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Chilli Mole – A superb plant centric version of a classic chilli

Chilli Mole – A superb plant centric version of a classic chilli

This cook is based on a recipe from Boxxfresh, a UK company supplying really great fresh fruit and vegetables. They described Mole (pronounced ‘mo-lay’) as the ‘quintessential chilli sauce native to Mexico’. It apparently literally means ’everyday sauce’!   As such it is ladled over nachos, tacos, enchiladas, burritos or served on rice.  The recipe takes care to mimic what so many of us think of a “Chilli” meaning Chilli con Carne.  But this is a plant based dish or one of the plant-centric dishes we are cooking more and more.  So whilst mimicking this classic meat based dish it uses chopped mushrooms to recreate some of the texture of minced beef and does so very well.  It returns to its origins in South America with tomatoes, black beans, dark chocolate, chillies and cinnamon spices to create what they describe as ‘deep soulful flavours that will have you reaching for seconds!’

We have used Boxxfresh (no links) to supply most of the plant based food we have eaten during the first 12 months of the covid pandemic.  Together with supplying fantastic products they are actively helping and encouraging people to make more of, and more with fruit and vegetables. This recipe started out as one of the many on their site (see here) with just a few little adjustments for cooking it on the Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg was lit and allowed to heat up to around 180C.  Whilst the temperature settled we blitzed the mushrooms in the food processor, being carful not to process it too far.  The whole thing could be cooked directly in a Dutch Oven but I prefer to use a wide shallow handle free pan to start things off.  The  mushrooms were gently fried off in olive oil in this pan until softened.  These were then set aside.

As the food processor had already been used we also blitzed the onions and then cooked in the same pan as we had the mushrooms.  After a minute or so the chopped garlic was added. We have also come to add the red pepper (which we use instead of the chilli in the original recipe) at this stage.  This was softened with the onions. (We have also done them separately and added them back in when the mushrooms were added back – but this is just easier).

The onions were cooked until translucent at which point the spice mix was then stirred through and cooked for another minute or so.

The platesetter was put in place to move the BGE to indirect cooking.  A small chunk of oak was added to the charcoal to add to the smoky flavours developed in the second part of the cook.

The onion, garlic, pepper and spice mix was transferred to a Dutch oven together with the 2 tins of beans.  This was then put into the EGG and allowed to warm through.  Once warmed, the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, tamari, vinegar and wine were all added to the pot and gently mixed together.  The whole dish was brought to a very gentle simmer without the lid to cook off the alcohol and allow the liquids to reduce a little.
Finally, the mushrooms, (the sautéed peppers if you choose to cook them separately), chocolate and maple syrup were added and stirred through the dish.  As you will see from the picture we had slightly misjudged the volume of the ingredients.  The pan was very full to say the least.  Normally we would have cooked this for around 90 minutes or so at around 150-160C.  Because the pan was so full we cooked at around 110C instead.  This proved to be a great decision!

At 110C we ended up with a very slow cook taking around 5hrs.  During this time the volume reduced, though only a little, and the colour deepened.  More importantly the taste took on a really complex richness, more than we have had before.  It will be ‘low and slow’ for this dish from now on!

Served with a baked potato, rice, nachos or tortilla chips – you really can’t go wrong!!

…………. do give it a go!!

 

Chilli sin Carne - a plant-centric version of a classic

April 9, 2021
: 6
: 40 min
: 4 hr
: Easy

A superb plant centric version of a classic chilli con carne!

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Ingredients
  • 250g of mushrooms
  • 2 red onions or 3 shallots
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 Red pepper (could substitute with 1/2 or 1 whole chilli)
  • 2 tins of black beans of kidney beans or pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 large glass red wine
  • 10g of dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 This can be cooked inside on the hob and oven – or on the BGE – or a combination of both. When the weather isn’t great we sometimes do the first part in the kitchen on the hob
  • Step 2 Light the Big Green Egg and allow it to heat up to around 180C.  
  • Step 3 Blitz the mushrooms in the food processor Leave them coarse)
  • Step 4 Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil until coloured and softened, either directly in a dutch oven or in a handless pan (if working on the BGE).  Set aside.
  • Step 5 Blitz the onions and cook in the same pan as the mushrooms. After a minute or so add the chopped garlic after a couple of minutes more add the red pepper and softened with the onions. When the onions are translucent add the spice mix and stir through for another minute or so.  
  • Step 6 Add the platesetter to the BGE and add some smoking wood to the charcoal
  • Step 7 Transfer the onion, garlic, pepper and spice mix to a Dutch oven (if not already using the Dutch oven)together with the 2 tins of beans.  Place on the EGG and allow to warm through.  Then add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, tamari, vinegar and wine to the pot and stir through. Bring to a very gentle simmer without the lid to cook off the alcohol and allow the liquids to reduce a little.
  • Step 8 Finally, add the mushrooms, chocolate and maple syrup and stir through the dish.  Cook at around 110C for at least 3hrs (or at 180C for 90m
  • Step 9 Serve with a baked potato, rice, nachos or tortilla chips
Vegetable Bourguignon – sounds ridiculous but it is great!!

