cooking for men (wddc): sausage and ciabatta bake

This is a perfect recipe for all those blokes out there who reckon they can’t cook. It’s simple, really nourishing and will impress the pants off your wife/girlfriend – figuratively fellas, but hey you never know!

Well if that hasn’t got your attention…Anyway this is based on a Bill Grainger recipe that I came across in the Independent. I didn’t take a photo of the finished meal (hey I love cooking but I’m not a food nerd) to show you so I’ve ‘borrowed’ the image above from one of his books – I hope he forgives me in lieu of the publicity and the praise;  his recipes can be inspired. I’ve tweaked this one to make it even easier. First off the ingredients – this’ll feed up to 4:

–  a pack of 6 sausages. Now I personally would use the pork and apple variety – which almost all supermarkets now stock – because the apple bits add a nice texture during the baking.

–  some slices of chorizo sausage, either from a link or from a pack of ready sliced, again widely available. Now this is entirely  optional but I like adding some chorizo to other sausage – when it cooks it generates a rich deep orange oil which adds fantastically to the taste and the look of this and other dishes.

–  some small/new potatoes.

– a half loaf of ciabatta bread – it’s easy to find  twin packs of smallish ciabattas these days and they are perfect for this. Use one and bang the other in the freezer for next time.

–  a bunch of small juicy tomatoes on the vine – cherry or perino varieties are great for this.

–  some quartered chestnut mushrooms

–  depending on your taste, 4-6 garlic cloves unpeeled.

–  two sprigs of rosemary (or dried from your herb jar collection)

–  a pinch of dried chilli flakes (worth buying to add to our herb collection)

–  olive oil – of course!

–  some crunchy salt and black pepper.

–  this is optional but maybe some salad as a side dish. There are loads of great mixed leaf versions in the supermarkets these days. Add some quickly fried pine nuts and the juices from the chorizo and a dash of lime to liven it up. Check out online how Jamie Oliver produces his salads for his 30 minute meals – they are brilliant.

–  finally, crack of glass of really chilled white wine or a cold beer. This is going to be thirsty work and you deserve to enjoy the cooking. Have a slurp and let’s crack on.

Now Bill suggests you roast the sausages straight off but here’s my twist on it. Using some kitchen scissors cut the individual sausage links  into 4 pieces and  flash fry with some chorizo slices in some olive oil in a hot pan for a few minutes. Keep turning the sausages so that the meat gets seared all over. You should start to see the bits of apple spew out of the sausage meat and cook and brown off.

Once nicely seared transfer the sausage and chorizo to a roasting tin, add in chunks of the ciabatta bread which should be torn off in bite size chunks and the whole garlic cloves. Glug some olive oil over the lot and place in a warm oven. Keep the rich juices in the frying plan and add the small potatoes sliced up like draughts pieces and fry them off quickly on both sides. Add to the roasting tin. Add the quartered mushrooms to the frying pan, quickly fry and add to the roasting tin too. Now add the frying pan juice if you don’t want to use it over the salad and a bit more oil if necessary and sprinkle the rosemary leaves and chilli flakes and season with the salt and pepper. Toss the mixture a bit, turn up the heat to around 200-210C and relax for a bit. Have a well-deserved slurp. Ahh.

Now the meat and potatoes are part cooked. Let them roast away nicely for say 15 minutes. Take the tin out to see how things are going and give the mix another toss. Perhaps let it roast for another 10 minutes then take the tin out again, shake around a little and add a good sprig or two of tomatoes evenly across the mix. Another small glug of olive may be handy and a refresh of pepper onto the toms. You should be seeing that the ciabatta is absorbing the oily juices and turning a deeper colour. Return to the oven for a further blast. The toms should be oozing, the meat nicely cooked and the ciabatta just sensational. Voila.

Serve straight from the roasting tin with the salad you prepared during the roasting process. Have a proper slurp, re-fill the glass and bask in the  praise.

The secret to this dish is keeping an eye on it. Toss it frequently if you wish, add a little oil if necessary as you go along but don’t let it over-cook. That ciabatta should be crunchy and a rich golden brown colour and the sausage nicely cooked all the way through. That’s the beauty of cutting into pieces. It’ll look all odd-shaped as it sort of flowers whilst cooking but it’ll taste delicious as it absorbs some of the chorizo juice, which gives a zingyness to the potatoes and mushrooms too.

It’s a dish which is Italian in origin and if this doesn’t get you some bella brownie points I’ll eat my capello.

Buon appetito



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