The Sausage King of Perth

So... who ordered the whole side of pig ? Meat Lovers Paradise

Vegetarians… I’d advice you to stop reading right now… Vegans… run for the hills. The rest of you carnivores… carry on.

Is there anything quite as wonderful as a well made sausage ? I think not… Well ok, maybe a couple of things… but good sausages are definitely up there. Top 10 for sure. So it will come as no surprise that when I heard Slow Food Perth were planning a day of old school sausage making, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve got to say I’m really starting to like these Slow Food events. A bunch of people who love food and wine as much as I do all getting together to learn about it and enjoy themselves, and possibly devouring vast sums of magnificent produce. What’s not to like ?

The title of this event was “The Best Cuts”, the setting was the home of chef Vincenzo Velletri, Slow Food chef extraordinaire, and one of the W.A representatives at the Terra Madre, Slow Food’s international conference, last year.

So our task was to turn a 120 kg pig into as many sausages as possible. A specially slaughtered pig was obtained from Spencers Brook Farm, an organic pig farm specialising in Berkshire pigs. Although ours was a large white pig formerly named “Chubby”, who we were told had led a happy life out on the farm for many years. So with knives and cutting boards at the ready, we filed into the kitchen at Vincenzo’s house in West Swan to begin the work.

These were no ordinary sausages to be thrown into a grinder and spat out the other end. But hand cut and mixed sausages of Monte San Biagio. Made as true to the origins as possible.

The Monte San Biagio sausage is now a part of the Slow Food presidia, which means they are actively being preserved and protected. So making them wasn’t simply a case of throwing a bunch of random ingredients into a grinder and spitting sausages out the other end.

Vincenzo cut sections of the meat into large chunks and then a production line of people helped to work it down into tiny cubes small enough to look like mince meat, but with much more body and texture than you’d gain from grinding it. The cutting took all morning. Which is why I suppose Italian families might only do this a couple of times a year, and why you’d get the whole family involved. It’s a lot of work. But short breaks for coffee (with maybe a little grappa), and marmalade crostata, made things fly by pretty quickly.

Then finally the cutting was done, and it was time to mix. Sea Salt in large quantities is added so the meat cures properly. Then it’s just crushed coriander seeds, dried chilli, and white wine. Mixed through the pork and combined well by the hands of a bunch of enthusiastic slow foodies.

So while we let the sausage mix settle, it was time for lunch. Another helping of the wonderful polenta with sausage mixture poured over the top. But this time I got to help make it :) A team of strong armed helpers took turns stirring a massive pot of polenta until it was just right, while I cooked down some of the sausage mixture in a pan with a little olive oil and white wine.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, another team of helpers were making fresh pasta using biodynamic flour and semolina from Dayle Lloyds Eden Valley Biodynamic Flour. Dayle had happily driven the 3 hours to Perth from Dumbleyung that morning to be a part of the day and bring some wonderful flour to use.

Lunch was again a sumptuous feast. Polenta and sausage, Fresh fettucini and passata, Italian broccoli, salad, fresh bread, wine, and when we thought it was all finished, more pork steaks seared on the bbq and drizzled with home made olive oil.

Our bodies rested and our souls restored, it was on to finish the job. Another group of likely ladies (Sharon included) took hold of the intestines that were to hold the sausage mixture, and squeezed all the air out of them (sadly I missed out on this bit). Then still more teams of people fed the sausage mixture into the funnel that pipes it into the intestines. The interesting thing being how easy Vincenzo made it look, and how hard everyone else did :)

Still, it was a great learning experience, and a lot of fun. We ended up the day with 4kg (count em!) of sausages to take home, which I promptly hung in the laundry to dry out. Being over two weeks ago that we went, I’ve since started using them to great effect… slicing pieces on their own for antipasto, and using it much like my beloved chorizo (which has taken a temporary backseat), in an arrangement of pasta and omlette style dishes.

How do they taste you ask ? Fantastic… Very spicy from the amount of chilli that went into them, and with a robust coriander flavour that becomes more or less intense depending on which piece you bite into. I’d highly recommend anyone give it a try. Just find your nearest Italian family and get stuffing !

Many thanks again to Slow Food for organising the event, and here’s looking forward to the next one :)

Vegan Hell Italian Sausages - Fonti Style

A dinner worth waiting for…


So I’ve been friends with someone for a very long time. Well a long time in my book. I’m not the best at keeping in touch and staying in regular contact, and so I’ve never been the best at maintaining a close group of friends. Couple that with the fact that my family moved around a lot when I was younger means that I’m lucky to still be in touch with anyone I’ve known longer than a few years.

