May 21 2007

Salted Roast Pork Ribs with Mustard Parsnip Cream.

Serves 6:
1x 6-8 bone ‘French trimmed’ loin of pork, (see notes).
Salt and pepper, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling.
Cooking oil
1 Tbsp clear honey.
1 Teaspoon picked fresh thyme, saving the stalks.
Juice of ½ lemon.
300ml (½ pint) Chicken stock, tinned consommé or water.
25g (1oz) butter.

For the parsnip cream:
1.3kg (3ib) Parsnips.
Milk to cover (approximately 450-600ml / ¾-1pint).
Knob of butter
1 tablespoon Dijon or wholegrain mustard.

Preheat the oven to 230°C / 450°F / Gas mark 8. Score the skin of the pork with a sharp knife in a line between each bone. Season the underside and meat ends of the pork with salt and pepper. Brush the skin with cooking oil, then sprinkle with table and coarse sea salt. Place the joint in a roasting tray, sitting on its arched bones, skin side up. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes at the high temperature to begin the crisping of the skin. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6 and continue roasting, basting from time to time, for a further 50-60 minutes.

During this time, the skin will have crisped to a salted crackling finish. Remove the joint from the pan and keep warm to one side, allowing to rest for a good 15 minutes.

Pour away any excess fat from the roasting tray and place it on a medium heat. As the residue begins to bubble and crackle, add the honey and thyme stalks. The honey will melt instantly and begin to sizzle within a minute or two. When it begins to caramelise, add the lemon juice, which will begin to split, lifting all the flavours. Add the stock, consommé or water and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for a few minutes seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter. A teaspoon of flour can be added to the 25g (1oz) of butter. This will immediately thicken the liquor. Cook for a few minutes to finish the gravy,then strain through a fine sieve. Add the fresh thyme leaves just before serving.

While the pork is resting, make the parsnip cream. Peel the parsnips, splitting each lengthwise into quarters and cutting away the core. Cut the strips into rough dice. Place the diced parsnips in a saucepan and add enough milk to cover. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Place a lid on top and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the parsnips are completely tender. Using a slotted spoon, place some of the cooked dice into a liquidizer and blitz to a smooth puree, adding some of the milk if needed. As the parsnips begin to cream, more parsnips can be added. This may have to be done in two batches. If slightly grainy, you may want to pass it through a sieve. Once all of the puree has been made, keep to one side, ready to rewarm when needed. When reheating the knob of butter and mustard can be added and the seasoning checked.

To carve the pork, simply separate the portions by carving between each rib. An alternative is first to cut away the crackling. This can now be broken into pieces ready to serve with the craved pork. Serve the craved pork on warm plates with a spoonful of the parsnip cream and a drizzle or two of the thyme flavoured gravy.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Roast Turkey


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6

Remove giblets from inside turkey. First make a little stock with these for your gravy later. Next make the Stuffing for the bird.

STUFFING helps to keep the bird moist, it bastes from within. Older cookery books often suggest stuffing the turkey at each end; traditionally forcemeat one end and chestnut the other.

12 prunes soaked in red wine

grated rind half lemon

8oz peeled and cooked chestnuts

1oz butter

1 head celery chopped

2oz chopped onion

1dsp chopped mixed herbs

salt & pepper

1 small beaten egg

Simmer the prunes in the wine till tender, cool, stone and cut into four. Soften celery and onion in butter over a low heat, add prunes, herbs, salt and pepper, lemon rind, and chestnuts, broken into pieces. Stir lightly with a fork, allow to cool thoroughly before binding together with the beaten egg.

Fill the central cavity with a stuffing of your choice and weigh the turkey again.

To calculate cooking time allow 15 minutes per lb for a bird up to 14lb and 20-25 minutes for a larger bird.

