Nigel Slater's recipe for sausage and beans, and panna cotta with blood orange

A delectable meal of grilled sausages with a mash of beans and spinach, followed by an elegant creamy set with winter fruits. It was a winter's night when only sausage could do, and I came home with my favorite variety of meat and a bag of plump Italian ones – textured grainy and seasoned with fennel seeds and dried chilies. I cook them slowly, so their skin is shiny and gooey like Marmite.

Lacking potatoes — which I forgot to pick up at the grocery store — I crushed white haricot beans with a bunch of steamed spinach leaves and turned them into a mound of finely mashed flecks of green.

I must say that almost any sausage and mash is welcome at my table, but the best are those with coarsely ground and open-textured meat, cooked with care and under careful supervision. The puree can be anything soft and fluffy - squash, potatoes, chickpeas or cannellini beans, or even a mix of roots, such as parsnips or swede - the latter are welcome only when served with generous amounts of salted butter and coarse black ground. pepper.

Occasionally I'll mash chickpeas with merguez sausage (I also stir in a bit of za'atar), and cream of haricot with garlicky Toulouse sausage. The Rosemary spiked cannellini mash is gorgeous with Italian fennel sausage.

Last winter a puddle of buttery parsnip puree went really well with a plate of black pudding and I suspect it will again this year.

Grilled sausage with spinach cannellini

If you mix your sausages I suggest you put the fattier sausages in to cook first before adding the thinner ones. (Those with good thickness need lower heat otherwise they will split.) You can add cream to the spinach and haricot pea puree - it's not a lot, but it's delicious. A knob of butter stirred in at the end is a nice touch, but even better are the hot juices from the pot of sausage.

  • Enough for 4
  • peanut or vegetable oil 3 tbsp
  • assorted sausages 1kg
  • rosemary sprigs 8
  • garlic 8 cloves
  • bay leaf 3
  • For the nuts:
  • spinach leaves 200g
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • cannellini beans 2 x cans 400g

Wash the spinach leaves and remove the thick stems. Place the leaves, still drenched, in a deep skillet, covered tightly, over medium heat. Let them steam for a minute or two, then turn the leaves over with tongs and steam for another minute until they collapse and are bright green. Remove from heat and rinse spinach briefly under cold water, squeeze vigorously, then allow to cool.

Place the spinach in the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Pour the chicken stock into a deep pan. Drain the cannellini beans, add to the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the beans simmer for about 5 minutes. Add them and their broth to the spinach and process briefly, until you get a coarse gruel. (Be careful not to process too much or the texture will turn out sticky.)

Cook the sausages: put a large skillet over medium heat. Heat the oil in a covered shallow skillet over low to medium heat. Add the sausages, starting with the fatties first before adding the thinner and smaller ones a few minutes later. Stir in the rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves and bay leaf and let the sausages lightly brown. Watch them closely, flipping when the underside is a shiny golden brown.

Ladle the spinach and bean puree into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking, then serve with the sausages.

Panna cotta with blood oranges and pomegranate

Pomegranate and deep red blood oranges make a cracking accompaniment to panna cotta. The dessert will be perfectly bouncy after about 4 hours in the fridge, but it won't hurt if you leave it a little longer, even overnight. The portions are small – I used a pretty mold that holds 175ml, which I think is enough for one.

  • Makes 4 small plates
  • For the panna cotta:
  • green cardamom fruit 12
  • double cream 400ml
  • 125ml full cream milk
  • caster sugar 90g
  • gelatin 2 sheets
  • For the fruit:
  • pomegranate 1
  • blood orange 2

Crack open the cardamom pods and extract the seeds, then crush them into a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar. Place the cardamom in a small nonstick saucepan with the cream, milk and sugar and place over medium heat. Bring the cream to a boil, then remove from heat, cover with a plate and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

Soak gelatin in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes or until soft. Gently warm the infused cream, stirring frequently, for 2 or 3 minutes, but do not let it boil. Remove the gelatin from the water and add it to the cream, stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved, then remove.

Pour the cream through a strainer suspended over the pitcher. Pour into 4 small ramekins and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until slightly firm.

Halve a pomegranate, remove the seeds, discard the pith, and save as much of the juice as you can. Slice the orange peel and remove the pith. Slice it into pieces, remove the skin as you go and mix with the pomegranate.

Lightly warm the ramekins by dipping them for a few seconds in hot water, then turn the panna cotta onto small plates. Spoon the pomegranate, orange halves and their juice over the little pudding at the last moment.

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