Amanda is lucky (?) enough to be one of the old guard… which means I’ve known her for a good few years now. But surprisingly in all that time, haven’t been around to her place for dinner. Curious as to whether she actually ate at all, I’ve been trying for a while now to wrangle my way into her kitchen, and finally got the chance a couple of weeks ago when at long last, an invitation was sent out, with all necessary pomp and ceremony.

I think there was a sense of making up for lost time involved… although I know once she sets herself to do something, Amanda is not one for half measures. There were wine and oysters on arrival, a plate full of entrees including smoked salmon, capers, cheeses, fruits, and nuts… probably a meal in itself, but just a primer tonight.

Next was course one… chilli mussels… a giant bowl of fresh mussels heaped in a precariously arranged tower with a hearty tomato chilli sauce that warmed us from the insides. Not wanting to seem impolite… I made sure every last one of them got eaten after a considerable number of “seconds”.

Onto the mains and a lovely piece of swordfish steak, on top of mash, with some steamed veges… hearty and delicious, and more than meaty enough for my rampant carnivorous tendencies that don’t quite mesh with Amanda’s vegetarian sensibilities.

Finally, after a couple of bottles of wine, including a Gran Reserva Rioja, and a fantastic Ashbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot Franc, it was time for dessert. Chocolate mouse to start with, with shavings of cognac truffled chocolate on top, decadent enough in itself. Followed later by Tiramisu, a rich spongey delight of flavours and textures, smothered lovingly in cream and chocolate.

If my pants were a little tighter around the waist before this meal, they were doubly so after. We left satisfied and slightly giddy at the gastronomic onslaught, and have vowed to make sure the next dinner doesn’t have to wait for quite so long.

So here from the woman herself is Amanda’s wonderful Tiramisu:

Amanda’s Tiramisu

  • 375ml espresso coffee
  • 500g marscarpone
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 185ml Kahlua or Tia Maria
  • 125ml cream, lightly whipped
  • 250g thin sponge fingers
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

How She Made Hers
Pour the coffee into a shallow dish (do cool it down otherwise the biscuits go soggy too quickly). Mix the marscapone, sugar and liquor in a large bowl until you have a thick mass, then gently fold in the cream. Cover with plastic then put in the fridge. Dip half the biscuits into the coffee then lay them out in a thin layer on the bottom of a 2 litre ceramic dish. Spread half the marscapone mixture over the biscuits and dust liberally with half of the cocoa (use a fine sieve to make it easy).

Dunk the rest of the biscuits in the coffee and add a layer of them before spreading with the remaining marscapone mixture. Dust with the remaining cocoa, then cover and keep in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to develop before serving.

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto with Chorizo flakes

So in lieu of actually writing a new post, I’m resorting to the quintessential one I prepared earlier… this was dinner from a few nights ago… however the recipe is a little ripper that I pulled together last year, formerly Double Pumpkin Risotto, but now refactored into single pumpkin (downsizing is inevitable these days).

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto

  • Risotto rice (Aborio, or even better Carnaroli)
  • Half a butternut pumpkin
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cream
  • Chicken stock
  • White wine (I used unwooded chardonnay, but i don’t think that’s significant, I just wanted to let you know)
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

How I Made Mine

This one will again be pretty short on specifics because I’ve made so many risottos that writing out the specific technique in detail again is like running my nails down a black board.

So suffice to say you make a risotto like you normally would. Fry the onions/leek/garlic in some butter or olive oil and then add the rice. Coat the rice in the veges and then add the wine, maybe a cup or so. Once the wine has absorbed, start adding the chicken stock (which has been simmering on the stove nearby) a ladle full at a time.

The different thing about this dish though, is the pumpkin purée. I made mine by chopping up the pumpkin into little chunks and putting it into a pot of salted water to boil until soft but not falling apart. When the boiled pumpkin is done, drain it, and put it into a blender along with some thickened cream, salt and pepper, and purée until it’s a nice smooth texture throughout. Seasoning or adding more cream until you get the consistency you’re after… which should be a thick liquid.

So once the risotto is about half way cooked, add the pumpkin purée and stir it through well. The moisture in the purée will continue to be absorbed by the rice, so let it simmer for a while and soften up, before finishing off with a good handful of grated parmesan. I also sprinkled chopped chorizo flakes over the top, which had been quickly fried til slightly crispy.

A delicious winter warmer if ever there was one…