It is 2 years now since we did the Sea Bream and Sea Bass cook when on holiday in Italy. I remember it as a delightful evening as we sat out overlooking the local valley with a herby smoky aroma wafting towards us as we had an early evening Prosecco! So when we were back in Tuscany it seemed a perfect opportunity to (more…)
It was lovely to be able to roast 2 beautiful slow grown chicken breasts – butchered as supremes, with the first part of the wing bone and the skin included. Even better when roasted on a bed of rosemary with just a hint of wood smoke! (more…)
We were very lucky to be able to go back to the restaurant La Scottiglia in Pescina near Seggiano in Tuscany. Last year, 2018, we wrote about the wonderful dish La Scottiglia that the restaurant has been named after since 1972. This year we arrived early for a Saturday lunch and were welcomed like long lost friends by the owner. He immediately started to talk about the recipe and blog we had written last year when we had tried to recreate La Scottiglia (see here). He offered his congratulations for our efforts and his apologies for not writing something on the website as it would have been difficult to do so in English!
We were shown down to the terrace so we could eat outside in the dappled early autumn sunshine and were immediately met with a Prosecco aperitif, clearly we were going to have a good lunch!
The menus were newly printed and now carried English translations which was nice. More staggering was that on the back page was a new description of the history of the restaurant. We were pleased that the information that we had managed to piece together from the internet seemed to be largely correct – if only it has been present before it would have saved us hours of searching (but then, where is the fun in that!!).
Jackie ordered a Tuscan Pâté, and then ricotta filled Tortellini with truffles. For a main course I had the wild boar – but for my starter there could only be one choice – La Scottiglia. It was with a degree of ‘bated breath’ I tried it – had we got close with our recipe or had I deluded myself? I needn’t have worried (too much)!! Our interpretation was close, though not identical! This was ‘softer’ with a little more liquid. I think there was just a slight hint of chilli which ours did not have and probably a little less tomato. Also the bread at the bottom of the dish was thinner – and had soaked up less of the glorious juices. So overall a slightly more ‘gentle’ taste than ours – but I think we can be pleased as we have only been making it for a year rather than for more than a century! I think we can be reasonably comfortable that ours was a suitable ‘homage’ to this most regional of dishes!
And our plans for this autumn ……………….. to get closer still!!
Whilst it is often great fun cooking complex meals, there are times when very simple food just can’t be beaten. I think this is one of those recipes. Sautéed herring fillets! We were doing some non food shopping in our local supermarket and the fish counter was closing. They had 2 fresh herring which they were pricing up at half price so that was just £1 per fish. The fish were actually very fresh, with bright eyes and red gills always a good sign! Simply too good to miss.
Herring used to be a staple food of the North East coast of England, but overfishing led to their decline . For a while there was a moratorium on fishing for them in the 1970s. Through good stewardship they are at times becoming plentiful again as a sustainable resource. They are also the basic ingredient of that world class product, the ‘Craster Kipper’, but that is a story for another day!
Herring is a very easy fish to prepare. After gutting and washing, the head, fins and the tail are cut off, this can be done with a pair of kitchen scissors. The belly of the fish is placed onto the work surface, opening up the body cavity so that it supports the fish. Then simply press down hard on the back of the fish where the dorsal fin was and flatten out. Then turn the flattened fish over, grab hold of the loosened back bone and pull it out gently. With it comes the majority of the fish bones. Trim round the 2 fillets and divide them with a single cut down the centre of the back forming 2 individual trimmed fillets. Now that is the preparation completed and all that is left it to sauté the individual fillets. There are hundreds of things one could add to the fillets at this stage, but I would suggest that at least once you try them simply cooked in oil and butter as we have here. Herring also works really well on the EGG as it keeps all those fish cooking smells, that are not universally loved, out of the house!
Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking and heat a handleless, heavy bottomed pan. Add some olive or rapeseed oil and when this is hot drop in a knob of butter. This will immediately foam if the pan is hot enough. Let the foam die down, and then add the herring fillets, skin side down, one at a time. As the skin hits the hot pan there is a natural tendency for the fillets to curl. just press them down with your fingers or a wooden spoon until they relax to prevent this. Leave them untouched in the pan until the skin is a nutty brown (3-4 mins) and then flip them over for a further minute or so until the flesh is coloured.
