Coq au Vin

An old classic. I have got very good at jointing chickens that have been passed on after meeting a sad end.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 chicken, jointed (or 1.5kg chicken pieces)
  • 1 onion
  • 225g mushrooms
  • 100g lardons, or bacon bits
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 300ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 150ml stock
  • thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp butter squished with 1 tbsp flour

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a large casserole dish, and fry the chicken pieces for five minutes, and then set aside
  • Fry the onions, bacon, mushrooms and garlic in the same pan for another five minutes
  • Return the chicken to the pan, and then pour the brandy over the lot, and set alight for a minute or so.
  • Pour the wine and stock into the pan, along with the thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of hours.
  • Mix the flour and butter together, and add to the pan, about 10 minutes before the end.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Greek pot-roast beef with spaghetti

This recipe combines local beef with a recipe from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs, which I bought in a jumble sale in the 1980s for 20p. This was very easy and very tasty as well.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 3-4lb rolled beef, for example brisket or silver-side
    • 250ml olive oil
    • 2 medium onions
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1 dsp sugar
    • 3 tbsp tomato paste (organic paste from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 stick or 1 tsp cinnamon (all herbs and spices available from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 bayleaf
    • 2 cloves
    • salt and pepper
    • Spaghetti (75g per person)
    • grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan and brown the meat on all sides.
  • Remove the meat from the pan, and add the finely chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and the spices, and fry very gently together
  • Mix the tomato paste with 300ml of hot water, and add to the fried onions. Bring to a simmer, and add the bayleaf and the meat.
  • Simmer for around 2-3 hours, either on the hob or in a low oven, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and rich. Keep an eye on the pot-roast and add a little water if it looks like it might boil dry.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
  • To serve, mix about half of the sauce with the spaghetti, divide between the serving plates, and top with parmesan cheese. Next add a thick slice of meat and another spoonful of sauce.
  • The book also suggests serving the pasta as one course and the meat as part of the next course.

Spiced slow-cooked mutton

I love having my girls home. One of them cooked this for us this evening. We used a shoulder of mutton, but the original recipe calls for 4 lamb shanks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shoulder of mutton, or 4 lamb shanks (local, of course)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 small dried hot red chilli
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 4 small carrots, chopped
  • 6 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 170ml dry white wine
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tins of organic chopped tomatoes
  • A bunch of parsley, chopped

METHOD:

  • Season the lamb with salt and pepper
  • In a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander seeds with the chilli and dried herbs.
  • Put the herbs, spices and mutton in a bag together, and coat the lamb, squeezing well. Add the flour to the bag as well.
  • Heat a casserole dish, add the oil, brown the meat, then set this aside.
  • Add the chopped vegetables to the pan with a pinch of salt, and cook slowly until the onion and celery is soft.
  • Add the vinegar, and start to reduce to a syrupy consistency
  • Add the wine and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the anchovies and tomatoes, and bring back to a simmer again.
  • Add the lamb back to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and then cook in a moderate oven 160C for a couple of hours. Remove the lid and cook for another half an hour.
  • Once the meat is tender, garnish with chopped herbs, and serve with mashed potatoes, or possibly polenta.

Beefheart and kidney stew

INGREDIENTS:

  • One beefheart, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 lamb or pig kidneys, prepared and chopped
  • 1 or 2 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, or lardons
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 florence fennel (if available)
  • vegetable oil, dripping or other cooking fat
  • 1 large glass of wine
  • 1 can organic butterbeans
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour blended with a little butter

METHOD:

  • Using a deep cast-iron casserole dish, heat the cooking fat and fry off the chopped meat, and set aside.
  • Fry the bacon in the fat with the finely chopped shallots
  • Add the meat back to the pan, along with the glass of wine, herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer
  • Cook in a very slow oven, around 110C for approximately five hours
  • Add the beans and the flour mixture, stir and cook for another 20 minutes or so.

We ate this with mashed potato, carrots and leeks. Any left-over stew could be used for a pie filling.

