Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat episode 5: As winter draws in and the nights get cold, Nigella creates recipes that deliver comfort and warmth to banish the winter blues. Nigella’s grandmother’s recipe for creme caramel provides the inspiration for a simple but elegant dessert of caramel custard.
Nigella then rifles through her pasta collection to find the ideal pasta shape to go with her spicy sauce made from Italian ‘nduja and cavolo nero. This is followed by a visit to the famous gadget cupboard for an electric potato masher to prep her brown butter colcannon, the perfect match to a dish of black pudding meatballs in tomato sauce.
Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat episode 5 recipes:
Brown butter colcannon
I have a particular passion for this recipe. Mash in any form has a special place in my heart, but this is simply sublime. I go dreamy-eyed every time I eat it, which is often.
- Put the potatoes, whole, into a large pan of salted cold water and bring to the boil. Partially cover the pan and cook at a robust simmer (checking that the pan isn’t boiling dry, and that the water isn’t bubbling so fiercely the potatoes break into pieces) until the potatoes feel tender when you pierce them gently with a fork. Smaller potatoes will take around 40 minutes, larger ones around 1 hour.
- Cook the kale in a small amount of salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until it’s soft and then drain. When you can handle it without burning yourself, squeeze out the excess water and put the kale back in the hot pan, cover the pan and leave to one side.
- Once your potatoes are tender, gently take them out of the pan (draining them in a colander may make them disintegrate and get waterlogged) and place on a board. Empty out the pan and give it a quick wipe with kitchen paper. Put it back on the turned-off hob and return the potatoes to the pan to dry out for a couple of minutes.
Method part 2
- Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave. Mash the potatoes. I like the texture from the skins, so I simply pour in the warmed milk and set to with a masher. (Whatever you do, don’t use a stick blender or you’ll turn them to glue.) Fold in the cooked kale and season to taste. Put the lid on while you make the brown butter and warm a serving dish.
- Put a small heatproof jug by the hob. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Once the butter’s melted, turn the heat to medium and cook, swirling the pan regularly, for about 7 minutes, until the butter starts to turn a deep golden brown, with dark speckles at the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sliced spring onions, which will make the butter sizzle furiously.
- Pour a third of the brown butter into your little jug and the rest into the potato pan. Beat the brown butter into the colcannon and then scrape into your warmed dish, making swirls in the top of the colcannon with your spatula. Pour the remaining brown butter on top and take to the table.
Black pudding meatballs – Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat episode 5
These are one of my absolute favourite things to eat, an instant sparker of joy; I honestly feel so much better about life knowing there’s always a container or three of them in the freezer. I thrill at their deep gloriousness every time I eat them.
- Take the minced beef and black pudding out of the fridge so they lose their chill while you get on with the sauce. Pour 400ml/14fl oz cold water into a measuring jug and put it by the hob.
- To make the sauce, melt the dripping or warm the oil in a large heavy-based casserole then add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring every now and then, for about 15 minutes or until beginning to soften and turn golden in parts.
- When the onions are ready, stir in the dried thyme, parsley and garlic. Add the tomatoes, then swill out the empty tins with the water in your jug and pour it into the pan. Stir in the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and salt and then turn up the heat to bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Loosen the mince with your fingers as you drop it into a large bowl. Add the black pudding, crumbling it in by hand. Add the garlic, parsley, chives, dried thyme, salt, pepper and chilli flakes, then sprinkle over the oats and crack in the eggs. Mix this all together with your hands, making sure it’s evenly incorporated.
Method part 2
- Tear off walnut-sized lumps of the mixture and roll them between your palms to make meatballs, placing them on a lined baking sheet or large chopping board as you go. You should end up making about 40.
- Drop the meatballs into the sauce in concentric circles, easing them in gently. Try to get the meatballs covered by the sauce and then bring to a bubble. Clamp on the lid, turn the heat down a bit, and let it simmer robustly for 15 minutes.
- Take off the lid and give the pan a very gentle stir, then leave without a lid for another 15 minutes, simmering a little less robustly now, by which time the meatballs should be cooked through.
- Check the sauce for seasoning, then leave off the heat for 5–10 minutes. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chives and parsley and eat with bread and butter or a buttery bowl of colcannon.
Pasta with cavolo nero and ’nduja
This is a gorgeous, wintry, rib-sticker of a dish, just right to bolster and brighten where skies are dark and the air is chill. If you haven’t come across ’nduja before (pronounced en-doo-ya, with the ‘en’ mumbled, and the stress on the ‘doo’), I can best describe it as being like a fabulously fiery salami pâté, or a chorizo-ish spread (I can only imagine that ’nduja is a Calabrian rendition of the French andouille), and once you start cooking with it, you won’t be able to stop.
- Fill a large pan with cold water, and add salt with abandon. Add the potato cubes and bring to the boil.
- Once the water in the pan has come to a boil, cook the potato cubes for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and give it a good stir. Once the water has reached boiling point again, add the cavolo nero. Set your timer for just under the recommended cooking time on your packet of pasta, though start checking before that, and get on with the sauce.
- You need a pan that’s big enough to take all the ingredients later, with room to toss the pasta. Melt the butter gently over low–medium heat, add the ’nduja and stir it into the butter to make a sauce.
- When the pasta’s nearly ready, scoop out a cupful of the cooking water, and then add about 3–4 tablespoons to the ‘nduja, and stir it in.
- Then, once the pasta is done and the cavolo nero soft, drain and tip into the ’nduja pan; it doesn’t matter if the fusilli and greens are wet. Turn everything together carefully, as your pan will be very full indeed, and add more of the pasta cooking water as needed to help emulsify the sauce.
- Pour over the extra virgin olive oil and stir, adding more if wished, and serve immediately. Bring the bottle to the table, to pour, greenly and greedily, over your pasta as you eat.