- September 2023
- Serves 6-8
- Hands-on time 1 hour, plus simmering time 4 hours
Debora Robertson shares her recipe for Macaronade Sétoise, a hearty, meaty pasta dish from southern France. It’s made with steak, pork ribs and pork sausages in a rich, espelette pepper-spiked sauce and usually served with penne pasta. Think Italian-American Sunday sauce, but with a little extra je ne sais quoi.
For something less carnivorous, try Debora’s summer vegetable lasagne.
- 39g (13g saturated)
- 41g (13g sugars)
- 6 thin slices chuck steak (about 700-800g total) – get the butcher to slice them if you like
- 500g pork mince
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Finely grated zest 2 unwaxed lemons
- 25g parsley, any larger stalks discarded
- 1 medium free-range egg yolk
- Pinch ground cloves
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 800g pork ribs, ideally very meaty and any larger ones halved
- 6 Toulouse sausages (or any well-seasoned sausages)
- 600g (around 4) onions, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 5-6 thyme sprigs
- 60ml pastis (optional)
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 700ml jar passata
- 400ml red wine
- 1 tsp espelette pepper, or mild chilli powder with a pinch of smoked paprika (see tips)
- Pinch saffron threads
- 600g penne
- Finely grated emmental or parmesan, or a mixture of the two, to serve
- Put the steaks between 2 sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to bash them out as thinly as possible.
- In a large bowl, mix the pork mince with the garlic, lemon zest, parsley, egg yolk and cloves, then season well with salt and pepper. You can break off a little piece at this point and fry it, taste it, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Spread the mixture on each piece of steak, then roll them up and secure each one with a toothpick. These are called brageole. If you don’t use up all the mince, you can tip it into the sauce with the rest of the meat later.
- Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over a medium-high heat. Brown the brageole on all sides, then transfer to a plate. In batches, brown the ribs and sausages, then put them on the plate too.
- Lower the heat and add the onions, bay leaves, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft. If you’re using pastis, pour it in and set it alight using a long cook’s match. Stand back as the flames may rise up initially. When the flames die down, pour in the tomatoes, passata, wine and 400ml water (measure it into the passata jar to get all of the juices out). Add the espelette pepper. Warm the saffron in a splash of hot water for a couple of minutes, then toss that in too. Leave to gently simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Tip the brageole and ribs (and any leftover mince) into the sauce, keeping the sausages in the fridge for later. Turn the heat down to low and simmer very gently for 3 hours, partially covered, stirring from time to time. Add a splash of water if it looks at all dry. Taste for seasoning, then add the sausages and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions. Drain, return to the pan, then add a couple of ladles of the sauce from the meat, stirring well until coated. To serve, spoon some pasta onto each plate, along with a brageole (remember to remove the toothpicks), some ribs and sausage. Put a bowl of grated cheese on the table so people can serve themselves. Now all you need is a green salad and a nap.
Macaronade is seasoned with piment d’espelette (espelette pepper), the warm, mild (absolutely not hot) chilli of the south of France. It’s available online in the UK, or just use a mild chilli powder, with perhaps a pinch of smoked paprika.
“Sète in southeast France has a large Italian community whose fishermen ancestors arrived in the town in the 19th century. Its traditional cooking has a strong Italian accent,” says Debora Robertson. “The word macaronade comes from macaroni, though today it’s more usually served with penne rigate. This dish is quite a labour of love, though none of the stages are difficult. It’s usually served for Sunday lunch. You can make it the day before – it’s even better that way – so all you have to do is warm it through and cook the pasta at the last minute. My neighbour cooks hers for six hours, though I find four is enough.”
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