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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 which we can confirm 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 Shawarma 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!!

 

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

 

 

Sautéed Potatoes with Onion, Garlic Rosemary and Peas

Sautéed Potatoes with Onion, Garlic Rosemary and Peas

Sometimes it is the simplest of dishes that give the most satisfaction.  This is very much one of those dishes!  It is hard to better simple roast potatoes – but this is a dish that does that!.  Indeed it would be a lovely simple supper dish in its own right!  This is a sautéed potato dish with onions, garlic, rosemary and peas.  The secret is to hold your nerve and cook it for (more…)

Slow roasted caramelised fennel – latest reflections

Slow roasted caramelised fennel – latest reflections

We have returned to this dish so often – in so many ways it has been the ‘go to’ dish of the summer!  It has also been popular with friends who have adopted the dish and have added it to their own regular cooking repertoire.  It is incredibly versatile and so easy to cook too! – see original post with recipe here

The transformation of a simple fennel bulb and a handful of small tomatoes requires no more than some heat and a heavy metal surface on which to allow the caramelising process to occur.  To balance the dish, a little salt and pepper, perhaps a teaspoon of fennel seeds and some rapeseed oil – let the magic begin!

Whilst you could do this dish in a domestic oven it is perfectly suited to Kamado cooking with a combination of bottom heat and oven cooking.

We have served it as a Tapas, as an amuse bouche, with flaked parmesan, with fish, with steak, with pork………………..

The only decision making you need is how caramelised you want to make it.  On one occasion we left it, as we thought, too long, and if anything it was better still …………….. this is just a dish that keeps on giving!!!

 

Try your own twist on how you serve it, but remember to share your best ideas with us here!

 

original post with recipe here

 

 

 

Fried liver duo with black olives

Fried liver duo with black olives

Having been pleased at the outcome of our fried and grilled calves liver recipe, I wanted to go back and try the more conventional approach.  We had reverted to grilling the meat after initial frying as the temperature of our plancha/pan had really not been hot enough when we added the liver. The situation had been made worse because (more…)

Another seasonal special – fried Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms)

Another seasonal special – fried Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms)

When we were in Italy we were very fortunate to be given some Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms).  These were found in the local chestnut groves and although we had seen them growing, our knowledge of wild mushrooms is such that unless we are with someone who clearly knows what they are doing – we leave them well alone!  We can buy our fungi in the local vegetable shop (these will almost always have been found by local people who actually know that what they are picking is safe!).  These however were a gift from someone we trusted and this made them all the better! (more…)

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

We were in holiday in Tuscany in the late summer and early autumn in 2019.  This is later in the year than we had normally gone and it certainly felt different.  Gone was the searing summer heat and in this agricultural part of Italy everything was gearing to harvest time: grapes, olives, mushrooms and chestnuts!

We were in a region with lots of chestnut trees (more…)

Fried and grilled calves liver with black olives

Fried and grilled calves liver with black olives

This is a liver dish that you may well enjoy even if you don’t like liver!  Better still it is one of those perfect dishes that comes about when something didn’t go according to plan in the cooking.  Here it was the ‘rescue’ that made the dish – and it is now a fixed part of the way we cook calves liver on the Big Green Egg.  As someone who likes liver in various forms I find it just a little strange that there are as many people who don’t like it as there are those of us who do.  And rather like with marmite, people don’t sit on the fences, but polarise into one camp or the other!  Don’t stop reading now though, this may just be the dish that wins you over if you are a doubter! (more…)

Grilled Peppers with chickpeas, tomatoes black olives and hot spicy yoghurt

Grilled Peppers with chickpeas, tomatoes black olives and hot spicy yoghurt

We have been playing around with a few meat free dishes, such as our slow roasted caramelised fennel dish and our roasted cauliflower with truffle oil and toasted flax seeds.  But although we like vegetarian food our experience is limited.  Finding the book “Charred” by Genevieve Taylor seemed like a great opportunity (more…)

The Big Green Egg – Does Sea Bass and Bream Again!

The Big Green Egg – Does Sea Bass and Bream Again!

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…)

Rosemary infused roasted chicken supreme

Rosemary infused roasted chicken supreme

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…)

La Scottiglia revisited – how close had we got in recreating this dish?

La Scottiglia revisited – how close had we got in recreating this dish?

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!!

Herring fillets sautéed in butter

Herring fillets sautéed in butter

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

September 17, 2019
: 2
: 10 min
: 10 min
: 20 min
: Easy

Fresh herring fillets sautéed in butter

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 herring fillets
  • Olive or Rapeseed oil
  • Butter
  • Lemon Juice
Directions
  • 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.

Simple Seafood Stir fry – with video

Simple Seafood Stir fry – with video

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…)

Bone marrow butter

Bone marrow butter

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

August 2, 2019
: 6
: 10 min
: 30 min
: 40 min
: Easy

Salted butter enriched with roasted bone marrow

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 or more marrowbones
  • Double the volume of good salted butter
Directions
  • 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.
Hot Smoked Salmon – Cedar and Beech Smoked

Hot Smoked Salmon – Cedar and Beech Smoked

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

July 22, 2019
: 4 - scaleable
: 16 hr
: 4 hr
: 20 hr
: Easy

Cured Salmon side or part side smoked on a cedar plank over beech smoke

By:

Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  • 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
Spicy charred chicken breast with chorizo potatoes

Spicy charred chicken breast with chorizo potatoes

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

July 15, 2019
: 2-3
: 15 min
: 20 min
: 35 min
: Easy

Spicy Chicken breast roasted with chorizo sautéed potatoes

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts skin on
  • Shawarma seasoning from Angus and Oink
  • New potatoes
  • Chorizo 3 inch piece
  • Rapeseed oil
Directions
  • 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

Chorizo sautéed new Potatoes with Asparagus

Chorizo sautéed new Potatoes with Asparagus

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

July 9, 2019
: 2-3
: 10 min
: 20 min
: 30 min
: Easy

Chorizo sautéed potatoes with asparagus

By:

Ingredients
  • New potatoes, halved
  • Chorizo 3 inch piece
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Asparagus chopped into 3cm pieces on the diagonal
Directions
  • 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

 

Roast boned leg of Venison (red deer)

Roast boned leg of Venison (red deer)

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…)

African Spiced Roast leg of Pork

African Spiced Roast leg of Pork

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

June 24, 2019
: 6
: 15 min
: 1 hr 30 min
: 1 hr 45 min
: Easy

Roasted skinless leg of pork with African spices

By:

Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  • 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.