Vegetable Bourguignon – sounds ridiculous but it is great!!

Our youngest daughter has been a French citizen for more than 20 years and when I said I was going to cook a vegetable Bourguignon her reply showed the initial contempt one might expect from a French woman!  The term for the brilliant (more…)

Le Croque Monsieur – Mr Crunch!

Le Croque Monsieur – Mr Crunch!

Great food does not need to be complicated.  This is a simple twist on the classic ‘Croque Monsieur’. Croque Monsieur literally means ‘Mr Crunch’ – and that is what we are going to build.  The classic dish is made with smoked ham, Gruyère and a mustered infused Béchamel on country sourdough and baked in the oven.  This is a ‘shortcut’ dish – but no worse for that!

Take 2 slices of sourdough bread, and then place a couple of thin slices of a smoked ham on one of those (see here for smoked ham recipe).  Then add a couple of slices of brie which works really well on top of that.  Top off with the second slice of sourdough.   Heat some oil in a sauté pan or on a plancha and sit the bread on top. Once the base has become golden and coloured nicely flip the sandwich over and toast/sauté the other side.

Serve on a green salad………………………. it is as simple as that!!

Cooked on the hob or the BGE this is a great dish!

…………………………………………. enjoy!!

 

Piperade – a Basque dish that has so many uses!!

Piperade – a Basque dish that has so many uses!!

We have probably done a greater variety of cooking this year as we have largely been confined to home during the Covid pandemic in 2020.   I have intended to use the time to do more writing for the site – but in the end we have cooked more and written less!!

One thing we have been doing is (more…)

Gnocchi Aubergine and Red Pepper Bake in a Parmigiana Sauce.

Gnocchi Aubergine and Red Pepper Bake in a Parmigiana Sauce.

We have been playing with meat free dishes for a while and although it is taking us out of our comfort zone we are having fun with the step by step exploration.   We have really enjoyed refining our Aubergine Parmigiana but one day we didn’t have enough aubergine, but we did have a little gnocchi.  And so we came to this dish.  On the first trial run we went with a simple parmigiana sauce.  This worked really well, especially with the addition of some red peppers.  This is the dish we will describe here.  We have also tweaked the recipe further and moved it a little closer to a puttanesca sauce with anchovies, capers and olives but without the chilli.  We will look at that recipe later!

The dish is simplicity itself.  The aubergine was cut into decent size chunks.  I like them to be odd shapes rather than cubes, but what ever way they should be around 3 cm in most directions.  These were sautéed in a little oil until each side had taken on some colour and the pieces are a little gnarly.

We then added the chopped pepper and cooked for a few minutes more. Then set both the peppers and aubergine mix to one side.  The onion was finely chopped and added to the pan to soften in a little olive oil.  Once it had started to take on some colour the chopped garlic was added too and cooked for a few minutes more.

The can of chopped tomatoes was tossed in and allowed to cook through for a couple of minutes and then seasoned with salt and pepper.  At this point we added the roasted aubergines, pepper and the gnocchi.  The sauce was left to bubble for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally, until the gnocchi was soft and the sauce had thickened.   This would be the time to transfer to an ovenproof dish, but as we were cooking in the Tefal Ingenio pans with the removable handles, this was going to be our ovenproof dish.

We stirred through some fresh oregano and thyme and then scattered the torn chunks of mozzarella on the top.  You could also add a little grated parmesan cheese to add more crunch to the top if you fancy the idea. We have cooked this inside on the hob and on the Big Green Egg, both work well.

