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Wild Garlic Focaccia on the large Big Green Egg

Wild Garlic Focaccia on the large Big Green Egg

Focaccia is a great bread to make on the EGG and works really well on the large BGE.  We have also made it on our Mini BGE when travelling, but that is more an act of bravado than practicality because of the size of the loaf you can make!!  The real advantage when cooking bread on the large (more…)

Slow-roasted caramelised fennel

Slow-roasted caramelised fennel

Whilst I have come to love the taste and aroma fennel seeds bringto many Tuscan dishes, I have only occasionally cooked with fennel bulbs. So with some fennel bulbs to use it was time to search the internet for something simple.  This is therefore based on a Jamie Oliver recipe for slow roasted fennel. It is a very simple recipe.  (more…)

Crispy Allendale Belly Pork

Crispy Allendale Belly Pork

Slow cooked belly pork is a real joy!  But is has become difficult to find good “fatty’ belly pork to allow the release of that beautiful ‘porky goodness’.  Understandably there has been a trend to produce less fatty pork for health reasons – and the logic of that is clear especially for ‘quick cook’ recipes.  By contrast, when it comes to true ‘low and slow’ recipes, they are designed to render that fat out of the pork (making it a more healthy option) whilst retaining those special taste properties that only fat layers can provide. (more…)

Bread cooking in the Mini Big Green Egg – the remake!

Bread cooking in the Mini Big Green Egg – the remake!

In the summer of 2018 we were in Italy with the Big Green Egg and thoughts again came to bread making.  We love Italian food but bread making does not seem to be their greatest triumph!.  We have to be straight before we start – the Mini Big Green Egg is not designed for bread making – it is really too small!  The fire ends up too close to the cooking vessel and there is not enough space in the dome to cook a decent size loaf.  So that should be the end of it – but of course it wasn’t! (more…)

Pork Rillettes

Pork Rillettes

I tend not to buy meat from supermarkets very often but when you see boned pork shoulder at £2 per Kg it is difficult to walk past without dropping 5Kg or so into the basket.  I have to say it wasn’t the most beautifully butchered piece of pork I have ever seen.  Nevertheless, we were going to make some rillettes and use the rest for a slow cooked Pulled Pork (see here) so it was worth a shot!  The added bonus was that I wanted to try and render my own pork fat to top the rilletes.  There was a lot of skin on this piece which would be great to render and would certainly not go to waste.

A classic pork rillettes is not a pâté, rather it is a long, slow-cooked pork dish. It is cooked in its own fat with a little stock, few herbs, garlic and seasoning. In a way it has more in common with pulled pork, but a pulled pork set in its own stock and fat. It is quite simply delicious to the point that I need to ration it – once started it is difficult to stop. Be warned!  Spread rillettes on toasted baguette or sourdough bread, sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked black pepper and salt for a light lunch or a quick starter.  Try it too with a little sweet chutney – not authentically French but a delicious combination nontheless.

The recipe is quite straightforward. Cut the pork into pieces about the size of a walnut.  Then add the finely chopped garlic, bay leaves, thyme, crushed juniper berries, cloves and the coriander as well as the Chinese 5 spice and Allspice together with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. To this was added a couple of splashes of calvados and around 200ml of chicken stock to nearly cover the pork.  The pan was brought up to a very gentle boil and then transferred to an oven.  This can be done on the BGE where I would set the temperature to around 120C cooking indirectly, or just as readily at 120C (Fan) in a conventional oven.  I would do this in the BGE if I was cooking something else or if I wanted to add a little smoke to the spice mix.  In all honesty though it is perhaps a little easier in a conventional oven.  If doing on the BGE I would do this without the lid, but in a conventional oven with the lid in place.

After about 3 hours the meat should be sitting in a lovely liquid stock and have softened considerably.  At this stage it will easily breakup with the pressure of a fork.   To separate the liquid from the solids I would suggest putting the whole content of the pan into a sieve and gently squeeze the excess fluid from the meat and garlic residue.  Pop the liquid into the fridge to chill.

