Rich braised short rib with mushroom and golden shallot

Let’s continue on the mission to rediscover underused and forgotten cuts of meat. Next up: beef short ribs! These little (BIG!) beauties are full of flavour and create the most deeply flavoured gravy imaginable. Like a lot of our big cuts of meat, they need to be given time to cook so don’t rush, sit back and enjoy!

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Ingredients- serves 2
Glug of oil
2 whole beef short ribs
8 shallots- peeled and left whole
200g pack of button mushrooms- cleaned and left whole
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
120ml red wine
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
400ml beef stock
2 sprigs of thyme
Bay leaf
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start off by unwrapping the ribs and admiring their beauty…..Done? ok, now you can get cooking! Lightly season the ribs and brown them on all sides over a medium/ high heat in a large pan. Remove and set aside.  Leave any fat in the pan and pop in the shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes until they start to go golden and smell amazing. Again, remove and set aside. Preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan.

2. Next up goes in the garlic for a minute followed by the tomato puree to cook together for a further minute. I then add the mushroom and shallot in so they get a lovely tomatoey coating. Glug in the wine and cook until reduced by half. I find that doing it like this means that the mushrooms and shallots take up the flavours even more and will give a richer finish.

3. Add in the tomatoes followed by the stock and nestle the ribs, thyme and bay leaf in amongst everything before bringing to the boil. Pop in the oven for 3 hours until the meat is meltingly tender and falling off the bone. Serve with creamy horseradish mash and tuck in!

Braised short rib, mushroom and golden shallot stew- the ultimate in winter grub! Here’s one more rib shot just for you…

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Beef ramen with tamago eggs

If there’s one meal sure to perk up your day or restore you  if you’re feeling under the weather then it’s this! A big, steaming bowl of noodles suspended in a delicate broth is just what the doctor ordered. Be creative with the vegetables you use, I have used a classic combination but also think about what is in season as well. Ramen is traditionally served with pork, chicken or tofu so I have given it a twist by using beef.

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the tamago eggs
2 large eggs
100ml soy sauce
100ml cold water
Splash of mirin
1cm ginger- sliced
1 garlic clove- sliced

For the broth
1 litre dashi stock
3 tbsp brown miso paste
1 garlic clove- crushed
1cm piece ginger- grated
Handful shitake mushrooms and/or enoki- sliced
3 spring onions- shredded
1 beef steak- sirloin or skirt work well
Small packet of ramen or udon noodles
Handful of beansprouts per person
Handful of Asian greens such as choy sum per person
1 small red chilli- deseeded and sliced

1. First thing’s first! You need to get cracking (get it?!) on the eggs in advance if you can. Simply boil the eggs for 5 minutes until they are soft boiled and plunge them into cold water to stop them cooking further. Allow to cool until you can handle them enough to peel the shells. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the soy, water, mirin, ginger and garlic and bring to a boil. When it boils take it straight off the heat and allow to cool. When the soy mixture has cooled place into a freezer bag and drop the eggs into it. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal to allow the eggs to marinade for 6 hours before using.

2. For the broth I recommend getting hold of ready made dashi stock (unless you want to make your own) which is now available more readily. Heat the stock in a pan and slowly add in the miso paste until dissolved into the stock. Add the garlic and ginger and bring it to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Do not boil this as miso does not like it! With two minutes to go from the end of simmering, pop in the white parts of the spring onions and the sliced mushroom.

3. While the stock is simmering you need to cook the steak and the noodles. You may like to marinade the steak lightly with some soy, garlic, ginger and mirin but it wil be just as delicious by itself if you like. Cook the steak to your liking and rest before cutting into thin slices. Meanwhile the noodles also need to be cooked according to packet instructions so everything is ready to assemble.

4. Use a large, deep bowl to serve the ramen. Layer up the bowl with a nest of noodles at the bottom and then arrange the cooked mushroom, beansprouts and greens before ladling over the broth. I didn’t cook my greens before serving to give more crunch but they could be wilted beforehand if you prefer.Spinach would also go well if you prefer. Play around with the combinations of vegetables that you use too. The vegetables will relax into the broth after a couple of minutes but the photo above is just after it’s been served- it was too delicious to remember to take another photo after this!

Top the ramen bowl with the slices of steak, green parts of the spring onions and slices of chilli and give the final flourish with the eggs which need to be cut in half and served. If you have managed to achieve a soft boiled egg then the yolk will still be slightly runny even though it has been refridgerated.

Beef ramen- a foodie hug for the soul!

Ultimate slow cooked pork cheek ragu

Pork cheek is an inexpensive and underused cut of meat which really should be on our menus more often. When cooked low and slow the meat simply melts in your mouth. This ragu is rich and intense and is sure to please.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
4 pork cheeks- trimmed and cut into inch chunks
1 tbsp oil
1 onion- chopped
1 garlic clove- crushed or finely chopped
1 celery stick- finely chopped
1 small carrot- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
2-3 anchovy fillets
60ml red wine
200ml beef stock
400ml chopped tinned tomatoes
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 140c/120 fan. Start by heating the oil over a medium/high heat and brown off the pork chunks. Make sure you brown them well all over to make a rich, dark ragu. When ready, remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Next up goes the onion to soften for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, celery and carrot for another couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and anchovy fillets and make sure the mix is well coated. Pop in the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half.

