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Smoked sea trout and seafood pâté

Smoked sea trout and seafood pâté

This recipe is based on an idea for a seafood pâté that we first saw on Jamie Oliver Christmas Cooking programme in 2019. It is a very simple recipe. It can be made from ingredients normally easily available in your local supermarket but we had been raiding the fridge and store cupboard (#RaidtheFridge not the supermarket) which meant that with a little bit of fiddling of ingredients we could get close to the original recipe.   Our twist to that approach is that this was made with cold smoked sea trout which we had cold smoked in the Big Green Egg and large frozen prawns (large shrimps for our American friends) which were first grilled on the Big Green Egg.  The sea trout was cured and smoked in exactly the same way as for cold smoked salmon (see here).

The prawns were defrosted and put on a bamboo skewer for ease of handling.  They were cooked over a direct flame until they just became pink and were slightly singed on their edges then put to oneside to cool.

From this point making the pâté really just becomes a matter of assembly.  All this could be done in a food processor but we wanted a coarse chunky pâté and so all the components were hand chopped with a chef’s knife. The smoked trout was first sliced then added to the shelled prawns and they were both roughly chopped.  The white crab meat was then added together with the zest of half a lemon. (The dish would be fine without the crab – just slightly different.) This was all put in a glass bowl together with the cream cheese, the juice of a lemon and a little black pepper and cayenne pepper.  There was no need to add salt.  This was mixed thoroughly and then spooned into a pâté dish and decorated with some crab claw meat – and the only green that we had to hand – a small basil rosette.

As a variation add 2 tablespoons of cod egg ‘caviar’ to the mix if you have some in the cupboard and you are wondering what to do with it!

NB when initially tasting the pâté it seems slightly dominated by the lemon, but his softens over a few hours when left in the fridge.  VacPacked in the fridge this should keep for 3 days.

…………………………. it is very easy, give it a go!

Smoked Sea Trout and seafood pâté

April 20, 2020
: 12
: 20 min
: 20 min
: 40 min
: Easy

A course seafood pâté of home smoked sea trout, prawns and crab

By:

Ingredients
  • 150g of large frozen or fresh prawns
  • 150g of home smoked sea trout or salmon
  • 150g white crab meat
  • 250g cream cheese
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • A little cayenne pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Grill 150 g prawns on the BGE in direct mode – allow to cool.
  • Step 2 Take around 150 g of home smoked salmon or sea trout and slice.
  • Step 3 Roughly chop the sea trout and the prawns, then add the white crab meat and mix with the zest of half a lemon.
  • Step 4 Place in a bowl and add the cream cheese, lemon juice and pepper and mix thoroughly
  • Step 5 Spoon into pâté dishes, decorate and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight
  • Step 6 Serve with toasted sourdough
Lamb Shawarma

Lamb Shawarma

This was a dish we cooked before the Covid-19 crisis hit Europe – and it is a reminder of those ‘heady days’ when we could just go out to buy meat, herbs or spices rather than having to think of the social consequences of doing that.  We are still publishing this one though as if you have something suitable in the freezer you may just want to give it a go (with this herb and spice mix – or your own variation of what ever you have to hand in the cupboard!!)  Also as this whole lamb shoulder was cooked in 3 sections – if there are only a couple of you in the house you may want to scale down the recipe accordingly – and perhaps just use one of the thirds!!

 

So how did this one come about?

“What would you like to eat when you come up next week Sam” we said to our eldest daughter. Without pausing for a breath the answer was Lamb Shawarma. It is always a nice challenge to cook a ‘request dish’ – and we have cooked a lot of chicken Shawarma (see recipe here)  Suggesting chicken as an alternative didn’t gain any traction with Sam, and so Lamb Shawarma it was to be!   Shawarma is a dish of Middle Eastern origin.  The meat is traditionally cut into thin slices and stacked in a cone shape and then roasted slowly on a vertical rotisserie or spit.  The word Shawarma is perhaps a corruption of the Turkish word to rotate or revolve as the traditional spit does.

We were pondering the cut of lamb to use when Sam also asked if we could use a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe as she had had it some time ago and loved it.  Interestingly, the recipe is all over the internet and seems to stem from a cookbook by Ottolenghi & Tamimi called Jerusalem.  The original recipe uses a leg of lamb on the bone (as most people don’t have a vertical rotisserie) and a spicy herb mix sometimes referred to as Lebanese spice mix which works with so many things – We have modified the mix slightly as I am very sensitive to paprika – but I have given the original proportions in the recipe section.   This mix is also supposed to work well with chicken and although we have not tried it yet: fish and vegetables!

With the help of the team from ‘Charlotte’s Butchery’, namely on this occasion Charlotte’s brother Jamie we spent some time deciding which cut of lamb to use as we were cooking on the Big Green Egg and we also had a Shawarma Spike which we had had made for us some time ago specifically for use on the EGG.

We wanted to get closer to a traditional Shawarma and not use whole bone in joints.  We also know that getting hold of a suitable spike to cook with on the BGE is not straightforward.  Therefore we wanted something that was ‘Shawarma like’ in the form of a vertical pile of meat – but something that could reasonably be done with or without a special spike!
Jamie suggested using a whole rolled shoulder of lamb but cut into sections so each section could be marinated all over with the spice mix.  We took that one stage further by also slashing into the sides of the meat cylinder so we could push the spice mix in there too.

