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It is more economical to buy the whole chicken – Chicken Shawarma

It is more economical to buy the whole chicken – Chicken Shawarma

In this current health crisis we have been trying to make better use of our food and make fewer calls on our food suppliers.  One area that this has worked well with is chicken.  So often an ‘also ran’ meat – but from well reared chicken, a fantastic source of healthy meat protein.  We would normally always buy free range chicken – but at times in this crisis that has not been easy, but I don’t think this is the time to take the moral high ground, but rather be grateful for what is available.

Which ever sort of chicken you get, there is so much you can do with it.  Clearly you can roast a chicken whole, but often you don’t want that much at a single sitting especially if there are just 2 of you.  Routinely, if we were to buy portions we would buy chicken thighs or breast as neither Jackie or I are that fond of the drumstick or wing.   However, from a cost point of view, if you want 2 chicken thighs and 2 chicken breast it is cheaper to buy a whole chicken and get the wings, drumsticks and carcass thrown in free!  There are other advantages too.  When you butcher down the carcass you can chose to leave the skin on, (it is easy to take off later if you change your mind) or you can butcher the breasts to leave the first wing joint attached (the so called chicken supreme) often difficult to get hold of or an expensive cut.   Butchering a chicken is very easy and there are loads of YouTube videos to show you how – we are yet to make ours!!!

So with a standard break up of the chicken you will get: 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings and the carcass for stock!  We have been getting large free range chickens for as little as £6.00.  If corn fed, and organic you can double this price but if you think what can be done with that it is still really economical!  We have already published a couple of dishes combining a pan roasted breast with either boned and stuffed wings or drumsticks.

The carcass is always used to make homemade stock for soups and other cooks – and this is a truly valuable and versatile product (more of this later).  So from our basic chicken the only part we haven’t used are the chicken thighs – which I have to say is the most adaptable of cuts.  Great uses for chicken thighs include Mediterranean or Root Vegetable tray bakes, Coq au Vin and of course a Chicken Shawarma

As we had just butchered our 3rd chicken since lock down we now had 6 chicken thighs. We had also bought a new Shawarma Spike which we wanted to tryout – more details below.  On this occasion therefore we chose to make the Chicken Shawarma using the recipe we have published previously The details for this can be found by clicking this link and the recipe can be found below.

The Shawarma Spike is short enough to use in the Minimax as can be seen here, but can also be extended and then you would need to use it in the Large.  You may get away with it in the Medium but we have not been able to verify that.  The base is a flat mirror finish stainless steel.  As there is no rim to the base this needs to be sat on a baking tray or other cooking surface with a raised edge to contain the cooking juices.

The chicken was left to cook at around 160-70C for around one and a half to 2 hours.  The internal and the oven temperature were monitored with a Meater+.

When nearly cooked with a core temperature at 74C the vents were closed on the Egg and the chicken left until we were ready to eat – whilst this is not quite ‘resting’ in the true sense it worked very well and is really convenient.  The

Chicken was being served with Pitta bread, a green salad and a coleslaw.
The chicken was staggeringly tender and moist and rather than carve it straight off the spike the chicken was removed and sliced on a cutting board, then placed on a serving platter on a bed of salad.

The results were vary moreish!  the 6 large chicken thighs comfortably fed 2 of us with enough left over for a generous cold lunch the following day.  Packed into a small Pitta bread with the salad and coleslaw – just fabulous!

 

……………………….do give it a go!

 

Footnote:  We have been trying to trace a supplier for a Shawarma spike in the UK and we found one a few weeks ago.  This was it’s first outing.  It is really well made and the spike comes in two sections so could be used on the large or the MiniMax (and if you are carful I am sure on the Mini).  They refer to it as a Gyrospike.  I have to say it is very good – you need to sit it in a pan or on a tray, but I am delighted we have bought it.  Money well spent –  I have added a link here – https://www.bbqco.uk

Shawarma Chicken

May 28, 2020
: 2-3
: 1 hr
: 2 hr
: Straightforward

Roasted stacked chicken thighs in spicy yogurt

By:

Ingredients
  • 6 large boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Half an onion
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp wine vinegar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 125g of greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 4 cardamon pods ground (husks removed)
  • Salt and black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Mix the spices with the yogurt, vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice.  
  • Step 2 Into this mix stir in the boneless chicken thighs.  Cover the dish and allow to marinate for around 14 hours in the fridge
  • Step 3 When ready to cook, add half an onion to the spike then assemble the meat on top. Top off with half a lemon (optional)
  • Step 4 Set up the BGE for indirect cooking with the platesetter in the ‘feet up position’.  Once at 200C add the chicken tower. Allow the temperature to fall over the first hour to around  170C. Cook until the core temperature approaches 74C. Hold for at least 10 mins
  • Step 5 Remove the shawarma from the EGG and wrap loosely with foil and leave to rest for 5-10 mins or so.  
  • Step 6 Slice the chicken and serve with a green salad, coleslaw and Pitta breads
Smoked Mackerel Dauphinois reinvented!

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinois reinvented!

