Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Recipe: Sausage, Fennel + Mushroom Ragu

This sausage ragu is some serious autumn comfort food just waiting to be mopped up by a big chunk of bread! It is a real one-pot wonder: easy to prepare, despite the rather long ingredients list, and leaving minimal washing up. It is also incredibly delicious and makes fantastic leftovers, too. I use a combination of plain pork sausages and a more herby variety, or Italian-style seasoned sausages from the butchers for this. Make sure you get it on the hob with a good two hours' cooking time ahead of you - it is so worth the advance planning... 

Ingredients (serves 4): 

Olive oil 
400g sausages 
1 red onion, finely diced 
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped 
4 garlic cloves, crushed 
4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs sage, chopped 
2 bay leaves 
1 tsp chilli flakes 
150ml white wine 
390g carton passata 
100-200ml vegetable stock (I make 250ml from Swiss Bouillon powder and top up the ragu as necessary)
150g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper 
Handful of grated parmesan, to serve 
Pasta or gnocchi, to serve 

What to do: 

1. Add a generous tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy-based pan (with a lid) over a medium heat. Cut a slit along each sausage and squeeze globules of sausage meat into the pan, breaking it down and crisping it up in the oil slightly. Cook for about 10 minutes. 

2. Next, add the diced onion and fennel along with the garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring and softening over a slightly lower heat. 

3. Add the fresh herbs, chilli flakes, and some seasoning, stir well again and cook for about 5 minutes. 

4. Finally, add the white wine and let it bubble away for a minute or so over a higher heat. Then add the passata and top up the pan with enough stock to cover the sausage meat and vegetables. Bring to a brisk simmer, then reduce the heat to very low and cover the pan.  

5. Cook slowly for around 2 hours, stirring now and again. Remove the lid when you start to prepare your pasta, add the mushrooms, and let the sauce thicken slightly.

Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving topped with a sprinkling of the parmesan, piled onto the carb of your choice! (In case you're cooking for a tough crowd of little ones, this recipe received the toddler's seal of approval too!). 

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