The vents were closed on the Egg and the cheese allowed to melt for a minute or two.  Whether cooking in a domestic kitchen or on the Big Green Egg the dish really needs to be finished under a domestic grill as a ‘crozzled top’ is the one thing the BGE doesn’t do well (unless you are using a very small pan in a much larger EGG).   The dish was put under the grill in the kitchen to finish off the top – just watch that it doesn’t burn!!!

Serve with a green salad ………………… give it a go!

Variation

Add anchovies, capers and black olives rather than the finely chopped red pepper – but we will link to this later!!

 

Gnocchi, Aubergine and Red Pepper Bake

October 29, 2020
: 2
: 15 min
: 45 min
: 1 hr
: Easy

A combination of roasted Aubergines, tomato sauce and gnocchi - a perfect and simple bake

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Ingredients
  • 1 Aubergine cut into decent size chunks.
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 Red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Garlic clove chopped
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 250g gnocchi
  • Fresh or dried oregano and thyme
  • 125g mozzarella
  • Grated parmesan (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Cut the aubergine into chunks, around 3 cm in most directions. Sauté in a little oil until each side had taken on some colour and the pieces are a little gnarly. Add the chopped pepper and cook for a few minutes more.  Set both the peppers and aubergine to one side.
  • Step 2 Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and soften in a little olive oil.  Once it takes on some colour add the chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes more.  
  • Step 3 Toss in the tinned tomatoes and allow to cook through for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  
  • Step 4 Add the roasted aubergines, pepper and the gnocchi and leave the sauce to bubble for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. The gnocchi will soften and the sauce thicken.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish, stir through some fresh oregano and thyme and then scatter torn chunks of mozzarella on the top.  At this point you can also add a little grated parmesan cheese
  • Step 5 To get a crunchy top transfer to a domestic grill for a couple of minutes to finish off the top – just watch that it doesn’t burn!!!
  • Step 6 Serve with a green salad
Simple Rump Steak

Simple Rump Steak

It is so easy to get carried away with ‘clever recipes’.  At times we should get back to how simple first rate cooking can be.  That goes for the BBQ too!  This is a perfect example of that – a wonderfully cooked rump steak!  What could be simpler?  A good piece of rump and something hot to cook it on.   We found these 2 small rump steaks in the freezer.  They weighed just 360g (together) and had been hung for 28 days before VacPacking.

There are so many ways of cooking steak but in principal, they are all the same.  Apply lots of heat to the outside of the steak so it colours and undergoes the Maillard reaction but keep the inside relatively cool so it doesn’t overcook.

The Maillard reaction is the chemical reaction between amino acids and reduced sugars that gives seared food its distinctive flavour.  It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. He first described the reaction in 1912.  It occurs most  rapidly  between 140 to 165C. At higher temperatures caramelisation occurs (a browning of sugars). When cooking steak it is likely that both processes are present.  When the meat touches a surface the surface temperature drops.  If it starts at 250C it may quickly fall (at the surface) to between 140-165C.

So we need a hot surface and one that will contact as much of the meat as possible – we have (largely) moved from using the cast iron grill (which is good) to using a solid cast iron surface (which is better).  And perhaps one of the easiest to use is the flat side of the cast-iron plancha made for the BGE MiniMax.

(This is a really good product in it’s own right and also makes a great lid for the matching skillet).   Simply light the EGG and allow the temperature to get up to around 180C.  Then add the stainless steel grid and place the plancha on top and allow the temperature to increase to around 250C.

The steak was around 2cm thick and had been allowed to come to room temperature for an hour or so.  It was dried before seasoning with salt.  You can wipe with a little oil before seasoning with salt – or simply get straight to it and season with salt.  The steak was dropped onto the plancha and the lid of the EGG closed.  The steak was cooked for probably 90 seconds, then flipped over  for a further 90 seconds.  At this point, we used an instant read thermometer to measure the core temperature of the steak.

We were looking to remove these steaks from the heat when the core temperature reached 51C so that when resting the core temperature would drift towards around 56C and a nice medium finish.
Depending on the temperature at this point, then the rest of the cooking time was estimated.  The remaining cooking time was  divide between the 2 surfaces – on this occasion ours needed a further 60 seconds on each side.  Just before the core temperature reached 50C we stood the steaks on their fatty edge to render the fat and to make it beautifully brown “crozzley”!! – The Maillard reaction on full throttle!

