The Main Event
At the top of the list has to be the Sunday Roast. It's why God invented Sundays, it wasn't so people could go to church and listen to some old vicar rattling on about a lot of religious twaddle, church is just somewhere to go while the Roast is in the oven and the smell of all that yumminess is just too much to bear, so for those who choose not to go to the pub for a swift pint, you can instead sit in the pews of your local temple and give thanks for the glorious bounty thats roasting in its own juices, it doesn't get more spiritual than this.
CLASSIC SUNDAY ROAST CHICKEN & VEGETABLES
1 good size chicken, spend the extra and get a good one
2 Slices bacon chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 whole bulb garlic
This is my version of the traditional English Sunday lunch that can’t be beat.
Turn the oven on to 375f, get a good size roasting pan and put your bird in the pan, you don’t need a rack or any of that. Make sure you remove any gizzards from the cavity and put them in a small saucepan with a bay leaf, a carrot and half the onion and some water (2 cups), simmer for half an hour and you’ve got stock for the gravy.
Back to the main event, put the other half onion and another carrot in the cavity of the chicken, slice the lemon into wedges and shove them anywhere you can on the bird, down between the wings and legs and in the cavity. Next chop up some butter into cubes and poke them under the skin around the breast. Rub a little olive oil all over and sprinkle generously with rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover the whole thing in tin foil leaving space around the bird so the foil isn’t touching and bung it in a 375F/190c oven for 40 minutes.
While its cooking prep the veg. Peel more potatoes than you think you’ll need, chop into 2 inch chunks and put into boiling salted water for ten minutes, drain and shake around in the saucepan so they get ‘fluffy’, believe me, this is a good thing.
Peel and slice carrots, parsnips and sprouts, these can be sliced in half or left whole if they’re small.
Get the bird out and remove the foil, baste the bird and put the spuds , parsnips and the bulb of garlic straight in the pan, there should be plenty of juice and fat to roll the veggies around in. If there's a lot of liquid scoop some out and add that to the gravy stock. Back into the oven for about an hour, giving the veggies a turn every 20 mins or so.
In a skillet fry up the bacon and throw in your par-boiled Brussels sprouts, fry on a medium heat for about ten mins or until the sprouts start to caramelise and turn off the heat.
After 45 mins you should check the bird, if clear juices run when stabbed with a sharp object or the legs and wings are falling off, it’s done. The veg should be caramelised and the spuds crispy round the edges (because of the ‘fluffy’ effect). Squeeze the garlic over the spuds and roll them about in that for a bit. Oh yeah.
When it’s all ready return the sprouts to high heat and when they start to sizzle pour in a generous splash or two of cream, give it a minute, turn off the heat and scrape up any yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Mmmm.
While the bird is resting make the gravy. Use the stock you made earlier. Place the roasting dish on the stovetop, med heat. 2 tbl spoons of flour in the pan and cook for a minute and start adding stock, slowly. A good splash of whatever wine you’re drinking, red or white, will help things along nicely. There will also be some juice from the bird, tip it in and simmer away until you get a nice thick gravy. Family and friends will forgive you your previous sins if you serve this up with Yorkshire Pudding. I don’t care what anyone says about English food, this is the bomb. It rocks. It’s dope.
Amadea's Roast Leg of Lamb
Leg of Lamb
2 cloves of Garlic
This lovely recipe was sent to me by the equally lovely Amadea. I've had the great pleasure of eating this on more than one occasion and it is truly spectacular. It's not complicated at all, just time consuming. Amadea has an Aga, the lucky girl, but for most of us a common or garden variety of oven will just have to do. Oh I almost forgot, make sure you have plenty of good red wine.
Begin by rubbing olive oil all over the lamb and make two small holes, one on each side and pop a clove of garlic, peeled of course, into each one. Sprinkle with sea salt generously. Place the leg in a roasting pan and put into a very low oven 230f/110c and leave it there for at least 6 hours.
After the 6 hours are up not only will you be drunk from all the wine but you'll be ravenous as well so it will taste even better. Serve with roasted veg and some mint sauce on the side. Delicious. Num num num.
