Friday, 27 February 2015

Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne

Ingredients (feeds 6)

800g of steak mince
1 stalk of celery finely sliced
1 Onion finely chopped
3-4 Garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped
1 Green pepper with core and seeds removed cut into slices
A handful of mushrooms sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A fresh salad tomato cut into chunks
1 tin of kidney beans in water
100g of bacon lardons
1 or 2 chilis chopped (depending on personal preference for heat)
Half a glass of red wine
Quarter of a pint of beef stock
2 teaspoons of chili powder (hot or mild - again according to personal taste)
1 table spoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of marjoram

Accompany with: boiled rice or baked potatoes, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole and grated mild cheese.

The cooking:

Before you start, season your raw steak mince with plenty of salt and pepper and set aside for about 5 minutes. Fry ingredients off in a pan then transfer to an over proof dish for baking as you go along. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and prepare your ingredients. 

Start by browning your mince. This is a recipe where you do not necessarily need premium quality mince to get the best out of it. In fact fatty mince gives it a better flavour. Once it is browned, it is inevitable that a certain amount of watery liquid will have been rendered off. Decant it away (as it tastes terrible) and put your mince into an oven proof casserole dish big enough to take all these ingredients. Rinse and wipe the pan (no need to be fastidious about it) then add a few drops of olive oil and over a medium heat,  fry up your celery, peppers, onion, mushrooms and garlic together. While they are in the pan, put your lardons onto a tray and into the oven and crisp them up. Once the vegetables are softened and golden add them to the casserole dish as well. Now using the same pan, turn up the heat and reduce down your wine till the liquid roughly halves in volume. Add that to the dish and by now your lardons should be crispy so add them too.

Into the casserole dish pour the stock, the chopped tomatoes (tinned and fresh), the cumin, the marjoram, chilli powder and paprika. If you have elected to use them also at this point add the chopped fresh chillis. Now here is as good a point as any to bring this topic up. Personally I like my chilli to have more of a "smokey" flavour than anything else. But I know there are people out there who are not satisfied until they break out in a sweat. It's up to you. Without the fresh chillis this will be a mild, smokey dish with a small hint of heat.With them added, make sure you have some water on hand when you eat it. Especially if you use the seeds as well as the flesh.

You should by now have used all your ingredients except the kidney beans. Give the whole lot a good stir so it is thoroughly mixed, then put a lid on the dish and bake in the oven for 2-3 hours, The longer the better. In fact if you have the time, drop the temperature to 170 and cook it all day. Check it every now and again and give all the ingredients a good stir. If it starts to dry out then add more wine. If it starts to resemble soup then pour off the surplus liquid. Good chilli needs to be the consistency of unset concrete in my view. Add the beans for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Serve up with rice or on a baked potatoe with a side of refried beans. Give your guests a selection of toppings to add, preferably soured cream, grated mild cheese and guacamole. This is a good dish for a buffet at a party.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Chicken And Chorizo Casserole

Chicken And Chorizo Casserole

Ingredients (to serve 4):

4 Chicken legs separated into thighs and drumsticks (skin on)
A Whole Chorizo, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Sweet white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves peeled, crushed and finely chopped
A small handful of fresh thyme, chopped
2 Teaspoons of dried sage
3 Red peppers cut into 1 inch chunks
50g of Bacon lardons
6 Cherry tomatoes halved
100g of butter beans
3 cubes of dehydrated/powdered chicken stock
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Quarter of a glass of red wine
Quarter of a pint of chicken stock
A small hand full of black olives
An optional extra; a few slices of black pudding if you wish

The cooking:

Begin by crumbling the stock cubes into 4 tablespoons of warmed olive oil (warm your olive oil by popping it into an oven proof jug or bowl and heat at 150 degrees for about 2-3 minutes - do not use a microwave). Stir until thoroughly mixed into a paste then liberally baste over the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken peices on a medium heat in a pan for about 5 minutes each side, until the chicken turns golden, then set aside in an oven proof casserole dish.

In a teaspoon of olive oil, and on a medium heat, fry the onion until softened, then add the chorizo to the same pan. After 2 to 3 minutes add the red wine and turn up the heat to reduce down so the liquid content roughly halves. Then add the peppers, sage, garlic, thyme and lardons (and black pudding too if you are using it). Once golden, add it all to the casserole dish, pour over the stock. Give it all a big stir and pop it into an oven pre-heated at 180 degrees and cook for about an hour and a half to two hours (or until the chicken is starting to come away from the bone). If it starts to dry out, add more wine. Half an hour before the end, add the tomatoes and the butter beans and mix thoroughly.

Great on its own. If you want it to go futher then serve with rice to pad it out. Deserves a full bodied red Rioja or Ribera del Duero.

Harissa Lamb, Merguez and Couscous

Harissa Lamb, Merguez and Couscous (Serves 4)


4 Lamb Chump or Loin Chops
4 Table spoons of Harissa Paste
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
4 Merguez Sausages
Some Good Olive Oil
100g of Dried Couscous
300ml of Boiling Water
Half a Cucumber, Peeled and Cut Into Chunks
Handful of Chopped, Fresh Coriander
1 White or Red Chicory (also called "endives") Cut Into Chunks
Cherry Tomatoes Halved
A Handfull of Black Olives
30g of Pui Lentils
4 Sundried Tomatoes sliced
Juice from a quarter of a lemon
3 to 4 Tablespoons of Greek Yogurt

The Cooking:

A couple of hours before cooking, make a marinade using the Harissa, cumin and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Prod your lamb chops all over with a pointed knife and liberally coat with the combined paste, covering on both sides and put to one side in a covered dish.

Make your salad by combining the cucumber, coriander, chicory, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, lentils and olives in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, then cover with yogurt and stir well until all is covered.

Fry your marinated lamb chops in a tea spoon of olive oil for approximately 8 minutes each side on a medium heat to leave it nicely pink in the middle, or 10 minutes each side if you prefer it more cooked. You can cook the merguez along side the lamb, and frying for 5 minutes each side until browned and cooked through. Alternatively you can bake both in an oven at 190 degrees. The lamb for 30 minutes, the merguez for 20. Turning regularly so they cook on both sides.

Prepare your bed of couscous by boiling 300ml of water and pouring over 100g of couscous in a pot and cooking on a high heat until the moisture has all been absorbed (about 7-8 minutes). Then serve up. Nice and spicy without being hot. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a dollop of sweet chili jam if you have it, This would also be great for a summer barbecue.