Tag: Pancetta

Coq au Riesling – Rick Stein style

Coq au Riesling – Rick Stein style

During the 2020-21 pandemic lockdown we had a number of meals from the Rick Stein restaurant as part of their “Stein at Home” series.  One of these dishes was their Coq au Riesling based on the Alsace take on Coq au Vin using a local Riesling rather than a hearty red wine.  It is a very rich but subtle dish, traditionally cooked as a one pot dish.  The Stein version was clever though in that there was a very rich pre-made sauce, to which you added some quickly sautéd chicken for a main course in 20 minutes from a standing start.   At some point I look forward to playing with that traditional version which is outlined beautifully in Stein’s recipe (see here).  In the short term though I wanted to ‘pre-make’ the sauce and see how well it would freeze and then construct the meal ‘at the last moment’ as with the Stein at Home dish.
We bought 3 small chickens and butchered these and set the prime pieces to oneside. The 3 carcasses and the wing tips were used to make the sauce (rather than the prime pieces as in the original recipe).
The shallots, garlic and lardon were sautéed until they began to take on a little colour.  At this point the mushrooms were added and fried for a few minutes longer. Everything was then transferred to a separate bowl.The chicken carcasses were cut into smaller pieces and dusted with seasoned flour.  The remaining oil was transferred to the pan and the chicken was browned.
The wine, stock, herbs and the cooked shallots, lardons and mushrooms were added back to the pan and seasoned with salt and black pepper.   The pan was brought to a simmer and cooked for around 20 minutes without a lid. The liquid was separated off by passing through a colander set over a bowl.  The chicken carcasses were discarded and the lardon and vegetables were kept warm. The strained liquid was returned to the pan and reduced a little. The pan was then removed from the heat.  The cream, egg yolk and a ladle of the reduced cooking liquid was mixed together and then poured back into the pan with the stock. The pan was then gently heated without boiling and stirred constantly until the sauce thickened.  This may take 15 minutes, don’t rush it!  The sauce needs to thicken to the point, so that when hot it just coats the back of a spoon.  All the other ingredients (except the chicken) were added back into the sauce. The sauce was then portioned into 3 double portions and vac-packed for later.

When re assembling the dishes we have vacilated on how much chicken to use.  The original Rick Stein dish included a whole chicken.  Nice though it was this was too much meat!  So on the 2 occasions we have done it, we have done it in 2 ways based on this recipe.  Firstly we have shared a single breast between us and had a thigh each with a little extra vegetables.  On the second occasion we had a breast and a thigh each (which was rather generous!!).  But which ever way, the 3 chickens gave  the carcasses to make the stock and then 6 breasts (as supremes), 6 thighs and 6 drum sticks.  At the very least this would leave 3 thighs and 6 drum sticks – very economical which ever way you look at it!!

So to the assembly. If cooking the chicken inside I would suggest tossing the chicken pieces in seasoned flour first when cooking in a butter and oil mix, until the pieces take on some colour then pop in a hot oven for around 10 minutes to reach a core temperature of around 70C. At this point they should be added to the warmed sauce (temperature around 85C) and left to hold the temperature for 2-3 mins or so.  My favourite way however is to sauté the chicken pieces in a cast iron or heavy pan/plancha on the Big Green Egg (using this basic technique).
And when they are approaching 70C add them to the sauce to let them finish in the same way

All that is left to do is to plate.  This dish works so well with simple boiled potatoes and perhaps one vegetable.  Here it is also served with Piperade you can fine the recipe for that here.
Add the potatoes to the plate.  Remove the chicken from the sauce then spoon the sauce around the potatoes.  Place the chicken pieces back into the pool of sauce.

Garnish and serve!

Footnote:  the one precautionary issue is the reheating of the sauce.  Take time over this and heat it slowly and keep it well stirred.  I suspect that if you heat it too much or too quickly the sauce may split – so proceed with a little caution!!

