Beef and butternut squash khoresh

When I first made this, it was so delicious, I woke up the next day, still longing for it. The flavour is rich and comforting, sweet and sour. Cutting the beef into thin strips means that it cooks to tender morsels in a short time. We purchased the beef from Long Island Larder.  They were selling their produce at the Tagsa Saturday Market in Balivanich, but the’ll soon have a farm shop in Loch Skipport as well. The meat was delicious, excellent quality. Just a note, Tagsa will continue with their neighbour food project through the winter, but the fresh produce market is a summer/autumn thing. 

Here’s the recipe. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 500g beef, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g ready-to-eat prunes
  • 1 medium butternut squash (pick one that feels very heavy for its size)
  • 3 tbsp date syrup or brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes (about 60ml)
  • A large pinch of saffron, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

METHOD:

  • In a medium casserole or large saucepan, heat about 2 tbsp oil over a medium heat, and fry the onion for around 5 minutes, so that it softens and becomes translucent. 
  • Add the beef and fry for another 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, prunes and around 600ml water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for a further 20 minutes. 
  • Meantime, peel and chop the squash into large chunks, coat with olive oil and roast in a hot oven (200C) for around 15 minutes. You could also fry the squash in olive oil, until the outside is browned.
  • Stir the date syrup, lime juice, saffron water into the stew, and then add the squash. Cover and simmer for a further 40 minutes. 
  • Serve with white rice, preferably saffron steamed rice. 

Venison Pörkölt (Hungarian venison and onion stew)

I have quite a bit of South Uist Venison in the freezer, so be prepared for some variations on this theme. I made this rich Hungarian stew last night, and it is delicious. It is usually served with dumplings. The key is to stew the onions very slowly, preferably in lard, and to add the paprika fairly late in the proceedings. There will seem to be an unfeasibly large quantity of onions, but don’t worry, this works. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 60g lard
  • 900kg venison, cut into slabs about 1 inch thick, and about the size of half a postcard
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 onions, chopped (about 750g)
  • 2 tsp caraway seed
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp hot paprika 
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock or venison stock
  • 300ml red wine

METHOD:

  • Melt the large in a large casserole dish, and brown the venison in batches, and set aside on a dish. You can season the venison as it cooks
  • In the same pan, add the onions and caraway seeds, and cook over a medium heat. Stir often and cook until the onions are browned. This might take up to 30 minutes. 
  • Add the venison, and all of the other ingredients and bring back to a simmer. Cook in the oven at 140C for a couple of hours
  • Make your favourite dumplings, if this is your thing. I had mashed potato and celeriac. 
  • When the stew is done, break up the meat a bit with a pair of forks. Serve with the dumplings and sour cream for those that wish to add it. 

Rabbit with green olives and wine (Ligurian rabbit cacciatore)

I saw this dish being served on Stanley Tucci’s fantastic series on Italian food. I’ve been trying to recreate it, and it is easy and delicious.

It is well worth watching both series of this program, the joy of good food shines through, from the program makers, the food producers to the presenters. The Ligurian program is the episode which inspired this recipe. 

INGREDIENTS:

  •  One wild rabbit, jointed into 6 pieces
  • 60ml olive oil
  •  3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Approx 40g stoned green olives
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or a sprig of thyme (you could also use rosemary)
  • 200ml medium dry white wine, or 50/50 wine and chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put all of the ingredients except the olives, stock and seasoning into a plastic box with a lid, and marinade the rabbit overnight. 
  • The next day, put all of the ingredients including the olives, stock and seasoning, into a casserole dish.
  • Cook in the oven at 170C for an hour and a half, or until the rabbit is tender

I served this with grilled bulb fennel and a few small potatoes

Lamb hot-pot with dumplings

I’ve made this recipe a few times, and it is very tasty. It is a useful one-pot meal, and uses some of the less tender cuts of lamb or mutton. 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 25g lard, dripping or olive oil
  • 8 best end or middle neck lamb chops, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 200ml water
  • 1 tsp rosemary (or similar fragrant herbs – try Italian herbs for meat)
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 40g suet
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • a little cold water

METHOD:

  • Heat half the fat in a frying pan, and brown the carrots, onions and celery, and put them in the bottom of a casserole dish
  • Coat the chops in seasoned flour, and brown in the rest of the fat, and put them on top of the vegetables
  • In the frying pan, pour away any excess fat, and then add the tomatoes, water, herbs and salt and pepper, and bring to the boil, scraping in any sticky goodness from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the meat. 
  • Cover the casserole, and cook at 180C for 1 1/2 hours
  • Make the dumplings. Sift the self-raising flour and salt into a bow, and mix in the shredded suet and parsley. Add cold water very slowly, until you have a soft but not sticky dough. 
  • Roll the dough into 8 balls. Put them over the top of the hotpot, and cook without a lid for a further 20 minutes until the dumplings are cooked. 