Put the meat and garlic back in the cooking pan and begin to shred the meat to the consistency you want.  I like it quite coarse with some body in the shredded meat. Some recipes suggest doing this in a food processor – personally I think this is a terrible idea and leaves you with a mousse not a rillette! Assuming the meat has been cooked for long enough it will break up with a fork very easily.  Once you have the meat broken down to the size you want, pack it loosely into ramekins.  It is packed loosely so that the reserved meat juices can be poured back into the meat.  It can then find a way of flowing round all the meat fibres.  When you take the reserved juices from the fridge a pure fat layer should have appeared on the top if you have left it for long enough.  Remove and reserve this fat layer.  Pour the meat juices into the ramekin stopping when the liquid just comes to the surface of the meat.  The ramekins were then allowed to chill further which allows some absorption of the meat juices.  The reserved fat can then be heated and gently poured over the rillette to seal it. The dishes are then left for at least 2hrs in the fridge to harden.  Left like this with the fat on the surface the rillette will keep happily in the fridge for around 10 days and the fat can be scraped to one side when serving.  If you are intending to use in the next day or so a simple cling film lid will do a similar job.  If you don’t like the idea of using pork fat to seal then an equally adequate seal can be made with melted butter.

……………………………. do give it a go!

 

 

 

 

Pork Rillette

April 24, 2019
: 12-14
: 1 hr
: 3 hr
: 4 hr
: Moderate

Slow cooked herbed and spiced pork transformed into a delicious meat delicacy

By:

Ingredients
  • Pork Shoulder or Belly 1Kg
  • Garlic 5 large cloves
  • Bay leaves 4
  • Thyme
  • 10 Juniper berries
  • 4 Cloves,
  • Coriander, quarter tsp
  • Chinese 5 spice, quarter tsp
  • Allspice, half tsp
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Calvados a large splash
  • Chicken Stock around 200ml
Directions
  • Step 1 Cut the pork into pieces about the size of a walnut.  Then add the finely chopped garlic, bay leaves, thyme, crushed juniper berries, cloves and the coriander, Chinese 5 spice and Allspice together with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Then add a couple of splashes of calvados and around 200ml of chicken stock to nearly cover the pork. (ideally leave to marinade overnight though this is not essential)
  • Step 2 Put the pan on the heat and bring up to a very gentle boil and then transfer to an oven.  This can be done on the BGE indirectly at a temperature of around 120C or just as readily at 120C (Fan) in a conventional oven.  If doing on the BGE I would do this without the lid, but in a conventional oven with the lid in place.
  • Step 3 After about 3 hours the meat will have softened considerably.  Separate the liquid from the solids using a sieve and gently squeeze the excess fluid from the meat and garlic residue.  Pop the liquid into the fridge to chill.  
  • Step 4 Put the meat and garlic back in the cooking pan and shred the meat to the consistency you want.  Pack the meat loosely into ramekins. Take the reserved juices from the fridge and remove the solidified fat layer. Pour the meat juices into the ramekins stopping when the liquid just comes to the surface of the meat.  Allow ramekins to chill. Gently heat the reserved fat and pour over the rillette to seal it. Leave the dishes for at least 2hrs in the fridge to harden.  The sealed rillette will keep happily in the fridge for around 10 days

 

Apple Tarte Tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin

Probably the last thing that people think of cooking on a BBQ are puddings but this is really missing a trick.  A classic Tarte Tatin is a great dish to do in the Big Green Egg.  It is relatively straightforward, looks complicated, benefits from a little smoke and tastes delicious!  This recipe was given to my by my friend Nic Williams (more…)

La Scottiglia

La Scottiglia

For some years now we have visited a delightful restaurant in Tuscany called La Scottiglia in the village of Pescina on the side on Monte Amiata.  We have always been looked after exceedingly well there and it is a place we frequently recommend. They do an excellent wild boar dish, and sometimes a delightful wild boar ragù.  It has reached the point where when we arrive, if these are available they (more…)

Making the most of the heat – Short ribs cooked over a pork Ragu

Making the most of the heat – Short ribs cooked over a pork Ragu

When slow cooking there is often an opportunity to make extra use of the available heat.  The Big Green Egg is thermally very efficient and uses little charcoal especially when doing a slow cook.  Nevertheless, there is often scope to (more…)

A bit of a find – STONEHOUSE SMOKERY

A bit of a find – STONEHOUSE SMOKERY

We were having a bit of a wander around Hexham’s excellent Farmers’ market on a Saturday morning in March and came across what looks like quite a find.  Wrapped up against a bitter wind we met Lee Scrimgeour and his colleague from Stonehouse Smokery in Cumbria.  They had made their way across the Pennines from Carlisle in the teeth of a March blizzard in the west.  Their reward a little welcoming watery sunshine but a bitter wind!

