Sausage and mustard pasta

I’ve not posted on here for a few weeks, it seems like ages anyway. We all had the cold in what seemed like an illness relay race – thankfully the baby’s first cold didn’t seem to bother him too much, the rest of us were very brave too. The baby’s recently learned to sit up and should be ready for solid foods just in time to join in with Christmas dinner, which will be fun. I’ve started working, extremely part-time, but enough that I feel busy (it’s amazing how time consuming someone so small is when you’re trying to fit anything else in too!) and I’ve even managed to start a bit of regular exercise in a bid to shift the last of the baby weight. We’ve been eating a lot of stews (my older son has discovered a deep love of dumplings) which has been great when I have had the time but sometimes we need something a bit quicker to prepare.

This Nigel Slater sausage and mustard pasta fits the bill perfectly. I saw it mentioned on mumsnet and hunted the recipe down, the only alterations I made were to substitute half-fat creme fraiche for the double cream (otherwise what’s the point of all that exercise?!) and to add some chopped fresh thyme to the sausagemeat. The original recipe suggests conchiglie pasta but we had it with fresh egg tagliatelle and it worked well for us.

Olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
300g fresh egg tagliatelle
4-6 sausages (I used a supermarkets ‘premium’ range which were 85% meat)
About a tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
a dollop of smooth mustard, such as Dijon
a dollop of grainy mustard, such as wholegrain
150ml half fat creme fraiche (half a supermarket small tub)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the oil to a hot, shallow, large pan and fry the onions until they are very, very sweet. They want to be soft, not crisp, so put the lid on so they steam as well as fry, say a good 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to packet instructions.
When the onions are caramelised, skin the sausages, mix through the chopped thyme and then rip the meat into good sized chunks and add to the onions and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the parsley (saving some to sprinkle over at the end) and stir in the mustards. It’s up to you to add as much or as little as you like of each. A tablespoon of each is usually enough.
Stir in the creme fraiche and check the seasoning, adding more mustard if you want. Drain the pasta and add to the pan and toss about till its all coated and mixed. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkling of chopped parsley.

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Lamb hot pot and pans envy

I’ve been suffering from serious pans envy recently. This time of year puts me in the mood for hearty, slow cooked dishes that warm you up when it’s cold outside. I have one cast iron le Creuset casserole which I use all the time (as you may well have spotted!) but it’s a shallow pan and while it’s ideal for some things I want a bigger deeper version. We are about to repaint our kitchen in a lovely 50s blue(well, Barry is) and I am already looking at blue le Creuset casseroles and putting one firmly at the top of my Christmas list. (Did I mention Christmas there?? – sorry!!!). One of those casseroles would be ideal for this recipe. It would allow you to brown the meat in the same dish that you put into the oven so you didn’t lose any of the lovely flavour from the bottom of the pot. I don’t have mine (yet!) but I do have a beautiful heart-shaped stoneware casserole which we were lucky enough to get as a wedding present. You can’t use it on the hob but it is a thing of beauty all the same.

Lamb hot pot

  • 600g lamb shoulder
  • 2 Tablespoons plain flour
  • 3 large potatoes – about 600g
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 medium carrots – about 200g
  • 1 big stick of celery – about 100g
  • A generous sprig of fresh thyme
  • A bay leaf
  • 500ml of lamb stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
  • Oil

You will need a deep casserole with a lid.

Preheat the oven to 170.

Toss the lamb in seasoned flour so it is lightly coated. The easiest way to do this is by putting the seasoned flour in a zip lock bag and adding the lamb and jumbling it about.

Heat a tablespoon of oil over a high heat and brown the lamb well then remove from the pan and set aside.

Slice the onions and fry them in the same pan until they are soft and just beginning to brown at the edges.

Slice the carrots thickly and chop the celery roughly.

Place the browned lamb and all the vegetables into your casserole.

Pour the stock in and tuck in the thyme and the bayleaf.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into thick slices.

Layer the potato on top, overlapping the slices.

Dot the potatoes with butter and season with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and cook in the oven for an hour and ten minutes.

Remove the lid and cook for a further 50 minutes.

Serve with something green. We had sliced greens but cabbage would be good, or peas.