Just after we thought we had perfected the smoked mackerel dauphinois dish we decided to try yet another different potato!  Classically, dauphinois potatoes is made using a floury potato – but we had found the waxy potato Linda 1974 made a great tasting dish – see here. Now I would still stand by that, it is a great dish!!  However, we had the opportunity to try the dish  with a different potato, this time Red King Edward 1916 – again from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes. This is a relatively rare version of the King Edward – first appeared as ‘Fellside Hero’ in Northumberland.  From my limited experience they are less flavoursome than Linda 1974 – but their texture is especially suited for this dish.  As an added bonus they cook beautifully in their skins and the skins stay red after cooking – so an added aesthetic bonus!

The advantage of the floury potatoes is that they add their own creaminess to the overall dish.  And if I am right that they are not quite as tasty as the waxy Linda 1974 potatoes, the deep rich smoky taste of the mackerel in this dish adequately cover any of those potential weaknesses!

The method of preparation is absolutely identical to our previously published recipe except that this time we did not peel the potatoes first as we wanted to retain their red skins.  They were cooked on the MiniMax set up indirectly in a cast iron roasting dish and cooked at around 170C for about an hour.

If the top doesn’t brown as much as you would like simply place under a hot grill for 2 minutes.  This was not a problem we had here though!  And just to make sure you don’t eat too much fill a third of your plate with a fresh green salad before serving!  It goes beautifully with the green salad.

Do give the dish a go in this or the previous version

– you will not be disappointed!!

 

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

May 21, 2020
: 2-3
: 15 min
: 1 hr
: 1 hr 15 min
: Really easy

A beautifully smoky Dauphinoise potato dish enhanced with smoked mackerel and mustard

By:

Ingredients
  • 250g Smoked mackerel
  • 400g floury potato (we used Red King Edward 1916)
  • Medium sized onion 1
  • 250ml of milk
  • 100ml of cream
  • 2 tablespoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mustard seeds (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Do not peel the potatoes, just parboil for around 6-8 minutes. Cool so can be handled and slice around 5-7mm thick.
  • Step 2 Finely slice the onion into rings and place as the first layer in a greased medium sized roasting dish.  Add the potatoes as the second layer lightly salting as you go. Then add the chunks of skinned mackerel. Repeat until the roasting dish is full then top with a layer of potatoes.
  • Step 3 Press down the layers to remove any large air spaces.  
  • Step 4 Mix the milk cream and mustard and and add to the dish to flow between the layers.  Finally add some extra mustard seeds over the top.
  • Step 5 Put into the Big Green Egg set for indirect cooking at around 170-180C or into a domestic oven. Leave until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is a golden brown.
  • Step 6 Serve by itself or with a green salad
Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

The 2020 health crisis has given us time to think as well as having frightening implications on our lives.  In that thinking time we have been reconsidering amongst other things what we eat and how we prepare it.  We are trying to reduce our food waste to an absolute minimum, but we are also wanting to eat really great food.

Dauphinoise potatoes is a classic French dish.  Smoked mackerel dauphinoise is a very special twist on this classic – and it is so so simple!!  You can cook this in a domestic oven and it is very good – in the Big Green Egg it is stunning!  For best results I would recommend a waxy potato and we are delighted to have found Linda 1974 – this is an older variety of potato that was originally from Germany and was saved from extinction and re-instated simply because they taste so good!!  Other potatoes will of course work, but we got these beauties from the lovely people at Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes. Perfect!!

The dish itself is simple to make but so rewarding to serve!  We are just cooking for 2 at the moment and so this dish is based on that.  Four or 5 medium sized potatoes, one medium sized onion and a 250g pack of smoked mackerel are the main solid ingredients.  The potatoes were peeled and parboiled for around 6-8 minutes and then left to cool so they could be handled.  The onion was finely sliced into rings and placed as the first layer in a greased medium sized roasting dish.  The potatoes were sliced length ways around half a centimetre thick. These made up the second layer.  These layers were each lightly salted.  The third layer was the smoked mackerel, skin removed and torn into decent size chunks.  This was then repeated until the roasting dish was full and finished off with a layer of potatoes.

The layers were gently pressed down into place to remove any large air spaces between layers.  The final step was to add the creamy, mustard milk in which the dish would cook.  The mix was made up of around 250ml of milk, 100ml of cream and 2 tablespoons of grain mustard.  This was poured into the roasting tin and allowed to flow between the layers.  Finally some extra mustard seeds were sprinkled over the top.

This is all there was to it, all that was left to do was to add it to the Big Green Egg set up for indirect cooking at 170-180C (this can also be cooked in a domestic oven at the same temperature!).

 

 Leave this for around an hour until the top browns and the potatoes are beautifully softened.

Once cooked the roasting dish was removed from the BGE and allowed to stand for 5 mins or so which also allows the dish to cool just a little too.  Simply plated the layers were served with some chopped chives and freshly ground salt and pepper – it would work really well with a green salad – but we never got that far!!

