Six months into life after television and I miss only two things – the news and chilling out in front of a cookery programme. So as we are currently away for a few days in a little cottage with a large TV, I am catching up on both types of viewing. In fact, as I type, I am cringing as some poor hopeful on MasterChef is being told his deconstructed Poussin pie has no redeeming quality – #awkward. Maybe he will go home, comfort eat a properly constructed chicken pie and realise you don’t have to be a Master Chef to cook well (or even for a living). Just watch Donal Skehan!
I really enjoy Donal – despite how ridiculously clean cut and smiley he is. I can turn a blind eye to the Jamie Oliver (circa 2000) cloning, the Daniel O’Donnellesqe “niceness” and the recent cringe-worthy YouTube vlogs. Why? Because his recipes are so, so simple and generally work out really well. Donal is no master chef; he is a home cook and a blogger, just trying to create simple, tasty dishes. And this he does very well. You can watch, adapt, cook and eat. Not all chefs can claim such success. And that is why the world can’t seem to get enough of him at the moment. Last night he made tortellini soup, sausage pasta, a crostini of some sort and a salad. Cordon Bleu it ain’t. But can Joe and Josephine Soap attempt it and succeed – absolutely.
So inspired by my viewing of Meals in Minutes last night, I cooked a simple pasta supper tonight. This dish is based on Donal’s Pork & Fennel Ragu but slowed down and changed up a little. Fennel reminds me of shots of Pernod in dodgy nightclubs during my late teens, and no good ever came from that, so there will be no fennel for me. Ever. Or Aniseed. Or Liquorice. Or shots of Sambuca. Soz! And the original recipe has spinach, which my husband confuses with arsenic, so we need a substitute for that too. I went for peas – peas are a more non-threatening kind of vegetable it seems – we trust the pea. Healthy but not quite so pretentious!!!!
So here is what we ate…
Sausage Ragu with Rigatoni.
Ingredients (for 2 servings and some leftovers for the dog…)
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 1 carrot – in small dice
- 2 cloves of garlic – crushed
- 4 thick butcher’s sausages
- 1 jar of passata
- A couple of handfuls of frozen peas
- Bunch of chopped basil
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Rigatoni or other short pasta
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the diced onion, carrot and garlic. Cook these down very slowly for about 10 minutes so the onion and carrot are nice and soft.
Remove the casing from the sausages and chop them into rough chunks. Add these to the pan, turn up the heat slightly and brown the sausages. When the sausages have begun to brown, add the passata to the pan and cook for about 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Stir in some frozen peas for the last 5 minutes or so of cooking and season with salt and black pepper.
As the sauce is coming together, prepare the rigatoni according to the instructions on the packet. After the allocated time, drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Pour this and the pasta into the sauce and mix everything together.
Sprinkle over some freshly grated Parmesan and a generous handful of fresh basil and divide into two warm pasta bowls. Serve with some crusty bread and real butter. Eat and enjoy – it’s delicious xo