The steaks were removed and wrapped in a double layer of foil and covered with a towel to keep warm whilst they rest for around 10 minutes. We use this time to cook or finish off whatever vegetables we are intending to serve with the steak.

 

Plating was simple: slice some or all of the steak across the grain and serve on your chosen vegetables.  Add a little olive oil and fresh pepper

……………….. serve and enjoy the fruits of your labours!

 

Simple Rump Steak

October 2, 2020
: 2 - scalable
: 5 min
: 5 min
: Easy

Rump steak cooked simply on very hot cast-iron - possibly the perfect way to do a steak

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Ingredients
  • 1 or 2 good rump steaks - these were 180g each
  • Salt
Directions
  • Step 1 With a steak around 2cm thick bring to room temperature for around 1 hour, dry and season with salt (if you wish pre-wipe with olive oil.
  • Step 2 Light the BGE and when it reaches around 180C add the stainless steel grid and place a cast-iron plancha on top and allow the temperature to increase to around 250C
  • Step 3 Drop the steak onto the plancha and closet the lid of the EGG.  Sear for around 90 seconds then flip over for a further 90 seconds.  At this point, use an instant read thermometer to measure the core temperature of the steak.
  • Step 4 Calculate the rest of the cooking time depending on the temperature with perhaps up to 60 seconds more on each side.  When the core temperature reached 50C stand the steaks on their fatty edge to render the fat and make it crispy
  • Step 5 Remove the steaks and wrap in a double layer of foil and cover with a towel to keep warm whilst it rests for around 10 minutes. Use this time to finish off whatever vegetables you are intending to serve with the steak.
  • Step 6 Plate and serve
Tuna with Sicilian lemon zested beans in tomato sauce

Tuna with Sicilian lemon zested beans in tomato sauce

This week we had too many French beans to cope with and so we needed to be a little inventive!  We therefore combined some of the dishes we have tried over the last couple of decades travelling over Europe and were delighted with the outcome.  I doubt its absolute authenticity but am convinced by its principal ingredients.  More importantly – it just works!!!

Basically this is a bean dish designed to ‘showcase’ a piece of meat or fish.   We lit the BGE and set it up for indirect cooking.  As it was heating up we put into the BGE a small pan of trimmed French beans which had been halved (as they were long).  As the BGE came up to temperature we let the beans boil for around 3 minutes to begin to cook.  The water was then poured away and the beans were put to one side.  In a sauté pan we then cooked a finely chopped shallot in some olive oil and part way through cooking added a coarsely chopped garlic clove.

Once these had taken on a little colour a can of chopped tomatoes joined the mixture to cook for around 10 minutes with some freshly chopped herbs (on this occasion thyme, oregano and rosemary).    We were almost there !  A small handful of chopped green olives, lemon zest, capers, salt and pepper was added to the pan.

All that was left to do was to add the almost cooked French beans, and let the whole dish come together.  This makes a fine side dish, or indeed a light supper dish in it’s own right.  Today however we were using oil to underpin some freshly grilled Tuna with a little grilled lemon – this worked perfectly!

Once the beans were cooked, the platesetter was removed and the Tuna was grilled on the BGE – this time direct – at 250C for about 1 minute a side. The tuna was then served on the beans and the grilled lemon squeezed over the top

Delicious!

………… give it a go – it is so easy!!

Tuna with Sicilian lemon tested beans in a tomato sauce

September 25, 2020
: 2
: 15 min
: 15 min
: 30 min
: Easy

A simple sauce using tomatoes and shallots, enhanced with lemon zest, and olives with green beans - the perfect foil for grilled Tuna.

By:

Ingredients
  • French beans - around 300g
  • 1-2 Shallots finely chopped
  • Garlic clove coarsely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Can of chopped tomatoes 400g
  • Freshly chopped herbs (e.g. thyme, oregano and rosemary). Handful of chopped green olives
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp capers
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 2 Tuna steaks
Directions
  • Step 1 Set up the BGE for indirect cooking aiming for around 180C. If the beans are long cut in half put on the BGE in a small pan of water – allow to partially cook as the EGG warms up. Once partially cooked pour the water away and set the beans to one side
  • Step 2 In a sauté pan sauté the finely chopped shallot in some olive oil and part way through cooking add a coarsely chopped garlic clove. Once these have taken on a little colour add a can of chopped tomatoes and allow the mixture to cook for around 10 minutes with some freshly chopped herbs
  • Step 3 Add a small handful of chopped green olives, the zest of the lemon and the capers. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Step 4 Finally add the partially cooked French beans, and let the dish come together.  
  • Step 5 As the beans are finishing – open up the vents on the BGE to allow the temperature to begin to rise. After a couple of minutes , remove the beans and the platesetter. Put the platesetter flat on a heat proof surface and put the pan of beans on this to keep warm. Once the BGE gets to around 225-250C grill the Tuna for around 1 min on each side. at the same time cut the lemon into 4 lengthways and add to the grill to warm and colour
  • Step 6 Serve the tuna on top of the beans with the hot lemon ready to squeeze over the top