Coq au Riesling - Rick Stein Style

July 2, 2021
: 6
: 45 min
: 1 hr 15 min
: 2 hr
: Moderate

A classic creamy Riesling sauce - which can be frozen and used when needed with sautéed chicken

By:

Ingredients
  • Carcasses of 3 chickens (or some chicken wings etc)
  • 3 chicken breasts and 6 chicken thighs
  • 12 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 160g smoked lardon
  • 250g mushrooms, halved if large
  • seasoned flour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 70g butter
  • 500ml medium-dry Riesling
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • salt and black pepper
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • butter and oil
  • Parsley to garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 If using whole chickens butcher these and put the prime pieces to one side (or get your butcher to do it) – reserve the carcass.
  • Step 2 Sauté the shallots, garlic and lardon in half the oil and butter until they begin to take on a little colour.  Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes longer. Transfer the mix to a separate bowl.
  • Step 3 Cut the chicken carcasses into smaller pieces and dust with seasoned flour.  Brown in the pan with a little more oil and butter. Add the wine, stock, herbs and the cooked shallots, lardons and mushrooms back to the pan and season with salt and black pepper.   Simmer for around 20 minutes without a lid.
  • Step 4 Separate off the liquid through a colander set over a bowl. Discard the chicken carcasses. Keep the lardon and vegetables warm. Return the strained liquid to the pan and reduced a little.
  • Step 5 Remove the pan from the heat.  Add a ladle of the reduced cooking liquid to the cream and egg yolk, mix together and then pour back into the pan with the stock. Gently heat without boiling and stir constantly until the sauce thickened.  This may take 15 minutes!  The sauce needs to thicken to the point, so that when hot it just coats the back of a spoon.  
  • Step 6 Add all the other ingredients (except the chicken) back into the sauce. If making portions for 2 divide into 3 double portions and vac-pack for later.
  • Step 7 When reassembling the dish we now use half a chicken breast and a chicken thigh per person. If cooking the chicken inside toss the chicken pieces in seasoned flour first when cooking in a butter and oil mix, until the pieces take on some colour Put into a hot oven for around 10 minutes to reach a core temperature of around 70C. At this point they should be added to the warmed sauce (temperature around 85C) and left to hold the temperature for 2-3 mins or so. If cooking on the BGE sauté the chicken pieces in a cast iron or heavy pan/plancha. When they are approaching 70C add them to the sauce to let them finish in the same way
  • Step 8 All that is left to do is to plate.  This dish works well with simple boiled potatoes.  Add the potatoes to the plate. Remove the chicken from the sauce then spoon the sauce around the potatoes.  Place the chicken pieces back into the pool of sauce. Garnish and serve
Radiatori pasta with a creamy mushroom, pea and parmesan sauce

Radiatori pasta with a creamy mushroom, pea and parmesan sauce

We recently cooked pheasant breast in a creamy parmesan sauce (see here) and commented in the last blog that the sauce would work well as a pasta sauce.  So here we are!

The recipe for the sauce is largely the same as when cooked with pheasant breast although we added some finely chopped kale stems simply as we had some in the garden that needed to be used.  This is the sort of recipe which will happily accommodate what you have to hand.  The sauce was made exactly as we had done previously and so we will only cover it briefly here.

The EGG was set up for direct cooking.   The lardon/pancetta pieces were sautéed until they took on some colour then the chopped onion was added and cooked till translucent. Mushrooms followed and they were cooked for another 5 minutes before the garlic was then added and cooked through for another minute or so.

Time to deglaze the pan, adding the wine, then cooking off the alcohol and reducing the volume a little.  200ml of concentrated chicken stock was then added followed by a handful of peas (and on this occasion some finely chopped kale).  This was cooked for 2-3 minutes before taking the pan off the heat.

Once off the heat we stired in the creme fraiche and the parmesan and kept the pan warm whilst cooking the pasta. When the pasta was almost ready we put the sauce back on a gentle heat and added the pasta to the sauce with a little of the pasta water and completed the last minute of the pasta cooking as we tossed it in the sauce.

We were using Radiatori, a pasta developed in the period between the two World Wars and named as they look a little like a vintage car radiator.  They work really well with this sort of thick creamy sauce which clings beautifully.  Served with more fresh parmesan, this a very opulent pasta dish!

