Place the sausage in the freezer for 20 minutes. This makes it easier to slice and hold its shape. Brown the sausage in oil in a stock pot. Remove when done and leave the oil and fat in the pot.
Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the trinity and garlic. Cook on medium until the vegetables have softened.
Stir in the beans, 8 cups of water, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring it to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the beans are cooked – about 2 hours.
At this point remove about a cup of beans and puree them in a blender or food processor and return them to the pot to thicken the stew. Return the sausage to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, taste and adjust seasoning.
Marbella, typically made with chicken is very good with pork too. I’m using sliced tenderloin but you can also use chops. This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit
2 lb. pork tenderloin – ½ to ¾ in. slices
Salt and pepper
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup prunes, pitted and cut in half
½ cup green olives, pitted
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup capers
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 smashed garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil plus more for frying
1 tbsp. butter
¼ cup chopped parsley
Season the pork slices with salt and black pepper. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325o.
Mix ingredients 3 through 10 in a bowl. Add the seasoned pork and let it marinate, refrigerated for 3 hours to overnight.
Remove the pork from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels. Lightly brown in a large pan with olive oil.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the marinade, including the olives and prunes. Place on the middle rack in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning the pork after 10 minutes. Finish with the pan under the broiler for 5 more minutes.
Place the pork, olives and prunes in a serving dish. Discard the garlic. With the pan on medium heat on top of the stove, whisk in the butter and parsley and stir for a few minutes while the butter melts and the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the pork, olives, and prunes and serve.
This recipe is adapted from Melissa Clark’s A Good Appetite in the New York Times. She suggests using any kind of sausage you like. I chose hot Italian sausage because it made a good contrast to the sweetness of the grapes.
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsps. olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups of stemmed red seedless grapes
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
2 tbsps. chopped scallions or chives
2 tsps. Sherry vinegar + more to taste
Heat oven to 450o.
In an oven proof pan, toss the onions with the salt, pepper and 2 tbsps. oil. Roast for 10 minutes or so, until the onions take on some color. Remove the pan for the oven and add the grapes, cumin, and the remaining oil. Spread in an even layer and add the sausage. Roast for 25 minutes, turning sausage and tossing onions/grapes halfway through.
After 25 minutes, remove the sausage to a serving plate. Add the parsley and chives to the pan with the grapes and onions and mix. Use a slotted spoon to remove the grapes and onions to the serving plate. Add the vinegar and scrape up any brown bits. Put over the grapes and sausage and serve.
There are lots of ways to make meatballs. Here’s another one.
Pre-heat the oven to 450o. Mix the bread, egg, and pepper liquid until the bread has absorbed it and is moist. Add the minced peppers, salt, black pepper, parsley, and pork and mix thoroughly with your hands until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Shape into golf ball size balls. You should get ten or twelve meatballs. Lay them in an oiled baking pan or dish and roast for 15 minutes. Serve them plain or with sauce.
My grandmother Nicolina was from Salerno but her husband was Calabrese so this is how she made meatballs.
1 lb. mix of ground pork, veal and beef chuck
1 clove of garlic finely minced
2/3 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup of grated Parmigiana cheese
2 tbs. of olive oil
Salt and black pepper
A handful of chopped Italian parsley
5 tbsp. tomato sauce
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. It’s easier to mix the 3 meats first and then add the other ingredients. You can really only do it with your hands. Shape the mix into small balls (I use an ice cream scoop to get them the same size) and let them rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Fry them in a good amount of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan. Keep rolling them to brown on all sides. Drain and serve with tomato sauce. They’re very good plain too.
¼ cup dried currants (soaked in warm water 15 minutes)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
Olive oil for grill pan and basting
Salt and black and red pepper to taste
If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes.
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors combine.
Remove the meat mix from the refrigerator and pull off a piece about the size of a large egg. Form this tightly and evenly on a flat skewer. If the meat is too wet, add some breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining mix.
Place the skewers on an oiled grill pan heated to medium-high. Baste with oil as they are grilling. Carefully turn once. Cook until the outside is slightly charred.
Still Life with Dead Game by Frans Snyders 1579-1657
My friend Susan gave me some ground venison for my birthday. This is the first recipe I tried with it. Venison ragu is a hardy winter dish. If you can’t get venison use pork. If you do use pork, you can leave out the duck fat. That’s only necessary with lean venison.
Sweat one cup of trinity in oil, then add 2 tablespoons of duck fat and lightly brown the venison. Add the crushed tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the basil to the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking.
When the pasta is almost done drain and add it to the sauce to finish cooking. If the sauce is too dry add some pasta water. Serve with optional grated cheese.
There are lots of different recipes for red eye gravy. Some people thicken it with flour or mix in mustard, ketchup, or Tobasco. I add some molasses. Try it and see what you think, then experiment.
Add bacon fat and butter to a frying pan. Cast iron works best. Cook the ham steak on medium-high and brown it on both sides. Place the ham in a serving platter.
Add coffee, water, and molasses to the pan and bring it to boil. Deglaze the pan, lower heat and cook for a few minutes while whisking in the last pat of butter. Pour the gravy over the ham steak. This goes well with grits or biscuits.
This one is easier than it sounds. You have to cook two things at the same time, using a sheet pan, a pot, and a frying pan – on the stove and in the oven and then put them together. It isn’t complicated if you follow the prep directions below.
Pre-heat the over to 425o.
Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes to the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the water and add the oil, pepper, and garlic to the potatoes and give the pot a good shake to thoroughly coat them. Arrange them in the sheet pan in a single layer and place them in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes.
After you put the potatoes in the oven, place the sausages in a frying pan and cover ½ way up with water. Cook on high until the water almost evaporates, turning them often. Then add 1 cup of red wine to the remaining water, and continue turning and cooking until the wine is half gone. Turn off heat and add the sausages and wine to the potatoes for the last 10 minutes of cooking in the oven.