Casarecce with Pork Sausage, Cavolo Nero and Chilli

Serves: 4 – 6

It has been a busy couple of months for us.

Moving house, overseas, work, kids, weddings, kids and more kids.

We’ve also been super calorie focused, with no meal exceeding 300 calories. No kidding!

But now we’re done.

And with a new courtyard, a new kitchen and Spring finally feeling like Spring, we’re back into cooking wonderful weekend lunches.

Like this one, which is as good as you would get in a restaurant.

It is surprisingly light, with the garlic, chilli and fennel creating a really sophisticated base. The casarecce is a great pasta (found at Harris Farm) and the cavolo nero (kale) fills the whole thing out in a really clever way.

This is definitely a pasta you should try and one that we would cook again.

9 out of 10.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
6 thick pork and fennel sausages, skins removed, broken into bite-sized pieces
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 cups (firmly packed) roughly torn cavolo nero (1 bunch)
500gm dried casarecce (or penne or rigatoni)
50gm finely grated Parmesan plus extra to serve
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a large casserole over a high heat, add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until well browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the garlic, rosemary and spices to the pan, season to taste and stir for a minute or two until fragrant. Deglaze with the wine and reduce until almost evaporated, then return the sausage to the pan together with the stock and cavolo nero. Cover with a lid and cook until the the cavolo nero is just wilted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Toss with with the sausage sauce, Parmesan and parsley, season to taste and serve, topped with extra Parmesan.
  4. And wine.

Cavatelli with Pork Ragu

Serves: 8

This is a wonderful braise where is it all about cooking it as slow as possible… and as rich as possible.

The Cavatelli is a wonder, shell pasta pairing.

The really fun part however is the addition of the currants and kale. They really make the ragu pop.

I cooked this dish for Nat and I when she was in hospital waiting for Maxy B to come out. Our home-cooked dinners in the hospital made days of walking the corridors and staring at the roof so much better.

And this dish was one of the best we had during that long week.

Cook, eat, enjoy… and freeze for a dinner next week.

Ingredients

750gm boneless pork shoulder cut into 3cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig oregano
1 bay leaf
1 x 400ml can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
500gm cavatelli or other small shell pasta
1/3 cup dried currants soaked in hot water
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed, torn into 6cm pieces
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more

Method

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over a medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the meat until browned all-over. Set aside.
  2. Drain all but 2 tbsp of fat from the pot; reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, stirring occasionally until golden brown: around 10 minutes.
  3. Tie rosemary, oregano and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine and add to the pot along with the pork, tomatoes, wine, peppercorns, nutmeg and cloves.
  4. Add water just to cover meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, adding more water as needed, until the meat is very tender: around 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Discard the herb bundle. Using 2 forms, shred the meat in the pot and cook, uncovered over a medium heat until the sauce has thickened and you have a ragu.
  6. Cook the past in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.
  7. Add the currants and kale to the ragu and cook until the kale is soft and cooked: around 5 minutes. Mix in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and season again.
  8. Serve the ragu on the pasta, topped with more Parmesan.

Chicken Stew with Mushrooms, Turnips and Kale

Serves: 4 – 6

It might seem odd to cook a stew in the middle of summer, though months since my last stew, I didn’t really care how hot it was outside. After a long day, served with a cold beer, a warm stew is a really nice, stout, filling meal among a summer of prawn salads, watermelon and frozen yoghurt.

I have adapted this recipe by doubling the mushrooms and removing the cornstarch.

You can never have too many mushrooms and the cornstarch adds a nebulous thickness to the stew as well as merely adding calories and processed food to what is otherwise, a healthy, 260 calorie dinner.

As with all stews, the cooking times really are approximate only. I let the mushrooms and onions cook down for 25 minutes and as long as you don’t overdo it and end up with mush, the longer and slower you cook a stew, the better the stew.

Season well, chopped parsley to serve, awesome.

Ingredients

750gm chicken breasts but into 2cm pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large turnips, peels and cut into 2cm pieces
500gm sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups chopped kale (Coles sell chopped, fresh Kale in the vegetable aisle)
750ml chicken stock
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
Salt and cracked pepper

Method

  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over a medium heat; add the chicken, stirring until lightly browned. Around 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the remaining olive oil to the saucepan; add the turnips, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Stir and cook until the onion is limp: 10 – 20 minutes or more. Add the wine and stir in for a minute before adding the stock, rosemary and kale. Bring to the boil and return the chicken (and any juices) to the saucepan. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes or until you have the consistency you are after.
  3. Done!