…………… definitely one to return to!!

 

 

Radiatori pasta with a creamy mushroom pea and parmesan sauce

June 18, 2021
: 2
: 10 min
: 20 min
: 30 min
: Easy

A lovely robust pasta with a great rich creamy rustic sauce!

By:

Ingredients
  • Small onion finely diced
  • 1 large garlic clove finely chopped
  • 150g mushrooms, stalks removed, sliced
  • 100g of lardon/pancetta/bacon
  • 50g of grated Parmesan
  • A handful of peas and a couple of finely chopped kale leaves/stems
  • 50g butter
  • A glug of olive oil
  • Glass of white wine
  • 200ml strong chicken stock (1 stockpot in 200ml water)
  • 4 tbsp creme fraiche
Directions
  • Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking at around 180C (can also be done on the hob in a kitchen.) Heat the sauté pan and cook the lardon/pancetta pieces until they take on some colour.  Add the chopped onion and cook till translucent.
  • Step 2 Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until softening.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute or so then add the wine to the pan to deglaze.  Cook for a few minutes to drive off the alcohol and to reduce the volume a little.  Add the stock and the peas and kale – cook for a further 3 minutes then remove from the heat
  • Step 3 add the creme fraiche and parmesan after putting the pan back on the heat and bringing the temperature up a little when you are ready to stir in the pasta.
  • Step 4 In a separate pan cook the pasta. With one minute of pasta cooking time left, transfer and stir it into the sauce with a little pasta water.  Serve with more parmesan
Italian rabbit with peppers

Italian rabbit with peppers

Over the last few years when travelling in Tuscany I have been tempted on a few occasions to buy and cook a rabbit, Italian style.  Only having the Mini BGE with us I have been reluctant, as casseroling on a 10 inch Kamado never seemed quite possible  (I have not found a casserole dish small enough to fit – yet!!)!  As we can’t travel to Tuscany at the moment, it does mean we have access to a greater range of BGEs at home.  All we needed therefore was the rabbit and a recipe or 2 to play with!!  Today we had both – so here we go!

The recipe is based on one of Anna Del Conte’s recipes from her classic book The Gastronomy of Italy (a birthday present for my last ‘significant’ birthday). Del Conte’s recipe was itself based on a classic from La Cucina d’Ora – a ‘tome and a half’ with more than 1500 classic regional recipes, published in corporation with the Accademia Italiana della Cucina.  A variation of the recipe also appears in ‘La Cuchina – The regional cooking of Italy’ in the section from Piedmont in the Northwest of Italy (but without the anchovies!).

The BGE was set up for direct cooking and allowed to stabilise at around 180C.  Whilst waiting we portioned the rabbit into the 4 limbs – the loin was also portioned into 4 pieces (there are lots of You Tube videos demonstrating this, or you can ask your butcher).

In many ways it would be easier to cook this dish in the large BGE as you could have 2 pans on the heat at the same time.  Despite this we elected to cook on the MiniMax just to see how it would go.  If you can cook it on a small BGE, you can always cook it in a larger one!

Half the butter and a similar volume of olive oil was added with the rosemary.  The hot oil quickly absorbs the essential oils from the rosemary.
The Bay leaf and the rabbit pieces were added and the rabbit browned on all sides.  When all were nicely brown add the stock and cook for around 20 minutes.  The casserole was moved from the BGE,  the cooking continuing with the stored heat from the pan.

A second pan was put in the MiniMax to heat up.  The remaining butter and a similar volume of olive oil was added to the pan with the anchovy fillets.  The anchovies quickly become a mush which thickens the oil. This is just the time to add the garlic and the pepper strips.  The original recipe uses yellow peppers – but we had red ones, and I think they look great!  They were seasoned with pepper, but not salt as the anchovies were already salty.  The peppers were cooked for around 5 minutes then the vinegar was added and stirred through.  They were then cooked for a further 10 minutes until they softened a little, stirring regularly.