NEW ENGLAND BOILED DINNER
4 Good Sausages
2 lg Onions
2 lbs Carrots
3 lbs Potatoes
1 lg Turnip
1 lg Cabbage (Savoy is best)
If your Brisket is from a supermarket and is packaged with peppercorns and brine etc just open it up and pop it into a large pot of simmering water along with any juice and a couple of bay leaves. Let the beautiful meat simmer for about 2 1/2 hours, after which time throw in the sausages and veg and replace the lid. 20 – 30 mins later you will be the proud parent of a really delicious New England classic dinner, all you’ll need is Salt & Pepper and some good mustard.
2 duck breasts
1 doz cherry tomatoes
Handful of pitted marinated black olives
I called this dish ‘Norfolk Duck’ because I came up with it while spending the weekend at my Mothers house near Diss in Norfolk, which is where I bought the duck at a local butchers.
Begin by slicing through the skin every half inch or so and marinade the breasts in some honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and chopped shallots. Put the whole lot in a ziplock bag and scrunch it all up for a few seconds and leave for an hour or two, but not in the fridge.
In a cast iron skillet heat up a little olive oil and sear the duck on the skin side, when the skin is crispy flip it over, turn down the heat to medium/low and put a lid over the pan. After a couple of minutes pop the tomatoes into the pan and replace the lid.
After 3 or 4 mins the duck will be done so let it rest on a board and throw the olives in the pan with the tomatoes and let them soak up some yummy juice for 1 minute. Slice the duck and serve with toms and olives scattered over and perhaps some broccolini.
1 pork butt roast, bone-in (it doesn't really matter how
big it is, just grab one you like the look of)
2 Onions cut into quarters
4 large Carrots cut into large chunks
4 - 6 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Ancho Chilli Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Ginger Powder
Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup Cider Vinegar
Start by trimming off any large amounts of fat and skin off the meat, there should be plenty of fat left but you don't want too much and there's no crackling on this so the skin can be saved for later. Put it in a small roasting pan with plenty of salt and stick it in the oven with the pork until it's beautiful and crispy...
Mix all the dry herbs and spices together and rub all over the meat, getting right in there, giving it a good massage. Then get it into a large Le Creuset or dutch oven with a splash of very hot oil and sear it all over to brown it off a bit. Put the onions and carrots in with the pork and turn the heat down to very low, add the chopped up garlic and the vinegar, put the lid on and pour yourself a glass of very nice wine. Sit out on the patio and enjoy some tranquility for 3 - 4 hours. Every half hour or so have a little peek just to make sure nothing bad is happening. If theres not enough fat rendering from the meat you can add a little stock if you feel it's necessary, but there should be plenty of juice so it's unlikely you'll need to do anything but wait.
When the pork is done the bone should just lift right out of the pan and the smell will make you crazy. Eat it as it is or in tacos, sandwiches, on some pasta, whatever you like. Shred it all up and lay it out on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes with some peppers and spicy sauce or just put it in a sandwich. Enjoy.
Toad in the Hole
with Onion Gravy
6-8 Pork Sausages
2 Large Onions
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 oz butter
1 Sprig Thyme
1 stock cube
2 tbsp veg oil
Salt & Pepper
Kick off the proceedings with opening the wine. Let it breathe for a bit while you get the oven on to 400F and all the ingredients laid out and ready, 'mise en place' as our continental cousins would say.
Put the oil in a baking dish and get it in the oven. Once you've done that pour yourself a glass full of claret to steady the nerves. When the oven is up to temp prick the sausages, (Toads), with a fork and carefully put them in the hot oil and let them brown off all over, giving them a turn every 5 mins or so.
Now set about making the batter for the Yorkshire Pudding, (The Hole). Once thats done and the Toads have been cooking for about 15 mins carefully pour the batter in with the Toads, it might spit a bit as you pour so take it steady. Get it back in the oven and keep the door closed for 20 minutes.
While the toads and the hole are cooking you should pause for thought for a moment, perhaps another glass will help, and consider the fact that this dish has been around for about 400 years, originally it was a way of using up left-over roasted meats and probably veg as well. My Mother-in-Law, who is almost 400 years old, makes Toad in the Hole 'with friends' which is any left-over carrots, broccoli, whatever veg you might have all mixed in with the sausages and batter, delicious.