Clearly we could have just unrolled the shoulder, added the spice mix and re-rolled the joint.  But we wanted to see if this easier method would work for those people not enjoying the idea of tying their own meat joints!

So once we had decided on the meat and cut it into 3 cylinders the next thing was to make the spicy marinade mix.  The first 8 ingredients in the list (black peppercorns, whole cloves, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, cinnamon stick) were added to a cast-iron pan and dry-roasted on medium-high heat.  This was done for a minute or two, until the spices begin to pop and release their aromas. The important thing here is to make sure they don’t burn.

If you don’t have any of these – do a bit of googling for substitute suggestions – or just leave it out.  It will still be fine, just a little different! Then we added the nutmeg, ginger, and paprika and tossed this with the rest for a few more seconds to heat them. The whole mix was then put in a spice grinder (small food processor) and blitzed the mix to a powder. All that was left to do was add this powder to a bowl and to stir in all the remaining ingredients, apart from the lamb and the water (sumac, salt, fresh ginger, garlic , fresh coriander, lemon juice and peanut oil).

The marinade was then massaged into all the surfaces of the meat and it was left in a covered tray to marinade overnight.  Clearly if you are making a smaller S hawarma then just marinade the amount of meat you need (but do remember this works really well cold too)

The following day the Big green egg was set up to cook indirectly at between 150-160C (the original recipe suggests 170C and that would be fine too and give a shorter cooking time – but we weren’t in any hurry!!   If you are using a Shawarma spike we have found it helpful to add half an onion to the spike first to lift the meat off the base.  The base can become hotter than you perhaps want even when cooking indirectly.  (If you are cooking with out a spike then I would suggest stacking 2 or 3 pieces on top of each other in a roasting tin and pushing a skewer through the pieces from the top to hold it together.)  The whole thing was topped off with the remains of the squeezed lemon on the top.

All that was left to do therefore was wait and enjoy the aroma coming from the EGG!  Every hour or so we basted the meat stack with the juice collecting in the roasting dish, to which we had added a little water to prevent burning.  Once the outside had developed that lovely crusty brown colour we loosely wrapped the top with foil just to make sure the spices didn’t burn while we waited for the core temperature to rise to the mid to high 80sC.  We were wanting soft cuttable, but not pullable lamb!!

Once we got to the core temperature the lamb was removed and allowed to rest for at least 10 mins.  We actually wanted to keep it warm for longer before we served it – so we wrapped it in foil, covered it with some clean tea towels and put it into an empty ‘cool box’.  This way were were able to let it rest for more than an hour until we needed it (the larger the mass of meat the longer you can keep it warm in this way!!).

When we were ready to eat the meat was carved – this was made so much easier with the Shawarma being in 3 distinct sections.  Each being taken out of the cool box and carved when needed.

It was served on a cutting board with a green salad.  Eaten with a flat bread and some freshly made humus and a squeeze of fresh lemon was perfect!!

Footnote: – This is a great dish served hot as above, but is also fantastic served cold.  Indeed some of the team thought it was better cold than hot!   But there is only one way for you to decide which you prefer!!

Footnote:  I have been trying to trace a supplier for a Shawarma spike in the UK.  I found one this week and have ordered one to try.  Although I have not yet used it it looks and feels very good – I have added a link here they refer to it as a Gyrospike.  We will review the spike in due course – gyrospike.co.uk

Lamb Shawarma

April 17, 2020
: 8
: 6 hr
: 7 hr
: Relatively easy

A slow cooked Shawarma using boned lamb shoulder which you can cook with or without a Shawarma Spike

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Maldon salt
  • 1 ounce fresh ginger — grated
  • 3 cloves garlic — crushed
  • Big bunch of coriander — chopped stems and leaves
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Good plug of oil, rapeseed or groundnut oil works well
  • Rolled boned shoulder of lamb
  • A little water to add to the roasting pan to prevent lamb juices burning
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the rolled whole shoulder of lamb and cut into 3 cylinders that can be stacked vertically. Also ‘slash’ into the sides of the cylinders so that they can absorb more of the marinade
  • Step 2 Mix the first 8 ingredients in the list (black peppercorns, whole cloves, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, cinnamon stick) and add to a cast-iron pan and dry-roast on medium-high heat for a minute or two. The spices will begin to pop and release their aromas. Don’t let them burn. Then add the nutmeg, ginger, and paprika and tossed this with the rest for a few more seconds. Put the whole into a spice grinder (small food processor) and blitzed the mix to a powder. Add this powder to a bowl and to stir in sumac, salt, fresh ginger, garlic , fresh coriander, lemon juice and oil.
  • Step 3 Massage the marinade into all the surfaces of the meat and leave in a covered tray to marinade (ideally) overnight.
  • Step 4 The ext day light the Big Green Egg and set up to cook indirectly at between 150-160C (Can also be done at a higher temp as suggested in the original recipe e.g. 170C to give a shorter cooking time – adjust accordingly)  
  • Step 5 If you are using a Shawarma spike add half an onion to the spike first to lift the meat off the base.  The base can become hotter than you perhaps want even when cooking indirectly.  (If you are cooking with out a spike then stack 2 or 3 pieces on top of each other in a roasting tin and push a skewer through the pieces from the top to hold it together.) Top off with the remains of the squeezed lemon on the top.
  • Step 6 Once the temperature in the BGE has stabilised introduce the shawarma and leave to cook.  Every hour or so baste the meat stack withe the juice collecting in the roasting dish. It may be wise to add a little water to the dish to stop the juices burning.
  • Step 7 Once the outside has developed that lovely crusty brown colour loosely wrap the top with foil just to make sure the spices don’t burn
  • Step 8 Cook till the core temperature reaches around 85-88C if it goes much higher the the lamb will ‘Pull” whereas the plan is to cut the meat but this is a matter of personal taste
  • Step 9 Remove from the heat and allow to rest for at least 10 mins – it can be rested for much longer if wrapped in foil, covered with tea towels and placed in a coolbox.  Carve when ready to eat and serve with a green salad and flat breads

