Italian Sausage and Chips


Happy Monday, people of Birmingham.  Had a fun Birmingham Weekender with the Rugby?  Did you look around Grand Central yet?  So it is time for the curtain to drop on Italian month, for this year.  I hope you enjoyed it and learned some interesting and diverse things.  I know a lot of it was slow cooking things that took hours.  So, to wrap up, I thought I would leave you with something quick and very simple for a Monday night supper.

Per person you need:

  • Three decent quality sausages
  • Two good-sized potatoes
  • Half an onion
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A piece of lard, the size of your thumb.
  • Peel your potatoes and cut them into small fries.  Dice your onion, peel and slice the garlic.  Place the lard in a baking tray and place in the oven.  Set your oven to its highest level and let the lard melt and bubble.  After nearly ten minutes it should be ready.  Reduce the heat to 180C.

Add your chips, sausages, onion and garlic.  Stir in well.  Sprinkle with parsley and oregano.  Bake for ten minutes, then turn the chips and sausages over.  Bake further until everything is nice and golden brown.  Remembering to use an oven cloth, remove the tray from the oven and transfer the contents to a plate.  And serve.

There you go, a nice easy dinner, Italian style.

Ciao, Bella!

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.


Recipe: Slow Braised Alpine Rabbit

Welcome one and all to the latest of the Italian series of recipes.

As I noted at the start, a lot of Italian food reflects the coldness of a mountainous environment.  After the war, food was scarce, and unusual meats had to be hunted down.  In the Alpine region, which suffered the longest, Rabbit was often a staple diet.  Another was Polenta, a maze meal that can be roasted, baked or fried and has a neutral flavour.  It is very cheap to make, and sustained many families throughout the hard post-war years.

Rabbit is available from most good butchers in the UK, although you may have to pre-order it.  It tastes just like chicken, but a little richer. I am giving this recipe a danger rating of three severed fingers.

So, to start, you need:

  • One Rabbit, dead, skinned and gutted.
  • One slab of Polenta
  • One handful of baby button mushrooms
  • One lemon
  • Two tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Chicken stock
  • White wine
  • Plain flour

First, take a red chopping board and put it over a damp piece of kitchen paper, on a work top.  Make certain it is stuck down fast.  Take a meat cleaver or heavy knife and CAREFULLY cut the rabbit into quarters.  Take a hot pan and add a little oil to it.  Coat the rabbit in flour and fry gently until it is golden.  Add it to a deep baking tray.  Move the red chopping board to the wash up area.  Replace it with a green board.  Chop up your Polenta into roast potato sized pieces. Chop the celery into smaller pieces, and the lemon into quarters.

Pan fry or deep fry the Polenta just until the edges turn golden and crispy.  Add it to the tray.  Add the celery and the lemon.  Wash the mushrooms to remove any loose soil and grit, then add them to the tray.

Boil a kettle and add the boiling water to a deep bowl.  Cut a cross into the top of each tomato and place them in the bowl.  After a minute the skin will peel off.  Once they are peeled, add them to the tray.

Add a small glass of white wine and half a pint of chicken stock poured evenly over the Rabbit, Polenta and vegetables.  Cover the whole tray tightly with metal foil and place in the oven.  Bake it slowly for three hours.  After each hour, add a little chicken stock if it is going dry.

By the time it is cooked it should be tender and falling off the bone, ready to enjoy.  Just be aware that rabbit bones are smaller and more brittle.

Enjoy a good, Alpine, autumn/winter night's supper.

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.


Recipe: Salmon Arrabbiata Risotto

Hello people and welcome to the second instalment of Italian recipe month. To offset the rainy start to Autumn, we have something tasty from the shores of the Amalfi coast.

For two people you need the following:

  • Two Salmon steaks
  • Prosciutto Ham (one slice per steak)
  • Risotto rice (two cups per person)
  • One white onion
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • White wine (250ml for two and two glasses to drink)
  • Chicken stock (one pint)
  • Half a tin of tomatoes
  • Chopped red chillies
  • Tomato puree

We start with the veg prep.  Take a green chopping board and place it over a damp paper towel on a work top.  Peel and finely chop your onion and the garlic. Move them to a plate together and now chop your red chillies, very finely.  Keep or remove the seeds, depending on how brave you feel.  Move the chillies to another plate.