The pepper mixture was added to the casserole with the rabbit and the casserole was returned to the BGE.  The air vents were shut back to allow the temperature to fall a little.  The dish was cooked for another 30 minutes turning the pieces 2 or three times in this period.  (You could probably reduce this to around 20 minutes with a farmed rabbit).

All that was left to do was to plate up. We sat the rabbit on a small piece of sourdough to absorb the rich sauce and served with steamed broccoli.  We served one large hind leg and a piece of loin each and saved the rest for a second rabbit dish which we will publish soon.

…………………………………. do give it a go!

Footnote: Most of today’s chicken recipes started their lives as rabbit recipes – so in a ‘turn about’ this recipe would work well with chicken instead of rabbit!!

A whole rabbit is enough for 4 people – but as there are just 2 of us we used the second part of this casseroles the basis of another simple dish – link here

 

Italian rabbit with red peppers

May 28, 2021
: 2-4
: 30 min
: 1 hr 30 min
: 2 hr
: Moderate

A great roasted and casseroled rabbit dish from the heart of Italy cooked with red peppers and enriched with anchovies - an Italian classic

By:

Ingredients
  • One rabbit (about 1Kg)
  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbs rosemary leaves
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 100 ml of stock
  • 6-8 canned anchovies fillets
  • 2 garlic clove - chopped
  • 3 red peppers deseeded and cut into strips
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
Directions
  • Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking and allowed to stabilise at around 180C. Whilst waiting portion the rabbit into the 4 limbs and portion the loin into 2 or 4 pieces – or get your butcher to do this
  • Step 2 Add half the butter and a similar volume of oil to a casserole dish and add the rosemary. Cook for a minute to allow the oils to absorb the rosemary essential oils. Add the Bayleaf and the rabbit pieces. Brown the rabbit well on all sides then add the stock and cook for around 20 minutes before removing the pan from the EGG.
  • Step 3 Add a second pan to the BGE and heat. Add the remaining butter and oil along with the anchovy fillets. The anchovies quickly become a mush which thickens the oil. Add the garlic and the pepper strips.  Season with pepper, but not salt as the anchovies were already salty.  Cook for around 5 minutes then add the vinegar and stir.  Cook for a further 10 minutes until they soften a little, stirring regularly.
  • Step 4 Add the pepper mixture to the casserole with the rabbit and return the casserole to the BGE.  Close the air vents to a small opening to allow the temperature to fall a little.  Cook for a further 30 minutes turning the pieces 2 or three times in this period.  (You could probably reduce this to around 20 minutes with a farmed rabbit). Check the seasoning and see if any salt in particular is required
  • Step 5 Plate up the dish – it is worth sitting the rabbit on a small piece of bread to absorb the rich sauce
Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine – not just for Christmas

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine – not just for Christmas

I do wonder why we tend to reserve so many lovely things for Christmas eating when they are so good for other times too!  Whilst this one was chosen as our Christmas terrine it would work really well throughout the whole of the ‘game season’ from November to the end of January when pheasant is so plentiful!  That would give you really seasonal eating. As all the ingredients can be frozen you can of course extend this to other parts of the year too.

We have made this previously using both fresh pheasant and also using ‘confit pheasant’ that we had made earlier.  On balance I think the latter is preferable but not strictly necessary (confit pheasant is very easy to do – and confit duck can be purchased and is a really good substitute too).  We were using chestnuts and pancetta that we brought back from Italy, but these are easily available from most supermarkets in the UK.

We were going to use this terrine directly on the table and slice from there and so we wanted to decorate it a little.  Before adding the strips of pancetta we put 3 bay leaves into the base of the terrine and then placed the pancetta over these in the normal way to hold them in place.

When turning the terrine out this would leave the bay leaves as decoration on top of the pancetta as you can see in the picture.  All that was left to do once put on the serving board was to place 3 juniper berries in the centre of the bay leaves to finish off the decoration.

The terrine was built up in stages, so after lining the dish with pancetta the meat mix (see below for step by step details) was packed in, taking care to exclude any air pockets.   When half full the reserved pheasant breasts were sliced and arranged over the mix.  This was followed by the remainder of the chestnuts.  This way they would provide a distinctive layer.