 

 

Roast Chicken Breast and Mushroom Stuffed Wings

Roast Chicken Breast and Mushroom Stuffed Wings

What is the best way to manage a large chicken when there are just 2 of you and you are trying to make your food go a little further to reduce the pressure on our food suppliers?  Well whilst it was very tempting to roast it whole on the Big Green Egg and then use the left overs in other dishes – we decided to portion the chicken and then make the most of each of the portions.  A chicken is really easy to butcher, and whilst we have still not done a video of that yet, there are lots available on the internet.

One advantage of portioning your own chicken (other than the economy of doing it) is that you can keep the skin on the portions – and for many dishes this greatly adds to the taste!   I have to say I normally just use the wings to make stock (sorry all you BBQ wing lovers!).  But in the spirit of making our food go further we decided to bone out the first section of the wing and then stuff the space with some chopped mushrooms and a little chorizo that we had in the fridge.  These bulging pockets were closed off with a couple of cocktail sticks.

The wings were then coloured in a pan in the EGG which had been set up for indirect cooking at 160-170C.  As wings and legs take more cooking than the breast these were started about 15 mins before the breast – and this way we managed to get some good colour onto the skin.  Once we had reached this stage it was the time to cook the breast.

As the breasts were quite substantial (and as we had the stuffed wings too) we decided to just do one of the breasts.  This was added to the pan, skin down to colour the skin and render any fat from below the skin. Probably around 70% of the cooking should be done with the skin in contact with the pan.  Partly through the cooking of the breast, the excess mushrooms and chorizo that we weren’t able to pack into the wings was dropped into the pan to fry off in the rendered chicken fat.  These would be sprinkled over the salad that we were intending to serve with the chicken.

The Chicken breast was then turned over to finish the cooking.  Our aim was for a core temperature of 70C (the recommended safe temperature UK Food Standards Agency – 65C and hold for 10 minutes, 70C and hold for 2 minutes, 75C and hold for 30 seconds) – although this can lead to dry chicken when cooked conventionally, cooked in the EGG it will be very moist!

The chicken wing and half the chicken breast was served on a tossed salad with a citrus dressing for each of us.  The fried mushroom and chorizo were simply scattered over the top.  The dish would have been finished with some parmesan shavings but as we didn’t have parmesan we used cheddar which worked nearly as well!

It was a great dish and whilst the breast was lovely and moist with a lovely crisp skin, the revelation was the chicken wings.  It took a little time to bone out the first part of the wing but once stuffed it was really worth the effort!  And from the whole chicken there will be so much more to come too as you can see (to say nothing of the stock made from the carcass too!)

………………………………….hopefully more of that in future posts (here)!

Roasted chicken breast and mushroom stuffed wings

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

Chicken wings stuffed with mushrooms and chorizo served with roast chicken breast

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 Chicken wings
  • 5 mushrooms
  • A little left over chorizo
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 The first thing is to bone out the chicken wings to the first joint by sliding a filleting knife along and around the bone. This is the only difficult step. The bone should be removed by cutting through the joint. This leaves a pocket for the mushroom stuffing.
  • Step 2 Chop 5 mushrooms and a little chorizo and stuff into the pockets created in the wings where the bone was removed. Close the pocket using a cocktail stick sewn through the chicken wing.
  • Step 3 Colour the wings in a pan or on a plancha in the EGG which should be set up for indirect cooking at 160-170C.  Start the wings about 15 mins before the breast. Turn to get good colour on the skin
  • Step 4 Once the wings 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 Part way through cooking the breast add the mushrooms and chorizo that you weren’t able to pack into the wings and fry off in the rendered chicken fat.  These can be sprinkled over the salad when plating.  
  • Step 6 Serve the chicken wing and half the chicken breast on a tossed salad.  Sprinkle the fried mushroom and chorizo over the top and finish with some parmesan (or other hard cheese) shavings

 

Smoked mackerel, bacon, onion and pesto pasta

Smoked mackerel, bacon, onion and pesto pasta

This is the second of the series of making more of your food – this way we waste less and go to the supermarket less frequently!

We have some pasta which we brought back from holiday last year and a couple of jars of pesto. In itself that would make a nice meal – but with a few little additions of ‘bits and bobs’ foods from the back of the fridge – we thought we could zing it up a little.

We had a small piece of smoked mackerel in the fridge. The first thing was to remove the skin from the fish.  The fish was then sliced into small pieces. A very small slice of homemade bacon was chopped into mini lardon and a couple of rings of onion were also finely chopped. The lardon and the onion were fried as the pasta cooked. Just before the pasta is ready – the mackerel was added to the pan to warm.  The pasta and a little cooking water was then added to the mix. Finally a little pesto was stirred through the pasta.  The pasta was simply plated and served with a little grated parmesan.