Now take a shallow saucepan or a frying pan and add a little olive oil.  Sweat off the onion and garlic until they are translucent and slightly brown, but not too brown.  Add the rice and stir in well until it too becomes translucent.  Remove from the heat.  Heat your chicken stock slowly on the hob until it is steaming, but not boiling.  Add the white wine to the rice and stir in, and continue to heat gently.  It should evaporate quickly.  Now take a ladle and spoon the stock into the rice, a little at a time.  Keep stirring and the rice will expand quickly.  It will also soak up all the stock, so you need to keep adding it a little at a time, making sure the pan does not go dry.

Next we make the Arrabbiata sauce (it is Italian for angry, by the way).  Very simple, take a saucepan and add a little olive oil.  Fry off the chillies (beware of the fumes, they hit you like CS gas).  Add half a tin of tomatoes, whatever seasonings you like, and two tablespoons of tomato puree.  Bring it to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer, and allow it to reduce.

Set your oven to 180C and allow it to pre-heat.  Take a baking tin and place a piece of baking foil in  the middle of it.  Drizzle a little oil over it to prevent stickiness.  Next, wash your hands thoroughly.  Now carefully wrap each salmon steak in the ham, tightly.  Drizzle a little oil over the salmon and place it in the oven.

Bake the salmon for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the Salmon.  As it cooks, the ham will shrink and tighten around the salmon.

Take a plate and cover the middle with risotto rice.  Flatten it down a little, then place the Salmon on top.  Cover the salmon with a few spoons of Arrabbiata sauce.

I have a little broccoli with mine, but it is optional.

Ciao, et buon appetito!

By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.


Recipe: Limoncello Chicken

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Our theme for the month of September is Italian food.

I thought about how to put an interesting slant on the month, and I figured we could make it more interesting if we go Pasta free.  Just for the challenge.  Furthermore, we always think of Italy as a sun soaked country where they live on olives, seafood and tomatoes.  A lot of the time this is true, but we forget that a lot of Italy is cold, mountainous country.  The Dolomites and the Alps have inspired some of Italy's most challenging recipes, using whatever comes to hand.  A lot of their recipes include freshly caught rabbits, free range boar, and forage truffles.

Also we are going for nice, warm comfort food since summer seems to have turned up it's toes for the year.  That's all folks, please exit through the gift shop.  And someone turn the heating up please?

Right, to business.  Here is your shopping list:

For the sauce:

  • Chicken stock, one pint.  Today I am using the jellied kind.
  • The juice of two large, whole lemons
  • Limoncello Liquor (about 50 ml)
  • Star anise
  • Cornflour

For the chicken thighs you need, well, chicken thighs

  • Coriander
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  • One sprig of Rosemary

For the vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Honey
  • Butter

For the vegetables, we are going with cubed and fried potatoes, which the Italians love, and steamed broccoli.  The other veg is honey batons of carrots.  Not very Italian, but there you go.

OK, let's start with one medium-sized saucepan.  Put it on the heat and add the stock.  Heat gently and add the juice of two large lemons.  Stir it in and add the limoncello and one star anise.  Stir in well.  Allow it to simmer but not boil for five minutes.  Then to thicken it up, make a paste of cornflour and water in a small jug. Add about 25ml just enough to thicken it to a glaze.

Set up your chicken thighs in a baking tray, coated with metal foil.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, Coriander and Oregano.  Pour a little of the lemon sauce over the chicken and use a pastry brush to coat the skin completely.  Place it in the oven at 180 C and bake for 35-40 minutes.  If you like, add a sprig of Rosemary.  Keep the rest of the sauce warm.

While they are baking, chop your potatoes into small cubes and deep fry.  Or you can oven bake them in a baking tray with hot lard and Rosemary.

For the vegetables you steam the broccoli.  Steaming it for four minutes.  It is so much better than boiled, as it keeps its colour and a little crispness.

For the carrots, heat a small pan of water.  Add a small knob of butter.  Bring to the boil and allow to simmer. Add four tablespoons of honey and allow it to melt into the water.  Peel and chop your carrots into batons and add them to the water.  Cook them until they are soft and sweetened.

Once the chicken is cooked, plate it up, dry the potatoes with kitchen roll.  Drain the carrots and add them to the plate and finally add the broccoli, with butter if you like.

Serve and enjoy.

Buon Appetito!

By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.