If you have a lot of potatoes, this is fine without the dumplings, and served with mash. Next time, I may try slicing potatoes over the top  at the start and cooking the whole thing together. 

An alternative way of preparing the dumplings: use 125g self raising flour, 125g wholewheat flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 125g shredded suet, 1/4 tsp salt, 7 tbsp mil. Mix together as above, make dumpling balls, and simmer in water or stock, instead of cooking in the stew. 

Pork cooked in milk (Maiale al latte)

We tried this recipe from Elizabeth David. It is a little tricky, and needs watching at the end. But it was fabulous

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 900g pork, preferably loin or boned leg, without the rind
  • For each 450g of meat, allow 550ml of milk, 25g butter and 25g of pancetta
  • Salt and pepper
  • An onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram, basil or fennel

Method

  • In a pan that fits the meat neatly, melt the butter and brown the onion in it: the onion should be well cooked.
  • Add the pancetta to the onion and fry until the fat is browned.
  • Stick a clove of garlic inside the rolled meat, along with the coriander seeds and herbs. Rub the pork with salt and pepper and then brown it off in the butter along with the onion and ham.
  • In the meantime, heat the milk to boiling in a separate pan. When the meat is browned and heated up, pour the boiling milk gently over the top. Do not add any more salt and pepper from here on in
  • Keep the pan simmering at a moderate pace on the stove top, uncovered. Gradually the milk will form a skin over the meat, and the milk may curdle to make a grainy broth. Do not disutrb this until it has been simmering for a good hour.
  • After an hour or so, break the skin round the meat and scrape the sides of the pan, and stir it all in. The sauce should be beginning to thicken and reduce down at this stage. Keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn or start to stick. The sauce will reduce down to a very thick, granular texture, full of bits of onion and ham, like a tasty ricotta. The meat will be encased in a fine crust formed from the milk.
  • to serve, pour the sauce over the meat, and then slice it. It is divine hot or cold

We served it with leeks, broccoli and potatoes.

Rabbits in cider

This is a third recipe combining the flavour of rabbits with apples. The rabbits were stored in the freezer, having been shot last month. Malcolm tells me that this is prime rabbit shooting time: they are fat and ready for winter, and good eating. Susannah found the recipe and it was very tasty.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp organic olive oil from the wholefood co-op
  • 300g bacon, freerange, diced
  • 1 rabbit, cut into joints, available locally
  • 12 carrots, homegrown for preference
  • 8 shallots, homegrown for preference
  • 4 garlic cloves, homegrown for preference
  • 2 tbsp organic honey from the wholefood co-op or fairtrade from the scottish co-op
  • 1 sprig of thyme, homegrown
  • 1 bayleaf, homegrown
  • 400ml cider
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Fry off the bacon in the oil and remove to a large casserole dish
  • Fry off the rabbit in the same oil, and put in the dish with the bacon
  • Fry off the carrots, shallots, garlic and honey, on a low heat, until the mixture looks caramelised
  • Put the caramelised vegetables on top of the rabbit, and add cider, herbs and seasoning.
  • Cook at 120C for 2-3 hours, until the rabbit is cooked.

We also had bread and butter pudding afterwards, but that is another story.

Rabbit with white wine and mushrooms

This recipe is from Norman Tebbit’s book The Game Cook. He advises that cider can be used instead of wine, and suggests mashed potato as a good accompaniment. We had rice which was also good, but not very local.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Organic plain flour
  • 1 rabbit, skinned andjointed
  • 1 tbsp organic olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 8oz diced salt bacon or streaky bacon or pancetta
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 450g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large glass dry white wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • bouquet garni
  • 300ml ‘marigold’ stock
  • salt, pepper and parsley to garnish

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C gas 3
  • Season the flour with salt and pepper, and coat the rabbit joints in the flour
  • Heat the oil and butter in the bottom of a large stainless steel saucepan. Fry off the onion until soft.
  • Add the bacon then the rabbit, and continue frying until the rabbit is brown on all sides and the onions are golden
  • Next, add the herbs, wine, garlic and mushrooms, along with the stock. Bring to the boil and stir it well.
  • If the pan is suitable, cover and put into the oven. Otherwise, transfer to a casserole dish. Either way, make sore the rabbit is covered
  • Let the casserole simmer in the oven for 2 or more hours. When you are ready, drain off the gravy and reduce by boiling. Alternatively, add a little beurre manie (butter and flour mixture) and simmer untuil thickened.
  • Serve the rabbit with the sauce poured over the top, and with vegetables and potatoes.