Or…….how about this adapted version of a Traditional Italian stuffing  based on Orvieto Chicken…..

turkey giblets

1 lb potatoes

large  onion

30 garlic cloves unpeeled ..yes!

fennel bulb

8oz black olives

fresh sprig rosemary

lemon zest and juice

glass dry white wine

3 tbsp. virgin olive oil

Take the turkey giblets : first remove “oysters” of meat from  gizzard with a sharp knife then chop up together with the  heart and liver.

Dice peeled potatoes, fennel and onion.

Pull apart Garlic heads until you have about 30 cloves.

Crush 2 cloves of garlic.

Pit olives …..or better still…….buy them pitted!

Pull leaves of rosemary from the twig and chop  (please don’t bother with dried rosemary…!!)

Zest and juice the lemon

Melt the potatoes, fennel and onions in the  olive oil until just soft. Add the giblets and crushed garlic, then stir in the whole garlic cloves  ( don’t bother to peel!),  then the olives, fresh chopped rosemary, zest and juice of lemon, salt and pepper and the white wine.

Spoon all this mixture into the turkey….Delicious!


Melt a little butter and oil in the roasting tin and place the bird on its side on a rack in the tin. Spread it with more butter, or wrap in butter-soaked muslin. Add the giblets and a pint of water to the tin and cover the whole thing in tin foil. Keep the liver to fry and add to the gravy later. Place the bird in the centre of the hot oven.

A little before half time take the turkey out of the oven, turn it onto its other side, baste well with the pan juices and re -cover carefully.

Twenty minutes before the end of the cooking time remove the bird from the oven and turn breast up, baste again and sprinkle with salt and pepper and return to the hot oven to brown.

Test at the end of cooking time by sticking a long skewer into the thickest part of the thigh, if the juice is clear the turkey is cooked.

When cooked allow the bird to REST, covered in a warm place for about 20 minutes. This will make it much easier to carve.


To make the gravy first pour off excess fat from the roasting pan.

Deglase the tin with a little red wine and red currant jelly scraping up all the residue. Stir in a little stock made from the giblets. Mix a tablespoon of the reserved fat with a desert spoon of corn flour and return to the roasting pan Bring the gravy to the boil over a brisk heat stirring all the time until it is a rich syrupy consistency. Strain before serving. The sliced and lightly fried turkey liver may be added to the gravy after straining.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Roast Shoulder of Lamb

Out of the deepfreeze comes a shoulder of lamb which I boned and rolled a while back.

To bone any meat use a sharp flexible bladed knife and, sliding it into the meat, work your way along and around the bones. Blunt knives are much more dangerous than sharp ones because you need so much more pressure, then you slip and cut yourself!

Sprinkle the meat with course salt and freshly ground pepper.

Herbs are always a welcome addition to the pan. This time I have the prunings of the Thyme plants from the garden and I will roast the lamb on a thick bed of these thymey twigs. Rosemary and garlic are also particularly delicious with lamb and later in the year a bed of mint permeates the meat as it cooks and smells of spring. But beware sage, it’s too strong for lamb and belongs with pork.

This piece weighs some 3lbs (about1.5 kg) so it will feed us for a couple of days, hot and cold.

Hot : Roast in a hot oven 20 mins to the lb (45 per kg).
Blanch peeled potatoes for 2-3 mins, drain, then roast round the meat. We had red and yellow stemmed chard from the polytunnel and Puy lentils with garlic and ginger to accompany the meat. It will be a while yet before we dig the first new potatoes and shell the first peas!