Remove from the pan and serve 2 filets per person on a bed of rocket leaves. Pour over a little of the cooking juices and serve with a squeeze of lemon. I think this makes a great supper dish or a light lunch. Best of all though I think it makes a good alternative to those wonderful Craster Kippers for breakfast, especially when that glorious taste of kippers is not loved by all the members of the household!!
This dish worked out at about £1.00 a serving, and even at full price it would have only been £2.00.
…………………………….. give them a go!!
Herring fillets sautéed in butter
Fresh herring fillets sautéed in butter
- 4 herring fillets
- Olive or Rapeseed oil
- Lemon Juice
- Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking and heat a handleless, heavy bottomed pan.
- Step 2 Add olive or rapeseed oil to the pan and when this is hot add a knob of butter.
- Step 3 Once the butter has stopped foaming add the herring fillets, skin side down, one at a time. Press each fillet to the pan until the fish relaxes and then leave untouched until the skin is a nutty brown (3-4 mins).
- Step 4 Flip the fillets over to colour the other side for a further minute or so.
- Step 5 Remove from the pan and serve 2 filets per person on a bed of rocket leaves. Pour over a little of the cooking juices and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
This is the first video we have included in our blogs but it seemed the easiest way to show the BGE Wok in action! We have had the BGE Expander system for some time and have warmed to its versatility. It certainly brings some further flexibility to cooking opportunities in our large BGE. One of the possibilities is to (more…)
We have been resting steaks wrapped in foil with seasoned olive oil and rosemary but we were looking to take this a step further. Fortunately, when we called into “Charlotte’s Butchery” to pick up some aged ribeye steak, sitting next to the ribeye was a nice looking marrowbone so we had that wrapped too! Bone marrow has a rich nutty flavour and delightfully compliments a good butter so a great opportunity to develop a rich ‘baste’ for some beautiful steak as you can see above!
At its simplest bone marrow butter is a mix of roast bone marrow and butter. Some suggest ‘blitzing’ the two major ingredients but we wanted to leave the cooked marrow a little more granular and visible in the butter. Many recipes add chopped herbs or sautéed shallots but we decided to keep this very simple.
This could easily be done in a conventional oven but we used the Big Green Egg whilst it was warming for a different cook. The marrowbone was popped into a small pan and allowed to cook in the warming EGG at around 120-160C. It was left until the marrow was soft and beginning to run out of the long bone. This took around 20-30 minutes. You can always ask your butcher to split the bones lengthways, but unless they are very long I rather like the idea of scooping the marrow out of the bone. So once ready, the pan was removed with the bone and allowed to cool a little so the bone could be easily handled. The marrow was scooped out and added to the juices in the pan. Double the volume of softened salted butter was then added and the 2 elements were mixed and allowed to cool further.
As it becomes more solid the butter was roughly shaped into a cylinder and wrapped in clingfilm. In the same way as you make ballotines the cling film cylinder was tied at one end, and then after tensioning, the other end. This was then chilled in the fridge. It can be kept in the fridge for as long as you would keep butter. As you need some, simply slice a disk from the cylinder, remove the cling film and use as needed. It can be used to baste a steak when it is resting wrapped in foil after cooking (as in the picture above), or instead of simple butter in mashed potatoes. Do try this simple option before making one that has added herbs or shallots
………. but do give it a go, it is a bit of a game changer!!
Bone Marrow Butter
Salted butter enriched with roasted bone marrow
- 1 or more marrowbones
- Double the volume of good salted butter
- Step 1 Roast the marrowbone in a pan or roasting dish at between 120-180C for around 20 mins
- Step 2 Allow to cool and then scrape the roasted marrow from the bone and gently breakup. Mix with double the volume of good quality salted butter.
- Step 3 Allow to cool then roughly shape into a cylinder. Wrap the cylinder in clingfilm and shape and tie like a ballotine. Cool in the fridge.
- Step 4 When needed cut a disk of the butter and add to your steak or mashed potatoes or wherever you need its extra richness. Leave the remainder in the fridge for later use.
In the UK if you refer to smoked salmon, then we are usually talking about ‘cold smoked’ salmon. This is very much the traditional way of smoking salmon – and is often referred to as the ‘Scottish or Nordic method’ in countries where ‘hot smoking’ is the norm. We have covered cold smoking salmon elsewhere. Briefly, the salmon is cured for up to 24 hours and then smoked ideally below 20C for around 6 to 12 hours. Cold smoking doesn’t actually cook the fish, so it’s left with an almost raw-like texture. This is the most common form of smoking in Northern Europe and on the East coast of America.