Polpette, meatballs, or ….

Once again, I reached into the gastronomic lucky dip that is our freezer, that great storage zone for all things local and perishable. The day before yesterday I fished out a bag of locally produced beef mince. I used it to make polpette. This is probably not worth making with cheap mince, but they were great with what we had. I used the mixture to make polpette (small meat balls) the first night, and then formed the rest of the mixture into patties and had them as burgers in buns. The following recipe will serve six. I got it from ‘Italian Food’ by Elizabeth David.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g good quality organic local mince
  • 2 slices white bread
  • milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg
  • a little lemon rind
  • plain flour
  • olive oil

METHOD:

  • Cut the crusts off the bread, and soak for fifteen minutes in milk
  • Squeeze the excess milk from the bread, which should be really mushy.
  • Add the garlic, parsley, tiny strips of a little bit of lemon peel, seasoning and spices and blend in a food processer. It is possible to do this by hand as well.
  • Add the bread mixture to the mince, and beat in the egg, until everything is well mixed
  • Next, flour a board and your hands. Form little slightly flat meat balls from the mixture, each just over an inch across, and coat with flour. Make a little dent in the top of each meat ball.Fry in hot oil. I think you can deep-fry these, but I just fried them in a pan. When they are done drain them on paper before serving.

I served these with pasta and tomato sauce. The book suggests serving them with a green salad. The next night, as I said, I made small burgers out of the mixture, possibly a culinary crime, but it was very tasty.

Spicy venison meatballs in a tomato sauce

I made this with some left-over roast venison, but you can also make it with venison mince. I have found that having a mechanical mincer is a game-changer. I think this would also work really well with minced beef. The recipe is from Norman Tebbit’s book, The Game Cook. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g minced venison
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ground black pepper
  • chopped parsley
  • salt 
  • olive oil
  • Another onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 300ml red wine
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce, or 1/2 tsp paprika and 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • preheat the oven to 180C
  • Start making the tomato sauce. Fry one of the chopped onions in olive oil over a medium heat. 
  • When the onion is soft and beginning to brown, add the tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine and sriracha sauce. Season with salt and pepper if required. Simmer over a low heat while you make the meat balls. If it looks too thick, add a little stock or water. I like to blend the sauce with a soup blender. 
  • Mix the minced beef with the onion, beaten egg, cumin, coriander, chilli, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well by hand and then mix in and combine the bread crumbs. 
  • Form the mixture into golf-balls (or slightly smaller). Fry in olive oil until browned. They should be handled carefully as they have a tendency to fall apart.
  • Put the meatballs in a casserole dish with the tomato sauce, put the lid on and cook in the oven for around 40 minutes. 
  • Serve over spaghetti, with a green vegetable on the side, and a grating of parmesan on top. 

Roast Venison with red wine and rosemary

I’ve made this twice now, using a large piece of loin from a red deer. This is a very easy and quick recipe, good with mustard mashed potatoes, and green vegetables. The timings given are for a rare to medium rare roast. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 700 to 800g venison loin or haunch
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 celeriac, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8+ wedges
  • 2 tsp red current jelly
  • 1 to 2 large sprigs of rosemary
  • 100ml red wine
  • 250ml stock
  • 1 tsp cornflour (optional)

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • Heat the oil in a large oven-safe pan, and brown the meat on all sides, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pack the chopped vegetables around the meat, and roast in the oven for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C and roast for another 20 minutes (less for a smaller cut of meat)
  • Remove the pan from the oven, and take the meat out. Put it on a dish and cover with a lid or tin foil.
  • In the pan, add the wine, redcurrant jelly and rosemary to the vegetables, and bring to the boil, stirring to mix in any bits of meat from the bottom of the pain.
  • Simmer for a couple of minutes, and then add the stock and cornflour. Simmer for another ten minutes and adjust the seasoning.
  • Serve the venison sliced with the gravy and vegetables, mustard mash and a green vegetable such as cabbage or broccoli.