Footnote:  we have also made this with the floury potato Red King Edward 1916 – it is a very interesting variation and worth a try – see here

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

April 27, 2020
: 2-3
: 15 min
: 1 hr
: 1 hr 15 min
: Really easy

A beautifully smoky Dauphinoise potato dish enhanced with smoked mackerel and mustard

By:

Ingredients
  • 250g Smoked mackerel
  • 400g Waxy potato (we used Linda 1974)
  • Medium sized onion 1
  • 250ml of milk
  • 100ml of cream
  • 2 tablespoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mustard seeds (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Peel the potatoes and parboiled for around 6-8 minutes. Cool so can be handled and slice around 5-7mm thick.
  • Step 2 Finely slice the onion into rings and placed as the first layer in a greased medium sized roasting dish.  Add the potatoes as the second layer lightly salting as you go. Then add the chunks of skinned mackerel. Repeat until the roasting dish is full then top with a layer of potatoes.
  • Step 3 Press down the layers to remove any large air spaces.  
  • Step 4 Mix the milk cream and mustard and and add to the dish to flow between the layers.  Finally add some extra mustard seeds over the top.
  • Step 5 Put into the Big Green Egg set for indirect cooking at around 170-180C or into a domestic oven. leave until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is a golden brown.
  • Step 6 Serve by itself or with a green salad
Roast Chicken Breast and Stuffed Drumsticks

Roast Chicken Breast and Stuffed Drumsticks

We This is a short followup on the recipe for Roast Chicken Breast and Mushroom Stuffed Wings (here).  We had divided a large chicken as there are just 2 of us and we are trying to make our food go a little further to reduce the pressure on our food suppliers.  Having used one of the breasts we still had the other and 2 drumsticks (as well as 2 chicken thighs we will use later).  The recipe is unsurprisingly similar but this time we boned out the drumsticks completely and stuffed them with a mix of chopped mushrooms and dried tomatoes, but we could have used a little sausage, or perhaps even a little haggis or black pudding.  We were planning to serve these with some sautéed Mayan Gold potatoes from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes which we have been waiting to try. In the current climate the Carrolls cannot sell to restraurants as they normally would and are available by mail-order for those self isolating.  Their USP is that they are the first potato in the UK from the indigenous Phureja potatoes of Peru.  It is supposed to have a rich golden coloured flesh, and a moreish flavour – fingers crossed!

The first thing to do was to bone out the drumstick (a first for me), which was surprisingly easy.  This was stuffed with a chopped mushroom and dried tomato, and the chicken envelop closed with a cocktail stick.

We were cooking in a pan in the EGG set up for direct cooking at 160-170C.  The drumstick takes more cooking than the breast and these were started about 15 mins before the breast.  They were cooked with the Mayan Gold potatoes for the first 15 mins and this way we managed to get some good colour onto the skin.

Once we had reached this stage it was time to cook the breast.  We were cooking the chicken and the potatoes on a single MiniMax BGE.  This meant we could only have one pan in the MiniMax at a time.
The chicken drumsticks were therefore put into the second pan with the chicken breast, skin side down, and the cooking continued.  We did this as a little challenge as clearly we could have done this more easily on the large BGE.  Using the large BGE we would have had plenty of room for both pans at once.  Doing this in the MiniMax means it is necessary to ‘swap over’ the 2 pans.  This is why we were cooking directly, unlike on the previous occasion when we cooked the previous chicken breast and wing dish.

This meant that the pans could be brought back to temperature more quickly and the residual heat in the pan allowed continued cooking when taken out of the MiniMax.  We just needed to swap the pans over a couple of times.

When around 70% cooked, the breast was turned over to finish off the cooking.  We were again aiming for a core temperature of 70C (the recommended safe temperature UK Food Standards Agency, holding it there for 2 minutes)

Once at temperature the chicken was wrapped in foil and covered with a clean tea towel to rest.  The potatoes had some fresh rosemary and sea salt sprinkled over the top and were finished off on the EGG.

We were serving the chicken and potatoes with some slow cooked haricot beans and broccoli.  The chicken breast was cut lengthways and half served on each plate with the stuffed drumsticks together with the haricot and broccoli.

The chicken was as good as it was previously and the drumsticks excellent!   The potatoes too were something of a revelation: creamy and nutty!  We will certainly be using these again!!

This chicken has so far provided 4 very generous portions (and stock for soup)!

There are still 2 large chicken thighs to go ……………… watch this space!!

Roasted chicken breast and stuffed drumsticks

April 24, 2020
: 2
: 25 min
: 30 min
: 55 min
: moderately easy

Chicken drumsticks stuffed with mushrooms and sun dried tomato served with roast chicken breast

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 large mushrooms
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 The first thing is to bone out the chicken drumstick by sliding a filleting knife along and around the bone and then turning the drumstick inside out so the bone can be cut out. This is the only difficult step. The bone should be removed by cutting through the joint. Turn the drumstick back so the skin is on the outside again. This leaves a pocket for the mushroom stuffing.
  • Step 2 Chop 2 mushrooms and the dried tomatoes and then stuff into the pockets created in the drumsticks where the bone was removed. Close the pocket using a cocktail stick.
  • Step 3 Colour the drumstick in a pan or on a plancha in the EGG which should be set up for direct cooking at 160-170C.  Start the wings about 15 mins before the breast. (If doing the sautéed potatoes start these at the same time). Turn to get good colour on the skin
  • Step 4 Once the drumsticks have some good colour add the chicken breast skin side down to colour the skin and render any fat. When the skin is well coloured turn over to finish cooking the breast – cook to a core temperature of 70C
  • Step 5 If cooking on a large BGE cook the potatoes at the same time, if in a MiniMax alternate the cooking of the chicken and the potatoes and finish the potatoes as the chicken rests at the end of the cook).  
  • Step 6 Serve the chicken drumstick and half the chicken breast with the sautéed potatoes and your choice of vegetables.  