Before going any further I need to say that both methods of smoking salmon are great, but the end products are very different. Hot smoking salmon is a specialty of the Pacific Northwest of the US. The salmon is cured or just brined and then smoked at 50-80C for around 4-8 hours to get the core temperature of the fish to around 70C. The salmon is therefore both smoked and cooked giving it its flaky texture.
We have got into the habit this summer of hot smoking the tail end of sides of salmon – partly as it is a great way to use this less than prime portion of the fish. The night before wanting to cook all you need to do is mix together the sugar, salt, garlic and pepper and cover the salmon with a generous coating on both sides. This should ideally be done in a nonmetallic dish that will allow the salmon to sit flat in the base. The dish is then covered and put in the fridge overnight.
In the morning a lot of the salt and sugar will have gone into solution as it has drawn out liquid from the salmon. This is now simply washed off well (or will retain too much salt) and the salmon dried and placed on a trivet and put back into the fridge for a few hours to let the surface dry further and produce an outer pellicle. It is this pellicle that takes up the smoke when cooking. At his stage the salmon will feel stiffer and have a richer and darker colour. Some suggest wrapping the salmon in a clean cloth for the first hour (e.g. the BGE UK website) but this is not something we have seen the need for.
It is now a good time to soak your cedar plank, and if using wood chips as opposed to chunks, to soak them too. From now on everything is really easy, especially if you have a digital controller to manage the temperature of the Egg and monitor the core temperature of the fish. You can of course cook this dish without a digital controller – simply set the BGE up for indirect cooking at 80C with the beech chunks in place. Place the salmon on a cedar plank in the EGG and away you go. Keep the EGG temperature at 80C and after around 4 hours you will have hot smoked salmon.
It is even easier if you have a digital controller like the DigiQ DX2 BBQ Guru or the CyberQ Cloud or similar. If cooking in a Large BGE it is also well worth cooking more than one piece of salmon. It is really only necessary to put the food temperature probe in one of the pieces. But if you have something like a CyberQ Cloud with multiple probes, take the opportunity to use multiple probes. Which ever you use set up the Pit Fan and plug the wire with the crocodile clip into the ‘Pit Temperature’ port and the wire with the probe into the ‘Food Temperature’ port. Insert the temperature probe into the thickest part of the salmon, and attach the clip to the stainless steel grid. Set the controller to a pit temperature of 80C and a food temperature of 70C. Run the wires over the the legs of the plate setter to protect from any flare-up. Close the lid of the EGG and leave for around 4 hours until the controller tells you the core temperature is 70C. And that is all that needs to be done!
Serve hot in portions or flaked into a salad. There are so many things that you can do with it cold too – more of these later – but in the meantime “give it a Google”.
What ever you use it for, I am sure you will love the salmon cooked this way!
Hot Smoked Salmon - Cedar and Beech Smoked
Cured Salmon side or part side smoked on a cedar plank over beech smoke
- 1 side of salmon (scale quantities up or down dependent on the amount of salmon used)
- 200g dark muscovado sugar
- 100g salt
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 chunks of beech wood for smoking (or smoking chips)
- 1 Cedar smoking plank
- Step 1 Mix together the sugar, salt garlic and pepper and cover the salmon with a generous coating on both sides in a nonmetallic container. Place in the fridge overnight.
- Step 2 In the morning, wash the curing mix off the salmon and pat dry. Place on a trivet and put back into the fridge for a few hours to let the surface dry further and produce an outer pellicle.
- Step 3 Soak the cedar plank, and if using wood chips as opposed to chunks, soak them too.
- Step 4 Set the BGE up for indirect cooking at 80C with the beech chunks in place. Place the salmon on a cedar plank in the EGG (and if using a temperature controller set the Pit temperature to 80C and the Cook core temperature to 70C.
- Step 5 Close the lid of the EGG and leave for around 4 hours until the controller tells you the core temperature is 70C.
- Step 6 Serve hot or cold
Whilst chicken can be bland it really doesn’t need to be! This is a really simple recipe and almost a one pan dish too. We had taken 2 chicken breasts from a large free range organic chicken. The skin was left on the chicken and the breasts were lightly dusted with a Shawarma seasoning from Angus and Oink. They were set aside for an hour or so. We paired this with chorizo sautéed potatoes, based on our earlier recipe with asparagus, so whilst the chicken was marinating the new potatoes were halved and parboiled and also set aside.
