This has become my favoured New Year's Eve repast over the last several years - a simple, earthy and ancient meal. If you fancy giving it a try, it's worth starting your search for a fresh cotechino now.
Cotechino is a monster of a sausage made from pork, pork rinds and spices. The fresh version is hard to get hold of, but you have a fighting chance around this time of year - it's a traditional meal in Italy in New Year's Eve.
I got mine from Gastronomica at Borough Market last year. However, if you can't find any fresh, most good Italian delis will have pre-cooked cotechino in foil packets. If that's what you're using, follow the instructions on the packet for cooking times.
Mostarda di Cremona is made of fruits preserved in a spicy, mustardy syrup. In the jar it looks exactly like glacé fruit, which I suppose it is. But the taste is unique. I love it with charcuterie and cheese. Otherwise use another spicy fruit relish. I bow to no man in my affection for Branston pickle, but that is definitely not what's called for here.
If you have one, you can use your favourite recipe for boiled lentils to go with the sausage - and I've also included a recipe for a more 'sophisticated' lentil dish that I often make.
I think it was Monsewer Eddie Gray who said 'hell is other people'. He was probably in a room full of relatives and neighbours on Christmas Day when the thought came to him. On what might seem on the face of it to be the loneliest day of the year, there are compensatory, if slightly melancholy, pleasures to be had if you're spending it on your tod.
This will be, if memory serves, my seventh Christmas Day on my own. I kind of enjoy it. If you number yourself, as I do, amongst the frazzled of mind, the wretched and heavily-laden, this is one day when the noise of the world stops. There'll be no bailiffs, no letters from the DWP, no calls from 'unknown number' today. And if you've managed to scrape a bit of money together, this is also the day when you really do need to treat yourself a little bit.
So here's a menu for one or two people. This is simple, delicious fare, but with more than a hint of the indulgence that the day calls for . And even if, for the rest of the year, you hold to the misguided notion that 'it's not worth cooking for one', I hope you'll indulge yourself just this once. Who knows? It might well become a habit.
And for your auditory delectation, there's a soundtrack to the day consisting of three yule-tastic Spotify playlists I've put together. Mambo Santa mambo!
SHORTLISTED FOR FOOD BLOG OF THE YEAR 2014