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The second coming of ragù

Cast your mind back… 

It’s April 2020 and Eat My Words drops overnight, becoming a global sensation with a recipe for ragù (some details of this story have been embellished for creative licence).

Well now, one year on, I present ragù’s second album with a recipe for malloreddus alla campidanese (basically fennel sausage ragù).

This week’s album

Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits

Upon release this album didn’t receive great reviews. Fortunately, the critics soon came to their senses (one called it a ‘phenomenon on every level') and the album eventually picked up a couple of Grammys and a Brit award. It’s full of feel-good tracks (Walk Of Life), great guitars (Money For Nothing), and ace lyrics (Brothers In Arms).

Fraser's family holidays

Last week’s pardula recipe came from the island of Sardinia which got me thinking back to times spent there on family holidays. My overriding memory? Its incredible food and the respect locals give it.

We stayed in an agriturismo (an independently-owned farm) that would put on an annual food festival. Each year they’d celebrate a different animal and we’d eat just about every single part of a goat/lamb/pig. And yes, I do mean every. Single. Part. It was basically a bushtucker trial every night, with Mum and Dad playing Ant or Dec.

What made up for it was this week’s classic Sardinian dish: malloreddus alla campidanese. It’s the Dolly Parton of Italian recipes: impossible not to like, and it always works (9 to 5 and beyond).

Remember our first ragù?
Well this week's ragù takes a fraction of the time to cook.

We’re gonna make some minor adjustments to the traditional recipe:

1. You’d normally use tinned tomatoes, but we’re going for fresh ones as they’ll keep the dish lighter and allow the flavour of the pork to really shine through.

2. We’ll add some chilli (although feel free to delete) as it works particularly well with fennel.

3. We’re gonna add a small amount of chicken stock as it helps create a really beautiful sauce that marries all the flavours together.

The main part of this dish is your sausage meat so try to get the best quality.

Got a local Italian deli? You might be able to find some Italian pork and fennel sausages. These would be perfect. 

Quick note: Italian sausages usually have a higher salt content than others. Something to factor in when it comes to your seasoning. (The same goes for chicken stock cubes which have a higher salt content than fresh stock.)

And what are malloreddus? Made from semolina, water, and saffron, they sit somewhere between a pasta and a gnocchi. Again, try an Italian deli. If you can’t find any then just sub in your favourite pasta or gnocchi. I’ve used a pasta shape called cavatelli, which is similar to malloreddus, but this sauce works with any shape.

Finally, this dish is traditionally finished with pecorino - a cheese abundant in Sardinia - but parmesan works too.

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 20 mins to prep and 45 mins to cook.


400-450g pork sausages (skins removed & torn into small pieces)

1 small white onion (finely diced)

1 small carrot (finely diced)

2 celery sticks (finely diced)

4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

2 tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)

200g cherry tomatoes (halved)

200ml white wine

200ml chicken stock (preferably fresh)

400g dried pasta

15g parsley leaves (roughly chopped)

¼ lemon (juice only)

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt & black pepper

Grated pecorino (as desired)

Ready, steady, cook

1. Add a large heavy-based frying pan to a medium-high heat. When hot, add in a tablespoon of olive oil and the broken-up sausage meat. Fry the sausage pieces until nicely browned, breaking them down with a wooden spoon as they cook (this will take 8-10 mins). The sausages will release some liquid but this will evaporate as you continue to cook.

2. When coloured, use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage meat to a plate or bowl. Set aside.

3. Return the pan to a medium heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onion, carrot, and celery along with a good pinch of salt. Leave to cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 mins (or until the vegetables are soft and translucent).

4. When the vegetables are soft, add in the chopped garlic, fennel seeds, and chilli (if using). Sauté for a few mins, watching the heat in the pan so you don’t colour the garlic.

5. Add in the halved cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 2-3 mins until they just start to soften.

Now return the coloured sausage meat to the pan and turn the heat up to full. Add the white wine and leave to cook for a further 2-3 mins until the wine has reduced by about half and the alcohol flavour has disappeared.

6. Add the chicken stock and, once all the liquid reaches boiling point, reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave to cook for 30 mins to create your ragù. The liquid needs to be just ticking over (you don’t want to boil the meat as it will toughen up rather than tenderise).

7. Place a large pot of salted water onto a high heat. Once the ragù is ready, add your pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet’s instructions (minus 2 mins if going ‘al dente’).

When the timer goes off, transfer the pasta to the ragù using a sieve/slotted spoon/tongs (depending on the type of pasta you choose). If you want to use a colander just make sure you reserve a cup of the cooking water.

8. Turn the heat up on the ragù and allow the pasta to cook in the sauce for a further 2 mins, stirring or tossing the pan well to help the gluten from the pasta make the sauce wonderfully velvety.

The pasta will absorb some of the liquid as it cooks so add some of the pasta cooking water half a ladle at a time. It should never look dry, but equally it shouldn’t be swimming in water. Aim for a consistency that nicely coats the pasta.

9. Once cooked for 2 mins, and you’re happy with the consistency, turn off the heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Stir or toss vigorously while drizzling in some extra virgin olive oil.

10. Check the seasoning. Serve in bowls. Sprinkle over pecorino. Generously.

Final thought

As with so many Italian dishes, this one will actually taste better the day after.

Make it ahead of time and keep in the fridge (it will be fine for about 4 days). Reheat it in a pan with a splash of water. Serve with decent bread (ideally toasted and drizzled with a bit of olive oil). For an epic breakfast, just add a fried egg.

Same time next week,


Last week’s results

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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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