Leftover bacon and sausage chowder
My friend Chloe scooped out the middle of potatoes in her aunt’s Harringey kitchen, scorching her fingers whilst a bemused bunch of her Italian friends watched. Chloe was living in Italy and a group of mates had come over for New Years. Her then boyfriend loved cooking, he encouraged her, and helped, burning his fingers too. I think I just sat at the counter, happy that they were all back over from Italy for now, basking in the happy noise of their company.
She mashed the potato with bacon and butter, squashing it back into the skins before re-baking them. We ate for hours that New Years Eve, a mix of Italian and English, plenty of wine, lots of chat.
A few years ago, faced with hungry kids and a small food budget, I went back to these potatoes. Pork is a strong flavour, so carries through potato well. Mixing in an egg with the potato gives everyone some extra protein which can be helpful if you’re worried about getting goodness into everyone’s bellies when the pennies have to stretch far. Bubbling cheese is optional but so good; it’s also the only way to get my eldest any way near a jacket potato.
Every time I make these potatoes, I think of Chloe. I think of the time I learned that brussells are amazing steamed with a healthy wodge of melted butter and a sprinkling of salt; I think of the endless plates of tuna pasta I’d eat at her mum’s house and the aranchini that her ex made me. Of her mum’s industrial bags of sugar and the fact that I only drink tea because you had to at her house (I’m not joking).
The only reason any of us can navigate around StorrCupboard is down to Chloe. She is a bloody wonder. And if you ever find yourself in Turin, go to the lovely ex-boyfriend’s excellent restaurant Scannabue, where you’ll eat nose to tail, and roll out afterwards, full and happy. Every recipe has a life before and after anyone puts it in a book or a blog; I hope you have fun making this idea your own.