Footnote: Classically fish and parmesan are not served together – but with the smokey flavours, I think it works

Smoked mackerel, bacon, onion and pesto pasta

April 1, 2020
: 2
: 5 min
: 12 min
: 17 min
: Easy

Pasta and pesto enhanced with smoked mackerel and bacon

By:

Ingredients
  • 250g dried pasta
  • Small piece of smoked mackerel
  • Small piece of bacon
  • A little onion or shallot
  • Pesto
Directions
  • Step 1 Remove the skin from the fish and slice into small pieces.
  • Step 2 Dice a small slice of bacon into mini lardon and finely chop a little onion. Fry the lardon and the onion as the pasta cooked.
  • Step 3 Cook the pasta following the instructions on the pack
  • Step 4 Just before the pasta is ready – add the mackerel to the pan to warm.  Then add the pasta and a little cooking water to the mackerel and mini lardon mix. Finally stir a little pesto through the pasta.  
  • Step 5 Plate and serve with a little grated parmesan.
Smokey cured pork, mushrooms and rice

Smokey cured pork, mushrooms and rice

This is the first of the blogs we are trying at this difficult time outlining how we are trying to make our food go a little bit further and so reduce the pressure we are putting on our food suppliers – especially the supermarkets.

So we are ‘raiding the fridge’ or ‘raiding the freezer’ rather than ‘raiding the supermarkets’.   This one is definitely a way to brighten up some leftovers from the fridge. (#Raidthefridge)!

We had cooked some rice the night before and as often happens we had some left.  I am always cautious about using left over rice, but I am very happy to do it in the first 24 hours after cooking as long as it is cooled quickly after cooking in the fridge.   Raiding the fridge revealed a small piece of guanciale (it is a cured pork like pancetta or bacon made from the pigs cheek). Guanciale is the classical cured pork used to make carbonara – and this was the last bit of some we recently made.  Just as easily though you could use a small piece of bacon, a few lardons, or some pancetta.

The shreds of pork we’re dropped into a frying pan with a crushed clove of garlic and lightly fried. The garlic was used to flavour the fats coming out of the pork.  We also had a few mushrooms, that in all fairness had seen better days!   These were sliced and tossed into the pan to take on some colour.  When you have so few it is worth individually turning them over to get some colour on both sides.  Take the garlic out of the pan and discard or chop and add back to the mix.  Let the mix cool.  When cooled we mixed a small spoonful of mayonnaise into the rice just to make it a little richer and slightly sticky.  The cooled mushroom and pork mix was then stirred through the rice and the whole dish seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Plated and served by itself or with a little salad     ……….. a perfect starter!

Smokey cured pork, mushrooms and rice

March 30, 2020
: 2 or more
: 10 min
: 10 min
: 20 min
: Very easy

A simple way to use some cooked rice with mushrooms and a cured piece of pork

By:

Ingredients
  • Cooked rice
  • Small slice of Guanciale (or bacon, lardon, pancetta)
  • A few mushrooms, slices
  • Garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Shred the Guanciale and drop into a frying pan with a crushed clove of garlic and lightly fry.
  • Step 2 Slice the mushrooms and toss into the pan to take on some colour.  Turn over to colour both sides
  • Step 3 Take the garlic out of the pan and discard or chop and add back to the mix.  Let the mix cool.  
  • Step 4 Mix a small spoonful of mayonnaise into the rice to make it slightly sticky.
  • Step 5 Mix the cooled mushroom and pork through the rice. Season with salt and pepper and serve
Raiding the freezer not the food shops- reducing the pressure on supermarkets

Raiding the freezer not the food shops- reducing the pressure on supermarkets

I have to say I have struggled with the idea of writing for the food blog when the world is being subject to the ravages of the Corona Virus and so the Smokedfinefood.co.uk has been rather quiet in the past few weeks.  However, looking at the pressure there has been on our supermarkets and food suppliers we have been looking at ways of preparing food that makes it go that bit further and makes use of ‘odds and sods’ of food and indeed left overs too!  Some of this we have cooked on the BGE – but some we have also cooked in a domestic oven so hopefully there will be something for everyone!

We will try and intersperse these recipes and ideas with some of the more usual Smokedfinefood/Big Green Egg offerings.  We are trying to ‘raid the freezer’ rather than ‘raid the food suppliers’ and so some of these recipes are challenging the ways we normally cook.  We are being asked to shop once a week or less and some of us are also self isolating.  This means we need to cook with what we have around us – and that in itself makes cooking a little quirky and hopefully more interesting!

The first of these is our – ‘left over’ starter – cold rice – some mushrooms and a small piece of guanciale but half a slice of bacon chopped fine would do just as well – see the picture at the top – and go straight to the blog by clicking here

 

Eating Well and Eating Seasonally – #EatWellEatSeasonally

Eating Well and Eating Seasonally – #EatWellEatSeasonally

We have been working with the idea of cooking with seasonal products as much as we can over the last year.  This is hardly a new concept, and indeed historically it was the only way to eat.

Sautéed potatoes with shallots and peas

This habit has changed with better forms of food preservation, but even more than that over the last 2 decades as we have increasingly imported our food from all round the world whenever we wanted it.

