Cookbook: My Cousin Rosa: Rosa Mitchell's Sicilian Kitchen (2009), Rosa Mitchell
This is a cookbook I often use. The recipes are easily 'do-able' and can often be pulled together with ingredients on hand, and quite quickly too.
A particular favourite in our house is her recipe for polpette (meatballs in tomato sauce), which apparently serves six but I find we get at least 16-20 serves from it. We make a batch at the beginning of winter and find ourselves eating it for the rest of the season. It's such a tasty recipe though, that this is in no way a burden.
However, I'm not making that recipe this week. I wanted to use my first week of participating in the cookbook challenge (albeit a week late) to make something different, something that I wouldn't normally try. And so I chose 'Farsomagro'. About this dish Rosa Mitchell writes 'this is a traditional Sicilian favourite - every family has its own version'. The end result was absolutely delicious, well worth the effort and just perfect for a cold and rainy weekend.
1.5 kg girello roast or a piece of beef shoulder, boned and flattened as much as possible (I used beef shoulder)
2 tbls grated parmeson cheese
5 slices of mortadella
large leaves from 1/2 bunch of spinach (I used baby spinach leaves and it was fine)
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled but left whole
125 ml of olive oil
For the sauce:
3 tbls olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2.5 kg tin or 4 x 500ml bottles of pureed tomatoes (I used passata)
2 bay leaves
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan that is big enough to hold all the meat. Cook the onion, celery and carrot over a low heat until soft and golden, then add the tomato puree and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer while you prepare the meat.
Lay the meat on a flat surface, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the parmesan. Lay the slices of mortadella down the centre of the meat. Lay the spinach leaves over the mortadella. Arrange the eggs lengthways in a line down the centre of meat. Season again with salt and pepper. You can see from the photos I worked with two pieces of meat, which made it easier to fit into the saucepan.
The tricky part, as Rosa points out, is rolling up the meat. It helps to have a second pair of hands around at this point.
Start to roll from one long side, tying with kitchen string at intervals of about 8cms. Make sure the ends are tied very tightly or you will lose the eggs.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the farsomagro on all sides, then add to the sauce in the pan. Cover the pan and cook over a very low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally. Remove from the sauce and leave to cool slightly. Remove the string before slicing. Spoon some of the sauce onto a large serving plate then arrange the slices on top and serve.
This cooking method produced a meltingly moist meat that was full of well-balanced flavours. A great thing about this recipe is that there will be a lot of sauce left over and you will get more than one meal from it. The sauce that the meat is cooked in is full of flavour and can be used for a couple of quick pasta meals.