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Porcini mushroom sauce

Porcini mushroom sauce

This is such a good sauce and a perfect foil for so many pasta dishes.  Not only that but it is very simple to make.  We first came across it on a pasta making course led by Theo Randall.  The course was organised by Banquest and was great fun and I would highly recommend it if you love pasta!  We have now used this basic sauce in a number of ways.  Cooked indoors on the hob and outside on the BGE.  With the smallest amount of creme fraiche it makes a lovely mushroom sauce to go with chicken or pork.  But it really comes into its own in its native form with pasta.  More than anything else we have used it with filled pasta, particularly tortelli, tortellini or cappelletti.

The basic sauce is based on dried porcini mushrooms.  We just love porcini!  With the dried ones you just need to remember that 10g of dried porcini will transform into the equivalent of 100g of fresh porcini once rehydrated.  10g is fine for 2 people.  Perhaps the hardest thing about making the sauce is remembering to rehydrate the dried porcini at least 2 hours before you  need it.  This is much longer than we ever used to leave them and it makes such a difference.  Simply pour over enough boiled water to cover the porcini and leave well alone and get on with the rest of your day!

So after 2 hours or more, remove the porcini from the water and check for any woody or ‘muddy’ bits and remove them.  Finely chop the mushrooms to the size you can see in the picture of them in the pan.  If you want or you are a little short of porcini, you can add a few fresh mushrooms at this stage, shiitake or chestnut mushrooms work well with the porcini.

Add a little olive oil to the pan and then the chopped porcini mushrooms.  Mince a clove of garlic with a pinch of salt to form a paste and add to the mushrooms.  And gently sauté for a couple of minutes then carefully pour the porcini liquor that is left after rehydrating the mushrooms.  Be careful to pour slowly so any grit can be left in the last few spoonfuls of the liquid which should be discarded.  Add just a little more water, turn down the heat and cook for around 10 minutes.

When you are ready to use the sauce, add a large knob of butter and some chopped flat parsley and season with a little salt.

If you are using the sauce for pasta, add the pasta to some salted water on a rolling boil. We were using Tortelli in this example.  Cook (in the case of fresh Tortelli around 3-4 mins) until the pasta is about three quarters cooked through.

Add the pasta to the porcini sauce and continue to cook the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Keep agitating the pasta in the sauce so that the pasta gives off some starch which then thickens the sauce.  Add a little more pasta water as you are doing this as the sauce thickens, and repeat to control the final viscosity of the sauce.  Make sure the sauce clings to all the surfaces of the pasta during this final phase of the pasta cook……………. and serve!

For the Tortelli, we served with shards of parmesan and some black summer truffle…………………….. perfect!!

 

Footnote: if using this sauce without pasta say with pork or chicken a little cream or creme fraiche stirred in after the butter has been incorporated produces a lovely rich sauce.  If doing that, perhaps consider adding a little less butter, or omit it all together.

Porcini mushroom sauce

September 9, 2021
: 2
: 15 min
: 25 min
: Easy

Reconstituted dried porcini finely chopped with garlic salt and butter

By:

Ingredients
  • 10g of dried porcini
  • Boiled water to rehydrate porcini
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Pinch of salt
  • large knob of butter
  • chopped flat parsley
Directions
  • Step 1 To 10g dried porcini pour over enough boiled water to cover – leave for at least 2 hrs
  • Step 2 Remove the porcini from the water and remove any woody or ‘muddy’ bits.  Finely chop the mushrooms (If you want or you are a little short of porcini, you can add a few fresh mushrooms at this stage)
  • Step 3 Heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped porcini. Mince a clove of garlic with a pinch of salt to form a paste and add to the porcini.  Gently sauté for a couple of minutes. Carefully pour the porcini liquor that is left after rehydrating the mushrooms into the pan.  Be careful to pour slowly so any grit can be left in the last few spoonful of the liquid which should be discarded.  Add a little more water, turn down the heat and cook for around 10 minutes.
  • Step 4 When ready to use the sauce, add a large knob of butter and some chopped flat parsley and season with a little more salt if necessary
  • Step 5 If you are using the sauce for pasta, we were using Tortelli in this example, add the pasta to some salted water on a rolling boil.  Cook (in the case of fresh Tortelli around 3-4 mins) until the pasta is about three quarters cooked through. Add the pasta to the porcini sauce and continue to cook the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Keep agitating the pasta in the sauce so that the pasta gives off some starch which then thickens the sauce.  Add a little more pasta water as you are doing this as the sauce thickens, and repeat to control the final viscosity of the sauce.  

