One dish wonders


Two simple, tasty midweek suppers for your repertoire, writes DOMINI KEMP

MOST COUPLES I know seem to have a relatively decent household chore-sharing thing going on. And when you question who does what, more often than one would think, I find out that it’s the blokes who seem to do more cooking around the house, with well-fed partners quite happy to do the washing up in return. At my home, though, I do most of the cooking, which is fine and works for us, but there are times when I am extremely grateful to have a plate of food plonked down in front of me. I genuinely enjoy cooking at home, but sometimes it can tip me over the edge when I’m tired, grumpy and starving, with looming deadlines and childer on the loose. There are also times when there is nothing to eat in the house and it’s just pasta with olive oil and garlic and, if we’re lucky, a shaving of rock-hard Parmesan, or the other emergency favourite, scrambled eggs with grilled cheese and tomatoes on toast.

So, despite my husband’s pathetic attempts to wriggle out of cooking, I find that, like most people who don’t particularly enjoy cooking, he’s got a couple of dishes up his sleeve that he does particularly well. Maybe because his cooking repertoire isn’t vast, he feels it’s somehow inferior. But for my money, one or two great dishes are perfectly acceptable, especially if cooking isn’t your thing.

Both of these dishes are good for people to make if they’re not adventurous or confident in the kitchen. They are both heavy on the fat content and so are very much for evenings when you need a bottle of red wine and some good bread. Salad can make a brief appearance, but they are dishes that you will gladly eat when really hungry.

The sausage casserole is a great way to jazz up a bangers-and-mash-type dinner and is also a great dish to leave in the oven indefinitely, which is especially handy when ETAs are up in the air. The chorizo and pasta dish is fantastically tasty and one of my favourite dishes to eat, mainly because I love the fact that a bit of time and care goes into chopping the chorizo and tomatoes into very small chunks and reserving every little bit of tomato juice that spills out on to the chopping board. It’s a dish that’s bullish and rustic and very delicious.

Casserole of sausages with mash

This is based on a Galton Blackiston recipe. Any eating apples will do, and feel free to add some Tabasco sauce if you like to spice it up.

Serves 4-6

12 pork sausages

Splash sunflower oil

2 large Spanish onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Good glug of olive oil

6 smoked streaky rashers

1 tsp caster sugar

Approximately 24 button mushrooms

250ml red wine

Worcestershire sauce, to taste

600ml beef stock

2 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

Preheat an oven to 180 degrees/gas mark four. In a large, non-stick frying pan, fry the sausages in a little sunflower oil until they are well browned, but not necessarily cooked. You just want to get good colour on them. Set them aside, after draining them on kitchen paper.

Wipe out the pan and then fry the onions in the olive oil until they are soft. Add the garlic and bacon, turn up the heat and add a spoonful of caster sugar. When this is starting to caramelise and crisp around the edges, add the button mushrooms, which you can leave whole. Mix well and add the red wine and a good few splashes of Worcestershire sauce. Reduce the wine by half, and then add the stock and apples. Mix well and then pour into a casserole dish.

Nestle the sausages strategically in the gratin dish and bake for about 30 minutes. This will happily stay put in a lower oven for a further 30 minutes if left covered with foil. Hearty and delicious.

Fancy mash

4 large baking potatoes

75ml milk

75ml cream

Sprigs of rosemary and thyme

75g butter

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Salt and pepper

Make a light slit around the potato’s equator and bake the spuds in a hot oven – around 200 degrees/gas mark six for at least an hour or so. The skin should be crisp and the flesh very soft when you insert a knife. Allow them to cool while you bring the milk and cream, along with the rosemary and thyme, just to the boil.

When the spuds are just about cool enough to hold in your hand (possibly with the buffer of a tea towel), scoop out the flesh and mash with a masher or fork, along with the butter and garlic. Add the milk and cream mixture (minus the herb sprigs) and season well. You can re-heat this but you may need to add some more milk and butter.

Garvan’s tomato and chorizo pasta

Serves 4

100ml olive oil

6 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper

1 decent chorizo sausage

1 punnet of the juiciest, sweetest, ripest baby tomatoes

1 tsp Demerara sugar

500g penne pasta

Heat the olive oil very gently while you hunker down and peel and crush the garlic and chop the chorizo into very small pieces or cubes, the smaller the better. Do the same with the baby or cherry tomatoes. Next, add the garlic to the oil and gently poach in the oil. Season this oil and garlic mixture very well, and cook it very gently – do not colour the garlic. Add the chorizo and then the chopped tomatoes, making sure all the juice and bits go into the pan, and then add a teaspoonful of Demerara sugar.

This needs to cook slowly for about 30 minutes on the gentlest of heats. Boil the penne in plenty of boiling water, and when it is cooked, drain it, splash with some olive oil and toss with the pasta sauce. Lots of Parmesan and a beefy red wine make this a very more-ish supper. See also