this was a solitary dinner for one. i felt slightly guilty for it, as i always do when i cook sausages when rich is not around. especially as these were allegedly the best sausages in the world and ones you would be served should you visit the dorchester hotel at breakfast. that's if you believe the guys who sold them at taste of london (http://www.tastefestivals.com/london/) this year.
their stall was a sight to behold - whereas some small producers (british turkey, anyone?) struggled to attract the passing trade, others, like the sausage stall, had a throng of hungry people eyeing the sausages like they hadn't eaten for a week. as soon as the chef moved them from the grill into a bowl (the sausages, not the people), there'd be a forest of hands grabbing toothpicks and trying to skewer as many as possible, before returning for more. i confess i did the same.
taste of london was great, incidentally. good drunken fun for old people who can afford to eat well. we hung around the black pudding stall, we had some beef at the hereford road and compared it to the wagyu beef at cocoon and chicken at busaba ethai, and we got pretty tipsy in the BA lounge where we stood right by the kitchen door so, like one of those strange corals grabbing the passing plankton with their hairy tentacles, we swiped every scallop and bacon canape going past. and we ordered three glasses of wine instead of two, one for rich's imaginary friend jennnifer who was due to join us later.
we went home with two cans of singha beer, two packets of sausages and a subscription to a grass-fed, organic meat box from the well hung meat company.
the last was something i'd intended to do anyway, and i'd already emailed them to ask what they feed their cows with. they assured me it was all free-range and grass-fed and i cursed the world in which i have to pay extra for cows to eat what they're meant to be eating anyway. but i'd dithered, as you do when you do these things by email, so this was a perfect opportunity to just bite the bullet and place an order.
this is how the conversation went, more or less.
whmb (well hung meat bloke): is it just the two of you? maybe a small box would be suitable?
rich (hating the chat, would much rather have done it online): doesn't look big enough.
me (swaying slightly, glass of champagne in hand): we eat a lot of meat. professional carnivores, sort of thing.
whmb, pointing to a beautifully arranged display of meat: medium box, then. i think that would be right for you. it's quite big.
rich: how many joints is that? ten? yes, that's better. that'll do.
whmb: we vary the joints you get each month so you might get something weird and wonderful. is there anything you don't like?
us (in unison): no.
me: we like steak. and chicken. and i really like pork.
rich: but we also like everything else.
whmb: if you'd like to give me your card number...
the following day we went to a BBQ. the day after i almost contemplated becoming a vegetarian.
anyway, this recipe is from pork and sons. i realised that this blog is rapidly turning into one of those 'cook the book' jobs but the recipes in it really are very good. this one sounds weird (ginger and ketchup??) but tasted delicious when it all came together.
GRILLED SAUSAGE WITH VEGETABLE MIREPOIX
1 garlic clove, crushed
1in piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 very ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 tsp tomato ketchup
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 celeriac, diced
1 aubergine, diced
1 courgette, diced
1 onion, sliced
4 sausages, cut into half lengthways
heat some oil in a pan and fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes. add the tomatoes and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes until they are soft and pulpy. stir in the ketchup, then whizz the whole thing in a food processor until it's like a thick and smooth sauce. set aside.
heat more oil in a pan, then fry and shallots and celeriac for ten or so minutes. add the aubergines and courgettes and fry together till cooked but slightly crispy around the edges.
in a separate pan, fry the onion slices for 5-10 minutes. grill the sausages.
to assemble, make a dome of vegetables on each plate, then cover with alternating layers of sausages and fried onions. garnish with the tomato sauce.