Paul Flynn: Three dishes to tempt even fussy eaters

Rigatoni with mortadella; stump, sausages and gravy; and baked rice with spiced chicken

Stump, sausages and apple gravy. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Stump, sausages and apple gravy. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

 

Earlier in the year, during the national lockdown, I threw the toys out of the pram and refused to cook for my children. I’d been at it night and day for weeks and my nerves were jangled with their terms and conditions. If I could have put them up on eBay, I would have.

Perhaps I shouldn’t always expect them to like what we adults enjoy. It is the struggle of every parent to get their children to eat what we see as the right things. I am quite fond of the little darlings though, so I’ll persevere and try to feed them what I deem healthy, with a little adventure thrown in. Of course there is always the possibility I could be wrong with my choices. But then I think, wrong? Moi?

Always hopeful, I want to introduce some new flavours to the more adventurous households. Pasta and cabbage is a lovely combination that I use frequently and now I’m adding mortadella. I’m a huge fan of this meat, it’s like posh luncheon sausage. The fat makes it a bit of a no-go option in my house, but I love it in a crisp ciabatta sandwich, its richness cut with a perky chutney. If I can’t convince you to use mortadella, use Parma ham or salami, they’ll be gorgeous too.

I love root vegetables. Stump originates in Belgium, a place where I spent a very happy weekend this time last year – seems like a lifetime ago. I didn’t come across “stoemp” in Ghent, but my love of root vegetables knows no bounds so I’m very happy to include this lovely mash here.

The chicken dish is a very tasty mish mash, designed to use leftover cooked chicken that I deliberately overcook to achieve a pleasingly crisp texture. Chicken crackling is what I’m aiming for, with a little Indian twist provided by the garam masala. Some naan bread would be lovely with this.

Rigatoni, cabbage, sage and mortadella. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Rigatoni, cabbage, sage and mortadella. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

RIGATONI, CABBAGE, SAGE AND MORTADELLA

Serves four

Ingredients

350g rigatoni pasta, penne will work too

80g butter

10 sage leaves

Zest of half a lemon

Half a green cabbage, washed and shredded

Salt and black pepper

6 slices of mortadella, torn into pieces

Lots of grated Parmesan

Method

1 Put the pasta into a pot of boiling salted water with a little oil and start to cook.

2 Meanwhile melt the butter and allow it to bubble a little.

3 Tear the sage leaves in half and add to the butter along with the lemon zest.

4 When the pasta is nearly cooked, add the cabbage to the pot and cook for two more minutes, then strain, reserving 100ml of the cooking water.

5 Add the pasta (with the cabbage) and the water to the sage and lemon butter, season and turn everything together.

6 Divide into warm bowls, drape the mortadella on top and serve with lashings of Parmesan.

Stump, sausages and apple gravy. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Stump, sausages and apple gravy. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

STUMP, SAUSAGES AND APPLE GRAVY

Serves four

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes, King Edward or Maris Piper are good

2 carrots

1 small turnip

80g butter

200ml milk

Salt and white pepper

Pinch nutmeg (optional)

8 of your favourite sausages

100ml apple juice

200ml readymade beef gravy (powdered will do)

1 tbsp country relish

A sprig of thyme or rosemary

Method

1 Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut into roughly 3cm chunks.

2 Peel and dice the turnip into smaller dice.

3 Boil the vegetables in salted water until tender, then mash with the butter and milk, then season and add the nutmeg.

4 Meanwhile pan-fry the sausages until cooked. This will of course depend on their thickness.

5 Remove the sausages from the pan and keep them warm.

6 Add the apple juice to the pan to deglaze it, then add the gravy, the relish and the thyme.

7 Simmer the gravy for one minute to bring everything together.

8 Serve the stump and sausages on warm plates with plenty of the gravy.

Baked rice, spiced frazzled chicken, chickpeas, mango yoghurt. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Baked rice, spiced frazzled chicken, chickpeas, mango yoghurt. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

BAKED RICE, SPICED FRIZZLED CHICKEN, CHICKPEAS, MANGO YOGHURT

Serves four

Ingredients

500ml light chicken stock

250g basmati rice

Peel of half a lemon

Salt and pepper

2 cooked chicken legs

50g butter

2tbsp sunflower oil

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tsp garam masala

1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp mango chutney

150g natural yoghurt

Method

1 Set your oven to 180 degrees.

2 Bring the chicken stock to a simmer, tip the rice in, add the lemon then season.

3 Put a lid on the rice then bake it for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile shred the chicken and its skin. Put on a small roasting tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until very crisp.

5 Melt the butter in the oil, add the onions and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes until they start to caramelise.

6 Add the garam masala and cook for two minutes, then add the chickpeas and the chicken, then season. When it is heated through, it is ready.

7 Ripple the chutney through the yoghurt and serve with the rice and spiced chicken.

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