 

Sourdough Crumpets

Sourdough Crumpets

One of the things we are trying hard to do during the Covid-19 crisis is to get our food waste down to an absolute minimum.  One thing that has always bothered me with sourdough bread making is the discarding of around two-thirds of  the sourdough starter during the process. We have been playing with a couple of ideas and this one certainly works and makes delicious sourdough crumpets in about 15 mins!

It is so simple – we were making a sourdough loaf and so some of the starter was used for that.  Normally the next thing to do would be to throw away around two-thirds of the remaining starter (if you are just making one loaf)and feed what was left for next time.  Instead of doing that we took that waste starter (around 225g) and put it into a medium size bowl, added 1 teaspoon of honey, half a teaspoon of salt and just less than half a teaspoon of baking soda and mixed gently.  Immediately it rises up the bowl as a bubbling batter.

We heated a flat bottom non stick pan on a medium heat and greased 3 muffin rings and added them to the pan to heat up.  The bubbling batter was then divided between the 3 rings and cooked for 5-6 mins.  At this point the tops begin to set and the crumpets can be carefully removed from the rings and were flipped over to cook the tops for a further 3 mins or so until golden brown.  Then simply serve as you would commercial crumpets!  We served ours very simply with butter and a little smoked salmon for a light lunch.  Perfect!

If you don’t want to use them straight away I am sure they would keep and could be toasted – we are yet to find out!!

If you don’t have muffin rings or something similar you could make pikelets – these are griddled ‘freeform’ and are flatter and will have fewer holes – we have yet to try these!!

These can both be cooked on the Big Green Egg when cooking something else or on a domestic hob – if you make sourdough bread – do give it a go!!

 

Adapted from an original recipe by PJ HAMEL

Smoked sea trout and seafood pâté

Smoked sea trout and seafood pâté

This recipe is based on an idea for a seafood pâté that we first saw on Jamie Oliver Christmas Cooking programme in 2019. It is a very simple recipe. It can be made from ingredients normally easily available in your local supermarket but we had been raiding the fridge and store cupboard (#RaidtheFridge not the supermarket) which meant that with a little bit of fiddling of ingredients we could get close to the original recipe.   Our twist to that approach is that this was made with cold smoked sea trout which we had cold smoked in the Big Green Egg and large frozen prawns (large shrimps for our American friends) which were first grilled on the Big Green Egg.  The sea trout was cured and smoked in exactly the same way as for cold smoked salmon (see here).

The prawns were defrosted and put on a bamboo skewer for ease of handling.  They were cooked over a direct flame until they just became pink and were slightly singed on their edges then put to oneside to cool.

From this point making the pâté really just becomes a matter of assembly.  All this could be done in a food processor but we wanted a coarse chunky pâté and so all the components were hand chopped with a chef’s knife. The smoked trout was first sliced then added to the shelled prawns and they were both roughly chopped.  The white crab meat was then added together with the zest of half a lemon. (The dish would be fine without the crab – just slightly different.) This was all put in a glass bowl together with the cream cheese, the juice of a lemon and a little black pepper and cayenne pepper.  There was no need to add salt.  This was mixed thoroughly and then spooned into a pâté dish and decorated with some crab claw meat – and the only green that we had to hand – a small basil rosette.

As a variation add 2 tablespoons of cod egg ‘caviar’ to the mix if you have some in the cupboard and you are wondering what to do with it!

NB when initially tasting the pâté it seems slightly dominated by the lemon, but his softens over a few hours when left in the fridge.  VacPacked in the fridge this should keep for 3 days.

…………………………. it is very easy, give it a go!

Smoked Sea Trout and seafood pâté

April 20, 2020
: 12
: 20 min
: 20 min
: 40 min
: Easy

A course seafood pâté of home smoked sea trout, prawns and crab

By:

Ingredients
  • 150g of large frozen or fresh prawns
  • 150g of home smoked sea trout or salmon
  • 150g white crab meat
  • 250g cream cheese
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • A little cayenne pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Grill 150 g prawns on the BGE in direct mode – allow to cool.
  • Step 2 Take around 150 g of home smoked salmon or sea trout and slice.
  • Step 3 Roughly chop the sea trout and the prawns, then add the white crab meat and mix with the zest of half a lemon.
  • Step 4 Place in a bowl and add the cream cheese, lemon juice and pepper and mix thoroughly
  • Step 5 Spoon into pâté dishes, decorate and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight
  • Step 6 Serve with toasted sourdough
Lamb Shawarma

Lamb Shawarma

This was a dish we cooked before the Covid-19 crisis hit Europe – and it is a reminder of those ‘heady days’ when we could just go out to buy meat, herbs or spices rather than having to think of the social consequences of doing that.  We are still publishing this one though as if you have something suitable in the freezer you may just want to give it a go (with this herb and spice mix – or your own variation of what ever you have to hand in the cupboard!!)  Also as this whole lamb shoulder was cooked in 3 sections – if there are only a couple of you in the house you may want to scale down the recipe accordingly – and perhaps just use one of the thirds!!

 

So how did this one come about?

