March 6 – March 12, 2023
Monday: Sunday Gravy with Sausage and Rigatoni, Green Salad
Tuesday: Leftovers with Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing, Stilton and Pancetta
Wednesday: Portuguese Kale Soup with Tostada
Friday: Roasted Shrimp with Chiles and Almonds
Saturday: Pizza – Mortadella, Mozzarella and Pistachios
Sunday: Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken with Blue Cheese Salad
NOTE: Our next post will be on April 4, 5 or 6. SWMBO and I are going to be on vacation for the next two weeks and I will not have access to my computer and will not be publishing any more posts until the first week of April. I have no doubt that you would prefer me to take a longer break, but I promise to be back to share my overbearing opinions and appalling taste no later than early April.
One of the saddest moments in the life of people who follow TV chefs was the death by suicide of Tony Bourdain almost 5 years ago. Bourdain was not only an entertaining ‘food traveler’*, he was a caustic critic of the whole ‘foodie’ movement – a man who could make a classic French omelet or beef bourguignon, but who also loved a good beer and had a fondness for what he called ‘meat in tubular’ form, otherwise known as hot dogs.
*This term is needed to differentiate between travel shows that dwell on pretzels and beer in Austria and fish and chips in Britain, and the interesting programs produced by Bourdain, Phil Rosenthal, Stanley Tucci, and the crew behind Chef’s Table and other solid programs.
Bourdain made it okay for those of us who thought the ‘foodie’ scene too precious, who shuddered when someone referred to Reubens as ‘sammies’ and never understood why anybody would devote their life to cupcakes, to get into the mass movement of Americans toward all things culinary.
He was, clearly, a troubled soul. As a young man he lived the life of a line cook and did drugs and drank till all hours. But he cleaned himself up, became a solid executive chef and a solid, albeit brutally honest writer about restaurants. His Restaurant Confidential raised more than a few eyebrows and taught people when not to order the fish and, of course, became a best seller and made him a sought-after speaker. His television program – “No Reservations” made him famous and rich. He was, by all accounts, a workaholic – a driven man.
We’ll never know what demons drove him to his death. But we can celebrate his entertaining existence by cooking his recipes and none more are appropriate than his simple, delicious approach to Sunday Gravy. There is no, what Tony would have called ‘bull . . .t’ about grandma spending all day in the kitchen darning socks while the gravy and the meat cooked slowly (‘you just want to see a bubble every 10 seconds or so’) and Papa Giovanni and his friends playing bocci and sipping grappa.
In fact, why don’t you get his last cookbook, Appetites, filled with Bourdain’s typically pithy comments. Ever wonder why the muffin beneath your Eggs Benedict adheres to the eggs and ham like some sort of paste during your $50.00 brunch at the hotel restaurant? Here’s Tony, who spent years as a brunch cook, laying down the law for his brethren: “Toast the g . . .d. . . muffins”
I have entitled this post, “A Proper Celebration of the Lord’s Day,” but feel free to cook this any day of the week as we did (on Monday), even if you’re an atheist. But DO NOT FEEL FREE NOT to cook this.* An iconic dish by an iconic chef and food writer is not to taken lightly, and you will hear from me, if you do – or is it if you don’t? (I’ve worked myself into a grammatical corner and will stay there until early April).
*This is not a double negative, but a grammatical construction the Greeks called a ‘litotes’ – an often ironic, sometimes simply emphatic, and occasionally even timid expression of an affirmative by the denial of its contrary.
Sunday Gravy with Sausage and Rigatoni
(adapted from Appetites, Anthony Bourdain)
This is a heavy adaptation. Bourdain uses oxtail and pork neck bones to make his gravy – this will require a hunt for supplies and at least 3 hours to cook. I adapted it to make it possible to cook on Monday, starting at about 5:00 p.m. If you want Bourdain’s recipe, which is even better than my already spectacular version, buy his book – pictured below the recipe.
Timing: About 2 hours
Ingredients: Serves 6
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon made with Roast Beef (this will add some of that ox-tail flavor Bourdain is looking for – you can skip this – DO NOT add beef bouillon cubes)
2 pounds sweet or hot pork sausages (if you live in Pittsburgh, try Frankie’s Sausage in Sharpsburg)
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (I fished these out after cooking them with the onion)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to taste – we used 2 teaspoons)
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes (I actually like to put canned whole tomatoes in the food processor and whiz them – it gives the sauce an interesting inconsistency)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
1 sprig basil
1 pound dry rigatoni
4-6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Preheat Oven to 350 F
Gather your ingredients, chop the onion
In a stockpot or large Dutch oven heat the olive oil until shimmering over just below medium-high and brown the sausages then remove to a plate. Now brown the ground pork (you may or may not need a bit more oil) and remove that to a plate.
Add the onions to the Dutch oven, salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to pick up the browned bits the meat has left behind.
(Make sure you have the tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes on hand for this next step.)
Add the garlic and cook for one minute (we removed at that point, but it is fine to leave the garlic in the pot if you like), then add the tomato paste, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until the paste is dark reddish brown and has begun to stick to the bottom of the pan – a minute or two.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce by half.
Now add the stock, the tomatoes and the bay leaves. Wrap the herb sprigs in cheese cloth and tie with kitchen twine (if you don’t have the cheesecloth, just tie the herbs so that you can fish out the stems). Return the ground pork to the pot, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then add the sausages and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the herbs and bay leaves and keep warm.
Now boil salted water to cook the pasta and cook the rigatoni until just al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot it was cooked in and toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds to dry the pasta. Ladle as much of the sauce (gravy) as you need to coat (but not drown) the pasta and toss to coat.
Serve the pasta and sausages together with grated cheese and extra sauce on the side.
One thought on “A Proper Celebration of the Lord’s Day”
Bill, such an interesting albeit sad story about Tony Bourdain. While I do not know his cooking or his books,I will maybe one day do a borrow of yours upon your return from a much deserved vacation. Thank you Bill… 🐇💕💙😎