 

Aubergine Parmigiana revisited – our definitive version!

Aubergine Parmigiana revisited – our definitive version!

We have written before about the glorious ‘Melanzane alla parmigiana’ We first came across it in Italy in the summer of 2017 when travelling through the Dolomites in Northern Italy.  Taste wise it was a plant based dish that absolutely took my breath away ……….. or so my memory tells me!  I went back to the article we wrote about this in early 2018 and our first attempts to recreate the dish and you can find that here (Aubergine Parmigiana).  Whilst we were very pleased with this first attempts we said at the time ‘.…… the dish, it still doesn’t quite match my holiday memory of that first mouthful in the Dolomites. When it does we will post the next instalment’.  Well I think we are in a position when it is worth offering that ‘next instalment’ and so here it is!

What is it?  It is probably the best tasting plant based meal I have ever eaten (speaking as an obligate carnivore) – and absolute truly – you don’t miss the meat!  There are umami flavours in their myriads.  There is nothing missing – it is just a coincidence that there is no meat!!

The recipe we are currently using is very similar to that 2017 first try – we have been round the recipe books and the final dish is dependent on how you cook it not really the basic recipe itself!   So lets talk about how we are cooking the dish.

Firstly,  we have come to the conclusion that the aubergines are best cooked in a cast iron skillet with a moderate amount of good olive oil at around 180C direct. No matter how much you use, the aubergines will always accept more – so it is up to you how much you give way to their greed!  With moderate portions – you can afford to be generous!!  The aubergines are cut not along the fruit but across it to produce circles of around 7mm thick.  (If you prefer your dish to ‘slice’ and the slices to remain as a single piece – then cut the aubergines lengthways and build each layer in alternate directions – but we have ended up favouring a less firm finish).  Once cooked these were put to one side.

Once the aubergines had been cooked we used the same skillet to cook the sauce but the BGE was set up for indirect cooking by adding the platesetter.  First a finely chopped onion was softened with a little oil until it just became translucent – then the 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced, were added and cooked for a few more minutes. Then 2 cans of chopped tomatoes were added (these seem to work better than fresh tomatoes – in the UK anyway) and some chopped fresh herbs.
This was left to cook at around 160-180C for 20 minutes or more until it began to look a little more dry.  (You need to lose that watery ‘tinned tomato’ look).

From this point on it really becomes a matter of ‘assembly”

We have been making our Melanzane alla parmigiana in one of our Tefal Ingenio pans and it works really well – though ideally something slightly deeper would be even better!  Put in the smallest amount of tomato sauce you can to cover the bottom of the pan then add a layer of the aubergine, and repeat this tomato sauce/aubergine combination until you are just less than halfway up the dish.  At his stage sprinkle the tomato sauce with some parmesan cheese and add around half of the mozzarella together with some basil leaves (I have taken to sprinkling just a little parmesan on each of the tomato layers but I don’t think that is traditional!).  Repeat until all the aubergines are used. Finish off with a layer of tomato sauce topped off with further basil leaves, parmesan and mozzarella (and ricotta if you are using it too – this is not traditional).  Put the dish back in the BGE and cook for a further 30+  minutes then ‘turn off the BGE’ and let it cool.

This is one of those dishes that tastes great on the day – but even better the day after!  We have taken to eating it on the second day, and although we could use the BGE to bring it back to temperature we have taken to doing this in a domestic oven at around 150C for around 30 minutes. At which point turning on the grill produces the most lovely crispy and glorious topping.

This is a dish best served warm rather than hot so don’t rush to serve it. All you need is to plate it up with a green salad.

