish philosophy. Spanish men traditionally drink outside the home and rarely alone. Tapas are not meant to be a meal (although a racion is a substantial portion). One tapa per person and a different one with each drink is the idea, then everyone enjoys tasting and sharing. Tapas food is real food – good local ingredients presented with flair. I adore morcilla, a Spanish version of black pudding (and being Lancastrian by birth black pudding is in my DNA !), frequently served as a tapa. The morcilla of Burgos is the most renowned. I love wafer like slithers of manchego cheese served in a little olive oil, cubes of tortilla, patatas bravas, pan fried chorizo, slices of bread rubbed with tomato with a slice of serrano ham on top, garlicky prawns. Where ever you go there are different ideas and combinations; they are never boring. The name changes from region to region. Montaditos, pinchos (pintxos in Basque), banderillas, raciones, cazuelitas, pulguitas – all are variations on the same theme.  Chiefly though, there are three main types according to how easy they are to eat: cosas de picar, pinchos and cazuelas. Cosas de picar – meaning ‘things to nibble’ basically refers to finger food- in other words anything that can be easily picked up with fingers and thumb alone.

Image

(above) Ornate ceiling of a favourite tapas bar in Barcelona…

The supreme example of this is I guess, the mighty olive. They are so Spanish. They even look Spanish! Spain offers the punter an estimated 260 different varieties of olive, from the shimmering olive groves that spread over a considerable sweep of the country. While many of these varieties are grown for olive oil there is still a huge selection grown for the table, to be enjoyed as plain black or green olives or stuffed with a variety of tasty fillings as part of a tapas selection. Here are the key varieties that you will come across.

The Manzanilla olive is perhaps one of the best known Spanish olives. From the small town in Andalusia also famed for its sherry, this is a juicy green olive that is often pitted and stuffed with anchovies, pimento or garlic. This is also the olive most often used in martinis.

The Arbequina olive is a small earthy green olive grown predominantly in Catalonia with a delicate, mild, smoky flavour, very popular as a table olive. Then we have the Empeltre olive – a medium sized Spanish olive of a purplish black colour and elongated shape. It is often served soaked in sherry as a special tapas dish. It is also a popular olive for making a black olive spread (tapenade) with a wonderful deep flavour.

The Sevillano or Queen olive has large, plump, round fruit. It is mostly grown for the table rather than for oil and is generally brine cured and stuffed with a variety of fillings.

The Picual olive tree is the predominant variety for olive oil production in many areas of Southern Spain. The large black olives of the younger trees are excellent for curing as table olives with a peppery, firm flesh.

The Hojiblanca olive is mostly used for oil, but has an intense flavour as a table olive, with fruity and peppery overtones and a hint of nuttiness.

The Picolimon olive is round and juicy with a fresh citrus flavour that goes well with many other foods and is great in salads.

The Verdial olive is a large dark olive with a robust flavour, perfect for olive lovers who like a full spicy taste. These are just a very few of the amazing types on offer.

Today Spain is the world’s biggest producer of olives and olive oil, with vast swathes of olive groves spreading over southern Spain, especially Andalusia. It was the Phoenicians who first brought the olive tree to Spain, but the Ancient Romans are credited with establishing vast farms of olives, often owned by absentee landlords who lived back in Rome. Although Italy produced its own olives, the Romans relied on Spain as a major supplier of olive oil to the Empire. The Moorish invasion of Spain in the 8th century AD developed and sustained the olive industry in Southern Spain, as it declined in many other parts of the former Roman Empire, introducing new varieties and production methods. 800 years later when the last of the Moors left Spain and it was ruled by Catholic kings, a taste for olive oil was considered to indicate suspicious sympathies for the old regime and believe it or not, lard was re-established as the principle cooking fat in all but the southern regions of Spain. As a Mancunian raised with lard in his diet I can only admire the idea, but today, give me olive oil every time!

Image

(above) A favourite tapas bar of ours in Zaragoza…