The terrine was then filled with the remainder of the mix.  It is worth taking care to ensure that the mix is packed in well to the chestnut layer so that there are no air pockets or the terrine is likely to crumble when trying to cut it.

Finally the pancetta was folded over the domed mix to finish off the preparation.  The top was covered with some lightly oiled foil and the lid was popped back in place. The cooking can be done either in the BGE as we did or in a domestic oven.  Either way the terrine needs to be placed in some form of Bain Marie to make sure the terrine cooks gently and evenly.  The cooking time was around 2 hours at 120C.

During the cooking it is worth draining off any excess juices or this will just end up in the water of the Bain Marie. To check that the cooking is complete, ensure that the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer but more accurately, check with a thermometer probe that the centre has reached at least 65-70°C.  The terrine will feel quite firm.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. At his point tip out any more liquid, cover with cling film, then place a piece of cardboard covered in aluminium foil on top (cut so it fits the inside of the terrine) and rest some weight on top of this.  Allow to cool overnight in the fridge.

In the morning carefully release the terrine from it’s dish.  This can often be done by running a knife  around the terrine keeping it close to the dish.  If using a big terrine, as in this case, that may not be enough.  The best way to release it is then to stand the cool terrine in some warm water just for a couple of minutes to slightly soften the jelly that surrounds the pancetta.  The pheasant and chestnut terrine was tipped out and wrapped in clingfilm and put straight back into the terrine dish once it was washed and cleaned.  Putting it back into the terrine preserves the shape and the cling film allows for easy and reliable release from the dish itself.

When ready to serve, all that was left to do was to dress it with the 3 additional juniper berries and a little holly as an appropriate winter decoration. Then give it pride of place on the table!

Footnote:- there are so many potential variations to this terrine whilst keeping the ‘game theme’ – one we have really enjoyed is a mix of confit duck and pheasant – but try your own combinations and let me know how they workout!

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine

January 3, 2020
: 6
: 1 hr 30 min
: 2 hr
: 3 hr 30 min
: Moderate

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine - a perfect autumn and winter dish - not just for Christmas

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 750g Pork Mince
  • Small handful of chopped Pancetta
  • 4 chicken livers
  • 2 Pheasant breasts and 2 pheasant legs
  • Handful of sausage making rusk or breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp of aromatic Gin
  • 1 tbsp of Port
  • Freshly chopped Thyme
  • Freshly chopped Rosemary
  • Freshly chopped Oregano
  • Some fennel seeds or fennel fronds
  • 12 crushed Juniper berries
  • 6 crushed cloves
  • 1½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Large handful of cooked chestnuts
  • 20 slices of pancetta
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat the oil in a pan and gently soften the onion for around 10 mins – cool
  • Step 2 Reserve the 2 pheasant breasts, half the chestnuts and the 20 pancetta strips
  • Step 3 Finely chop the liver and chop the meat from the pheasant legs being careful to exclude the bony tendons from the drumsticks.  Mix all the other ingredients except those being reserved.  Once all mixed together it is a good time to test the seasoning.  To do this, fry a little piece of the mix in a pan, then taste and adjust as necessary.
  • Step 4 If cooking in the BGE, set up for indirect cooking at around 120C.  A domestic oven can be used in the same way.
  • Step 5 Set 3 bay leaves in the base of the terrine and then line the terrine with the pancetta slices overlapping each slice as you go. Leave the ends hanging over the sides. Fill with the mixture, making sure it gets into the corners.  When half full add a layer of sliced pheasant breasts and the other half of the chestnuts.  Add the rest of the terrine mix, pushing it well into the pheasant and chestnut layer (it will dome slightly above the terrine).
  • Step 6 Bring the pancetta up to cover the filling. Cover the dish with lightly oiled foil and add the lid if available. Place the terrine in some form of Bain Marie to make sure the terrine cooks gently and evenly. Bake for around 2 hrs at 120C, drain any excess juices and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. The terrine should be firm, the juices should run clear when pierced with a skewer.  A thermometer probe inserted into the centre should reach at least 65-70°C.
  • Step 7 Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Tip out any more liquid, cover with cling film, then place a piece of cardboard covered in aluminium foil on top (cut so it fits the inside of the terrine) and rest some weight on top of this. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge
  • Step 8 Slice thickly and serve with your preferred accompaniment
Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison is such a lovely meat to casserole on the Big Green Egg.  The EGG seems to overcome that one problem you can have with venison – its tendency to dry out.  To be able to combine this with a seasonal ‘bounty crop’ was just too good a chance to miss.  We had been given some beautiful cubed venison which seemed to contain a mix of the more obvious stewing pieces of venison with some of the more tender braising cuts.  Unfortunately, this was all the information we had, nor did we know from which type of deer the venison came.  In reality any venison listed for braising or casseroling would be fine.  The most likely source would be shoulder venison.  We also had some  fresh chestnuts that we had picked when walking in Italy and had brought back to the UK in our cool box!  We also used our own dried porcini mushrooms that we had dried when in Italy which made the dish very special for us.

