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Pheasant Breast in a creamy parmesan sauce

Pheasant Breast in a creamy parmesan sauce

We have been slowly trying to clear things from the freezer and came across some frozen pheasant breasts.  A little out of season for the UK, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the produce or its free range pedigree!  Hunting round for a different way to prepare pheasant breasts we came across a recipe from “Wild and Game” in the UK.  The was for pheasant breast served with pasta – not something I wanted to do, but I did like the look of the sauce.

As a sauce (without the pheasant) I could imaging it would work tossed through pasta.  Here it serves as a vegetable, a sauce and also as a poaching liquid for the pheasant.  The other nice thing is that you can partially pre-make the sauce and bring it together with the pheasant at the last moment.

This was all cooked on the EGG set up for direct cooking.   It would also work well in a domestic kitchen on the hob too.  We used our Tefal Ingenio pans as they work so well on the EGG.  Once the temperature had stabilised out at around 180C the sauté pan was heated and the lardon/pancetta pieces were added and cooked until they took on some colour.  At this point the chopped onion was added and cooked till translucent. This was followed by the mushrooms which were cooked for another 5 minutes or so until softening.  The chopped garlic was then added and cooked through for a further minute or so.  That is the majority of the work completed.

The wine is then added to the pan.  This adds its own character to the sauce and also deglazes the pan.  This was cooked through for a few minutes to cook off all the alcohol and to reduce the volume a little.  At this point the 200ml of chicken stock was added (This was a concentrated mix made from one whole commercial stock pot added to  200 ml of water). Finally, a large handful of frozen peas were tossed in and cooked for 2-3 minutes before taking the pan off the heat.   If you are going on to cook the Pheasant straight away,once off the heat stir in  the creme fraiche and the parmesan and keep the pan warm.  If you are delaying cooking the Pheasant breasts then add the creme fraiche and parmesan after putting the pan back on the heat  and bringing the temperature up a little.

The Pheasant breasts were cooked in a separate pan in a mixture of butter and olive oil and a stalk of rosemary until they took on a good colour.  Their core temperature at this point was around 56-58C. The air vents were closed on the EGG and the remaining cooking was done with the residual heat. Pheasant breasts have a tendency to be a little dry even when cooked on the BGE if cooked at too high a temperature. Because of this we always aim to serve them a little pink.  The breasts were sat on the finished cream sauce and the 2 were cooked together in the BGE for 5 minutes or so till their core temperature approached 63-64C (American sites tend to suggest a finished temperature for any fowl as 74C but these have been at or above 60C for more than 12 minutes and so we are very comfortable with them being lower – see here for the explanation)

They were served simply with tray roasted root vegetables – these were also cooked on the MiniMax.  It may have been easier to cook this on the large BGE but we cooked all this on the  MiniMax simply to see if we could!  The vegetables were sautéed in a separate Tefal pan.  They were started off first in a separate pan and taken to the point when nearly cooked.  The pan was set to one side and kept warm.  The sauce was then made, up to the point of adding the Creme Fraiche and the parmesan.  This was also put to one side and kept warm whilst the pheasant breasts were sautéed in a 3rd pan.  The cream and the parmesan was stirred through the sauce which was gently warmed and the  pheasant breasts were put on top of the sauce.  The combination was cooked on the MiniMax for a few minutes.  This was set to one side, letting the pheasant rest whilst the vegetables were put back on the heat to finish off.

If you cook this on a larger Egg, then you can do it without all the pan swapping – but where is the fun in that!!?

All that was left to do was to plate up ……………….

…………… do give it a go!!

Footnote:

  • If you don’t fancy or can’t get hold of pheasant breasts – this works really well with chicken!
  • No pheasant or chicken breast?  The sauce works as a great pasta sauce by itself, just stir though some cooked pasta! – see here

 

Pheasant breast in creamy parmesan sauce

June 11, 2021
: 2
: 30 min
: 1 hr
: 1 hr 30 min
: Moderate

Delightfully cooked pheasant breast in a wonderfully opulent rustic sauce!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 Pheasant breasts
  • Small onion finely diced
  • 1 large garlic clove finely chopped
  • 150g mushrooms, stalks removed, sliced
  • 100g for lardon/pancetta/bacon
  • 50g of grated Parmesan
  • A handful of peas
  • 50g butter
  • A good glug of olive oil
  • 2 handfuls fresh parsley, chopped
  • 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 a further 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 – cook for a further 3 minutes then remove from the heat
  • Step 3 If you are going on to cook the Pheasant straight away then once off the heat stir in the creme fraiche and the parmesan and keep the pan warm.  If you are delaying cooking the pheasant breasts then 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 finish off.
  • Step 4 In a separate pan sauté the Pheasant breasts in a butter and oil mix with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Once they have taken on a good colour and their core temperature is around 56-58C close the air vents on the EGG and do the remaining cooking with the residual heat. Sit the breasts into the finished cream sauce and cook the whole ensemble together in the BGE for 5 minutes or so till their core temperature approaches 63-64C
  • Step 5 Serve simply with tray roasted root vegetables
Nigel Slater’s Roasted Root Vegetables with Feta