We were recompensed however by Lee’s boundless enthusiasm and some glorious tastes that transported us, at least metaphorically, to a much warmer Tuscany!!  First up was a delightful wafer thin, oak smoked Coppa (see picture left).  This was deliciously soft and moist, something often difficult to achieve in a Coppa.  This was quickly followed by a very satisfying  pancetta, cured with lemon zest and pink peppercorns and then topped off by a rich and creamy guanciale, something I have not found before locally in Northumberland.

I was really intrigued to find such wonderful charcuterie from a reasonably local supplier.  These were every bit as good as the cured meats I have encountered in Italy, France and Germany.  Interestingly, they really seemed to capture that essence of Tuscan Salumi, rather than other European charcuterie. They were very distinctive and full of local character.  Each region tends to use different herbs and spicing for their cures.  Clearly Lee, as a former chef, is following in that overall tradition.  I have only rarely come across smoked Salumi in Italy but as you might expect from Stonehouse Smokery, these delightfully cured meats were smoked.  Having said that, the smoking was extremely gentle in the samples we had and just added a further level of flavour to these delightful pork offerings!

Lee set up Stonehouse Smokery at Moorhouse, near Carlisle in 2017 to produce fine cured meats and charcuterie.  From the brief encounter we had on Saturday he certainly seems to be succeeding.  If you are looking for something just that little bit different, look them up online.  I am really looking forward to taking up Lee’s invitation and visiting Stonehouse Smokery later in the year and sharing some more of Lee’s delightful products.




Greek Lamb and Roast Potatoes

Greek Lamb and Roast Potatoes

The idea of Greek lamb and roast potatoes takes me back to Athens in 2004 when we were invited to a friend’s wedding there.  Michalis was working on his PhD with me in the UK and very kindly invited Jackie and I to his wedding which was a spectacular affair!  Before the wedding though we had some time with Michalis and his family.  On one day before the wedding his mum cooked lamb and roast potatoes – and they were very special – soft roast potatoes full of meat juices and hinted with lemon, perfectly reflecting the meat – fabulous!    When we found a recipe that looked as though it was going to deliver something along the same lines I was excited – that it came from the pen of a 2 star Michelin Chef (Tom Kerridge) even better!
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Red Deer Osso-Bucco

Red Deer Osso-Bucco

We had very much enjoyed the Osso-Bucco we made on the Big Green Egg last year (see here) so when we came across some Red Deer shin cut in the same way as veal for Osso-Bucco it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.  The pieces were smaller than when using veal but that would give the advantage of hopefully more marrow being released into the sauce when the meat was braised.  As the venison was likely to be a little more robust than the veal, the sauce was made with a little more tomato and a combination of Bay, Thyme and Oregano to match the richness, so a further step away from the Milanese original but exciting because of that!

The venison was no thicker than the veal we used last time but the diameter of the pieces was less.  I did wonder if we could dispense with the butchers string tied round each piece to preserve the meat intact, but in the end we decided to tie the pieces anyway These were then lightly floured and seasoned, then gently caramelised in butter in the Dutch oven to intensify their flavour.  They were then set to one side.

A little more butter was then added to the pan and the onions were sautéd to slightly soften, then the carrots and celery were added and lightly cooked.  At this point we added 4 garlic cloves, the zest of 1.5 lemons, 2 Bay leaves, some dried Thyme and Oregano and cooked for a few minutes more.  There is no place for mushrooms in an authentic Osso-Bucco – but they had worked well for us last time and seemed even more appropriate with venison, so these were added together with whole and halved stuffed green olives  that we had to hand!.  We also added 2 cans of chopped tomatoes to add further richness to the sauce.  Then all that was needed was to add the white wine.  The heat was turned up to begin to concentrate the sauce.
After about 10 minutes the meat was tucked in between the vegetable mix and the dutch oven was moved out of the kitchen and onto the Big Green Egg.  This had been set up for indirect cooking at around 120C.   Once gently bubbling, hot chicken stock was added.  The pot was allowed to simmer in the closed EGG without its lid.  As we have said previously cooking without the lid on the Dutch oven works well in the EGG as the EGG naturally retains moisture in the food being cooked so the pan does not tend to dry out, but the absence of the lid allowed the whole dish to pick up some very gentle ‘smoky tones’ from the charcoal. This time we also added a little Chestnut wood to the fire to add further gentle smoky overtones .