“What would you like to eat when you come up next week Sam” we said to our eldest daughter. Without pausing for a breath the answer was Lamb Shawarma. It is always a nice challenge to cook a ‘request dish’ – and we have cooked a lot of chicken Shawarma (see recipe here)  Suggesting chicken as an alternative didn’t gain any traction with Sam, and so Lamb Shawarma it was to be!   Shawarma is a dish of Middle Eastern origin.  The meat is traditionally cut into thin slices and stacked in a cone shape and then roasted slowly on a vertical rotisserie or spit.  The word Shawarma is perhaps a corruption of the Turkish word to rotate or revolve as the traditional spit does.

We were pondering the cut of lamb to use when Sam also asked if we could use a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe as she had had it some time ago and loved it.  Interestingly, the recipe is all over the internet and seems to stem from a cookbook by Ottolenghi & Tamimi called Jerusalem.  The original recipe uses a leg of lamb on the bone (as most people don’t have a vertical rotisserie) and a spicy herb mix sometimes referred to as Lebanese spice mix which works with so many things – We have modified the mix slightly as I am very sensitive to paprika – but I have given the original proportions in the recipe section.   This mix is also supposed to work well with chicken and although we have not tried it yet: fish and vegetables!

With the help of the team from ‘Charlotte’s Butchery’, namely on this occasion Charlotte’s brother Jamie we spent some time deciding which cut of lamb to use as we were cooking on the Big Green Egg and we also had a Shawarma Spike which we had had made for us some time ago specifically for use on the EGG.

We wanted to get closer to a traditional Shawarma and not use whole bone in joints.  We also know that getting hold of a suitable spike to cook with on the BGE is not straightforward.  Therefore we wanted something that was ‘Shawarma like’ in the form of a vertical pile of meat – but something that could reasonably be done with or without a special spike!
Jamie suggested using a whole rolled shoulder of lamb but cut into sections so each section could be marinated all over with the spice mix.  We took that one stage further by also slashing into the sides of the meat cylinder so we could push the spice mix in there too.

Clearly we could have just unrolled the shoulder, added the spice mix and re-rolled the joint.  But we wanted to see if this easier method would work for those people not enjoying the idea of tying their own meat joints!

So once we had decided on the meat and cut it into 3 cylinders the next thing was to make the spicy marinade mix.  The first 8 ingredients in the list (black peppercorns, whole cloves, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, cinnamon stick) were added to a cast-iron pan and dry-roasted on medium-high heat.  This was done for a minute or two, until the spices begin to pop and release their aromas. The important thing here is to make sure they don’t burn.

If you don’t have any of these – do a bit of googling for substitute suggestions – or just leave it out.  It will still be fine, just a little different! Then we added the nutmeg, ginger, and paprika and tossed this with the rest for a few more seconds to heat them. The whole mix was then put in a spice grinder (small food processor) and blitzed the mix to a powder. All that was left to do was add this powder to a bowl and to stir in all the remaining ingredients, apart from the lamb and the water (sumac, salt, fresh ginger, garlic , fresh coriander, lemon juice and peanut oil).

The marinade was then massaged into all the surfaces of the meat and it was left in a covered tray to marinade overnight.  Clearly if you are making a smaller S hawarma then just marinade the amount of meat you need (but do remember this works really well cold too)

The following day the Big green egg was set up to cook indirectly at between 150-160C (the original recipe suggests 170C and that would be fine too and give a shorter cooking time – but we weren’t in any hurry!!   If you are using a Shawarma spike we have found it helpful to add half an onion to the spike first to lift the meat off the base.  The base can become hotter than you perhaps want even when cooking indirectly.  (If you are cooking with out a spike then I would suggest stacking 2 or 3 pieces on top of each other in a roasting tin and pushing a skewer through the pieces from the top to hold it together.)  The whole thing was topped off with the remains of the squeezed lemon on the top.

All that was left to do therefore was wait and enjoy the aroma coming from the EGG!  Every hour or so we basted the meat stack with the juice collecting in the roasting dish, to which we had added a little water to prevent burning.  Once the outside had developed that lovely crusty brown colour we loosely wrapped the top with foil just to make sure the spices didn’t burn while we waited for the core temperature to rise to the mid to high 80sC.  We were wanting soft cuttable, but not pullable lamb!!

Once we got to the core temperature the lamb was removed and allowed to rest for at least 10 mins.  We actually wanted to keep it warm for longer before we served it – so we wrapped it in foil, covered it with some clean tea towels and put it into an empty ‘cool box’.  This way were were able to let it rest for more than an hour until we needed it (the larger the mass of meat the longer you can keep it warm in this way!!).

When we were ready to eat the meat was carved – this was made so much easier with the Shawarma being in 3 distinct sections.  Each being taken out of the cool box and carved when needed.

It was served on a cutting board with a green salad.  Eaten with a flat bread and some freshly made humus and a squeeze of fresh lemon was perfect!!

Footnote: – This is a great dish served hot as above, but is also fantastic served cold.  Indeed some of the team thought it was better cold than hot!   But there is only one way for you to decide which you prefer!!

