Monday, 18 November 2013

Good, hearty cooking.

Sausage, braised red cabbage, leeky mashed potato.
Simple, tasty, satisfying.
This meal seems to encapsulate all that we are trying to achieve
here on the smallholding.

I've just been searching out recipes for the Cavolo Nero which is looking so enticing in the veg patch at the moment and I came across this inspiring piece of writing.

It’s not often that we serve up peasants meals  in this modern high flying twenty first century that we find ourselves living in now. No it’s more about weekday meals made from duck breast, fillet of beef and free range chickens, how disillusioned are we? I think we have lost appreciation for good hearty meals cooked with love and understanding, recipes like this one. Throw in perhaps a couple of ingredients from our own gardens, and then, only then,will I think we are heading back in the right direction of appreciating good food cooked well.
It breaks my heart when you see everyone trying to recreate restaurant meals at home to eat everyday. I think it’s wrong and we are making out as if good old fashioned home cooking is something of the past,but it isn’t and it’s got to come back and deserves a place at our table . Restaurant meals should be for those special occasions when we have worked hard to save the pennies  and can really appreciate its value.

For more, look here, but don't forget to come back to my blog!

The quote above sums up better than I could ever express just how I felt and what I thought when I made this meal. It doesn't look much, but this is the tastiest meal I've had in a long, long time. Sausage from our own pig, braised red cabbage and mashed potato with leek.
A little sugar and red wine vinegar in the red cabbage were the only ingredients which didn't come straight from the smallholding. This is not unusual these days, but what made this meal so special was that it somehow captured the spirit of what we are trying to achieve here.

Here's the recipe, so to speak. Sorry if it's not very precise, it's just the way I cook. I'm not trying to be a recipe website.
You can easily find others, probably just as good, on the interweb.

One or two sausages per person, preferably from your own pig! If not, buy the best you can get. It really will be worth it.
Fry slowly till evenly browned all over. A good quality sausage shouldn't need oil or fat for frying.

Braised Red Cabbage - this will make loads, at least enough for a family. It keeps well in the fridge for the next day and the flavours develop.
Pick one small red cabbage, trim, wash and slice thinly.
Slice and lightly fry between one and three onions - depends on size of onions and how much you like onion. I prefer red for this recipe. Colour and sweetness goes well with the red cabbage.
Add in a glug of red wine vinegar (I used some old sherry vinegar as I'd run out), one or 2 spoonfuls of brown sugar (doesn't really matter what sort), all the cabbage and a chopped up cooking apple.
Then some spices. Here you can add your own stamp. I used about a teaspoon of ground allspice and the same of nutmeg. Finally add about 100ml of stock and bring to the boil.
Simmer for at least an hour, so that all the liquid cooks off. If necessary, add more liquid - water is fine.
Taste towards the end and add whatever you like - salt, pepper, more spices...

Mashed potato and leeks
Make mashed potatoes - I'm not telling you how to do this!
Pick a couple of leeks from the plot, trim, wash and lightly fry with a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed. Increase or decrease this depending on how much you like garlic.
When everything's cooked, simply mix it all together. I like to add a good sprinkle of pepper to zing it up a little. 

The timings on the three components of this meal are all very loose so you don't end up rushing to get everything done in a couple of minutes at the end.

So there you have it. A simple, delicious, tasty meal made from ingredients which are all ready at the same time of year.
And back to that quote about hearty home cooking compared to restaurant meals. On a slightly different tack, I could rant for pages on the subject of processed foods and ready meals. But I won't. If you understand what I mean about good, hearty cooking, I'll be preaching to the converted.

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