We think we have now got to the essence of this dish – ours probably has just a slightly high proportion of the tomato sauce than the original one we had in the Dolomites.
It is probably also just a little more fluid in consistency.  It does however contain all the essence of that first experience of that ‘Timballo di Melanzane alla Veneta’.  Made in that Italian way – with lots of love!  It is a real thing of beauty.

………………… do give it a go!

Aubergine Parmigiana

September 4, 2020
: 4
: 40 min
: 60 min
: 1 hr 40 min
: Moderately easy

Roasted aubergine baked in a tomato sauce with baked Italian cheeses

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Ingredients
  • 2 Aubergines, sliced into 1/2cm-thick slices - I prefer circles as easier to arrange
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tins chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 2 x 125g Mozzarella balls, sliced In the last one we also added a little ricotta on the top as we had some - it worked well)
  • Basil or other herbs that you can lay your hands on
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan (or veggie alternative) or other Italian hard cheese 75g, finely grated
Directions
  • Step 1 Set up the BGE to around 180C. Direct roast Aubergine slices in a pan or in the cast iron skillet, till they take on colour and are a little ‘crisper’ turn a couple of times – need to do in batches
  • Step 2 Then olive oil in same skillet and cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, season, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Step 3 In a baking dish starting with the sauce, layer up the aubergine and sauce, half-way, a layer of half of the mozzarella, basil, and parmesan. Layer up the remaining aubergine and sauce, and finish with a final layer of mozzarella, basil and parmesan (and or ricotta if using).
  • Step 4 Put back in the BGE and cook for a further 30+  minutes then ‘turn off the BGE’
  • Step 5 30 mins before you want to serve – re warm in a domestic oven and pop under the grill for a couple of mins to give a really great top!!.
  • Step 6 Serve with a salad.

Frittata or Tortilla – what’s in a name?

Frittata or Tortilla – what’s in a name?

We could spend ages debating if this dish is a frittata or a tortilla – but that would miss the point of the dish!  I think of it as a frittata – but do have a look at the footnote!  We had been baking the last of our supply of small (1951) potatoes from Carroll’s Heritage potatoes that (more…)

Haggis stuffed Red Deer Haunch

Haggis stuffed Red Deer Haunch

This is a very simple reinterpretation of our earlier recipe for haunch of venison – available here.

The haunch is the top of the hind leg running into the rump.  We were fortunate to be given the meat by friends who don’t enjoy venison!!  The deer was a wild red deer which had been butchered locally.  The bone had been removed leaving a tunnel through the meat which we were going to stuff.  The meat was marinated overnight as before.  The differences from our earlier recipe were minor and primarily involved stuffing the leg.  This effectively replaces the bone with the stuffing which was made from 80g of Haggis mixed with 2 shallots, 2 large mushrooms and 4 prunes and roughly chopped.  After stuffing the cavity the leg was securely tied.

The venison was cooked as before over a little water in a pan with 2 quartered onions, and the meat was basted with some beef stock every 30-40 minutes.  The stock and the meat juices were collected in this pan.  Once the meat had reached a core temperature of 54C it was removed and double wrapped in foil and left to rest for 20 minutes whilst the vegetables cooked and the sauce was made.

The sauce was based on the liquid collected under the venison, thickened with cornflour and finished with 60 ml of Pineau des Charentes (in the absence of any Marsala) and a little thyme jelly for sweetness.  The whole dish took around 2 hrs to cook at 170C and went perfectly with carrots and tender stem broccoli and some Red Emmalie potatoes from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes.

All in all a very satisfying dish ………….

……………….. and served cold the following day it was perhaps even better!!

Haggis stuffed Red Deer Haunch

August 5, 2020
: 8+
: 40 min
: 3 hr
: Straightforward

By:

Ingredients
  • For the marinade
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Rosemary
  • 8 crushed juniper berries
  • Maldon salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • For the Stuffing
  • 80g Haggis
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 2shallots
  • 4 prunes
  • For the roast
  • Whole boned venison leg
  • 250ml concentrated beef stock
  • 2 onions quartered
  • Water
  • 60ml Pineau des Charentes
  • spoonful of thyme jelly
  • 1tsp cornflower
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the marinade combine the rapeseed oil, thyme, garlic, rosemary, crushed juniper berries, salt, and pepper into a spreadable paste.  
  • Step 2 Put the venison into a vacuum food bag and once inside the bag rub the paste over the meat.  Vacuum and seal the meat then place in the fridge overnight.  
  • Step 3 Remove the meat from the fridge several hours before starting the cook.  Set up the BGE for indirect cooking at 180C.  Add a little beech wood to flavour the smoke. Roughly chop the mushrooms, shallots and prunes and mix with the Haggis and stuff into the leg cavity.  Tie the joint tightly
  • Step 4 Sit the meat on a metal trivet over a roasting pan containing 2 quartered onions and a little warm water.  The meat must sit above the water. Leave the venison to roast over the water undisturbed for about an hour. After an hour turn the meat over and baste with 150ml of stock. Leave to roast for another 45 mins till the core temperature approaches 50C. Turn the meat over again and baste with a further 150ml of stock. Continue roasting
  • Step 5 When the core temperature reaches around 55C remove the meat and double wrap in aluminium foil and leave to rest for at least 20 mins
  • Step 6 Pour the liquid from the roasting pan and any accumulated meat juices from the meat into a separate pan. Thicken 50ml of Pineau des Charentes with cornflour and add to the pan with a little thyme jelly. Reduce the sauce and sieve into a serving jug
  • Step 7 Serve with potatoes and vegetables in season

Caramelised Fennel and Burnt Orange – with Infused Ricotta, Butter Beans and Olives

Caramelised Fennel and Burnt Orange – with Infused Ricotta, Butter Beans and Olives

Last year we had had every intention of highlighting recipes from Genevieve Taylor’s book – “Charred”.  I really think that this is a great book for those of us wanting to try more vegetarian  cooking. Especially those of us wanting to explore it when cooking outside especially over wood and charcoal.  Things like the Coronavirus Pandemic have got in the way but we are going to try and publish when we can this year!

The first of these is this ‘Caramelised Fennel and Orange dish’!  We know from our own slow roasted caramelised fennel dish just how well fennel responds to this type of cooking.  Limited shopping opportunities during the pandemic and personal cooking interests has led to some small variations to Genevieve Taylor’s recipe. But it has worked really well and we are delighted to share it here.

We may as well start with the principal difference!  We had a tub of ricotta but no goat’s cheese.  Instead of goat’s cheese whipped with cream, we used Ricotta infused with orange and thyme.  We used about two thirds of a 250g tub of ricotta and added the zest of half an orange and the leaves of 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme.  To this was added enough of the juice of the orange to allow the ricotta to be whipped into a soft cream.  This was then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and was set to one side.  We found the following day that this mix works very well with baked potatoes (and that in the absence of any fresh orange juice, Cointreau or Grand Marnier works well too!)

On to the cooking itself.  We sliced the fennel along the bulb and through the root in slices around 5-7mm thick.  These were tossed in a little olive oil and salt and pepper and put in the BGE MiniMax Skillet and onto the BGE (which was ticking over at around 180C) to caramelise in the pan.  This just meant keeping an eye on the fennel until it took on some colour and began to soften. The hot pan was then removed and the fennel continued to cook in the heat of the pan.  Whilst the fennel was cooking we had partly jested an orange and cut it into slices which had then been halved.
These were tossed in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and put on the grill over the open flame.

The idea was to just slightly ‘char’ the pieces of orange – particularly the peel.  Once this was nearly completed the final cooked element of the dish was introduced to the BGE.

The final element was a tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed with an added clove of garlic – finally chopped.  The pan had a little olive oil stirred through and was put on the BGE to warm through.  Once all the elements had been cooked, all that was left to do was assemble the dish.  Firstly the Butter beans and garlic were divided between the 2 plates. On to these followed the fennel and the burnt orange.  This was then topped off by a generous helping of the orange and thyme infused ricotta and finally a handful of chopped black olives.  The dish was finished with some thyme flowers, a few fennel fronds and the last of the orange zest.

I have to say here – I am not by any stretch of imagination a vegetarian – but this is a wonderful, satisfying vegetarian (or if you prefer – plant based) dish.  Infact it is just a wonderful dish!!

Do give it a go………..

…………. we will certainly be doing it again!