Nigel Slater’s Roasted Root Vegetables with Feta

I can’t believe that we haven’t published this recipe before! This dish became one of our staple dishes during the 2020-21 UK lockdown period. It works well cooked in  a conventional oven as you would expect with a dish from Nigel Slater.  It is however so much better when cooked over charcoal on the Big Green Egg! The recipe follows the original Slater recipe quite closely. We do usually add some celeriac to it in place of some of the swede though. The other change we make is in the way we prepare the vegetables. Normally in a dish like this we would attempt to get the pieces of vegetable to be a similar size so they cook in a similar time. Here though we do the opposite, and look for both large and small pieces. This is to broaden the range of textures of the final dish. It is so often the range of textures I miss in a plant based dish, rather than the taste of anything meaty. Our third ‘tweak’ is to cook it at a slightly lower temperature but for slightly longer.  This seems to just give a favourable edge to the caramelisation we get on the vegetables.

The first thing to do is to set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking at around or just below 180C. We have also cooked the dish at around 160C without the platesetter in place. Cooking like this gives really good colour on the vegetables. It does, however, require more attention and more regular tossing of the vegetables.

The recipe works best with red onions. These were peeled, cut in half and then into thick segments lengthways. Around 300-400g of swede and a similar about of celeriac was peeled and cut into the size of ‘chunky chips’. These mimic the size of the carrots, some thin and some thicker around 5-8cm long. The parsnips were peeled and cut into similar size pieces. The 4 carrots were also peeled and cut into similar pieces. All the vegetables were tossed in some olive oil and put into a roasting tin. For this we use the large Tefal Ingenio Sauté pan which makes a great roasting tin.  It also has the advantage that you can attach the handle and toss the vegetable when you need to.

We have used both smoked and fresh garlic, and as we are cooking over charcoal we have not found any great advantage of using the smoked garlic that Nigel Slater suggests.  The top of the garlic head was cut off and the head was tucked into the bed of vegetables.   We tucked in sprigs of fresh thyme around the dish and poured a little more oil over the vegetables.  The dish was roasted for 25-30 minutes before tossing the vegetables over and roasting for a further 20-25 minutes.

After 50-60 minutes, the vegetables should be softening and taking on some colour.  At this point we removed the garlic, tossed the vegetables again and then mixed in the mustard seeds and the fennel seeds.  The EGG was closed again and the vents opened a little to do the final 20 minutes of the roast at a slightly higher temperature.

The garlic that had been removed was squeezed out of its outer skin into a glass bowl and broken up with the back of a spoon.  The feta cheese was crumbled into the bowl and mixed with the garlic ready to dress the final dish just before serving.


Remove the roasted vegetables from the Big Green Egg and gently toss with some of the feta and garlic mix.  Simply plate up and then sprinkle with the remaining feta and garlic and serve.

So why is it better on the EGG than in a conventional oven.  I think it is simply that even with the platesetter in place there is more ‘bottom heat’ in the EGG and so the base of the heavy pan has more opportunity to develop those characteristic ‘bottom of the roasting tin’ flavours

………………. give it a try and see what you think!

 

Variations: don’t feel constrained by the mix and proportion of vegetables used here.  feel free to alter the amounts and try others too