The pot was then cooked very gently for around 3hrs making sure the meat was kept moist by the surrounding sauce.
An occasional gentle stir allowed us to make sure the venison remained below the surface of the liquid and let us keep an eye on the cooking process.

As the dish cooked it took on a wonderfully unctuous character as the sauce became richer and looked to be a good match for the venison.  The venison softened but held together well.  The meat was removed from the sauce, covered with foil and set aside in a warm spot whilst the sauce was finished.  Sometimes, at this point it is worth adding a suspension of cornflour in cold water if the sauce is a little runny and just a fresh sprinkle of herbs in the last few minutes of cooking.  The sauce was finished by adding a few dots of butter and stirring.  The string was removed from the meat before serving with the sauce.  It works really well with plain rice though my favourite is with some crispy roast potatoes and broccoli or a root vegetable.  This is a delicious dish and the sauce with the enriched bone marrow is delightful, but it does have one downside and that is we are yet to find a delicate way of plating it!.  This has been the same with the Veal Osso-Bucco that we made earlier and with this Venison version too.  I think if we could find a supplier with whole shin we would get them cut at around 4cm thick. I think they would then hold their shape a little more easily and that would make plating easier too.

A note for next time – with the size of our dutch oven there was perhaps a little too much meat to manage easily – so next time perhaps reduce the volumes a little!!

Red Deer Osso-Bucco

February 19, 2019
: 6-8
: 1 hr
: 3 hr
: 4 hr
: Straight forward

Osso-Bucco made with Red Deer Venison in a rich tomato enriched sauce

By:

Ingredients
  • 2.1 kg of Shin Venison
  • Length of butchers string to tie round each piece of meat
  • Seasoned flour
  • Knob of butter
  • 3 large Onions finely diced
  • 2 Large carrot finely diced
  • 6 sticks of celery finely diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves whole
  • Lemon zest
  • Bay leaf
  • Dried Thyme
  • Dried Oregano
  • 2 Glasses of white wine
  • Chicken stock/2 chicken stockpots
  • 2 Large cans of chopped tomatoes / fresh tomatoes
  • Handful of whole and halved stuffed green olives (optional)
  • Chestnut mushrooms (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Tie some butchers string around the circumference of the meat to hold it together whilst cooking. Lightly dust with seasoned flour and caramelise in butter in the Dutch oven. Then set to one side.
  • Step 2 Add a little more butter to the pan and sauté the onions to slightly soften. Then add the the carrots and celery and cook lightly.  
  • Step 3 To this gently cooking mixture add the whole garlic cloves, the lemon zest, a bay leaf and some sage and cook for a few minutes more.  Add the sliced chestnut mushrooms, olives  and together with a can of chopped tomatoes bring back to the simmer.
  • Step 4 Add the white wine and turn up the heat to begin to concentrate the sauce.  After about 10 minutes tuck the meat back into the vegetable mix and put the dutch oven into the Big Green Egg set up for indirect cooking at around 120C.   Once gently bubbling, add the hot chicken stock (or stockpot) and leave to simmer without the Dutch oven lid, in the closed EGG.  
  • Step 5 Cook very gently for around 3hrs making sure the meat is kept moist by the surrounding sauce.  Gently stir the sauce occasionally without disturbing the meat too much.  
  • Step 6 If the sauce requires any thickening do so with a little cornflour premixed in some cold water and finish off the sauce by adding a few dots of butter and stirring it in once the meat has been removed.
  • Step 7 Remember to snip off the string used to hold the meat together before serving.

 

When is a gammon not a gammon?!

When is a gammon not a gammon?!

The simple answer is of course once it is cooked it is then referred to as a “Ham”.  What ever we call them this is a delicious  way of eating pork and in the UK is always associated with the Christmas period – but it it too good to confine to Christmas!  There are so many different types of gammon available depending on how they have been cured and each of these produce slightly different types of ham. (more…)