Saturday, 4 June 2011

A ménage à Mortadella

I've been doing so much gardening lately that I've got really behind on the blog.. I'm going to have to do a hell of a lot of posts over the next few days to get even close to catching up!

But anyway, this I hope will be a good start being as it will be a fairly bumper post of recipes using the mortadella that I brought back from Rome (strictly speaking it's called mortazza in Rome).  Mortadella actually originates from Bologna and is a firm, pink Italian sausage that is heavily seasoned and studded with little cubes of fat that give it it's prized melt in the mouth texture, and usually some other ingredient such as pistachios, peppercorns or even truffles. 

I chose to use it in a few pasta recipes and also a Sformato (loosely translated as a savoury, moulded dish -kind of like a denser soufflé) for something a little different.

Linguine alla mortadella 
Serves 2

2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves Garlic, thickly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I use the Korean type)
small onion, finely chopped

80g Mortadella, cut into 1cm dice
small tin whole peeled tomatoes, drained but juice reserved
120ml Milk
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1½ tablespoons Pecorino Romano plus extra to serve
2tsp chopped fresh Parsley
150g linguine
knob of butter (about 10g)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil - and I'll say again, "as salty as the sea"...

Meanwhile, drain the tinned tomatoes, chopping them up to release more juice, then reserve the juice and the tomatoes separately. 

In a sauté pan over a medium high heat, add the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion. Cook slowly for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring all the while.

Add the diced Mortadella and continue to sauté, stirring, over medium high heat for approximately 5 - 7 minutes until the Mortadella pieces start to brown.

Add the chopped tomato and continue to sauté for a further 2 minutes. Then add the reserved tomato juices and reduce the heat slightly to simmer for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the milk and continue to simmer for about 15 - 20 more minutes.

Taste for salt and sugar, then add both to taste (the amounts listed above are a guideline). Stir well and simmer for 2 -3 more minutes.

When the sauce is ready stir in the pecorino and parsley.

The pasta should be cooked according to the instructions on the packet then drained and added to the pan with the sauce.  Stir through so that the pasta is well coated.

Serve immediately and sprinkle with more fresh parsley and also more cheese if you like.

I subsequently did another version of this, the second time I melted in some Nduja, added some chopped sage and oregano and also some wine and didn't bother separating the tomatoes from their juice. Subtly different and just as good.

Potato Sformato with Mortadella & Mozzarella
Serves 2 greedy gluttons (ahem)

550g potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
65g mortadella, cut into (¼ dice)
115g buffalo mozzarella, cut into ½ in dice
130ml warm milk
lightly beaten egg
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
butter, diced
1 tbsp parmesan reggiano
Preheat the oven to 180° & lightly butter a baking dish. Bring the potatoes to the boil in a saucepan of salted water and cook until tender (about 12 mins) then drain well.

Mash the potatoes, stirring in the milk and season well with salt and pepper.

Fold in the mortadella and mozzarella, and when combined stir in the beaten egg. Spread the potato mixture  in the prepared baking dish. 

Dot the top with the butter cubes then sprinkle with the parmesan and bake in the top of the oven for about 30 mins until bubbling.  Finally pop under the grill for about 2 minutes until burnished on top. 

Let rest for a few minutes before serving with a mixed leaf salad topped with pickled green chillis.

While cooking this and as I had a little mozzarella left over so made myself a little antipasti with that, lovely ripe and fragrant tomatoes and some torn basil.  Sprinkled with some sea salt & freshly ground black pepper and scooped it up with a teaspoon.  

My, even if I say so myself, amazing Ragu
Serves 2

(I say serves 2 but it's well worth at least doubling and freezing or refrigerating half for another day as it will only improve)

25g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
35 g cubed mortadella (or pancetta, or even streaky bacon)
125g minced beef
125g minced pork
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ star anise
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped (d-rib with a peeler if needs be)
1 bayleaf
50g mushrooms, finely chopped
100ml good dry white wine
1 teaspoon tomato purée (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
375g tinned tomatoes (or pasatta)
75ml whole milk
sage & rosemary, finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 80C. Heat the oil and butter in an oven proof sauté pan and cook the mortadella for about 5 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, bay and star anise, and cook on a low heat for half an hour (or until caramel & soft - at leats 20 minutes), tucking the bay leaf in.

Add the carrots & cook for a further 20 minutes.

Add the celery & mushrooms & cook for 10 minutes more.

Add the minced meat - break up & press down and leave for at least 3-4 mins until browned. Then turn and mix up and leave to brown again for a further 3 or so minutes.

Season generously, add the milk, then grate over a little nutmeg and cook very gently for at least a further half an hour, until the milk has just about disappeared.

Add the wine and, puree (if using) & tomatoes. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes then transfer the pan to the oven, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook for at least 2 hours (you can leave on the hob under a very low heat if you wish - use a simmer mat).

Add some butter when the ragu is ready before mixing in some freshly cooked pasta (about 75g dried per person).

Serve with freshly cooked tagliatelle and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, if desired, but apparently purists like their ragu without (nutters!).

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