And gravy of course; it surprises me how often I am asked how to make gravy without those disgusting gravy granules! Lift the meat from the roasting pan when its cooked and put it to “rest” on a serving plate or board, cover and keep warm. This will make it easier to carve and give you time to finish every thing else. Drain the spinach chard or other vegetable and keep the water. Return the roasting tin to the heat, scrape the residue with a wooden spoon and gradually stir in some of the veg water. Simmer, then stir in a teaspoon of corn flour mixed to a thin paste with a little water. As the gravy heats it will loose the cloudy look and become glossy and a rich brown.. Adjust thickness to your taste with a little more stock or corn flour mixture, if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Next day we will add baked potatoes with crème fraiche to the cold lamb. A rocket salad once more gleaned from the remains in the pollytunnel will be sprinkled with course salt and virgin olive oil, and maybe a dash of fig balsamic vinegar. Or perhaps I‘ll make some mayonnaise instead. Home made plum chutney will finish things off and of course a glass of wine.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Roast Beef

Let’s start with a traditional Sunday roast! A fillet of beef, a piece of sirloin or a rib caramelised on the outside and pink in the middle served with good gravy, Yorkshire pudding, fresh horseradish (grated into clotted cream!) and seasonal vegetables must surely be one of our best national dishes.

Rub the meat all over with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place in a robust roasting tin and place in a very hot (preheated!) oven 220C/Gas 7 for 20 minutes to seal the meat and give you that dark rich coating to the meat. Reduce the heat to 180C for remaining cooking time. This will depend on how well cooked you like your meat.
Here is a rough guide to cooking times, but remember all cookers vary and you are the best judge of yours.

10 minutes per 500gm Rare (very pink)
15 minutes per 500gm Medium (just pink)
20 minutes per 500gm Well done ( no pink)

When you are satisfied the beef is cooked to your liking remove it from the oven, take it out of the roasting tin and leave it in a warm place to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. All roast meat benefits hugely by being rested after cooking. Resting allows the juices to settle evenly through the meat. It also gives you time to cook the Yorkshire pudding, finish off the vegetables and make the gravy.

To make the gravy first pour off excess fat from the roasting tin then deglaze it with a little stock or vegetable water and , if you like, a dash of red wine. Mix a couple of generous teaspoons of corn flour with a little water and stir into the gravy over the heat. Keep stirring till it thickens and clears, add salt and pepper to taste. If necessary strain it through a sieve into a gravy jug.

Topside and silverside make very respectable roasting joints too provided that the meat is well hung and the cooking is slower and gentler. Give the meat a quicker hot blast as above then lower the heat to 195C and cook the meat for 20 minutes per 500gm. Slow roasting will become braising if you add some vegetables and liquid and cover the pot.


No responses yet

May 21 2007


Rillettes de Lapin

This traditional rillettes recipe uses rabbit to replace some of the pork. Cook the rabbit slowly with garlic, herbs and pork belly, then drain off the fat, first pound, then pull apart the meat with two forks, pile into an earthenware dish and completely cover with the carefully strained fat. Cover with foil and store in the fridge. Eat with toast or crusty bread.

Sauce au Vin du Medoc

Rabbit is stewed so slowly in red wine with beef and pork in this old traditional country recipe that is almost becomes a sauce. Chop 6 shallots and brown them in dripping, add 3 large carrots cut into big pieces. Add one jointed rabbit, 1 ½ lbs each of stewing beef and pork, add garlic and herbs to taste.

Sprinkle with flour, stir and pour over a bottle of red wine. Add a little water and a square or two of plain chocolate. Simmer, “just murmuring”, for three hours. Let the dish cool completely. Leave in the fridge over night then simmer again the following day for a further two hours. Serve with plenty of bread and / or a mousseline of potatoes. (see Vegetables)

It is “la grosse cuisine de la campagne” and sounds the perfect dish for cold winter days not, I stress, in the heat wave of summer!

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Old Fashioned Beef Stew and Dumplings

Cut 500gms of braising beef eg. chuck steak or shin of beef, into large squares and dust with flour. Heat olive oil in a heavy frying pan and soften two large sliced onions, when just beginning to brown transfer to a casserole dish. Fry the meat quickly in batches giving the pan time to heat up between each batch. Place the meat in the casserole, add 500gms carrots cut into sticks, *a bouquet garni and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle over a spoonful of flour

Deglaze the frying pan with 750ml of stock or 300ml water and 450ml stout. Bring to the boil and pour over the meat making sure it is covered. Cover and cook for 2 hours in the preheated oven 170C/gas3 or until the meat is tender.

