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Zampone with pulses

Serves 4

A zampone is a stuffed pig's trotter and is sold all prepared and ready to serve in most good Italian delis. I must say that every time I have bought one, the meat has been of the most fantastic quality and it makes a delicious and effortless main course or starter. Your guests will think you have been hard at work, carefully boning and mincing.

While you are in the deli, just grab some of these small Italian soup pulses which make a great alternative to the traditional lentils the zampone is served with. If you serve this as a main course, then creamed polenta would be the perfect accompaniment. If you have any zampone left over then freeze it for next time.

If there are a few of you, then heat the zampone whole by simmering it in the bag it comes in – there will probably be heating instructions with it.

4 slices of zampone about 1-1 cm thick
A couple of good knobs of butter
2 shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into cm dice
80g small Italian soup pulses, soaked for two hours
300-400ml beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First, make the sauce: heat a knob of butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for a minute.

Add the carrots, drained pulses and 300ml of the stock, season, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until the pulses are tender and the stock has reduced and just coating the pulses. You may need to add some more stock during cooking. Cover and keep warm.

To serve, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and gently cook the slices of zampone for a minute or two on each side or, alternatively, you could heat it whole.

Spoon the pulses on to warmed serving plates or bowls with the zampone on top.