Yes! I am back in my kitchen after 10 days in Italy. My trip was split between Abruzzo and Rome and was deeply inspirational, if a little hot. No very hot, and all the mozzies got the memo that the pink Irish person was in town. Little gits.
Italy always gets my cooking neurons firing, I go there as often as I can, but this trip was particularly interesting as I was travelling mainly with talented chefs and food writers. The trip in general was centred around one of my favourite things, pasta! But, more on that soon.
I got back last night, very late after lots of delays. I was tired, my luggage was heavy with wine, charcuterie, beans and maybe a small arrosticini grill. There may have been a chitarra too. I know, I know, I have a problem. It was a lot to lug home solo, but the people of London were awesome, as always, and so many total strangers offered to help me as I went. I got home eventually, hungry, and enthusiastic to cook. I needed to make something speedy with a punch. The answer to that turned out to be a steak salad with ‘nduja onions. And it was good.
‘Nduja onions? What even are they? Red onions, caramelised gently for half an hour or so, with firey ‘nduja stirred through. ‘Nduja is a magical concoction of pork, fat and Calabrian chilli, in a spreadable sausage. I mean, YES. I actually can’t have it in the fridge all the time as I find it hard to go past it. The ‘nduja goes perfectly with the sweet onions, and the onions disperse the chilli a bit? You will want to put them in everything. You will want to dry them, and grind them to a powder, and well… use as a rub? (Gotcha!). I think these are a perfect garnish generally, and I plan to make a big batch and keep them in a jar in the fridge to use as I go.
Along with my brazen onions, I also had a perfect Roman tomato that I had brought with three others in my hand luggage home. I had some sorry looking potatoes which I revived by peeling off the limp skin, dicing, par boiling, and then frying gently until completely crisp and fluffy inside. I love a fluffy spud, it tickles my insides and awakes childhood culinary memories as it does. Memories of fields and flowers and summers spend gathering leftover small potatoes to do whatever we wanted with. Usually we tried to make crisps, but we were always disappointed (I have mastered the craft now ;) ). Anything, a country childhood forces you to be creative and I am still grateful for that.
Almost there. (Puglian) oregano is about the only thing that can shout over ‘nduja and calm it down a bit, so I popped some of that on too. For contrast, a little bitterness and some texture, I wilted some baby gem lettuce in the last minute or so. Then an egg, fried until the white is perfectly set and the yolk still runny.
It is good to be back in the kitchen! And back at my desk too.
Happy Monday, all! I hope your week is a good one.
Recipe: Potato & Tomato Hash with an Egg & ‘Nduja Onions
‘Nduja onions – I would recommend quadrupling this and storing it in the fridge, if you can
1 red onion, peeled, cut in half and finely sliced
2 tbsp ‘nduja
Potato, Tomato & Lettuce Hash
1 average potato, peeled and diced
1 meaty tomato, peeled, deseed and roughly chopped (or a handful of good cherry tomatoes, halved)
1/2 tsp dried oregano (removed from the stem)
1 small head of baby gem lettuce, washed with leaves removed
light oil for frying
Heat a tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Cook gently for half an hour or so (longer if you have time), then stir through the ‘nduja. Leave for a further 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
Parboil your potato until just tender, which will take just a few minutes. Heat a further tablespoon of oil in a new frying pan and fry over a medium heat until crisp all over. Add the tomatoes and oregano, the potatoes will get a little squishy, but that is what you want. Cook them for a further 5 minutes. Add the lettuce leaves for just a minute.
At this point I would normally just crack an egg in the middle here, but this morning I fried it in a separate pan. Up to you! I find I get my eggs perfectly right when fried over a medium heat with a lid on top. This allows the white to set perfectly while still having a runny yolk. I am a bit freaky about egg whites, I must confess.
Season the egg and hash with sea salt, and serve the hash with the egg on top, and finish with those feisty ‘nduja onions.
Joy! Enjoy it.