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Shortly after becoming pregnant with Edith, my mom visited our then apartment in Massachusetts. During that visit, she gifted me Jamie Oliver's cookbook Comfort Food. She had seen a recipe in the Wall Street Journal for his shepherd's pie where the potatoes are mixed with cheddar cheese and don't just top the dish -- they line the bottom of the pan as well! Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, he grates more cheddar cheese on top and finishes it all off with bread crumbs and a drizzle of oil. My mother knows me.
The book has proved a great resource. It is a collection of, as you would expect, tasty, deeply satisfying food from multiple cultures. Though comfort foods, the recipes tend to call for fresh ingredients and have an elegant spin, begging to be star dishes and proving perfect for entertaining or other special occasions. I've turned to it for hosting, Sunday dinners, and birthdays.
I'll have to share the shepherd's pie recipe down the road, but for now here's a recipe that is fairly simple, uses ingredients generally on hand, but is nonetheless a showstopper. Huge bonus: leftovers serve well as a packable lunch!
giant Sausage Roll
[For the Pastry]
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
Pinch of salt
7 tbs butter, cold
4 tbs lard (or more butter), cold
1/2 cup, ice cold preferably
[For the Filling]
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 small apple (or 2.5oz dried apple rings)
4 slices smoked bacon (I have omitted it every time (none on hand), and the roll is still full of flavor.)
1-2 small onions
.5oz fresh sage (or 1/2-1 tsp ground)
1 lb. ground pork
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Pinch of white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 nutmeg, grated (or 1/4-1/2 tsp ground)
1 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tbs sesame seeds
Mix flour and salt together in medium bowl.
Cut butter & lard into 1/4inch cube pieces, and add to flour. Work butter into flour using a pastry cutter, fork, or hands until butter is in even, pea-sized pieces throughout.
Pour water into flour mixture. Still working with pastry cutter, fork, or hands, work water into flour until dough just comes together. Keep those chunks of butter! Even if still a little floury & crumbly (add a splash of water if excessively floury), bring the dough together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat.
Finely chop onion, bacon, and apple. If using fresh sage, chop finely as well. (This may be done in a food processor -- first thoroughly blitz the apple and bacon (if using), then add roughly chopped onion and fresh sage leaves and pulse a few times to combine.) Add everything to heated skillet and cook over low heat until onions are translucent and softened, about 15 min.
In medium bowl, mix together ground pork, bread crumbs, white & black peppers, salt, nutmeg, and cheddar cheese (If using ground sage, add it now as well.). Add onion mixture and stir. Try not to mix too much, as over mixing raw ground meat can make it tough. Cook up a small spoonful to taste if seasonings are right and adjust if necessary. [An under-seasoned sausage roll would be a sad disappointment!] The rest of the pork mixture will cook in in the pastry in the oven.
Preheat oven to 375.
Sprinkle flour on clean counter. Take dough out of fridge, unwrap, and roll out until roughly 10x16 inches. Transfer to floured or parchment lined baking sheet.
Take sausage filling and form into a log all along the length of the dough, just off center.
Brush some egg wash on exposed pastry. Fold pastry over sausage to form a long roll. Trim edges (leaving the ends exposed), then seal with a fork.
Brush pastry all over with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until dark golden. Enjoy!
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food.