 

 

Aubergine, ricotta and lemon involtini

Aubergine, ricotta and lemon involtini

Over the last couple of years we have been eating more and more aubergine based dishes.  Usually Italian in style, they always seems to be made with tomatoes too.  When we came across this recipe in our local supermarket’s food magazine it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. A quick glance on the internet reveals a host of versions of this recipe.  So many of them though included lots of different and additional ingredients: raisins, pine nuts, cream, mozzarella, feta, bread crumbs, mint ……….. the list goes on! As with so much Italian cooking, at its best, simplicity is the key.  This is basically a simple dish, with a minimal number of ingredients and it has Italy written all over it!

We have made this a number of times both indoor and out and it always works well!  The first time we tried it we didn’t have any ricotta cheese and substituted a soft spreadable goats cheese we had in the fridge.  That was great – but I have to say on balance my favourite version is this one with ricotta.  We have tried different tinned tomatoes too.  Whilst it works well with any good tinned tomato, it is just in a different league when made with tinned San Marzano tomatoes.
These are the classic Italian tomato; one of the only 2 types allowed on an authentic Neapolitan Pizza.  (The other is the Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio which must be grown in one of the 18 ‘comuni’ lying just about within the Vesuvius National Park).  They bring a special flavour and sweetness to the sauce without having to resort to the addition of sugar.  They are more expensive, but as the sauce simply comprises only tomatoes, garlic, sage leaves and butter, this is a perfect time to use them!

Preparation is simplicity itself; the BGE was set up for indirect cooking with the platesetter in place.  Once the temperature stabilised at around 180-200C we needed a solid metal surface to add some colour to the aubergine slices.  A plancha, skillet or in our case a stainless steel searing plate was perfect.  We usually just oil it and pop the aubergines on flipping them as they take on colour.    In batches, these were cooked for 10-15 minutes turning once during the cooking. They were then put to one side to cool.

We swapped out the searing plate for our Tefal Ingenio frying pan. This could have been used to brown the aubergine slices which would have made this a true one pan cook.  Once the pan was hot we added the butter, garlic slices and the sage leaves and cooked for a few minutes to infuse their taste into the butter. To this was added one can of San Marzano tomatoes and as they usually come as whole tomatoes they were gently crushed and mixed with the infused butter and seasoned.  If cooking on a hob or stove top I would add around one third of a can of water to the tomatoes and leave them to bubble gently for around 20 minutes until the sauce thickens and the flavour deepens.  Cooking on the EGG is the same except that you only add  a touch of water, just enough to rinse out the can.  This is because the cooking in the EGG retains so much moisture.  To cook the sauce it is worth just closing down the vents a little and dropping the temperature to around 180C.

Whilst the sauce was cooking we put the ricotta into a bowl, grated in the zest and added the juice of half a lemon and two thirds of the grated parmesan.  It was seasoned to taste with just a little salt and pepper.  One heaped teaspoon of the mix was placed at one end of the aubergine and this was then rolled up into a cylinder containing the mix.  Once the sauce was cooked the rolled aubergines were pushed into the sauce with the seam at the bottom.

A drizzle of olive oil was poured over the involutini and some sage and torn basil leaves scattered over the top.  This was followed by the remains of the lemon infused ricotta and the rest of the parmesan.  The dish was then returned to the Big Green Egg for the final part of the cook.   It takes around 25-30 minutes to cook this through.  If the top doesn’t brown as you would like, it can be popped under a grill for a minute or so (or under the flame of a pizza oven for 30 seconds!).

Possibly the most important step however, and one easily forgotten – let it stand!  The dish should be allowed to cool before serving.  This is true for so many baked dishes with a tomato sauce base and very true here.  Let it stand for at least 5 minutes.  Use the time to make a fresh leaf salad which is the perfect accompaniment.  Pour yourself a glass of something you fancy (A medium bodied red wine is perfect) – and take a sip in anticipation!

Serve at the table with the simple salad …………………..

………….buon appetito!