Baked root vegetables with feta cheese

June 4, 2021
: 2
: 15 min
: 1 hr 20 min
: 1 hr 35 min
: Easy

Beautifully caramelised root vegetables offset with the tang of Feta cheese

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 Red Onions
  • 300-600g swede
  • 100-300g celeriac
  • 2 parsnips
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 head of garlic (possibly smoked)
  • 1 tbs fennel seeds
  • 1 tbs mustard seeds
  • 6 bushy sprigs of thyme
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil.
Directions
  • Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking at around or just below 180C.  
  • Step 2 Peel the red onions, cut in half and then into thick segments lengthways. Peel the swede and the celeriac – (around 600g in total). Cut into the size of ‘chunky chips’.  Peel the parsnips and cut into similar size pieces and similarly with the 4 carrots. Toss all the vegetables in some olive oil in the roasting tin. Cut the top off the garlic and tuck into the bed of vegetables.   Tuck in the thyme in a similar way. Pour a little oil over the vegetables.  
  • Step 3 Roast in the BGE for 25-30 minutes then toss and roast for a further 20 minutes. It may be worth tossing the veg occasionally in addition
  • Step 4 After 50-60 minutes, the vegetables should be softening and taking on some colour.  Remove the garlic, toss the vegetables again and mix in the mustard seeds and the fennel seeds.  Close theEGG, open the vents a little and roast for final 20 minutes at a slightly higher temperature.
  • Step 5 In this last 20 minute period squeeze the softened garlic out of its outer skin into a glass bowl and break up with the back of a spoon.  Crumble the Feta cheese into the bowl and mixed with the garlic.
  • Step 6 Remove the roasted vegetables and gently toss with some of the feta and garlic mix.  Plate up and sprinkle with the remaining feta and garlic to serve.

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
Rabbit, peppers and gnocchi

Rabbit, peppers and gnocchi

If cooking during the pandemic has taught me anything it has to be about simple innovation using ingredients you have to hand. Similarly, it is about using one dish/recipe as the basis for another similar, but distinctively different dish.

This dish is a good example of that.  The primary recipe (here) used the 2 rear legs and a little of the rabbit loin for the main dish for 2 people. This left some fantastic sauce, and some great cooked peppers, and a smaller portion of the rabbit.  Obviously we could have just eaten it again as a slightly less opulent dish.  Instead we gave it a little (frugal) twist.  This made it go further, but more importantly gave it a different character and the feeling of a ‘new dish’!  The idea was very simple; bring the meat and the sauce up to serving temperature, loosen the sauce slightly with a little stock, and then cook some gnocchi in the sauce.

And really it was as simple as that. It had been a lovely afternoon and we had been making stock from the rabbit carcass on the Big Green Egg.  The rabbit and sauce still in its original casserole from 2 days earlier was put on the EGG and allowed to thoroughly warm through.  A good ladleful of the rabbit stock was added and stirred through the sauce.  The pan had been warming for a good 20 minutes and we had tested that the meat was above the minimal safe core temperature for reheated food (The minimum legally accepted temperature for reheating of food is 75C in England and Wales and 82C in Scotland).   The gnocchi was added and stirred into the sauce and allowed to cook.  Our gnocchi on this occasion were not home made. They normally require around 3 minutes cooking in boiling water – but when cooked in a sauce like this I tend to leave them a little longer.  They certainly come to no harm and contribute a little to the thickening of the sauce.

All that was then left to do was to plate up with our chosen accompaniments.

…………….. on this occasion we served the dish with spiced cabbage and purple and green sprouting broccoli.  The gnocchi gave a lovely rich oppulence to an already fantastic tasting sauce and complimented the rest of the dish perfectly!

……………….. do give it a go!

Rabbit, peppers and gnocchi

May 24, 2021
: 2
: 30 min
: Very easy

A simple way of taking the leftovers of a previous casserole, making it go just a little farther with a different 'taste twist'

By:

Ingredients
  • The remains of a rabbit and pepper casserole cooked earlier (would work with many other casseroles too)
  • Ladle of good stock
  • 150g gnocchi
Directions
  • Step 1 Bring the remains of the old casserole up to temperature till the meat reaches a safe core temperature.
  • Step 2 Add a generous ladle of good stock
  • Step 3 Add the gnocchi and cook for 5-6 minutes
  • Step 4 Serve with your choice of vegetables
Cooking Blog of the Year – UK 2021

Cooking Blog of the Year – UK 2021

                 

We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded the Award for “Cooking Blog of the Year – UK  2021” by LuxLife Magazine in their 2021 Restaurant and Bar Awards.

It is great to be nominated for such an award and when you are told that you have won – it is difficult to put into words.

This website, which started simply as a place for us to store our recipes and to keep some working notes on those in development, has proved to be very popular and we are delighted that so many people seem to find it valuable.  We have gone from just a few visits to our blog in the first year to thousands and thousands. This year is no exception and it looks like we will get as many visits by June as we got in the whole of last year – and that was a bumper year too.

We are in the middle of a pandemic which has involved us all changing our lifestyles to protect others.  Many people have found a ‘new joy’ in preparing and trying new foods.  If we have done a little to help in that regard we are delighted.  We have certainly cooked more outside this year – despite the British weather.  We have also changed the types of food we cook and are including more plant-based cooking where we can.  Like so many people we are trying to remain that little bit healthier too.

So onward into 2021 – enjoy your own cooking journeys and share those pleasures whenever you can

Thanks so much for the nomination for the award and for all the support we have had to get to this point.

……………… now lets go and cook something!!

Best wishes

Mark and Jackie

Link to the Award on the LuxLife Website here
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!

By:

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