Lobster with creole sauce

We had a very large lobster, which isn’t usually that good a deal: lots of shell, not much meat, and a worry about what to do with it. Plus it had lost its claws along the way, hence the reason why it wasn’t that marketable. I made this with it; delicious and I reckon it would work well with monkfish as well, or prawn tails. I poached the lobster for 15 minutes and saved the liquor for use in the recipe. If you doubled the recipe to use 2 lobsters, then you wouldn’t be using half onions etcetera.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large cooked lobster, meat removed from tail, plus save the liquor from boiling it.
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tsp creole spice blend (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes

METHOD:

  • Roughly chop the cooked lobster meat and put it in the fridge in a plastic tub along with 2 tsp creole spice blend, shaken to distribute the spice.
  • Melt the butter in a large pan and gently fry the onion for several minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, green pepper and carrot, and continue to fry for a few more minutes.
  • Meantime, use a soup wand to purée the tomatoes in the tin. Add to the onion and carrot mixture
  • Simmer the sauce very slowly for around 45 minutes, adding a little of the liquor from boiling the lobster if it looks as if it is getting a little dry.
  • Add the chopped lobster meat, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the lobster is heated through. Serve on a bed of rice.

Kerala Lamb Stew with Turnip

Here’s a twist on local ingredients. It looked a little pale and would have been improved with the addition of green beans and carrots.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 900g lamb, diced
  • 4 tbsp veg oil
  • 2x7cm cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 20 curry leaves (or 10 bay leaves)
  • 2 tsps grated fresh ginger
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and diced
  • you could add chopped carrots and green beans
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk

METHOD:

  • Put the oil in a large heavy pan, and set over a medium heat. When it is hot, add the cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom, and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
  • Add the onion, and continue frying until it starts to turn light brown.
  • Add curry leaves and ginger, and after another minute, add the lamb and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add 1 litre of water bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Add the potatoes and vegetables, salt and cayenne pepper, and simmer for a further 30 minutes, until the meat is tender.
  • Add the coconut milk, and thicken sauce to taste by squishing the potatoes a bit.

We just had this as it came. Rice or bread would be good, but we didn’t bother.

Beef Cheeks

We are working through the lower reaches of our freezer, and someone has given us beef cheeks. I am very keen on eating all of the animal, waste is a terrible thing.

Beef cheeks are tough, cheap and extremely tasty cuts of meat that need long cook times to make them tender. You could use shin of beef or venison for this recipe instead.

First off, I had to prepare the beef cheek. I started with about 600g of meat, but a lot of it was sheets of fat and connective tissue. I trimmed it, using a very sharp knife, and then cut the remaining sheets of meat into pieces about the size of half a post-card, and about 1 cm thick.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g ox/beef cheeks
  • seasoned flour, 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a dash Brandy
  • 300ml Red Wine
  • 1 clove
  • half tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 4 sprigs of time, or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Anchovies (you can buy these in a jar, in oil)
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, to serve.

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

  • Trim the cheeks as described above, coat each piece with seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and brown the cheeks. Once they are done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Slice the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook in the same pan over a medium to low heat, until soft. Add a little more butter or olive oil if required
  • Once the vegetables are soft, increase the heat and add the meat back to the pan, with the can of pureed tomatoes. Mix to coat the ox cheeks and veg in the puree and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the wine, brandy, clove, cinnamon, thyme, bayleaves, aniseed and anchovies, and bring to a simmer. Put the pan into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.You may wish to check that there is enough liquid in the pan half way; add stock or water if necessary
  • After 2 1/2 hours, check that the meat is tender, and turn the oven off, leaving the pan in the oven. Use this time to make mashed potatoes, cook any additional vegetables, have a cheeky wee glass of wine, and remember to warm the plates.

We had this with mashed potatoes, but the original recipe suggested polenta as an alternative. It was delicious.

Red cabbage and cannellini bean stew

I have been experimenting with this stew, and have come up with variations that are vegan, vegetarian or just general. I’ll leave it for you to decide how to go about it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 25g pancetta, (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small or half a large red cabbage
  • 2 cans tinned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp chopped sage leaves (optional)
  • 1 can borlotti beans or cannellini beans
  • 1.75 litres of stock (vegetable or beef)

METHOD:

  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the pancetta, onions, garlic, carrots and celery, and fry gently until the vegetables start to brown slightly.
  • Add the cabbage, tomatoes and thyme, stir and cook until the cabbage is tender.
  • Add the stock, the can of beans including liquid, 1 tsp salt and a good amount of black pepper, as well as the other herbs. Cook over a very low heat for two hours, keeping a check to make sure it is not sticking.
  • Once the stew is cooked, check for seasoning, and add extra stock if it seems to need it.

This recipe is based on several others, some of which use Italian black kale, luganega pork sausage, omit the sage, etcetera. Please experiment.