Footnote:  I have been trying to trace a supplier for a Shawarma spike in the UK.  I found one this week and have ordered one to try.  Although I have not yet used it it looks and feels very good – I have added a link here they refer to it as a Gyrospike.  We will review the spike in due course – https://www.bbqco.uk

Lamb Shawarma

April 17, 2020
: 8
: 6 hr
: 7 hr
: Relatively easy

A slow cooked Shawarma using boned lamb shoulder which you can cook with or without a Shawarma Spike

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Maldon salt
  • 1 ounce fresh ginger — grated
  • 3 cloves garlic — crushed
  • Big bunch of coriander — chopped stems and leaves
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Good plug of oil, rapeseed or groundnut oil works well
  • Rolled boned shoulder of lamb
  • A little water to add to the roasting pan to prevent lamb juices burning
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the rolled whole shoulder of lamb and cut into 3 cylinders that can be stacked vertically. Also ‘slash’ into the sides of the cylinders so that they can absorb more of the marinade
  • Step 2 Mix the first 8 ingredients in the list (black peppercorns, whole cloves, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, cinnamon stick) and add to a cast-iron pan and dry-roast on medium-high heat for a minute or two. The spices will begin to pop and release their aromas. Don’t let them burn. Then add the nutmeg, ginger, and paprika and tossed this with the rest for a few more seconds. Put the whole into a spice grinder (small food processor) and blitzed the mix to a powder. Add this powder to a bowl and to stir in sumac, salt, fresh ginger, garlic , fresh coriander, lemon juice and oil.
  • Step 3 Massage the marinade into all the surfaces of the meat and leave in a covered tray to marinade (ideally) overnight.
  • Step 4 The ext day light the Big Green Egg and set up to cook indirectly at between 150-160C (Can also be done at a higher temp as suggested in the original recipe e.g. 170C to give a shorter cooking time – adjust accordingly)  
  • Step 5 If you are using a Shawarma spike add half an onion to the spike first to lift the meat off the base.  The base can become hotter than you perhaps want even when cooking indirectly.  (If you are cooking with out a spike then stack 2 or 3 pieces on top of each other in a roasting tin and push a skewer through the pieces from the top to hold it together.) Top off with the remains of the squeezed lemon on the top.
  • Step 6 Once the temperature in the BGE has stabilised introduce the shawarma and leave to cook.  Every hour or so baste the meat stack withe the juice collecting in the roasting dish. It may be wise to add a little water to the dish to stop the juices burning.
  • Step 7 Once the outside has developed that lovely crusty brown colour loosely wrap the top with foil just to make sure the spices don’t burn
  • Step 8 Cook till the core temperature reaches around 85-88C if it goes much higher the the lamb will ‘Pull” whereas the plan is to cut the meat but this is a matter of personal taste
  • Step 9 Remove from the heat and allow to rest for at least 10 mins – it can be rested for much longer if wrapped in foil, covered with tea towels and placed in a coolbox.  Carve when ready to eat and serve with a green salad and flat breads

 

 

Roast Chicken Breast and Mushroom Stuffed Wings

Roast Chicken Breast and Mushroom Stuffed Wings

What is the best way to manage a large chicken when there are just 2 of you and you are trying to make your food go a little further to reduce the pressure on our food suppliers?  Well whilst it was very tempting to roast it whole on the Big Green Egg and then use the left overs in other dishes – we decided to portion the chicken and then make the most of each of the portions.  A chicken is really easy to butcher, and whilst we have still not done a video of that yet, there are lots available on the internet.

One advantage of portioning your own chicken (other than the economy of doing it) is that you can keep the skin on the portions – and for many dishes this greatly adds to the taste!   I have to say I normally just use the wings to make stock (sorry all you BBQ wing lovers!).  But in the spirit of making our food go further we decided to bone out the first section of the wing and then stuff the space with some chopped mushrooms and a little chorizo that we had in the fridge.  These bulging pockets were closed off with a couple of cocktail sticks.

The wings were then coloured in a pan in the EGG which had been set up for indirect cooking at 160-170C.  As wings and legs take more cooking than the breast these were started about 15 mins before the breast – and this way we managed to get some good colour onto the skin.  Once we had reached this stage it was the time to cook the breast.

As the breasts were quite substantial (and as we had the stuffed wings too) we decided to just do one of the breasts.  This was added to the pan, skin down to colour the skin and render any fat from below the skin. Probably around 70% of the cooking should be done with the skin in contact with the pan.  Partly through the cooking of the breast, the excess mushrooms and chorizo that we weren’t able to pack into the wings was dropped into the pan to fry off in the rendered chicken fat.  These would be sprinkled over the salad that we were intending to serve with the chicken.

The Chicken breast was then turned over to finish the cooking.  Our aim was for a core temperature of 70C (the recommended safe temperature UK Food Standards Agency – 65C and hold for 10 minutes, 70C and hold for 2 minutes, 75C and hold for 30 seconds) – although this can lead to dry chicken when cooked conventionally, cooked in the EGG it will be very moist!

The chicken wing and half the chicken breast was served on a tossed salad with a citrus dressing for each of us.  The fried mushroom and chorizo were simply scattered over the top.  The dish would have been finished with some parmesan shavings but as we didn’t have parmesan we used cheddar which worked nearly as well!

It was a great dish and whilst the breast was lovely and moist with a lovely crisp skin, the revelation was the chicken wings.  It took a little time to bone out the first part of the wing but once stuffed it was really worth the effort!  And from the whole chicken there will be so much more to come too as you can see (to say nothing of the stock made from the carcass too!)

………………………………….hopefully more of that in future posts (here)!

