Pork and Sausage Ragu

It's still well and truly winter here in Sydney and I'm still cooking on the cheapo $30 K-mart induction unit in the rental. The irony is that once my actual house is rebuilt I'm going to have one of the best kitchens in Sydney! But in any case, the weather is unpredictable this time of year and the other day my annual deep sea fishing trip was cancelled due to gale force winds outside the Heads. So I had a day working from home and I thought I'd make something nice. I've never made a ragu before so I thought, why not?!

The recipe is very simple but you do need to allow for a couple hours to make the sauce. To make the ragu you'll need:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 brown onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • handful fresh oregano leaves
  • handful fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 300g pork mince
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g semolina penne pasta
  • salt
  • pepper
  • handful grated Parmesan

Finely dice the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, add the oregano and parsley and set all the ingredients aside. Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil.

Once the pan is hot add the sausage meat and fry until browned. This takes about 3 minutes. Then add the pork mince, season with salt and pepper, and cook through, using a spoon to break up the mince. Once cooked remove the meat and set aside on a plate.

Add the vegetables to the hot skillet and cook until soft, approximately 3 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, and one can of water. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir and then simmer for 8 minutes. Add the meat and another can of water and then simmer for an hour.

When the ragu is close to finishing, boil a pot of salted water and cook the penne for 9 minutes. Serve the penne with a large spoonful of the ragu and cover with grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

Chef Apreda - Capellini pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper, smoked eel and cocoa powder

If you recall, we visited Imago in Rome during our global culinary tour in August. It was simply amazing and I made sure to take the chance to thank Chef Francesco Apreda afterward. To my surprise, he not only acknowledged my tweet but was very kind enough to provide two of his amazing recipes to use on Gourmet Male! So this is the first of two guest blogs by one of my favourite chefs. Thanks, Chef! Gourmet Males everywhere will thank you!

Capellini pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper, smoked eel and cocoa powder_ Capellini aglio olio e peperoncino anguilla affumicata e cacao amaro 01.jpg

Chef Francesco Apreda, Imàgo restaurant

250gr capellini 

PARSNIP CREAM:

  • 400 gr parsnip,
  • 400ml milk,
  • 1 bay leaf

FISH REDUCTION:

  • 1kg sea bass bones,
  • celery,
  • carrot,
  • onion,
  • 150ml white wine,
  • 200gr tomatoes

FINISHING TOUCHES:

  • 100gr smoked eel,
  • 20gr fresh chilli peppers,
  • 30gr fresh garlic,
  • 30gr parsley,
  • 10gr powdered bitter cocoa,
  • extra virgin olive oil

 FISH REDUCTION: wash, remove eyes and gills, then sauté the fish bones in a pan with oil and chopped celery, onion and carrot, then add the wine and leave to evaporate. Cover with cold water and ice and add the parsley stems; simmer gently for about 2 hours. Filter the broth with a chinoise and then through a cheesecloth; reduce to about a half on the flame, obtaining a concentrated, dense consommé.

PARSNIP CREAM: cook the peeled and finely sliced parsnip in the milk with a bay leaf and salt. When it is overcooked, drain and blend, adding, if necessary some of the cooking liquid, season with salt and filter through a fine chinoise.

FINISHING TOUCHES: pour the broth into a saucepan and add the angel-hair pasta. Just before the pasta is done, add the chopped smoked eel, chopped fresh garlic and parsley and the chilli pepper brunoise. When the pasta is cooked “al dente” (firm), cream with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and finally add a tomato concassé. Serve the angel-hair pasta slightly watery with the parsnip cream and sprinkle with bitter cocoa.

 

Advanced Cooking Class at Urban Graze

A couple years ago we were introduced to Urban Graze by a close friend and his wife. Urban Graze (www.urbangraze.com.au) is based in Sydney and, amongst other things, conducts a wide variety of cooking classes. We love them because they are very hands-on and the owners, Tarrah and Joel, really get involved and ensure that you are doing things correctly and learning.

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Back in February, after three classes, we were feeling that we wanted to be challenged as the courses were interesting and tasty but we felt like we weren't learning much technique-wise. So we contacted Tarrah and discussed the potential for an advanced class. To our delight, they agreed that it was worth a try and we quickly booked a place for the inaugural Cooking Challenge class in August. Originally it was going to me and the Gourmet Female, along with a good mate and his partner. But when we realised she had a birthday party to attend my friend called a ring-in, his brother, who had never been to a class at the school before. Imagine our laughter when Joel opened the class with, "Now, we created this class for those who have been here a few times before and want to be challenged"! 

So while we think we have been a few times we were floored to understand that a couple of the other students (there were 10 of us in all) had been to over 100 classes! That's nuts. I'm just jealous...

The menu for the evening consisted of:

  • Mushroom and Goat Ricotta Tart
  • Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
  • Boned Stuffed Rolled Chicken with 5 Spice Sauce
  • Orange Roasted Pears with Brown Butter Ice Cream

I was lucky enough to get the dish I wanted to create, the "Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce". Technically, I think it was the toughest dish on the menu but we were up to the challenge - or so we thought! I've made pasta before so that wasn't so difficult. What was very hard was including just the right amount of filling and then resting a single egg yolk in the middle, then closing the ravioli without any air inside and without breaking the yolk! In the end, it took longer than planned but we delivered a dozen beautiful raviolis and a gorgeous sage brown butter sauce. It was very satisfying. 

Now, in the heat of the moment my photo came out horrible. So, pardon the poor shot - I'll hopefully replace it once Urban Graze puts up their shots from the night. UPDATE: Tarrah and Joel have put up their shots from the night so thankfully this is a much better shot of our dish. Thanks, guys!

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And it was oozy, as intended...

The mushroom tart was fantastic but unfortunately I didn't get a shot in as I was frantically trying to finish our raviolis. After our dish was the chicken, which had a depth of flavour that I didn't expect.

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Now while I took a great deal of personal satisfaction from our ravioli dish, I was equally as happy that the guys were really enjoying themselves while creating their dessert. And the cooking class rookie was really smashing the pears out of the park. Everyone was impressed!

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To be honest, it's through things like this that I really expand my skills and cooking toolkit. You may not be ready for the advanced courses yet but I'd suggest every guy should get to a cooking class once a year. You owe it to yourself and your family to at least have some basic skills and know some tasty dishes to impress your friends. And they serve wine!

For what you would spend on a nice dinner out you can not only eat food that's probably better tasting, but also learn some things that you can take home with you.

Next up, I've got some cayenne peppers mashing to make hot sauce and some sourdough starter beginning to bubble away...