Reverse seared local Sirloin

The last thing I want to do is decry many of these innovations, they have brought lots of advantages to many people.
The flip slide of that though is that we have begun to lose touch a bit more with the seasonallity of our local foods and with local farming.  Because of this we have come to expect fresh green beans in the middle of winter, newly picked tomatoes in February and soft fruits the year round. In many ways quite a privilege, but we have also lost that anticipation of waiting for the first green beans and tomatoes of summer, for the first fresh British Strawberries in June and raspberries in July and August.

Sautéed British Scallops with home cured bacon

Whilst not wanting to lose all these opportunities, we have wanted to try and eat more food produced at the ‘expected time of year’ and therefore produced more locally.  These thoughts were crystallised by people we knew who wanted to turn to a Vegan diet in an attempt to reduce their negative impact on environmental change.  A laudable goal, but one where so often the logic is lost in the detail.  Eating a largely plant based diet rather than high meat based diet may reduce your carbon footprint a little, certainly if you forgo intensively reared meat.  The argument begins to crumble however when you substitute intensively farmed and intensively irrigated avocados from Mexico or grass reared beef or lamb from 20 miles down the road, or green beans grown under floodlight in Kenya and flown to the UK rather than sprouting broccoli from your local producer. You get the picture I am sure!

Braised local pheasant with roasted root vegetables

When making changes in any part of our lives one of the maxims I like to live by is “to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.  In this context therefore if success in our attempt to eat more locally and seasonally was to mean eating any imported food was an absolute sign of failure – then we would fall at the first hurdle!  If however success was increasing the proportion of locally produced food and reducing the proportion of our food that was imported out of season – this was something we could move towards!  This is the basis of our #EatWellEatSeasonally project!!

Roasted root vegetables and red onions with Feta cheese

The difficult times of the year are late winter and into spring when the range of locally produced fresh produce is the most limited.  We have changed our recipes a little to accommodate more root vegetable and the like which has been a bit of a challenge at times but also very rewarding.

Our most spectacular ‘fails’ probably relate to the products of the vine and whilst we are happy to buy local wines when we journey around Europe and transport those with us as we travel (for as long as we are allowed) the New World, South Africa and South America do produce some great wines and so the <5% from the Southern Hemisphere we have been aiming for may in reality be closer to 10%!!

Roast Partridge and Pear

That therefore has been the plan.  Where possible we buy food produced relatively close to where we live or where we are at the time ideally from local producers. Where this is not possible we try and use food from Britain or Northern Europe before spreading our net a little wider.  Sometimes when this is becoming difficult we may buy food produced in the Southern hemisphere but we are trying hard to keep this down to less than 5% of our intake.

Gnocchi with home cured pancetta

It is as though we are drawing a series of concentric circles around where we are, and where possible choosing food from the smallest of the circles that is feasible at the time.  With this flexible approach we have made definite changes over the last year.  Have we perfected the process? Absolutely not! – But the flexibility has meant we have not failed trying to achieve the ‘Perfect’,  and we have made changes which in a small way have been good for us and perhaps good too for the environment.

……….and we can always try to do a little better next week!!

#EatWellEatSeasonally

Slicing Terrines – don’t let it crumble!!

Slicing Terrines – don’t let it crumble!!

In the last blog on terrines we talked about packing the terrine firmly to reduce the risk of it crumbling when cutting.  Nevertheless, with the best will in the world, and with the sharpest and thinest knife it is a fact that terrines can easily crumble!

Crumbling doesn’t stop the terrine tasting wonderful, but if you want your terrine to look great on the plate then crumbling is a real ‘no no’!  Even when a terrine is not likely to crumble it is very easy to distort or tear the pancetta that surrounds the terrine.  This tends to happen on the side towards the direction that the knife slides when cutting the terrine.

Fortunately the solution is really simple!  Wrap the whole terrine tightly with clingfilm.  Cut the slices of terrine as normal, but through the clingfilm.

Place the slice of terrine where you want it for your plating.  Then simply snip through the clingfilm and remove it before serving

The result, a perfectly presented slice of terrine – no crumbling and no distortion of the pancetta!

 

………………. et voila!!

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine – not just for Christmas

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine – not just for Christmas

I do wonder why we tend to reserve so many lovely things for Christmas eating when they are so good for other times too!  Whilst this one was chosen as our Christmas terrine it would work really well throughout the whole of the ‘game season’ from November to the end of January when pheasant is so plentiful!  That would give you really seasonal eating. As all the ingredients can be frozen you can of course extend this to other parts of the year too.

We have made this previously using both fresh pheasant and also using ‘confit pheasant’ that we had made earlier.  On balance I think the latter is preferable but not strictly necessary (confit pheasant is very easy to do – and confit duck can be purchased and is a really good substitute too).  We were using chestnuts and pancetta that we brought back from Italy, but these are easily available from most supermarkets in the UK.

We were going to use this terrine directly on the table and slice from there and so we wanted to decorate it a little.  Before adding the strips of pancetta we put 3 bay leaves into the base of the terrine and then placed the pancetta over these in the normal way to hold them in place.

When turning the terrine out this would leave the bay leaves as decoration on top of the pancetta as you can see in the picture.  All that was left to do once put on the serving board was to place 3 juniper berries in the centre of the bay leaves to finish off the decoration.