Roasted chicken breast and mushroom stuffed wings

April 2, 2020
: 2
: 25 min
: 30 min
: 55 min
: moderately easy

Chicken wings stuffed with mushrooms and chorizo served with roast chicken breast

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 Chicken wings
  • 5 mushrooms
  • A little left over chorizo
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 The first thing is to bone out the chicken wings to the first joint by sliding a filleting knife along and around the bone. This is the only difficult step. The bone should be removed by cutting through the joint. This leaves a pocket for the mushroom stuffing.
  • Step 2 Chop 5 mushrooms and a little chorizo and stuff into the pockets created in the wings where the bone was removed. Close the pocket using a cocktail stick sewn through the chicken wing.
  • Step 3 Colour the wings in a pan or on a plancha in the EGG which should be set up for indirect cooking at 160-170C.  Start the wings about 15 mins before the breast. Turn to get good colour on the skin
  • Step 4 Once the wings have some good colour add the chicken breast skin side down to colour the skin and render any fat. When the skin is well coloured turn over to finish cooking the breast – cook to a core temperature of 70C
  • Step 5 Part way through cooking the breast add the mushrooms and chorizo that you weren’t able to pack into the wings and fry off in the rendered chicken fat.  These can be sprinkled over the salad when plating.  
  • Step 6 Serve the chicken wing and half the chicken breast on a tossed salad.  Sprinkle the fried mushroom and chorizo over the top and finish with some parmesan (or other hard cheese) shavings

 

Smoked mackerel, bacon, onion and pesto pasta

Smoked mackerel, bacon, onion and pesto pasta

This is the second of the series of making more of your food – this way we waste less and go to the supermarket less frequently!

We have some pasta which we brought back from holiday last year and a couple of jars of pesto. In itself that would make a nice meal – but with a few little additions of ‘bits and bobs’ foods from the back of the fridge – we thought we could zing it up a little.

We had a small piece of smoked mackerel in the fridge. The first thing was to remove the skin from the fish.  The fish was then sliced into small pieces. A very small slice of homemade bacon was chopped into mini lardon and a couple of rings of onion were also finely chopped. The lardon and the onion were fried as the pasta cooked. Just before the pasta is ready – the mackerel was added to the pan to warm.  The pasta and a little cooking water was then added to the mix. Finally a little pesto was stirred through the pasta.  The pasta was simply plated and served with a little grated parmesan.

Footnote: Classically fish and parmesan are not served together – but with the smokey flavours, I think it works

Smoked mackerel, bacon, onion and pesto pasta

April 1, 2020
: 2
: 5 min
: 12 min
: 17 min
: Easy

Pasta and pesto enhanced with smoked mackerel and bacon

By:

Ingredients
  • 250g dried pasta
  • Small piece of smoked mackerel
  • Small piece of bacon
  • A little onion or shallot
  • Pesto
Directions
  • Step 1 Remove the skin from the fish and slice into small pieces.
  • Step 2 Dice a small slice of bacon into mini lardon and finely chop a little onion. Fry the lardon and the onion as the pasta cooked.
  • Step 3 Cook the pasta following the instructions on the pack
  • Step 4 Just before the pasta is ready – add the mackerel to the pan to warm.  Then add the pasta and a little cooking water to the mackerel and mini lardon mix. Finally stir a little pesto through the pasta.  
  • Step 5 Plate and serve with a little grated parmesan.
Smokey cured pork, mushrooms and rice

Smokey cured pork, mushrooms and rice

This is the first of the blogs we are trying at this difficult time outlining how we are trying to make our food go a little bit further and so reduce the pressure we are putting on our food suppliers – especially the supermarkets.

So we are ‘raiding the fridge’ or ‘raiding the freezer’ rather than ‘raiding the supermarkets’.   This one is definitely a way to brighten up some leftovers from the fridge. (#Raidthefridge)!

We had cooked some rice the night before and as often happens we had some left.  I am always cautious about using left over rice, but I am very happy to do it in the first 24 hours after cooking as long as it is cooled quickly after cooking in the fridge.   Raiding the fridge revealed a small piece of guanciale (it is a cured pork like pancetta or bacon made from the pigs cheek). Guanciale is the classical cured pork used to make carbonara – and this was the last bit of some we recently made.  Just as easily though you could use a small piece of bacon, a few lardons, or some pancetta.

The shreds of pork we’re dropped into a frying pan with a crushed clove of garlic and lightly fried. The garlic was used to flavour the fats coming out of the pork.  We also had a few mushrooms, that in all fairness had seen better days!   These were sliced and tossed into the pan to take on some colour.  When you have so few it is worth individually turning them over to get some colour on both sides.  Take the garlic out of the pan and discard or chop and add back to the mix.  Let the mix cool.  When cooled we mixed a small spoonful of mayonnaise into the rice just to make it a little richer and slightly sticky.  The cooled mushroom and pork mix was then stirred through the rice and the whole dish seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Plated and served by itself or with a little salad     ……….. a perfect starter!