But I digress, and we need to get on with the gravy.
Finely slice the onions and get them into a skillet with a knob of butter and a little bit of oil on a medium heat. Saute until translucent and sweet and add a spoonful of flour. Let the flour cook for a minute and pour in a glass of wine, the Thyme and a glug of Balsamic Vinegar.
While thats simmering away nicely, crumble a stock cube into it, beef, chicken or veg, it's all good.
Let that all simmer for a bit and add some boiling water from the kettle, a little at a time, about 2 cups should do it. Bring it back to a simmer and keep it there until the oven timer has gone off and all the toads and the hole are done to perfection.
Serve it up with your favourite vegetables and Award your success with another glass of claret. Cheers!
1 fillet of fresh cod or firm fish
1 lb uncooked and peeled shrimp
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Salt & pepper
Oil for frying
Start off by making the yummy coleslaw and try not to eat it all before the tacos are ready. Once it’s done keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Batter: 1 cup of flour and ½ a teaspoon of salt, whisk together and add some beer or fizzy water until you have a nice creamy texture and thick enough to stick to the fish.
In a deep pan put at least an inch of veg oil and heat it up to 350 or so. Put a drop of batter in and if it bubbles up its ready. Cut up the fillets so that they’ll fit inside your tacos and put them all in the bowl of batter. Place them gently in the hot oil going away from you. Keep an eye on them as they’ll cook pretty quick. When they’re golden brown take them out with a slotted spoon and put on a plate with some kitchen paper to drain. Hit the fish with a sprinkle of salt and start building your tacos.
Start with a spoonful of slaw, then the fish, a squirt of sriracha mayo and a pinch of cilantro on top. A squeeze of lemon or lime and a nice cold beer. Life is good.
6 Chicken thighs
1 cup yoghurt
Splash of olive oil
1 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp paprika
juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb sized piece of minced ginger
Strictly speaking this isn't really Tandoori Chicken as sadly I don't have a Tandoor oven in my kitchen. However, this is a pretty good substitute so all you purists out there don't have to write to me and get all indignant about it, it's just chicken.
Heat the oil in a skillet and then cook all the spices for a couple of minutes until it becomes a very fragrant paste. Let it it cool and then in a small bowl mix the spice paste with the yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and salt.
Take the skin of the chicken thighs and save for later. Using a sharp knife cut 2 or 3 deep slashes across the thighs and put them in a large ziplock bag along with the marinade and give it all a good scrunching and massage the yoghurty loveliness into the chicken and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Pour it all in a baking dish and put into a 385f oven for about 45 mins or until the chicken is cooked through. If you have an instant read thermometer it should be at least 165f.
Once the chicken is cooked fire up your broiler, or grill so you can get a nice char going. If for some reason you don’t have access to either of these you could always use a small blow-torch. Once its nicely charred its ready to serve with some Onion Bhajis, Bubba’s Rice and some Daal and for the very hungry some homemade Naan bread.
The skin saved from earlier is really good just thrown into a very hot pan, pretend its bacon, get it crispy and serve on top of the chicken or make a sandwich or whatever you like. My wife always tells me off for this but personally I think the skin is the best bit, and besides, she's not the boss of me.
Chicken, Rice & Peas
4 boneless chicken thighs
3 cups of Bubba's Rice
1 medium size onion
1 cup frozen peas
½ stick of butter (2oz)
salt & pepper
olive oil for frying
Start with the rice. Get that on the go and then start cooking that lovely chicken...in the words of that most wonderful of American food writers, Jim Harrison, "Chicken breasts are the moral equivalent of a TV commercial". I could not agree more.
In a hot skillet fry up the chicken thighs, a few minutes on each side till they have a nice golden hue, throw in the sliced onion and once they start to caramelise, add the frozen peas turn the heat to low and put a lid on the proceedings.
Now would be a good time to award yourself a small beverage for all your hard work, a glass of wine perhaps or maybe a nice vodka martini, just the ticket to get you in the mood. In the mood for what exactly I couldn’t say, but I'm sure you’ll think of something.