The BGE was set up for direct cooking at around 180C. A handleless sauté pan was brought up to temperature and the chorizo was fried in rapeseed oil added to the pan. This both cooks the chorizo and in turn spices the oil. The chorizo was removed from the pan and replaced with the breasts of chicken, skin side down. The idea is to do around 80-90% of the chicken cooking with the skin side down with the skin protecting the chicken from the heat. The chicken was flipped over to finish off the cook. The parboiled potatoes were added to the pan to sauté the potatoes in the chorizo infused oil. The chicken was removed from the pan when the core temperature hit just above 70C. They were wrapped in foil and allowed to rest whilst the core temperature rose to 74C. The cooked chorizo was added back to the potatoes as they finished being sautéd.
The chicken was sliced and served on roasted cauliflower together with the spicy chorizo potatoes. The level of spicing will depend on the type of chorizo you choose!
…………………………a great way to spice up your chicken!!
Spicy Charred Chicken Breast with Chorizo Potatoes
Spicy Chicken breast roasted with chorizo sautéed potatoes
- 2 chicken breasts skin on
- Shawarma seasoning from Angus and Oink
- New potatoes
- Chorizo 3 inch piece
- Rapeseed oil
- Step 1 Leave the skin on the chicken and dust lightly with Shawarma seasoning. Set aside for an hour or so. Meanwhile halve the new potatoes and parboil then set aside.
- Step 2 Set up the BGE for direct cooking at around 180C. Use a handleless sauté pan and bring to temperature. Fry the chorizo in rapeseed oil. Remove the chorizo and replace with the breasts of chicken, skin side down. Cook without moving until around 80-90% cooked. Turn the chicken and finish off the cook. Add the parboiled potatoes and sauté.
- Step 3 Remove the chicken from the pan when the core temperature hits 70C. Wrap in foil and allow to rest to allow the core temperature to reach 74C. Add the cooked chorizo to the potatoes as they finish being sautéd
- Step 4 Slice the chicken and serve with the spicy chorizo potatoes
There are almost as many ways of sautéing potatoes as there are varieties of potatoes, but this is one we have used with quite a lot of dishes recently. It makes a great tapas dish or a side for other main centre pieces. We were using Jersey Royal new potatoes which were halved and parboiled for between 8-12 minutes until they were just beginning to soften. They were then drained and shaken a little in the pan to gently ‘roughen up’ the edges of the potatoes.
The BGE had been set up for direct cooking at around 180C. We have been using some ‘handless” frying/sauté pans from Tefal – these work perfectly on the BGE. They work most easily (the handle is clicked off more easily) when the cooking grid is at the level of the gasket, and so are easier on the MiniMax than the Large for instance. The pan was brought up to temperature and the chorizo was fried in rapeseed oil added to the pan. This both cooks the chorizo and in turn spices the oil. The chorizo needs to be removed from the pan once it has released some of its flavour but before it fully cooks through. The par-boiled potatoes were then added and allowed to sauté. Remember to cook with the lid down, opening just to toss the potatoes round the pan. Once the potatoes are cooked through and colouring up beautifully the chorizo was reintroduced together with a large handful of asparagus – cut diagonally into 3 cm pieces as in the picture above. The mix was cooked for a further 2-3 minutes and then served.
…………………………really simple and can be used in so many ways!!
Spicy Charred Chicken Breast with Chorizo Potatoes
Chorizo sautéed potatoes with asparagus
- New potatoes, halved
- Chorizo 3 inch piece
- Rapeseed oil
- Asparagus chopped into 3cm pieces on the diagonal
- Step 1 Halve the new potatoes and parboil then set aside.
- Step 2 Set up the BGE for direct cooking at around 180C. Use a handless sauté pan and bring to temperature. Fry the chorizo in rapeseed oil. Remove the chorizo and replace with the parboiled potatoes and sauté.