The terrine was built up in stages, so after lining the dish with pancetta the meat mix (see below for step by step details) was packed in, taking care to exclude any air pockets.   When half full the reserved pheasant breasts were sliced and arranged over the mix.  This was followed by the remainder of the chestnuts.  This way they would provide a distinctive layer.

The terrine was then filled with the remainder of the mix.  It is worth taking care to ensure that the mix is packed in well to the chestnut layer so that there are no air pockets or the terrine is likely to crumble when trying to cut it.

Finally the pancetta was folded over the domed mix to finish off the preparation.  The top was covered with some lightly oiled foil and the lid was popped back in place. The cooking can be done either in the BGE as we did or in a domestic oven.  Either way the terrine needs to be placed in some form of Bain Marie to make sure the terrine cooks gently and evenly.  The cooking time was around 2 hours at 120C.

During the cooking it is worth draining off any excess juices or this will just end up in the water of the Bain Marie. To check that the cooking is complete, ensure that the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer but more accurately, check with a thermometer probe that the centre has reached at least 65-70°C.  The terrine will feel quite firm.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. At his point tip out any more liquid, cover with cling film, then place a piece of cardboard covered in aluminium foil on top (cut so it fits the inside of the terrine) and rest some weight on top of this.  Allow to cool overnight in the fridge.

In the morning carefully release the terrine from it’s dish.  This can often be done by running a knife  around the terrine keeping it close to the dish.  If using a big terrine, as in this case, that may not be enough.  The best way to release it is then to stand the cool terrine in some warm water just for a couple of minutes to slightly soften the jelly that surrounds the pancetta.  The pheasant and chestnut terrine was tipped out and wrapped in clingfilm and put straight back into the terrine dish once it was washed and cleaned.  Putting it back into the terrine preserves the shape and the cling film allows for easy and reliable release from the dish itself.

When ready to serve, all that was left to do was to dress it with the 3 additional juniper berries and a little holly as an appropriate winter decoration. Then give it pride of place on the table!

Footnote:- there are so many potential variations to this terrine whilst keeping the ‘game theme’ – one we have really enjoyed is a mix of confit duck and pheasant – but try your own combinations and let me know how they workout!

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine

January 3, 2020
: 6
: 1 hr 30 min
: 2 hr
: 3 hr 30 min
: Moderate

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine - a perfect autumn and winter dish - not just for Christmas

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 750g Pork Mince
  • Small handful of chopped Pancetta
  • 4 chicken livers
  • 2 Pheasant breasts and 2 pheasant legs
  • Handful of sausage making rusk or breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp of aromatic Gin
  • 1 tbsp of Port
  • Freshly chopped Thyme
  • Freshly chopped Rosemary
  • Freshly chopped Oregano
  • Some fennel seeds or fennel fronds
  • 12 crushed Juniper berries
  • 6 crushed cloves
  • 1½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Large handful of cooked chestnuts
  • 20 slices of pancetta
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat the oil in a pan and gently soften the onion for around 10 mins – cool
  • Step 2 Reserve the 2 pheasant breasts, half the chestnuts and the 20 pancetta strips
  • Step 3 Finely chop the liver and chop the meat from the pheasant legs being careful to exclude the bony tendons from the drumsticks.  Mix all the other ingredients except those being reserved.  Once all mixed together it is a good time to test the seasoning.  To do this, fry a little piece of the mix in a pan, then taste and adjust as necessary.
  • Step 4 If cooking in the BGE, set up for indirect cooking at around 120C.  A domestic oven can be used in the same way.
  • Step 5 Set 3 bay leaves in the base of the terrine and then line the terrine with the pancetta slices overlapping each slice as you go. Leave the ends hanging over the sides. Fill with the mixture, making sure it gets into the corners.  When half full add a layer of sliced pheasant breasts and the other half of the chestnuts.  Add the rest of the terrine mix, pushing it well into the pheasant and chestnut layer (it will dome slightly above the terrine).
  • Step 6 Bring the pancetta up to cover the filling. Cover the dish with lightly oiled foil and add the lid if available. Place the terrine in some form of Bain Marie to make sure the terrine cooks gently and evenly. Bake for around 2 hrs at 120C, drain any excess juices and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. The terrine should be firm, the juices should run clear when pierced with a skewer.  A thermometer probe inserted into the centre should reach at least 65-70°C.
  • Step 7 Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Tip out any more liquid, cover with cling film, then place a piece of cardboard covered in aluminium foil on top (cut so it fits the inside of the terrine) and rest some weight on top of this. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge
  • Step 8 Slice thickly and serve with your preferred accompaniment
A Partridge in a Pear Tree

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

We had called into Charlotte’s Butchery to pick up some minced pork for some autumn sausage making.  One of the real joys of Charlotte’s is that in addition to fabulously consistent meat, the meat display often has something unusual to tempt you away from your carefully planned shopping list.  Today was no exception!  Sat next to some very good looking duck breasts were a couple of brace of prepared partridge.  Each was complete with a strip of bacon and at just £3 each they we’re crying out to be taken home!!!

These were young game birds.  Confirmed by gently but firmly pressing the breast bone.  When they are softly pliable you have a great candidate to roast; hard, proud and unyielding, and you have one for the pot. Either way of cooking is great, but roasting an older bird is usually dissappointing.  I had been searching recipes to cook some wood pigeon that we had in the freezer and had come across a recipe from Nigel Slater which would be perfect as a basis for these 2 young birds.