When the bell tolls and brings you back to earth, turn off all the heat and carefully lift the lid off the rice, there’ll be a lot of hot steam so please be careful. Fluff the rice with a fork, again this will release more steam, oven gloves might be a good idea.
Take the chicken out of the pan and cut up into bite-size pieces, then put the chicken, onions and peas into the dish with the rice and mix it all up, adding salt & pepper to taste. Mmmm, tasty.
Mac & Cheese
1 bag macaroni
3 or 4 strips bacon, or good quality ham, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup frozen peas
Chilli pepper (to taste)
Cheese, grated, two handfuls
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and throw in the elbow pasta, boil away for a few minutes until it’s starting to soften, it doesn’t have to be ‘done’ as its going into the oven for a bit.
While that’s going on chop up the bacon and onion and throw into a skillet, render all that lovely bacon fat down and let the onion have a good time for a minute or two. When that’s looking good tip in the peas, crushed garlic and finely chopped chilli pepper(s) and two teaspoons of good quality grainy mustard, give it a stir and after one minute, turn off the heat and set aside.
Drain the pasta and put it in a casserole dish or a dutch oven or any kind of large receptacle that is oven friendly. Pour in the bacon/onion delight and give it all a good stir so all the pasta has a little bit of love. Set aside.
In a saucepan on medium/low heat melt about a tablespoon of butter and when it bubbles add a tablespoon of flour. Stir with a whisk constantly and slowly start adding milk until the flour has cooked (5-10 mins), and you have a nice smooth roux.
Now for the cheese, I like to use a mixture of whatever is lying around, a cheese sauce is a great way to use up all those left-over pieces that you never get round to eating because they’ve got a bit crusty and hard. An old bit of cheddar, stilton, gruyere, anything, as long as it’s real cheese and not some bland, tasteless, pasteurised excuse for cheese, yuk. Grate it all up until you have a couple of good handfuls and gently whisk it into the roux until it’s all melted, so good. Without burning yourself give it a taste and add salt & pepper accordingly, some cheese can be very salty so make sure you taste it. You might want to get a friend or loved one to mix up a nice gin & tonic at this point as it's very thirsty work this roux business.
Once you’re happy with the sauce pour it all over the pasta and mix together, put in a hot oven say 350 degrees uncovered and wait a good 25-30 mins.
When you’re ready to serve add a bit of grated parmesan on top, it is pasta after all and it is called mac & cheese.
SPAGHETTI SAUCE (Ragu)
1lb good quality beef mince
1/2 lb good quality pork mince
1 large carrot
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 large can of tomatoes
1 bottle good red wine
Start with opening the red wine and pour yourself a generous glass to help get in the mood. Chop all the veg quite small, spaghetti sauce is not supposed to be chunky, its a sauce. In a large skillet start frying off the onion, carrot and celery in a good splash of olive oil on medium heat and after a while throw in the meat, when its brown add the garlic, chilli flakes (to taste) and a couple of tsp of oregano and the same of basil. Cook it up for 5 mins or so and add a good size glass of red wine, and give yourself a top up while you're at it. Let the wine cook off for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato paste, about a tablespoon. Stir it in well and then add the canned toms. Turn down the heat so its barely at a simmer and go and watch tv or lay down and take a nap for about an hour. Just give it a stir now and again to make sure its not burning. When its simmered for an hour or so its ready, get your pasta on and once thats done drain most of the water out of the pot and add a spoonful of the sauce to the cooked pasta and mix it all up. This will prevent the spaghetti sticking to itself, or anything else.
Serve with Italian parsley, some good bread and lots of grated parmesan cheese. And of course the rest of the wine, if there's any left.