Preparation was relatively simple and was done on the stove top – but could have been completed on the EGG if it hadn’t been raining so heavily.  The mushrooms were covered in cold water and left for 5 mins.  This first water was poured away to remove any debris and then they were covered again with around 300ml of just boiled water and left for 20 mins.  Meanwhile our Dutch oven was heated and a little oil added, followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves.  We were using some homemade pancetta, but shop bought would work equally well. Once the pancetta pieces were lightly coloured and some of their fat had been rendered they were removed from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

The venison was then lightly floured with a seasoned flour and fried off in batches in the Dutch oven.  It is important to fry them until each piece takes on some colour.  These were then set aside too.  Then into the pan we added the roughly chopped onion and as soon as that was taking on some colour the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Usually in a dish like this we would chop the vegetables finely – but on this occasion we wanted a combination of finely chopped for flavour and coarsely chopped for texture and visual appeal.  These were all stirred through the oils to lightly sauté.  The herbs and spices were then added and cooked for around 15 mins in total.  It may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.   The tomato puree and some red wine were then added and the heat on the Dutch oven turned up to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries a slug of gin was also included.  Once the pan was deglazed the venison and pancetta were reintroduced together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large.)

Finally the mix of beef and chicken stock, together with the porcini soaking liquor was added and the whole pan was brought up to a simmer.

The uncovered Dutch oven was put into the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat).  

Around 30 mins from the end of the cooking 2 large handfuls of cooked chestnuts (these had been boiled and peeled) were added together with a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.

 

Venison chestnut and Porcini Casserole

November 25, 2019
: 6
: 40 min
: Straightforward

A venison casserole enhanced with the autumnal tastes of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms

By:

Ingredients
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta (or smoked bacon) lardons
  • 1kg venison shoulder, cut into 2-3cm dice
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic sliced finely
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely and finely chopped
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml of mixed chicken and beef stock ! Suggest one stockpot of each
  • 1 tablespoon recurrant jelly
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large handfuls or 1 pack of cooked chestnuts added near the end
  • 400g mushrooms sliced added at the end
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Cover the mushrooms with cold water and leave for 5 mins. Pour away this first water. Cover again with around 300ml of just boiled water and leave for 20 mins.  
  • Step 2 Heat the Dutch oven and add a little oil followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves. Once the pancetta pieces are lightly coloured and some of their fat has been rendered remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Flour the venison with flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and fry off in batches in the Dutch oven till the meat takes on some colour. Set aside.  
  • Step 4 Add the roughly chopped onion to the pan and as soon as that was taking on some colour add the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Stir through the oil to lightly sauté.  
  • Step 5 Add the herbs and spices and cook for around 15 mins in total.  It is may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.  
  • Step 6 Add the tomato puree and some red wine and increase the heat on the Dutch to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries add a slug of gin.  
  • Step 7 Once the pan is deglazed reintroduce the venison and pancetta together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large).  Add the mix of beef and chicken stock together with the porcini soaking liquor and bring to a simmer.
  • Step 8 Put the uncovered Dutch in the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat). When within about 30 mins of the end of the cooking add the cooked chestnuts and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.  Heat some butter in a large frying pan and cook the chopped fresh mushrooms until they start to wilt. Season well and cook until they take on some colour then tip into the venison pan and stir through.
  • Step 9 Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the casserole is too fluid – mix a little cornflour in cold water and add some of the stock to this and then stir through the casserole and cook for 10 mins more. Serve with mashed potatoes and add some freshly chopped parsley
Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

