It must happen to everyone: That moment when you lose all ambition for trying new recipes and just fall back on the tried and true, the comfort foods that make your heart and belly happy, with a minimum of fuss.
Last week, Cameron came down with a doozy of a cold. It wasn’t really terrible, in the symptoms department, but it seemed to go on forever and ever. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was just annoying enough to keep him home, working at the dining room table and sipping mug after mug of lemon and honey. In much the same way, taking care of the house and the dogs all on my own isn’t really traumatic, but it is time-comsuming… and the thought of coming home and spending an hour or more in the kitchen — especially all alone — wasn’t terribly appealing. I looked for recipes that I could prep, preferrably in the morning or the night before, and then pop into the oven when I got home. And, of course, they had to appeal to the palate of a guy who had a head full of winter weather.
Unfortunately for you, and for my narrative, the two all-local meals we ate last week were both repeats: My mom’s famous meatloaf — with Dirty Girl romanesco and baked Little’s potatoes on the side — and a thrown-together lasagna using home-canned tomatoes, locally made cheeses and fresh pasta.
For both of these meals, I took a slightly different route than my usual, mixing ground pork from our meat CSA with spices to make bulk sausage — home-grown sage for the meatloaf’s breakfast sausage, and home-grown fennel seed for the lasagna’s Italian sausage. Of course, the texture’s no match against real home-ground sausage, but in a highly flavored dish like lasagne, the difference is fairly negligible. And the taste? Comforting and hearty, just like always.
Quick Italian Sausage
1 pound ground pork (at least 30% fat)
1T kosher salt
1T fennel seed
1-1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
3/4 tsp sugar
2-3T ice cold water
Mix all ingredients together well. Fry a small test patty to taste for salt and seasoning, and adjust as needed. Let sit overnight, if possible, to allow flavors to blend.