Aubergine, Ricotta and lemon involtini

July 25, 2021
: 2
: 30 min
: 30 min
: 1 hr
: Reasonably straightforward

Grilled aubergines wrapped around a lemon ricotta and parmesan cheese in a rich tomato sauce

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 large Aubergine or 2 medium sized in 0.7cm slices length ways
  • At least 2 tbs Olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • 12 or more sage leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic finely sliced
  • 1 Tin (ideally San Marzano) tomatoes crushed
  • 125g ricotta
  • Half an unwaxed lemon (juice and zest)
  • 40g Parmesan cheese
  • Basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little water
Directions
  • Step 1 Set the BGE for indirect cooking with the platesetter in place stabilised at 180-200C.
  • Step 2 Oil a flat cooking surface such as a plancha or skillet and put the aubergine slices on.  Add extra oil and cook for 10-15 minutes turning at least once. Set aside to cool
  • Step 3 Add the butter, garlic slices and half the sage leaves to a handless frying pan and cook for a few minutes to infuse their taste into the butter. Add one can of tomatoes and gently crush.  Season and mix with the infused butter. Add a little extra water. Drop the temperature to around 180C. Leave to cook gently for around 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.  
  • Step 4 Whilst the sauce cooks add the ricotta to a bowl with the grated lemon zest and juice of half a lemon and two thirds of the grated parmesan.  Season to taste. Place I heaped teaspoon of the mix at one end of the aubergine slice and roll up into a cylinder containing the cheese.  Once the sauce is cooked the rolled aubergines should be pushed into the sauce with their seam at the bottom.
  • Step 5 Drizzle some olive oil over the involutini.  Add some more sage and some torn basil leaves over the top.  Add any remaining ricotta and the rest of the parmesan.  
  • Step 6 Return to the Big Green Egg (or conventional oven) and cook for around 25-30 minutes. If the top doesn’t brown enough, place under a grill for a minute or so.
  • Step 7 The dish should be allowed to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving – serve with a simple leaf salad
Shallot, Mushroom & Butterbean Casserole

Shallot, Mushroom & Butterbean Casserole

This is dish is so simple it is almost ridiculous!  It works well cooked in a domestic kitchen and even better when cooked over charcoal. The original recipe comes from our regular vegetable supplier Boxxfresh.  We have just added the odd tweak to this already excellent recipe.  The first of these was the addition of 4 large mushrooms that had been quartered.  The only other differences were the addition of some mixed Italian herbs and the use of a little smoked paprika instead of black pepper.

This dish works especially well with the long banana shallots peeled and divided into separate bulbs (if they will) or cut lengthways into relatively wide slices.  These go together beautifully with the roughly chopped garlic cloves.  You will need 8 good sized shallots and 3 garlic cloves.  We were cooking on the Big Green Egg set up for a direct cook initially at around 160C.  The pan was put over the heat and the oil warmed in the casserole.  Once the oil was warm the mushrooms were added for a couple of minutes.  They were then joined by the  garlic and shallots and sautéed for 4-5 minutes until they started to take on just a little colour.  They needed an occasional stir to make sure they didn’t stick.  

At this point we added a small oak chunk to the charcoal, just to push the smoky edge of the dish. The platesetter was introduced and the rest of the cook completed indirectly.  The tinned tomatoes and half a tin of water together with the butterbeans, herbs and tomato puree were added, seasoned and stirred through. The casserole was brought to a slow simmer and left to cook for around 45-60 minutes.  And that is it!!

Simply serve with some crusty bread or as we did here some finely chopped Pak Choi dressed with olive oil and a little wine vinegar

Any unused casserole will keep in the fridge for a couple of days – and could probably be frozen but we had not tried that yet.  It is a great dish as it is – but also works wonderfully with fish!  

– so watch this space!!

Shallot, Mushroom and Butterbean Casserole

July 9, 2021
: 4
: 10 min
: 50 min
: 1 hr
: Very Easy

A perfect combination of shallots, tomatoes and Butterbeans !

