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Simple Rump Steak

Simple Rump Steak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Simple Rump Steak

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

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

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

Tuna with Sicilian lemon zested beans in tomato sauce

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

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

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

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

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

Delicious!

………… give it a go – it is so easy!!

Tuna with Sicilian lemon tested beans in a tomato sauce

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

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

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

 

Aubergine Parmigiana revisited – our definitive version!

Aubergine Parmigiana revisited – our definitive version!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

………………… do give it a go!

Aubergine Parmigiana

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

Roasted aubergine baked in a tomato sauce with baked Italian cheeses

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

Frittata or Tortilla – what’s in a name?

Frittata or Tortilla – what’s in a name?

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

Haggis stuffed Red Deer Haunch

Haggis stuffed Red Deer Haunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haggis stuffed Red Deer Haunch

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

By:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do give it a go………..

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

 

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

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

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

By:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

…………….. go on – give them a go!!

Potato Skins - the best bits of the potato!?

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

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

By:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

……………………….do give it a go!

 

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

Shawarma Chicken

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

Roasted stacked chicken thighs in spicy yogurt

By:

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

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinois reinvented!

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

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

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

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

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

– you will not be disappointed!!

 

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

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

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

By:

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

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise Potatoes

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

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

By:

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

Roast Chicken Breast and Stuffed Drumsticks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roasted chicken breast and stuffed drumsticks

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

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

By:

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

 

Sourdough Crumpets

Sourdough Crumpets

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Adapted from an original recipe by PJ HAMEL