This is a very short follow up on the Autumn Pork and Chestnut Terrine blog from a few weeks ago which you can find here.  This was largely the same recipe and so we will not repeat that here.  The differences were simple and largely for visual appeal.  Instead of confining the pancetta lardons to a layer in the middle of the terrine, these were mixed into the terrine mixture.  Their place was taken by a thin layer of chicken breast.  This had been cut off some chicken we were going to eat that evening.  On top of the chicken layer we added a more substantial layer of the boiled chestnuts.

The final difference was that we bought enough pancetta slices this time to cover the whole terrine!  In the UK if I buy pancetta it is usually cut a little thicker than we find in Italy.  We therefore tend to stretch it and thin it a little by running the back of a knife along its length. There was no need to do that with the thinner pancetta.

We have also been asked what we would use instead of the Tuscan sausages when we cook this in the UK.  The answer is quite simple in that these Tuscan sausages are just minced pork (a mixture of shoulder and belly usually) with a generous dose of salt and pepper.  So in the UK minced pork bought from a butcher or pork minced at home.  The only point to watch is that Italian pork tends to be more fatty than the pork we have become used to in the UK.  It is this that gives it its special taste.   So if you are trying to recreate this don’t stint on the pork fat.  Indeed, if you get the chance (in the UK) add a little more!

As the sausages in Tuscany are already seasoned we have needed to add less salt and pepper to the overall mix. If using minced pork you will need to add more.  If in doubt – fry a little of the mix off, let it cool well and taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Alter the overall amounts of the ingredients to suit the size of your terrine.  If you keep the proportions similar to this you won’t go far wrong.

 

For the Original recipe: – Click here

 

 

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

We were in holiday in Tuscany in the late summer and early autumn in 2019.  This is later in the year than we had normally gone and it certainly felt different.  Gone was the searing summer heat and in this agricultural part of Italy everything was gearing to harvest time: grapes, olives, mushrooms and chestnuts!

We were in a region with lots of chestnut trees (more…)

La Scottiglia revisited – how close had we got in recreating this dish?

La Scottiglia revisited – how close had we got in recreating this dish?

We were very lucky to be able to go back to the restaurant La Scottiglia in Pescina near Seggiano in Tuscany.  Last year, 2018, we wrote about the wonderful dish La Scottiglia that the restaurant has been named after since 1972.  This year we arrived early for a Saturday lunch and were welcomed like long lost friends by the owner.  He immediately started to talk about the recipe and blog we had written last year when we had tried to recreate La Scottiglia (see here).  He offered his congratulations for our efforts and his apologies for not writing something on the website as it would have been difficult to do so in English!

We were shown down to the terrace so we could eat outside in the dappled early autumn sunshine and were  immediately met with a Prosecco aperitif, clearly we were going to have a good lunch!

The menus were newly printed and now carried English translations which was nice.  More staggering was that on the back page was a new description of the history of the restaurant.  We were pleased that the information that we had managed to piece together from the internet seemed to be largely correct – if only it has been present before it would have saved us hours of searching (but then, where is the fun in that!!).

Jackie ordered  a Tuscan Pâté, and then ricotta filled Tortellini with truffles.  For a main course I had the wild boar – but for my starter there could only be one choice – La Scottiglia.  It was with a degree of ‘bated breath’ I tried it – had we got close with our recipe or had I deluded myself?  I needn’t have worried  (too much)!!  Our interpretation was close, though not  identical!  This was ‘softer’ with a little more liquid.  I think there was just a slight hint of chilli which ours did not have and probably a little less tomato.   Also the bread at the bottom of the dish was thinner – and had soaked up less of the glorious juices. So overall a slightly more ‘gentle’ taste than ours – but I think we can be pleased  as we have only been making it for a year rather than for more than a century!  I think we can be reasonably comfortable that ours was a suitable ‘homage’ to this most regional of dishes!