The plan was to roast the birds with herb butter and cured belly pork and to pair them with some roasted caramelised pears.   This would be served on top of some fried rye bread with a ‘jus’ made from the cooking juices, a dash of red wine and some sage jelly.

The bacon was removed from the birds. Some dried and fresh thyme and some juniper berries together with salt and pepper were ground using a mortar and pestle.  This was then mixed with some lightly warmed butter and then smeared generously over the skin of the partridge.  The bacon was then stretched with the back of a knife to thin it and make it longer and wider.  It was then wrapped over the breast of the partridge.  Also added, was a little pancetta to cover the rest of the breast and the legs.

They were placed in the roasting pan together with a handful of lardons.  In a separate pan, a whole pear cut into 4 slices and cored was lightly sautéed in the remaining herb butter and a little rapeseed oil.  When lightly coloured, they were added to the roasting pan.

The Big Green Egg had been set up for indirect cooking and brought to a temperature of 200C.  The roasting pan was placed on top of the cooking grill and the EGG was closed.  The birds were left to roast for 15 minutes.  Whilst they were cooking, 2 slices of rye bread were fried in the pan in which the pears had been sautéed.  These were then put to one side.

After 15 minutes the bacon was removed from the breasts of the partridge and slipped into the side of the roasting dish.  The pear slices were turned over so both sides could be caramelised.

In a domestic oven I would probably have left the partridge like this to colour up for the last 15 minutes.   In the BGE, even when set up indirectly, the heat comes from below and so anything touching the bottom of the pan will caramelise and colour. The birds were therefore turned over after 5 minutes to let the breast contact the pan directly.  Next time I would do this as soon as the bacon was removed rather than 5 minutes later.  This would give a little more time for the  breasts to colour.

Once the birds had been roasted for a full 30 minutes the core temperature was around 76C (in the coolest areas) and around 80C in the breasts.  They were removed from the pan, placed on the fried rye bread and dressed with the bacon. They were left to rest on the fried bread in a warm oven (50C) for 10 minutes.  Whilst they were resting, the roasting pan was placed on the hob and the pan was deglazed with a large splash of white wine.  The alcohol was boiled off and a large spoon of sage jelly was added and stired through to make a rich ‘jus’.   The partridge were served in the centre of the plate on the fried bread with the caramelised pears.   The fried bread had absorbed the juices that came from the birds when they were resting.  The dish was finished with the white wine and sage jus together with some roasted potatoes and lentils.

This recipe is a real ‘keeper’ and fits so well with our attempts to eat more ‘seasonally’ – Partridge and a pear from the tree!!

………………………. if you get a chance – give it a go!

 

Partridge in a Pear Tree

December 2, 2019
: 2
: 20 min
: 40 min
: 1 hr
: Moderate

Roasted Partridge served with Caramelised Pear

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 young partridges
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • 8 juniper berries
  • Large pinch of Maldon salt
  • 10 pepper corns
  • 50g butter
  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta
  • 100g of lardons
  • 1 pears
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 slices of Rye bread
  • 1 tbsp sage, rowan or quince jelly
  • A large splash of white wine
Directions
  • Step 1 Add the thyme, juniper berries some Maldon salt and pepper corns and grind with a mortar and pestle.  Mix the grind into the butter, warmed slightly in the microwave if necessary.  Smear the butter generously over the skin of the partridge.  
  • Step 2 Stretch the bacon with the back of a knife to thin it and make it longer and wider.  Wrap these over the breast of the partridge.  Pancetta can be used in the same way. Place the birds in the roasting pan together with a handful of lardons.
  • Step 3 Slice the pear into 4 long slices and de-core.  Toss in some lemon juice.  Add these to a separate pan and lightly sauté in the remains of the herb butter and a little rapeseed oil.  When lightly coloured add to the roasting pan.
  • Step 4 Set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking and bring to a temperature of 200C.  Put the roasting pan on top of the cooking grill, close the EGG and roast for 15 minutes.  
  • Step 5 Whilst the birds are cooking fry 2 slices of rye bread in the pan with the pear and butter sauté juices.  Place to one side.
  • Step 6 After 15 minutes remove the bacon from the partridge and slip into the side of the roasting dish.  Turn the birds over so the breasts can be caramelised on the pan directly.  Turn over the pear slices to caramelise both sides.
  • Step 7 Once the birds have been roasted for a full 30 minutes and the core temperature has reached 74C remove from the pan, place on the fried rye bread and dress with the bacon.  Allow to rest on the fried bread in a warm oven (50C).  
  • Step 8 Whilst the birds are resting put the roasting pan on the hob and deglaze with a large splash of white wine.  Boil off the alcohol and add a large spoon of sage jelly and stir this through to make a rich ‘jus’.  
  • Step 9 Serve the partridge on the fried bread with the caramelised pears and pour over the sage and white whine jus.

 

Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison is such a lovely meat to casserole on the Big Green Egg.  The EGG seems to overcome that one problem you can have with venison – its tendency to dry out.  To be able to combine this with a seasonal ‘bounty crop’ was just too good a chance to miss.  We had been given some beautiful cubed venison which seemed to contain a mix of the more obvious stewing pieces of venison with some of the more tender braising cuts.  Unfortunately, this was all the information we had, nor did we know from which type of deer the venison came.  In reality any venison listed for braising or casseroling would be fine.  The most likely source would be shoulder venison.  We also had some  fresh chestnuts that we had picked when walking in Italy and had brought back to the UK in our cool box!  We also used our own dried porcini mushrooms that we had dried when in Italy which made the dish very special for us.

