A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of finally visiting The Eagle in Farringdon Road, London. The Eagle is famous for becoming one of the first 'gastro pubs', serving simple delicious Mediterranean influenced meals from its busy and furious open kitchen. It is also where the Clarkes of Moro fame worked, and being a huge fan of their work, it was a place I always wanted to visit. And it didn't disappoint.
I gather that The Eagle was the benchmark for a lot of imitation gastro pubs. It is certainly unpretentious, with basic tables and chairs scattered around its well worn wooden floor. What I love about it is the fact that you can see everything that is being cooked, with most of the bar used up as an open kitchen. And with huge blackboards with ever changing dishes written and rubbed off on a regular basis, the food was fresh and unfussy with the security of knowing that once it was gone, it was gone. I loved it, certainly my type of restaurant.
A plate of Tuscan sausages, thick and spicy, served on a bed of red cabbage and borlotti beans were hungrily wolfed back with a good bottle of red. Simple, delicious, nourishing, filling and ultimately satisfying. It was so good that once I had horse and carted it back to Geordieland, I made the very same dish for my wife and daughter. So here is my version of a fantastic simple plate of food from an institution that deserves all of the fuss. If only all other so called 'gastro pubs' could live up to the same level of brilliance as The Eagle.
Spicy Italian Sausages with Braised Red Cabbage and Borlotti Beans
For the red cabbage
1 red cabbage, washed, cored and sliced thin
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch of cloves
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
A dozen top quality spicy Italian sausages, or your sausage of choice
2 tins of borlotti beans
Salt and pepper
1 - To make the braised red cabbage, put all of the ingredients in a large casserole dish, season and mix well. Dot the top with a few pieces of butter, put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 and a half hours, stirring every now and again. Once cooked, this will keep well in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge or could be frozen.
2 - Cook the sausages either in a large frying pan or under the grill.
3 - Warm the beans in a pan and squeeze in the lemon juice, a glug of olive oil and a grinding of salt and pepper.
4 - To serve, place a pile of beans onto a plate, followed by some braised red cabbage and finally the sausages and a scattering of roughly chopped fresh parsley. Delicious.