Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce
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Recipe: Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

I have Marcella Hazan to thank for the inspiration for this sauce. And a previous job that drove me crazy, which inadvertently introduced me to her. I worked for a branch of the publisher that published her books, and every Xmas we would get a £25 voucher to spend on a book published by them. I went to the food section (which I sadly did not work for), and spied Marcella’s book and ordered that.

I learned so much about Italian cooking from her, her recipes are very precise, authentic, and work brilliantly. Her recipes sometimes have stories woven in too, and she is charming to read. One of her most simple recipes, her tomato sauce, is something that I cook all the time at home still today. I also learned the rite of passage that is proper carbonara from her book. If you don’t have her book, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, you should buy it right away.

I am not alone. When Marcella recently passed away, many newspapers and blogs featured the tomato sauce recipe. The beauty of it is its simplicity and the use of great ingredients, which was Marcella’s hallmark. She never compromised. For this sauce, she used 2 x 400g tins of San Marzano tomatoes (protected by a DOP and more expensive, but so worth it) which she cooked with 5 tablespoons of butter and one onion (which was peeled, halved, and discarded after 45 minutes cooking, or when the butter separated from the tomatoes). It is a perfect sauce and so simple.

I use a lot of tomatoes in my everyday cooking. A tin of tomatoes can become so many things, and very quickly too. Yesterday, I had some fresh tomatoes, small fruity ones, that were on their way to becoming rotten if I didn’t use them very soon. Fresh tomatoes are great for a sauce but the skins and seeds can be a problem for texture and just plain getting stuck in your teeth. With larger tomatoes this can be resolved by peeling and deseeding, but doing this with tiny plum tomatoes would be akin to peeling grapes.

So, I stick them in my blender and blitz them, so that the skins are tiny near-invisible shreds and no longer a problem. The resulting tomato puree has a wonderful rich fruity flavour and is great for a sauce. You could pass it through a mouli at this point to get rid of the shrapnel, but I was hungry so I didn’t bother. And it didn’t really need it either.

I cooked the tomatoes with garlic, hot cooking chorizo and butter, for 45 minutes as Marcella does, and the result is a perfect Autumn sauce. Fruity and fresh from the tomato, the chorizo provides a perfect base note beneath it and the butter adds richness but it is still subtle. The whole thing jumps off the plate with intensity of flavour.

I used a soft hot cooking chorizo from Brindisa, a fridge staple for me since I first discovered it some years ago. In London, it is available from their shop and lots of delis, it is also available online. If you can’t get soft chorizo, don’t worry. Just use good dried chorizo. Use whichever pasta you like, I used a big shape that I had to hand, and that would house the chunks of chorizo perfectly, but linguine or spaghetti would be great too.

Enjoy!

RECIPE: Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

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Recipe: Chipotle and Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter

Chipotle Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter Brioche Toast

Chipotle Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter

It is an indulgent time of year, and this recipe is at the pinnacle of indulgence. Despite the bacon, it is a sweet, and is wonderful on pancakes or simply on brioche toast as I have done here. I also fancy some with some eggy bread.

A nod to Bill Granger first. The first time I had honeycomb butter was with his ricotta hotcakes at one of his cafés in Sydney about 6 years ago. I was captured by it. Searches for honeycomb recipes at the time failed, and I was not happy with the alternative of chopping a crunchie and putting it in my butter.

I researched further and figured out it was a simple combination of sugar, brought to temperature and bicarb to make it aerate. I played around with sugar and golden syrup combinations until I got the perfect chewy crisp honeycomb. Too little golden syrup and it is dull and too fragile, too much and you will lose your fillings. I also add a little cider vinegar to boost the bicarb and I add water, as this makes it less likely to fail in the early minutes when it is very easy to scorch the sugar.

Candied Bacon Honeycomb

Candied Bacon Honeycomb

Lovely!

Next is my candied bacon, one of my many recipes for it. This is a recent favourite, a simple light brown sugar and chipotle blend. The bacon is smothered in it, and it is baked until the sugar is approaching toffee. You are left with a wonderful sweet, smoky, hot and savoury candied bacon that is wonderful on its own or – honestly – most things.

Chipotle & Brown Sugar Candied Bacon

Chipotle & Brown Sugar Candied Bacon

Combine the two and mash them into butter? Divine. Just be careful, as in my enthusiasm to devour it, I injured the top of my mouth (slightly) with the sharp honeycomb. Totally worth it though.

Enjoy! It is a cracker. Ban the brandy butter and bring on the bacon and honeycomb butter.

Notes on the recipe: if you can’t get chipotle, substitute chilli. If you don’t want the heat, just omit it.

RECIPE: CHIPOTLE & BROWN SUGAR CANDIED BACON AND HONEYCOMB BUTTER

Chipotle and Brown Sugar Candied Bacon

250g bacon chopped into strips or bacon lardons, I prefer smoked
100g light brown sugar
1 heaped tablespoon of chipotle powder or blitzed dried chipotles

Combine the bacon, sugar and chipotle, insuring every bit of the bacon is covered. Spread on one layer on a buttered greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake at 180 deg C for 15 – 20 minutes until the sugar is dark and glossy like toffee. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Candied Bacon Honeycomb

Put 300g white sugar, 150g golden syrup, 1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar and 100ml water in a pan with high sides – a stockpot for example.

Bring to the hard crack stage over a medium heat – 140 to 150 deg C (and do use a thermometer) – take off the heat and add the 2 tbsp of fresh bicarbonate of soda (it loses potency), ensuring there are no lumps in the bicarb. Stir through, the honeycomb will puff up.

Add two thirds of the candied bacon and stir through. Pour into a dish lined with buttered greaseproof paper. Leave to cool.

Making the butter

Take a palm sized amount of the honeycomb and smash it up in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin or something similar, until it is in small chunks (not powder). Combine well with 250g butter and the rest of the bacon. And you’re done.

Store the rest of the honeycomb for future use in a an airtight container, dip it in tempered chocolate to make homemade bacon crunchies.