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 large mushrooms, quartered.
  • 8 banana shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 0.5 tin of water
  • 2 tins of butterbeans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  • Sea salt
  • Some mixed Italian herbs
  • Smoked paprika
Directions
  • Step 1 Set up the BGE for direct cooking at around 160C.
  • Step 2 Quarter the large mushrooms and peel the shallots. Divide into separate bulbs (if they will) or cut lengthways into relatively wide slices.  Roughly chop the garlic cloves.  
  • Step 3 Put the casserole dish in the EGG and warm the oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for a further 4-5 minutes until they started to take on just a little colour.  Make sure they don’t stick.  
  • Step 4 Add a small wood chunk to the fire and put the the platesetter in place for indirect cooking. Add the tinned tomatoes and half a tin of water together with the butterbeans and tomato puree. Season with the salt and smoked paprika and add the herbs.
  • Step 5 Bring up to a slow simmering, and leave to cook for around 45-60 minutes.  
  • Step 6 Simply serve with some crusty bread or as we did here some finely chopped Pak Choi dressed with olive oil and a little wine vinegar
Coq au Riesling – Rick Stein style

Coq au Riesling – Rick Stein style

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

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

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

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

Garnish and serve!

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

Coq au Riesling - Rick Stein Style

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

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

By:

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

Slow cooked venison ragù and fresh tagliatelle

Slow cooked venison ragù and fresh tagliatelle

Well I have to say, having been given a full day tutorial by our next door neighbour in Italy on making tagliatelle I always feel guilty when I don’t make my own!  For once though I don’t feel guilty but rather pleased I have bought it ready made – but more of that later.  Longer wider pastas are really fabulous with rich meaty sauces in that they carry the sauce so well. More than that though they don’t just carry the sauce – they contribute to it!

There is such a big difference between a pasta dish in the UK (with notable exceptions) and ostensibly the same dish in Italy. In Italy the pasta and the ragù become one by the way it is tossed through the sauce.  It carries the salted pasta water and gives a little of its self to thicken the ragù and develop a silky emulsion. This in turn coats the pasta and brings the two components together.   Far too often in the UK the pasta may only get a cursory toss through the ragù!  It may be for this reason that the proportion of sauce served in the UK tends to be greater than in Italy.  But in the home of pasta, alchemy is performed, and the pasta and the ragù become a single entity.  Indeed they become more than the sum of their two parts and become something quite magical………..

Enough of this  romanticism for the moment and back to this dish!  We made the ragù some time ago and this was the last portion from the freezer – recipe here.
This is a lovely recipe which has repeatedly worked well for us. This ragù is something we normally serve with pappardelle – Tuscan style and very good it is that way too.  On this occasion though we had it with a fresh tagliatelle pasta from ‘La Tua Pasta’.  In so doing the cuisine moved from Tuscany north west to Emillia-Romana.

Bologna is the capital, of Emillia-Romana-Romana and is the origin of ragù Bolognese.  Our ragù here is similar to this ragù Bolognese though it has subtle differences.  LIke the traditional ragù Bolognese it works so well with perhaps the best known pasta of the region – Tagliatelle.  Under no circumstances should either of these ragù ever be served with spaghetti – unless of course you simply want to insult your Italian friends!!

Our sauce here picks up on many of the themes of that traditional ragù Bolognese, built on a basic soffritto, it contains just a little tomato and is seasoned simply with salt and pepper, occasionally nutmeg, or as here, cinnamon.  So a dish that could sit comfortably in either Tuscany or Emillia-Romana – but when served with tagliatelle it most definitely speaks of its Bolognese origins!

The tagliatelle for this dish came from the UK company La Tua Pasta.
We have used their pasta a lot during the Covid Pandemic especially enjoying their beautiful filled pastas which I still find difficult to make!!  But I would give a special ‘shout out’ for their tagliatelle.  It is a beautiful egg pasta which although will keep for a week or so tastes just like a fresh pasta you have made yourself.  It does have the advantage over my own tagliatelle that it holds together better as you toss it though the ragù to create that lovely authentic Italian union between ragù and pasta.  And so without any apology I give you our ‘Slow Cooked Venison ragù with fresh Tagliatelle’

………….. I hope you enjoy it!

Full recipe here.

Spectacular Spiced Red Cabbage

Spectacular Spiced Red Cabbage

I suppose I have never really given red cabbage much of a thought! If it has ever crossed my mind it would be as a vegetable to go with a Christmas meal.  Have we been missing a trick?!  This is a fabulous, flexible and delicious dish that you need to cook as soon as you find a red cabbage!

This recipe comes from our vegetable supplier Boxxfresh in the UK. They have a series of great recipes on their website (see here) – and this is one we use (largely) without any modification. That is other than cooking it on the Big Green Egg and cooking it without the lid on!

We have used this dish with so many of our cooks because it is so versatile. The thing that has surprised us more than anything though is how well it works cold.  As (what is almost) a slaw, it is fabulous. Try it with burgers you will be staggered !! So much so that we have found ourselves making it in June on the rare occasion you see a red cabbage in the warmer months.