 

Caramelised fennel and burnt orange with infused ricotta, butterbeans and black olives

July 31, 2020
: 2
: 20 min
: 30 min
: 50 min
: Moderate

Caramelised fennel and burnt orange - on top of garlic butter beans - set off with orange and thyme infused ricotta and black olives

By:

Ingredients
  • Around 180g Ricotta
  • Zest of an orange
  • Fresh thyme leaves from 3-4 stems
  • A little orange juice or orange liqueur
  • Salt and pepper
  • Large fennel bulb sliced around 5-7mm thick, through the root end
  • One orange sliced and then cut into semicircles
  • Handful of black olives chopped
  • 400g can of butter beans drained and washed
  • 1 garlic clove finally diced
Directions
  • Step 1 Take around 2/3 of a 250g tub of ricotta and add the zest of half an orange and the leaves of 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme. Then add enough of the juice of the orange to allow the ricotta to be whipped into a soft cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and then set to one side.  
  • Step 2 Slice the fennel along through the root in slices around 5-7mm thick.  Toss these in a little olive oil and salt and pepper and put in a Skillet to caramelise on the BGE direct at around 180C.  Keep an eye on the fennel until it takes on some colour and begins to soften. Remove the skillet and allow the fennel to continue to cook in the hot pan.  
  • Step 3 Toss the orange slices in a little olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper and put on the grill over the open flame. Allow these to char a little. Once this is nearly completed add the washed butter beans to a second pan with the chopped garlic and a little oil and put on the BGE to warm through.
  • Step 4 If cooking on one EGG at this point you may need to just reheat the fennel for around 1 min before assembling the dish. Firstly divide the Butter beans and garlic between the 2 plates. On to these add the fennel and the burnt orange. Top these off with a generous helping of the orange and thyme infused ricotta and finally a handful of chopped black olives. Finish with some thyme flowers, a few fennel fronds and the last of the orange zest.  Serve warm
Potato skins – are they the best bit of the potato?

Potato skins – are they the best bit of the potato?

The question in the title is a little facetious but potato skins cooked on the Big Green Egg are something of a revelation!  Just before the Covid Pandemic lockdown we were lucky enough to get a 12.5Kg box of Linda (1951) potatoes from Carroll’s Heritage potatoes – they have been great and have kept the 2 of us going really well during the lockdown period.  However April/May is the time when all self respecting potatoes that have not been chemically treated start to ‘sprout’ or as Lucy from Carroll’s Potatoes said – “start to wake up!!”  We reached the point where the last 20-30 potatoes  (these were relatively small, select potatoes) had developed lots of sprouts!  Under normal circumstances we may have just composted them at this point – but we have been trying to reduce our demand on local shops  so have looked for things to do with them – and success!!

We removed the potato shoots, scrubbed the potatoes and popped them into the large EGG whilst we were heating it up for a different cook.  As these potatoes were only the size of an extra large hen’s egg they cook in around 30-40 mins.  They were cooked over an indirect setup at around 180C (the other half of the EGG set up for direct cooking.)

 

 

 

Once cooked they were removed and allowed to cool.  The next day the potatoes were cut in half lengthways and 90% of the flesh scooped out with a teaspoon leaving the remaining 10% supporting the skin.  20 potatoes therefore give you 40 skins which is a lot to play with!   To cook and serve the halves were simply placed in the base of one of our ‘handleless” Tefal frying pans, and sprayed on each side with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt placesd open side down in the pan and sautéed over direct heat at 170C until the edge of the skins were nicely coloured.  They were then flipped over and the cooking continued until they were crispy.

We have simply been serving them with a homemade hummus dip, though they would also work with a simple cooked filling (more of that later!!).  The potato that was scooped out was destined for other dishes which we will try and catch up with as we get chance.

For the moment though it is the skins that are taking the pride of place – they are lovely and ‘as cheap as chips’

 

…………….. go on – give them a go!!

Potato Skins - the best bits of the potato!?

June 29, 2020
: Any number - fully scalable
: 20 min
: 35 min
: Easy

Cooked potato cooked out of small baked potatoes to leave a glorious skin to sauté and roast!!

By:

Ingredients
  • 30 potatoes (size of a duck's egg)
  • Spray oil e.g. olive or rapeseed oil
  • Salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Bake the potatoes indirectly at around 170-180C on the EGG until just cooked and allow to cool
  • Step 2 Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and scoop out most of the cooked flesh (and set aside to use for another dish) leaving just a little potato lining the skins. Save the skins in the fridge till needed
  • Step 3 Spray the skins (4 or 5 per person) with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place onto a solid cooking surface (e.g. pan) open side down and cook direct at 170C until the rim of the skin is golden coloured. Turn over and cook for another 5 mins or so until crisp.
  • Step 4 Serve with a home made hummus dip