Pan Fried Sticky Chicken
4 Chicken Thighs
1 chilli pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
1 or 2 medium potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock
Salt & Pepper
First, get your cast iron skillet on the heat and add the oil. When it’s good and hot place the chicken thighs in there, skin side down and leave them alone so the skin gets nice and crispy, about 5 mins, then turn them over and cook the other side for 5 mins or so and then add the sliced onion. The onion can be sliced quite thick and uneven, it doesn’t matter. While the onion is cooking slice the potatoes fairly thinly and smash up the garlic and get it all in there and then throw the peas in. If you have some thai spice of some kind now would be the time, give it all a shake up and then add the chicken stock. Let that all simmer away for a few minutes and then put the whole thing in a 350f/175c oven for 30 minutes or until it’s started to caramelise. Serve with Bubba's Rice. Delicious.
ONE-POT CHICKEN & CHORIZO
6 chicken thighs
1 chorizo sausage (the hard spicy Spanish kind, not Mexican)
2 lbs potatoes, 2” chunks, skin on
2 lb carrots, sliced
1 large onion, chopped into wedges
1 bulb garlic
1 lb sprouts or broccoli
Pinch of Saffron
Salt & pepper
In a heavy skillet fry off the chicken thighs, with the skin on of course, in a little olive oil until they are just getting golden and lovely. Transfer to a large roasting pan along with all the juices and bits from the skillet and add the potatoes, carrots, sprouts, garlic and seasoning and put into the oven at 380/190C for 30-40 minutes until the veg are almost done. Add the Saffron, chorizo, olives and tomatoes, give it all a bit of a stir and put back in the oven for another 15-20 mins until the chorizo has flavoured the whole pan with some Iberian deep joy. Serve straight away while it’s piping hot. Scrumptious.
Monkfish and Chorizo
3 lbs Monkfish Fillet
1 hand-full Cherry Tomatoes
2 sprigs Rosemary
6 cloves Garlic, crushed
4 Spanish Chorizo sausages
2 glasses White Wine
Salt & Pepper
4 Tbps Olive Oil
This dish ban be cooked in the oven or on a bbq, whichever you prefer. You’ll need some heavy-duty tin foil, 4 sheets about a foot long to make 2 double-layer packets.
If you’re not going to brave the elements and have decided to stay indoors the oven should be at about 375F/190C.
Lay the tin foil out on a worktop making 2 stacks and divide the tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and the sliced chorizo between the them.
Season the fish generously with Salt & Pepper and lay on top of the 2 sheets and then drizzle with olive oil and 1 glass of white wine. Carefully fold the foil into sealed packets, squeezing out most of the air and place on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. Open the packets very carefully, don’t burn yourself on the steam. Place in a serving dish and enjoy.
Beef Broth Ramen
2 Ribeye Steaks
Mirin rice wine vinegar
Best quality soy sauce
Begin at the beginning, which means getting up early and making a visit to your local butcher to pick up a few marrow bones and a couple of inch-thick ribeye steaks. Have a chat with the butcher and tell him, or her, what you’ve got planned and they’ll help you out. If you don’t have a local butcher then the supermarket version will have to do, but it probably won’t be as good and you’ll be supporting a huge international corporation instead of a local family just trying to make a living, but don’t feel bad, even though you should.
To make the broth….
Put the marrow bones in a roasting pan with a little olive oil and some salt. Roast in a fairly hot oven for about an hour, until they are browned and the marrow is melting and special. While that’s going on chop an onion, a stick of celery and a couple of carrots in half and drop them into a large saucepan with 3 ½ litres of water. Bring to a boil, add the bones and turn down the heat to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 5 or 6 hours.
Once time has marched on, remove the bones and save for the dog in your life, they’ll love you even more. Carefully strain the hot broth through a large sieve and you’re ready to rock.
For the Ramen…
Thinly slice the shallots and fry in a little oil and butter until brown and crispy, put to one side. In a hot skillet fry the well-seasoned steaks to your liking, remembering of course that they will cook a bit more in the broth so rare/medium rare should be good.
While the steaks are resting cook the egg noodles in a pan of boiling water, depending on the noodles this can take about 2 minutes.
Thinly slice the spring onions and ginger.
Add a ½ tsp of sesame oil, 2 tsp of Mirin and 1 tbsp of soy sauce to each bowl, add some broth and give it a stir.
Add the noodles, thinly slice the steak into strips and sit on top of the noodles.
Add the onions, ginger, spring onions on top.