Preparation was relatively simple and was done on the stove top – but could have been completed on the EGG if it hadn’t been raining so heavily.  The mushrooms were covered in cold water and left for 5 mins.  This first water was poured away to remove any debris and then they were covered again with around 300ml of just boiled water and left for 20 mins.  Meanwhile our Dutch oven was heated and a little oil added, followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves.  We were using some homemade pancetta, but shop bought would work equally well. Once the pancetta pieces were lightly coloured and some of their fat had been rendered they were removed from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

The venison was then lightly floured with a seasoned flour and fried off in batches in the Dutch oven.  It is important to fry them until each piece takes on some colour.  These were then set aside too.  Then into the pan we added the roughly chopped onion and as soon as that was taking on some colour the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Usually in a dish like this we would chop the vegetables finely – but on this occasion we wanted a combination of finely chopped for flavour and coarsely chopped for texture and visual appeal.  These were all stirred through the oils to lightly sauté.  The herbs and spices were then added and cooked for around 15 mins in total.  It may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.   The tomato puree and some red wine were then added and the heat on the Dutch oven turned up to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries a slug of gin was also included.  Once the pan was deglazed the venison and pancetta were reintroduced together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large.)

Finally the mix of beef and chicken stock, together with the porcini soaking liquor was added and the whole pan was brought up to a simmer.

The uncovered Dutch oven was put into the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat).  

Around 30 mins from the end of the cooking 2 large handfuls of cooked chestnuts (these had been boiled and peeled) were added together with a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.

 

Venison chestnut and Porcini Casserole

November 25, 2019
: 6
: 40 min
: Straightforward

A venison casserole enhanced with the autumnal tastes of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms

By:

Ingredients
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta (or smoked bacon) lardons
  • 1kg venison shoulder, cut into 2-3cm dice
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic sliced finely
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely and finely chopped
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml of mixed chicken and beef stock ! Suggest one stockpot of each
  • 1 tablespoon recurrant jelly
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large handfuls or 1 pack of cooked chestnuts added near the end
  • 400g mushrooms sliced added at the end
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Cover the mushrooms with cold water and leave for 5 mins. Pour away this first water. Cover again with around 300ml of just boiled water and leave for 20 mins.  
  • Step 2 Heat the Dutch oven and add a little oil followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves. Once the pancetta pieces are lightly coloured and some of their fat has been rendered remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Flour the venison with flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and fry off in batches in the Dutch oven till the meat takes on some colour. Set aside.  
  • Step 4 Add the roughly chopped onion to the pan and as soon as that was taking on some colour add the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Stir through the oil to lightly sauté.  
  • Step 5 Add the herbs and spices and cook for around 15 mins in total.  It is may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.  
  • Step 6 Add the tomato puree and some red wine and increase the heat on the Dutch to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries add a slug of gin.  
  • Step 7 Once the pan is deglazed reintroduce the venison and pancetta together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large).  Add the mix of beef and chicken stock together with the porcini soaking liquor and bring to a simmer.
  • Step 8 Put the uncovered Dutch in the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat). When within about 30 mins of the end of the cooking add the cooked chestnuts and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.  Heat some butter in a large frying pan and cook the chopped fresh mushrooms until they start to wilt. Season well and cook until they take on some colour then tip into the venison pan and stir through.
  • Step 9 Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the casserole is too fluid – mix a little cornflour in cold water and add some of the stock to this and then stir through the casserole and cook for 10 mins more. Serve with mashed potatoes and add some freshly chopped parsley
Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

This is a very short follow up on the Autumn Pork and Chestnut Terrine blog from a few weeks ago which you can find here.  This was largely the same recipe and so we will not repeat that here.  The differences were simple and largely for visual appeal.  Instead of confining the pancetta lardons to a layer in the middle of the terrine, these were mixed into the terrine mixture.  Their place was taken by a thin layer of chicken breast.  This had been cut off some chicken we were going to eat that evening.  On top of the chicken layer we added a more substantial layer of the boiled chestnuts.

The final difference was that we bought enough pancetta slices this time to cover the whole terrine!  In the UK if I buy pancetta it is usually cut a little thicker than we find in Italy.  We therefore tend to stretch it and thin it a little by running the back of a knife along its length. There was no need to do that with the thinner pancetta.

We have also been asked what we would use instead of the Tuscan sausages when we cook this in the UK.  The answer is quite simple in that these Tuscan sausages are just minced pork (a mixture of shoulder and belly usually) with a generous dose of salt and pepper.  So in the UK minced pork bought from a butcher or pork minced at home.  The only point to watch is that Italian pork tends to be more fatty than the pork we have become used to in the UK.  It is this that gives it its special taste.   So if you are trying to recreate this don’t stint on the pork fat.  Indeed, if you get the chance (in the UK) add a little more!

As the sausages in Tuscany are already seasoned we have needed to add less salt and pepper to the overall mix. If using minced pork you will need to add more.  If in doubt – fry a little of the mix off, let it cool well and taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Alter the overall amounts of the ingredients to suit the size of your terrine.  If you keep the proportions similar to this you won’t go far wrong.

 

For the Original recipe: – Click here