* traditionally bouquet garni is made up of a bay leaf, and two or three sprigs of parsley and thyme.

To make the dumplings sift 100gms of self raising flour and mix with ½ teaspoon backing powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 50gms shredded suet and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Add enough water to make a sticky dough. On a floured board, roll the dough into small balls. When the meat is nearly cooked put the dumplings on top of the stew and cook a further ½ hour until they are double the size and cooked right through. It helps to baste them a couple of times during cooking. Serve the stew with a crisp green salad.

This is the basic principle for all stews and ragouts. Ring the changes with your choice of vegetables, herbs and liquid. Red wine, garlic, bacon, tomatoes and orange rind will take you to a French Daube. Kidney, mushrooms and oysters will bring you back to Britain with Steak and Kidney and Oyster Pie or Pudding. Juniper berries, peppercorns, Parma Ham and white wine will give you Italian Stracotto.

No responses yet

May 21 2007


The pasty question is a vexing one! Should pasties be crimped along the top or flat like a fat bolster. Is the beef minced or chopped – must it be beef? Does carrot go into the filling or just turnip and onion?
Mrs Beeton, 1926, adds baking powder to her pastry and gravy to the filling! “ Farmhouse Fare” 5/- 1956 slices the beef and makes pastry with butter. Even Jane Grigson finishes the pasty with a frill on the top. She does makes the pastry with lard though. A minefield!
My Cornish mother-in-law’s son is quite adamant: you cannot get a proper pasty in Devon, not even Widecombe!
His mother remembered, as a child at the beginning of the last century, pasties, big and bolster shaped, being made very early in the morning. They were wrapped in newspaper and packed into an old suitcase or box and carried to the fields by the farm workers. When it was time to rest and eat, the pasties were still warm, comforting to cold hands and empty stomachs. If times were hard the filling was more potato and turnip than meat. One end was often jam-filled for pudding, all washed down with a bottle of cold tea, then back to work.
Make a short crust pastry with 12 oz plain flour, 6 oz lard, ¼ tsp of salt and a little water, put it into the fridge to rest. Chop 1 lb of chuck steak, 4-5oz onion, 3oz turnip, 8oz potato. Mix together with salt and plenty of pepper. Roll out the pastry and cut out two large circles, divide the meat mixture between the two. Brush the rim of the pastry with beaten egg then fold in half and roll over the edge to form a crescent.. Place the pasties on a baking tray, brush them with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven ( 6/400) for 20 minutes, lower the heat and continue cooking for approximately another 40 minutes. Eat hot or cold.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Lancashire Hotpot

We have two hogs coming back from the butcher on Monday. Maybe that is why my mind drifts back to those old books. Mutton is not on the menu very often now and has definitely fallen from grace until a very recent revival. I think of mutton chops and Lancashire Hotpot. How the methods vary. Dorothy Hartley flours and browns her mutton chops before standing then on end in an earthenware pot. She packs in an onion per chop, large pieces of carrot, then “some oysters”. Next she covers the lot with sliced potato overlapping like “tiles on the roof” She makes a thick, and to my taste, rather heavy gravy with flour, boiling water and the fat from the fried meat. To this she adds salt, pepper and, she insists, a sprinkling of sugar. Most important, she says, no, no, I say! Then in goes a dash of Yorkshire relish or anchovy essence. All this is poured over the meat and vegetables and the whole is covered with a lid and baked “with a good fire” for two hours.

Mrs Beeton fries nothing but simply layers meat and vegetables in a fire-proof baking dish, no oysters here, just water, salt and pepper. The lid is removed twenty minutes before the end of cooking to crisp the potatoes. Constance Spry favours the oysters, mushrooms and a good stock. She covers the pot with grease proof paper instead of a lid removing it some twenty minutes before the end of cooking to crisp and brown the potatoes.. No mention, of course, of such a dish from Elizabeth David. Her mission was to encourage us to look beyond our shores.