Smokey cured pork, mushrooms and rice

March 30, 2020
: 2 or more
: 10 min
: 10 min
: 20 min
: Very easy

A simple way to use some cooked rice with mushrooms and a cured piece of pork

By:

Ingredients
  • Cooked rice
  • Small slice of Guanciale (or bacon, lardon, pancetta)
  • A few mushrooms, slices
  • Garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Shred the Guanciale and drop into a frying pan with a crushed clove of garlic and lightly fry.
  • Step 2 Slice the mushrooms and toss into the pan to take on some colour.  Turn over to colour both sides
  • Step 3 Take the garlic out of the pan and discard or chop and add back to the mix.  Let the mix cool.  
  • Step 4 Mix a small spoonful of mayonnaise into the rice to make it slightly sticky.
  • Step 5 Mix the cooled mushroom and pork through the rice. Season with salt and pepper and serve
Raiding the freezer not the food shops- reducing the pressure on supermarkets

Raiding the freezer not the food shops- reducing the pressure on supermarkets

I have to say I have struggled with the idea of writing for the food blog when the world is being subject to the ravages of the Corona Virus and so the Smokedfinefood.co.uk has been rather quiet in the past few weeks.  However, looking at the pressure there has been on our supermarkets and food suppliers we have been looking at ways of preparing food that makes it go that bit further and makes use of ‘odds and sods’ of food and indeed left overs too!  Some of this we have cooked on the BGE – but some we have also cooked in a domestic oven so hopefully there will be something for everyone!

We will try and intersperse these recipes and ideas with some of the more usual Smokedfinefood/Big Green Egg offerings.  We are trying to ‘raid the freezer’ rather than ‘raid the food suppliers’ and so some of these recipes are challenging the ways we normally cook.  We are being asked to shop once a week or less and some of us are also self isolating.  This means we need to cook with what we have around us – and that in itself makes cooking a little quirky and hopefully more interesting!

The first of these is our – ‘left over’ starter – cold rice – some mushrooms and a small piece of guanciale but half a slice of bacon chopped fine would do just as well – see the picture at the top – and go straight to the blog by clicking here

 

Eating Well and Eating Seasonally – #EatWellEatSeasonally

Eating Well and Eating Seasonally – #EatWellEatSeasonally

We have been working with the idea of cooking with seasonal products as much as we can over the last year.  This is hardly a new concept, and indeed historically it was the only way to eat.

Sautéed potatoes with shallots and peas

This habit has changed with better forms of food preservation, but even more than that over the last 2 decades as we have increasingly imported our food from all round the world whenever we wanted it.

Reverse seared local Sirloin

The last thing I want to do is decry many of these innovations, they have brought lots of advantages to many people.
The flip slide of that though is that we have begun to lose touch a bit more with the seasonallity of our local foods and with local farming.  Because of this we have come to expect fresh green beans in the middle of winter, newly picked tomatoes in February and soft fruits the year round. In many ways quite a privilege, but we have also lost that anticipation of waiting for the first green beans and tomatoes of summer, for the first fresh British Strawberries in June and raspberries in July and August.

Sautéed British Scallops with home cured bacon

Whilst not wanting to lose all these opportunities, we have wanted to try and eat more food produced at the ‘expected time of year’ and therefore produced more locally.  These thoughts were crystallised by people we knew who wanted to turn to a Vegan diet in an attempt to reduce their negative impact on environmental change.  A laudable goal, but one where so often the logic is lost in the detail.  Eating a largely plant based diet rather than high meat based diet may reduce your carbon footprint a little, certainly if you forgo intensively reared meat.  The argument begins to crumble however when you substitute intensively farmed and intensively irrigated avocados from Mexico or grass reared beef or lamb from 20 miles down the road, or green beans grown under floodlight in Kenya and flown to the UK rather than sprouting broccoli from your local producer. You get the picture I am sure!

Braised local pheasant with roasted root vegetables

When making changes in any part of our lives one of the maxims I like to live by is “to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.  In this context therefore if success in our attempt to eat more locally and seasonally was to mean eating any imported food was an absolute sign of failure – then we would fall at the first hurdle!  If however success was increasing the proportion of locally produced food and reducing the proportion of our food that was imported out of season – this was something we could move towards!  This is the basis of our #EatWellEatSeasonally project!!

Roasted root vegetables and red onions with Feta cheese

The difficult times of the year are late winter and into spring when the range of locally produced fresh produce is the most limited.  We have changed our recipes a little to accommodate more root vegetable and the like which has been a bit of a challenge at times but also very rewarding.

Our most spectacular ‘fails’ probably relate to the products of the vine and whilst we are happy to buy local wines when we journey around Europe and transport those with us as we travel (for as long as we are allowed) the New World, South Africa and South America do produce some great wines and so the <5% from the Southern Hemisphere we have been aiming for may in reality be closer to 10%!!

Roast Partridge and Pear

That therefore has been the plan.  Where possible we buy food produced relatively close to where we live or where we are at the time ideally from local producers. Where this is not possible we try and use food from Britain or Northern Europe before spreading our net a little wider.  Sometimes when this is becoming difficult we may buy food produced in the Southern hemisphere but we are trying hard to keep this down to less than 5% of our intake.

Gnocchi with home cured pancetta

It is as though we are drawing a series of concentric circles around where we are, and where possible choosing food from the smallest of the circles that is feasible at the time.  With this flexible approach we have made definite changes over the last year.  Have we perfected the process? Absolutely not! – But the flexibility has meant we have not failed trying to achieve the ‘Perfect’,  and we have made changes which in a small way have been good for us and perhaps good too for the environment.

……….and we can always try to do a little better next week!!

#EatWellEatSeasonally