There’s been a little pause in the blog…mostly because I had a little excitement: I co-hosted the Italian morning radio show Amici on CHIN Radio here in Toronto yesterday! More about that tomorrow…but first we need to get to a recipe! The last recipe of All Food February is a big one. Firstly, it’s about sausages, which is a request I get a lot. But secondly, it’s for a sausage recipe I can’t find anywhere else. Have you ever made potato and pork sausages?
This recipe comes from my husband’s family. He fondly remembers eating these as a kid on family road trips. They would pack the sausages, straight from the freezer, into tin foil and place them in the back windshield of the car to warm up in the summer sun as they drove to their destination. The recipe itself is typical of southern Italian cooking, and Italian austerity measures, as it uses potatoes as a filler for meat (which there wasn’t a lot of years ago).
Last year my husband decided he wanted to make these sausage that he hadn’t had in years and we searched desperately for a recipe. We found nothing: not on food recipe sites, not in books, not even on blogs. I started to doubt that it was possible to even make these sausages (wouldn’t the potato go bad?) and only came around when I was watching an episode of Lidia’s Italy and she was mentioning different types of sausages found in Italy. Potato and pork were mentioned – so they do exist! Too bad she didn’t give a recipe for them! We ended up inviting over the Nonni and got to work putting this old recipe back together and making some mighty fine dried sausages.
The recipe is approximate, you’ll need to gauge your needs based on the amount of pork you use and the flavours you want. As always, before you dive into recipes that preserve meat be sure to read up on proper meat handling and curing techniques.
Potato & Pork Sausage
1 pork shoulder, ground
Equal part boiled potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred)
1 liter of red pepper sauce
2 handfuls of salt
1/2 a handful of fennel
2 tablespoons dried hot pepper flakes
Two things got me thinking about today’s recipe: first the garlic, onions and asparagus that have started to pop up in the garden thanks to this early spring and second, Aurora Importing’s contest asking what your favourite Nonna recipe is. A fresh asparagus frittata is a great way to welcome spring but doing it slow and over low heat makes it crispy the way my grandparents used to make it. Unlike common Italian frittatas, made with just eggs, my grandparents used cornmeal in their recipe which I suspect was a way, back when times were rough, to add a filler and extend the use of expensive eggs. The result though is a beautifully golden and crispy frittata. Here’s the recipe…my celebration of spring and home cooking.
In the Italian-Canadian year, because it is marked by big events, January and February are sausage season (and capicollo and soppressata season). In truth, I’m not the biggest fan of cured meats. Though I’ll eat my share, what I like best about the whole process is that it becomes a big family get together. And, of course, we make things from scratch and we know exactly what is in the food we are eating. Here are a few photos from the yearly process.
It’s sausage season (that’s January and February to the uninitiated) and there’s always a few sausages that break and really should be used immediately. And really no one minds, because no matter how you prepare it, fresh ingredients taste great. Here’s what we had this week: it’s quick, easy, and makes you wish there were more left overs (this recipe should feed four).
Pasta with beans and sausage / Pasta con fagioli e salsiccia
2 cups dry pasta (penne work best, but that’s just my opinion)
1 fresh sausage link (7 oz of ground pork meat, cured with salt, hot peppers and red pepper paste)
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
6 oz romano beans
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste