Spetzofai: Spicy sausage heart warmer

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Spicy sausage was the basic ingredient for our wintery Sunday dish last week. Cooked in an oven-pot and mixed with cannellini beans, colourful sweet peppers, a fresh leek and a red onion this hot pot dish is a Lia’s Kitchen variation of the traditional Greek Spetzofai dish. You may have cooked something similar at some time or another as this is a very quick and simple main course to prepare that uses ingredients commonly found in our kitchens.

I didn’t even realise that I was actually making a type of spetzofai. I found a pack of Salsiccie piccante (Italian Spicy pork sausages) at Deli Rouge, where, during our Sunday stroll,  Dan and I stopped for a cappuccino. The rest of the ingredients were waiting for us in the fridge and our vegetable box when we gathered back at home.

The aroma of frying leek, pepper and sausage filled the house. In the living room through warm light and music pointed out the presence of someone I love. At that moment satisfaction welled over from my heart and Ifelt life caress me. ‘This is my home’, I thought, as I glimpsed the living room through the kitchen door. ‘I have  this house owned for 5 years to the day’ I realised. And what a 5 years these have been. There is much colour and warmth in my life.

As I was cooking, swaying in a dance, scenes of the day were relayed in my mind: the Sunday stroll in a sunbathed Roath Park , the tea and cheese toastie by the lake, chatting and walking with Dan, coffee, newspapers and writing at Deli Rouge.  And just like this, at the end of November 2011, we welcomed this winter and celebrated a place called home.

Happy Sunday and have a good start to your week. I hope you like this.

Ingredients
3 main portions, 6 for tapas

  • 2 sweet peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium or large leek, roughly chopped
  • 350g chopped spicy sausage, (choriatiko Greek sausage or italian spicy sausage or other spicy sausage available)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked, sweet paprika
  • 1 drained tin cannellini beans (250g drained)
  • 250gr halved cherry or mini plum tomatoes
  • 3 halved garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Preparation
1 hr 

  1. Sautee leek in a large oven pot in olive oil with the spicy sausage diced in walnut sized chunks.
  2. As soon as some of the spices and fat of the sausage see out add 2 bay leaves, the onion and peppers with about the smoked sweet paprika powder,  sugar and some salt and pepper.
  3. Then add the pre-cooked cannellini beans the tomatoes and 3 halved garlic cloves and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Then cover the oven pot and cook the dish in a gas oven for about 45min on Gas Mark 4-5 (max 190 C).
  5. Enjoyed on a generous heap of wholemeal basmati rice, because that’s the only rice we had.

Tips:  Traditionally the dish uses thick and strongly flavoured Greek ‘country’ sausages (Horiatika sausages). These pork sausages are fresh (not cured) with much garlic, leek, peppers and many variations of herbs and spices. Each region and sometimes each village has its version of these horiatika pork sausages. I know some people that use kabanos as an alternative. I also think that any spicy or berb filled sausages from farmers markets will do. If you cook thin sausages I would suggest you reduce your cooking time. For an extra layer of flavour add a splash of port of Mavrothafni wine.

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