3. Add in the stock and tomatoes as well as the bay and thyme. In go the pork cheeks and bring the sauce up to a gentle boil before popping in the preheated oven for 2 1/2- 3 hours. When the ragu is ready the pork cheeks should feel soft to the touch. Serve with pasta, such as rigatoni, tortiglioni, pappardelle, or polenta and dive straight in!

Indulgent, rich pork cheek ragu- worth the time to discover a new cut!

Aromatic Thai roasted duck legs with jasmine rice

Bring a new lease of life to duck legs! If you’re fed up with basic roasted duck then have a go at this! All the traditional Thai flavours are in this recipe which go well with the richness of the duck and freshens it up.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 duck legs
3 spring onions- shredded
100- 150g jasmine rice

For the marinade:
1 stick of lemongrass- finely chopped
1 lime- zested and juiced
1/2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
Handful of coriander- chopped
2 shallots- finely chopped
Small piece of fresh ginger- grated or finely chopped
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 /2 tsp each of ground coriander, turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped

1. This recipe can be done on the day you want it but prepare the duck the day before if you have the time but it’s delicious either way. Place the duck legs in a bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients in with it. Combine the ingredients well and off you go! Season well and cover before leaving in the fridge overnight or for as long as you can. I have used fresh lime in the marinade to add an acidity however kaffir lime leaves would also work to infuse.

2. When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan and place the duck legs on a baking tray or rack. Cook for around 40 minutes until the duck is cooked through and the juices run clear. Check it halfway and cover loosely with foil if it is getting a bit too golden too quickly.

3. Just before the duck is ready, cook the jasmine rice as per instructions. I like to add in 2 shredded spring onions to add extra flavour. Serve with the duck and scatter over the remaining onion and coriander. You may like to serve some other vegetables on the side such as sugar snap peas or Asian greens- or both! I like to either steam or griddle the greens with a splash of sesame oil to finish; a great accompaniment for a range of dishes!

Aromatic Thai duck legs- a sure fire hit!

Butter bean, cod and chorizo stew

If you think a stew needs to be meat based then think on! Cod loin is robust and meaty in its own right and will convert even the biggest carnivore!

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Ingredients- serves 2- 3
1 tin of butter beans- drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
200g chorizo- sliced
1 onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped
2 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
Capful of red wine vinegar
Fresh thyme sprigs
Handful of shredded baby spinach
2 large cod loins

1. Take a large pan and heat the oil over a medium heat. Add in the chorizo and fry until golden and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside. Next up goes in the onion, garlic and chilli for a couple of minutes until softening. I then add the paprika and red pepper and cook for a further minute making sure it’s well mixed in.

2. The butter beans need to in next and stir gently so they get coated with the onion. Add the tomatoes, stock, chorizo, vinegar and thyme and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook until the sauce is thick and reduced. Just a few minutes before the stew is ready pop thespinach through the stew and add the cod loins into the pan to steam. You can leave the fish whole or cut it into chunks of you prefer. Cod loin is best for this as it will stay whole.

3. Dig the thyme sprigs out of the pan and check the seasoning. Chorizo is quite salty so you may find you don’t need to do too much. Serve in deep bowls with hunks of warm bread on the side.

Chicken, asparagus and pesto pasta bake

After a long day at work you want to come home to a warming meal which is quick and delicious. Look no further! Grab your shopping list and get going!

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
40g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
250ml milk
200ml double cream
Half a jar of basil pesto
50g parmesan- grated
3-4 skinless chicken breast fillets- cut into 2 cm slices/ chunks
1 garlic clove- crushed
400g penne pasta
100g asparagus tips
Small pack of cherry tomatoes- halved
50g white breadcrumbs- I used panko crumbs

1. Start by making the sauce and melt the butter and flour together over a medium heat to make a roux. When this is combined gradually add the milk and double cream- remember to keep stirring to avoid lumps but if you do spot a lump simply take the pan off the heat and stir until the lumps go. Simmer the sauce until it thickens before adding half of the parmesan, pesto and seasoning.

2. Heat a pan of water and cook the pasta until al dente before draining well and setting aside. The pasta will soften further in the oven when it bakes so don’t be tempted to over cook it now! In a frying pan heat a splash of oil and brown off the chicken pieces and a crushed clove of garlic. Add the asparagus tips and cook in the pan with the chicken until they start to soften.

3. Add the chicken mixture to the sauce base and pour over the pasta. The pasta needs to be put into an ovenproof baking dish and place the tomatoes into the pasta. Mix the remaining parmesan with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top before baking at 180c/ 160 fan until golden and bubbling. You could also use mozzarella and parmesan as the topping if you prefer not to use breadcrumbs. I use panko breadcrumbs (a Japanese style crumb) as it gives a really crispy finish which you don’t always get with normal crumbs. Serve in warmed bowls with a simple side salad. Any leftovers will also make a delicious lunch the next day.

Chicken, asparagus and pesto bake- a new favourite to add to your midweek meal list!