Usually signalling the first breath of spring in London, the Towpath café wasn’t able to open as usual this year.
Having recently re-opened following months of temporary closure following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Towpath is now also serving dinner, with bookable sittings at 7.30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, priced at £40 per head. Founders Lori De Mori and Laura Jackson have also published a brand new book, Towpath: Recipes & Stories, providing a chance to enjoy the restaurant’s seasonal dishes during Towpath’s closed season (typically from late November – March).
Capturing the ebb and flow of the restaurant’s ever-changing menus and waterside community, the book showcases Laura Jackson’s recipes alongside written stories by Lori De Mori and photography documenting the Regent’s Canal venue’s past ten years, having gained a reputation as a must-visit space with an unsurprising cult following.
Towpath Café’s Napoli Sausage Ragu recipe
“Most weekends we have the hearty Napoli sausage sandwich on the breakfast and lunch menu. It consists of Napoli sausages and lots of butter and ketchup on fresh bread. Sometimes we have sausages left from the weekend and so a great way to use them is to turn them into a ragu. I also make this dish from scratch as it is perfect to serve on the Towpath on a crisp day. It is a comforting, nourishing dish and a regular on the menu both at the beginning and end of our season. Serve with wet polenta.”
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a nice glug for serving
6 brown or red onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves sprig of thyme sprig of rosemary
10 Napoli sausages or any other coarse pork and fennel sausages
200ml/7 fl oz red wine
2 x 400g/14oz tinned whole plum tomatoes, blitzed or mashed
100g/ 3 ½ oz Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 140°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3.
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a saucepan over a medium heat. Warm and then add the onions, garlic, bay, rosemary and thyme. Cook for 20 minutes until the onions soften.
While the onions are cooking, brown the sausages in a frying pan with the rest of the oil and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a tray. Deglaze the pan with red wine to get all the goodness from the sausages and add the delicious red wine/sausage juice into the onion pan.
Cook for a few minutes and then add in the tinned tomatoes. Rinse the tin out with water and add that to the pan too.
Slice the sausages into 2cm/ ¾ in-thick slices and add to the pan. Turn down to a simmer and cook for a minimum of 3 hours. The longer and slower you cook the ragu, the richer and fuller it will taste. Stir from time to time to scrape the bottom. If it’s catching, add a glug of water and stir again. You want the ragu to reduce and thicken.
I always leave the seasoning right to the end. As the ragu cooks and reduces, the flavour will intensify so it’s best to check the seasoning once it’s finished cooking.
Serve with parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.
Recipe adapted from Towpath: Recipes & Stories, by Lori De Mori and Laura Jackson (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2020), available from towpathlondon.com.