Monday, 18 January 2010

wintry letter to Nigel

Dear Nigel,

Freezing winter days urge me to eat something rich, filling, but not stodgy. So I decided to make cream pasta, following your cookery suggestions in the BBC TV series, “Simple Suppers”.

Well, I replaced chopped sausages with hand-rolled meatballs because to get hold of “good” quality sausages are not easy in my surrounding environment in Tokyo. Moulding plenty of edible balls is time-consuming, but the plain and repetitive action brings peace of mind in this floating world rather than causes a nervous breakdown... believe me.


* Serves 2
200g penne (or any other pastas as you like)

250g minced pork
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

200ml single cream
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
2 tsp Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
A dash of white wine
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. To make the meatballs, mix the minced pork, breadcrumbs, milk, Parmesan and rosemary together in a bowl until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper, mixing with your hands.

2. Shape the dough into around 45 small balls (...phew!) and place on a tray.

3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the meatballs and fry for 5 minutes, swirling frequently. When browned all over, remove from the pan and lay on kitchen paper.

4. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Stir the onion until softened and add the meatballs, flat-leaf parsley, Parmesan, Dijon mustard and wine. Then, pour the single cream and simmer for 5 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Meanwhile, boil the penne. Bring a deep pan of salted water to the boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente according to the packet instructions.

6. Drain the penne, reserving a little of the cooking water, and toss with the sauce. Add a little of the cooking water if the consistency of the sauce is too thick.

7. Serve immediately, sprinkled with extra Parmesan and parsley.

1. The point of this recipe is to keep the meatballs almost “tiny” like a teaspoonful size to balance with the penne.
2. In the process of #4, you can add Dijon mustard as well as its grainy version as Nigel does. Yet, my personal palate is happy with only the former.

Nigel, I really fancy your honest, healthy and uncomplicated approach on daily food. Your latest book, “Tender: volume I”, which is my current read, is not just about growing, cooking and eating vegetables in a not-vegetarian-but-omnivorous way. Your writing style and photography heal my stressed soul, indeed!

Last but not least... Nigel Slater is the most successful food writer and cook in Britain.


MaryMoh said...

That's a very lovely dish. I would prefer your meatballs than sausages. I think they look more cute with the pasta.

the lacquer spoon said...

Dear Mary, I also cook tomato sauce pasta with the same meatballs. Thanks :)

The Paris Food Blague said...

looks delicious!
-The Paris Food Blague

the lacquer spoon said...

Dear The Paris Food Blague, thanks for stopping by :) Glad you like it!

sophia said...

Wow, that's awesome that you hand-molded your own meatballs! Now that's a whole notch up!! Lovely!

the lacquer spoon said...

Dear Sophia, thanks for your comment :) It’s actually far better than whisking egg white by hand ;) Have a try!

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend!
Pasta is probably the best comfort food in cold winter!
The meat balls is a great touch!
It reminded me of the film "Hancock"! LOL
Best regards,

the lacquer spoon said...

Dear Robert-san, my meatball spag is more earthy than that of the suprahuman ;)

molly said...

Nigel rocks, does he not? Hard to imagine, to me, he's not better known in the states. Then again, it's hard to imagine, to me, that we don't all revel in veg, with a few smatterings of meat along the way. Lovely adaptation.

the lacquer spoon said...

Dear Molly, Thanks! Different things are happening in different places on our planet!

Well, Nigel is an acclaimed cook in Britain, but it’s not been reached Japan either, really. His presentation is not pretentious, giving us a sense of proper eating.

Whenever finding his recipe is too simple and need more flavourful, I add my twist like this. Worth a try :)

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