And our plans for this autumn     ……………….. to get closer still!!

Venison leg and Onion Jam

Venison leg and Onion Jam

We were given a venison joint by a good friend!  The details of the beast from which it came were a little unclear – the cut was in doubt too (but probably boned leg)!  It was thought to be Red Deer but we did not know how old the animal was.  When ever in doubt as to the age of the animal I tend to assume that it would be old.  This way we treat the meat as though it may be a little tough and cook accordingly.  So for this reason we planned a ‘slow cook,’ cooking at a low temperature but for a longer time. (more…)

Smoked Venison Ragù

Smoked Venison Ragù

We had planned to make a very rich casserole using some cubed shoulder of wild venison that we had picked up just before Christmas.  With all the festive excitement it had been popped in the freezer.  Once defrosted I was a little disappointed to see that the cubes were a little smaller than I had thought – it was clearly not destined to make a venison equivalent of “Daube of Beef”.  A quick rethink took us from France to Italy and from Daube to Ragù!  The recipe is simplicity itself. (more…)

Our Christmas Terrine

Our Christmas Terrine

Having finally come to the conclusion what we were going to include in the Christmas Terrine it was time to put it all together!!  The one thing we have learned this year making terrines is that (more…)

Game Terrine – getting in practice for Christmas

Game Terrine – getting in practice for Christmas

We had fun making terrines on the Big Green Egg over the summer when on holiday in Tuscany.  So now it was time to put some of that experience together as we get ready for Christmas.   (more…)

Rabbit served Tuscan style

Rabbit served Tuscan style


This is really a footnote to the recipe “Slow cooked rabbit with boozy apricots”.   Slow cooked meat dishes with a rich sauce are often served in the same way that the Tuscans serve their rich soups, (more…)

Slow cooked rabbit with boozy apricots

Slow cooked rabbit with boozy apricots

Rabbit has been a European staple for certainly the last 3000 years and was introduced into Britain by the Romans in the first century AD under the Emperor Claudius.  Its popularity throughout Europe has remained strong but in the latter half of the last century became much less common in Britain.  This is a real shame as it is an excellent protein source and a reasonably versatile meat.  On the whole it should be cooked either very quickly or very slowly – when it can be fantastic – cooked somewhere between these extremes and it tends to be tough, dry, or both!

The way we have cooked it here is a slight variation on Jackie’s classic rabbit with prunes recipe which we have enjoyed together for the last 40 years or so!  This particular recipe is cooked with ‘boozy apricots’ (more…)

Chicken Breast with Blue Cheese wrapped in Prosciutto Crudo

Chicken Breast with Blue Cheese wrapped in Prosciutto Crudo

This is a ‘super simple’ dish to do on the Big Green Egg or indeed most BBQs that have a lid you can close.  It is an ideal dish for mid week when you want to cook something fresh, ideal for eating outside in the summer, but you want it quickly!  First set up the (more…)

Tuscan Terrine – the first venture!

Tuscan Terrine – the first venture!

Making terrines is something of a lost art in the UK and we are venturing into this area quite tentatively.  I have to say most of our experience has been in the indoor kitchen and not in the BGE.  As I have found a very inexpensive small Le Creuset oval casserole, on eBay, that just fitted the mini BGE – I was going to see what opportunities it opens up when traveling with the mini BGE. – Was a terrine a possibility?

The plan was to use our standard home recipe – but clearly modified for the products around us. The basis of our standard recipe is minced pork shoulder, diced bacon (more…)

Italian Smoked Turkey Breast

Italian Smoked Turkey Breast

On our wanderings we came across a butcher selling ‘home reared’ turkey and turkey breasts.  Well for 2 of us even a 1kg turkey breast seemed quite a lot of meat and even that was going to be a bit of a ‘tight squeeze’ on the Mini BGE.  But the challenge was set!  The question was how to cook it? Well we were (more…)