- Step 3 Add the cooked chorizo to the potatoes and asparagus as they finish being sautéd
- Step 4 Serve immediately
We are very fortunate in having friends who have access to wild venison but don’t like it! This means that we are sometimes recipients of generous pieces to cook. On this occasion it was a (more…)
We seem to have had a spate of ridiculously cheap pork on offer at our local supermarket recently. We buy most of our meat from one of a couple of very fine butchers we have locally. Nevertheless, even when you are not looking to buy a leg of pork, if it is offered to you at £2 per kg, there is a real need to go and look for a recipe. I am always a little cautious of expecting too much from inexpensive meat and so this African inspired spiced pork recipe from my friend Julie from Meat Smoke Fire Ltd seemed a perfect way of using this leg of pork. The spicing inspiration is African and by using a ready made Harissa mix as the basis for the marinade is very straightforward and would cover any slight blandness that you may suspect with commercial supermarket pork. Equally, whilst this is a roasted dish, the basting of the meat with the lemon and wine stock adds an element of a ‘braise’ and would hopefully add some tenderness to the meat.
To make the marinade the herbs and spices (oregano, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, marjoram or savory, turmeric) were ground in a mortar with 1tsp of course sea salt. This was then added to 3 crushed cloves of garlic, 2tbsp of ready made Harissa and 60ml of olive oil to make a paste. We took the skin off the pork but left as much of the fat in place as possible. The meat was then slashed to make 8-10 deep cuts and the paste was rubbed all over the meat and into the slits. The meat was then covered and left to marinade at room temperature for an hour or so.
The Big Green Egg was set up for indirect cooking with platesetter in place (feet up). A little cherry wood was also added as a final ‘spicing’ for the mix. All that was left to prepare was to quarter 2 onions lengthways and to mix the lemon juice and white wine. These were then set to one side.
When ready to cook, the pork was placed fat side down in the roasting dish and cooked for about half an hour. The meat was then removed from the roasting dish and the quartered onions were arranged in the centre as a trivet. The pork was turned fat side up and placed on the trivet of onions. The lemon and wine mix was then poured over the top of the meat. The EGG was closed and left to cook for another 40-60 minutes opening to baste the meat with the cooking juices every 10 minutes or so. Once the internal temperature reached around 70C the meat was removed, wrapped in foil and left to rest for at least 20 minutes. The cooking juices were reduced to form a pouring sauce. The meat was generously sliced and served with cauliflower and the roasted onions. The cauliflower was a perfect foil for the spicy pork and carried the spicing from the sauce beautifully.
I would highly recommend giving the dish a go. The results were spicy but not too hot, and very very tender!!
…………….if you want to add a little spice to your roast pork now is your chance!
African Spiced Roast leg of Pork
Roasted skinless leg of pork with African spices
- 1tsp coarse sea salt
- 2tsp dried oregano
- 2tsp caraway seeds
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2tsp turmeric
- 2tbsp harissa
- 3 crushed cloves garlic
- 60ml olive oil
- 1.5kg boneless pork leg roasting joint - skin removed
- 60ml lemon juice
- 80ml dry white wine
- 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
- Step 1 For the marinade: grind the oregano, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, marjoram and turmeric in a mortar with 1tsp of course sea salt. Add this to 3 crushed cloves of garlic and 2tbsp of ready made Harissa and 60ml of olive oil to make a paste. Slash the meat after the skin is removed to make 8-10 deep cuts. Rub the marinade paste all over the meat and into the slits. Cover and leave to marinade at room temperature for an hour
- Step 2 Set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking with platesetter in place (feet up). Add a little cherry wood.
- Step 3 Quarter 2 onions lengthways. Mix the lemon juice and white wine and then set these to one side.
- Step 4 When ready to cook, place the pork fat side down in the roasting dish and cook for about half an hour.
- Step 5 Remove the meat from the roasting dish add the quartered onions in the centre as a trivet. Turn the pork over and sit on the onion trivet. Pour the lemon and wine mix over the top of the meat. Close the EGG and leave to cook for another 40-60 minutes. Baste the meat with the cooking juices every 10 minutes or so.
- Step 6 Remove once the internal temperature reaches 70C and wrap in foil to rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Step 7 Reduce the cooking juices to form a pouring sauce.
- Step 8 Slice the meat and serve with cauliflower and the roasted onions.
Dirty cooking? Cooking the food you are about to eat directly onto the burning charcoal. It gets a whole series of names too: Dirty, Caveman, Cowboy. I have to say I have always been rather sceptical about the idea of this form of cooking. Perhaps just an unnecessary gimmick, and (more…)