I suspect a tour of Lancashire itself would bring as many, maybe more, variations. So I’ll steer a course through the middle, probably leaving out the oysters and cooking everything a day in advance, cooling overnight and removing the fat from the top before reheating.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

La Gougere

Now here is a really simple and delicious way to use up that left over turkey or cold chicken. It works really well with a mushroom or mixed vegetable filling too.

Bake a ring of Cheese Choux Pastry and fill it with meat or vegetables warmed in a rich cream and sherry sauce.

For the pastry put 150ml of water in a small pan with 50gm of butter. Bring it to the boil and then shoot in 75gm of sifted plain flour and beat like mad with a wooden spoon having taken it off the heat. Leave it to cool then beat in two eggs. Next stir in 80gms of tiny cubes of gruyere cheese (cheddar will do) a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Grease an oven proof dish really well and pile the rich yellow paste around the edges to make a ring (with a hole in the centre for the turkey filling later). Bake at 220c ((425f or gas 7) for about 40 mins. depending on your oven. The secret with choux pastry is to cook it longer than you think you should! It smells wonderful after 20 minutes but don’t be fooled, it must have a chance to dry out inside.

Meanwhile make a sauce in the usual way: 25gm butter and 25gm flour melted and mixed to form a roux, whisk in 300ml milk, stock or left over gravy ( if you use gravy remember to cut down on the flour in the roux). Bring to the boil stirring all the time and continue to cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour. Cheer it up with a dash of sherry, a spoonful of that cream at the back of the fridge or a dollop of crème fraiche. You can add mushrooms, add a little blanched broccoli and left over stuffing. You can leave out the meat altogether….whatever you fancy. Season the filling well and pile it up into the crispy ring of Gougere.

All you need now is a green salad and a glass of wine.

One response so far

May 21 2007

Roasted Fillet of Beef with Herbs and Porcini, Wrapped in Prosciutto.

As far as roasted meat goes, this is extremely fast and simple, yet decadently rich.

Serves 4:

12 – 18 slices prosciutto or Parma ham.
3 cloves of garlic, peeled.
1 good handful of dried porcini, soaked in around 285ml / ½ pint boiling water.
3 good knobs of butter.
Juice of ½ lemon.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
900g / 2lb fillet of beef (preferably from the middle, left whole).
3 good handfuls of fresh rosemary and thyme, leaves picked and chopped.
2 glasses of red wine.

Preheat your oven and an appropriately sized roasting tray to 230°C / 450°F / gas mark 8. Make sure there are no gaps in between the laid-out slices of prosciutto. Chop one of the garlic cloves and fry it with the soaked porcini in 1 knob of butter for a minute. Then add half of the soaking water (make sure it is grit-free). Simmer slowly and reduce for around 5 minutes before stirring in a squeeze of lemon, the remaining 2 knobs of butter and seasoning.

Rub your tasty and moist mushrooms over half of the laid-out prosciutto. Season your fillet of beef and roll it in the herbs. Place it on the mushroomy end of the prosciutto and slowly roll up the meat. Once the beef is rolled up, pull off the paper and push in the ends of the prosciutto to neaten. Lightly secure with 4 pieces of string.

Place the fillet in the hot roasting tray with a couple of cloves of garlic and cook for 25 – 30 minutes (rare), 40 minutes (medium), 50 minutes (well done). Half way through, add the wine to the tray. When the meat is done, remove it to a chopping board and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Pour any juices back into the roasting tray. Simmer the juices on the hob, scraping all the goodness from the sides of the tray. Remove from the heat and serve as light red wine gravy. Slice the fillet as thick or as thin as you like and serve with some potatoes and greens. Reserve a little of the porcini to serve with the greens.

No responses yet

« Prev - Next »