I recently added this dish to my repertoire of suppers you can cook in one roasting tin. It is the essence of uncomplicated cooking and what home cook is not a fan of that, especially midweek when there isn’t a great deal of time? And as all Aga owners know, this type of cooking is particularly suited to the Aga way of cooking.
My recipe is based on one of Nigel Slater’s from his “midweek dinner” series in the Guardian. It came about, as so many meals do, when I had not planned what to cook but had some pork sausages and a couple of fennel bulbs in the fridge that needed using up. A quick Google and there was Nigel with the inspiration I needed. He recommends honey but my Canadian-born husband and I prefer maple syrup.
Roasted Sausages, Fennel and Potatoes
For 4 people
- About 8 good quality pork sausages
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3-4 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into thickish segments
- 600g new potatoes, halved
- 75ml white vermouth or white wine
- Heaped tbsp grain mustard
- 2 tbsps maple syrup or honey
- Place the sausages in the large Aga roasting tin with a tablespoon of oil and slide it onto the second set of runners in the roasting oven for 5-10 minutes to colour the sausages a little
- Take it out of the oven and add the fennel and potatoes, turning them in the oil and seasoning. You might want to add a little more oil
- Return to the oven and roast for about 40 minutes, turning everything about halfway through
- Take out of the oven and remove everything to a serving dish. Place this in the simmering oven
- Place the roasting tin on the simmering plate and add the vermouth or wine. Let this bubble up while scraping up any bits that have stuck to the tin
- Stir in the mustard and maple syrup or honey and let this all bubble for a couple of minutes before tasting for seasoning
- Pour the “sauce” over everything in the dish and return it to the simmering oven until you’re ready to eat for 15 to 30 minutes. During this time everything will become extra sticky and caramelised
Serve with a green salad or green vegetable or indeed both.
Many years ago my sister-in-law gave me The Silver Palate Cookbook for my birthday. It was written by two American women who had opened a shop in New York selling various foodstuffs and gourmet take-away dishes which they prepared themselves. The shop was a huge success as was this book of its recipes, which gave the owner the sense they were cooking restaurant food in their own homes, but without too much hassle. It felt cool to own this book.
When my children were young I used the book mainly for its baking recipes. There was a period when almost weekly I made the chocolate chip cookies as an after school treat for my sons and their friends. I still make the glazed lemon cake, at his request, for my eldest son’s birthday (he’s 31!)
I don’t think I’m unusual in that I sometimes forget about the cookbooks I own. It doesn’t mean I no longer like them and nor do I ever get rid of books (I’m looking at you, Marie Kondo). I love returning to old favourites and it only takes a newspaper food column or blog post to jog my memory and renew my fondness for a book or recipe.
Which is exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago when Debora Robertson wrote a post on her website entitled “You should make Chicken Marbella, you know” and I was prompted to get my Silver Palate book out again. The recipe in the book uses four small chickens (weighing 2 1/2 lbs each), quartered, giving 16 sixteen pieces. This was too much for my purposes (a small family supper) so I scaled down. I could have jointed a chicken but decided to use eight free-range chicken thighs (skin on, bone in) instead. This is what I did:
(This dish involves marinating so start it several hours ahead or even better: the night before)
- 8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 tsps dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4-5 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 4-5 tbsps olive oil
- 10-12 pitted prunes
- 16 pitted green olives
- 2 tbsps capers with a bit of juice
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsps brown sugar
- 100ml white wine
- 2 tbsps (approx) chopped flatleaf parsley
- In a large bowl or dish combine the chicken thighs, garlic, oregano, seasoning, vinegar, oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice and bay leaves. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight
- To bring it up to room temperature, take the chicken out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it
- Arrange the chicken and other ingredients in the small Aga roasting tin (or any tin measuring approx 32 x 21 cms) spooning the marinade around and over the chicken
- Sprinkle over the sugar and pour in the white wine
- Bake in the roasting oven for about 45 minutes. Or, if you have time, start it off in there for 15-20 minutes and then move to the simmering oven to finishing cooking slowly, allowing the chicken to become supremely tender and sticky and the flavours to develop, until you’re ready to eat
- Sprinkle with the chopped parsley to serve
We ate ours with wholegrain basmati rice and green beans. Broccoli or a green salad would also go well.