Although we have made this in our kitchen – it is so much more fun doing it on the Big Green Egg certainly if it is a lovely sunny day!  The preparation is straightforward.  The core was removed from the red cabbage and it was finely sliced as were the 3 red onions.  The apples were cored and cut into matchsticks.  (We have also done without coring the apples and detected no difference in the final dish.)

We sometimes use the Tefal Ingenio saucepans on the EGG as you can simply remove the handles for cooking.  Alternatively, as on this occasion we used a large casserole pan – just select a pan large enough to accommodate the size of red cabbage you are cooking.

I started the cook off direct over a medium heat (Dome temp around 160-80C).  We added the olive oil to the pan and started off sautéing the onions until translucent.
Then the cinnamon stick, the apple and red cabbage were added and tumbled together. A quick seasoning with sea salt and black pepper before pouring in the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and the work is almost complete.  Simply give everything a mix, pop the plate setter into place to move to indirect cooking and allow to cook for around 90 minutes without the lid (if cooking indoors cook for the first hour with the lid and the last 30 minutes without). All that was left to do was to moderate the temperature, give it the occasional stir and marvel at the transformation. The cabbage will reduce in size and change colour to a lovely deep purple.

The spiced cabbage is lovely cold, keeps well in the fridge because of the vinegar in it – when we have cooked a large cabbage we have certainly kept some of it for more than a week successfully. The only difficult thing is deciding what not to serve it with – it is so versatile!  Here we have served it with our Vegetarian Bourguignon where the spiciness of the cabbage is a perfect foil for the richness of the Bourguignon.

Do give it a try – it is a quite astounding dish. When you find some other novel combinations that it works well with …….

…….do let us know!!

 

Spectacular Spiced Red Cabbage

June 25, 2021
: 8 or more
: 20 min
: 2 hr
: Easy

Red cabbaged cooked slowly with apple and onions set off with a combination of maple syrup and balsamic vinegar

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 3 red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 apples, cored and finely sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 150ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Remove the core from the red cabbage and it finely slice. Finely slice 3 red onions.  Core the apples and cut into matchsticks
  • Step 2 Start the cook off direct over a medium heat (Dome temp around 160-80C).  Add olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the cinnamon stick, the apple and red cabbage and mix together. Season with sea salt and black pepper then add the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Mix well.
  • Step 3 Put the plate setter into place to move to indirect cooking and allow to cook for around 90 minutes without the lid (if cooking indoors cook for the first hour with the lid and the last 30 minutes without). Give it the occasional stir. The cabbage will reduce in size and change colour to a lovely deep purple.
  • Step 4 Serve hot or cold

 

Pumpkin and ricotta tortelloni with nutmeg butter

Pumpkin and ricotta tortelloni with nutmeg butter

I love pasta, I love making pasta but I really struggle making good looking tortelloni! We were fortunate that La Tua Pasta make great tortelloni!! We were trying their pumpkin and ricotta tortelloni with nutmeg butter tonight. The tortelloni are large and very generously filled with a great mix of pumpkin and ricotta. As simple supper dish, it lends itself so well little embellishment!

We simply roasted some tomato halves on the Big Green Egg set up for indirect cooking at 160C.  They were salted and sprinkled with oregano and simply roasted for around 15-20 minutes until they dried just a little.  At the same time we roasted some artichoke hearts, cut into thin slices and cooked on the same plancha as the tomatoes.
We served the tortelloni on some freshly picked rocket, with the oven roasted cherry tomatoes, seared artichoke heart slices and mini mozzarella – finished off with some freshly grated parmesan!!
This was a really lovely supper and so easy.  The thing that set it all off was the nutmeg butter.. I have not used this with pasta before.  It is heady stuff and what a great combination!! The whole dish worked so well with the warm oven roasted tomatoes and the cool mozzarella.
………………………..definitely one to do again!!
Radiatori pasta with a creamy mushroom, pea and parmesan sauce

Radiatori pasta with a creamy mushroom, pea and parmesan sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

…………… definitely one to return to!!

 

 

Radiatori pasta with a creamy mushroom pea and parmesan sauce

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

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

By:

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

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

By:

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

By:

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

By:

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

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 did add a link but that failed a few times so you will need to Google gyrospike

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