Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Daddy

The great philosopher Lee Evans once pointed out the sheer stupidity of the bovine race - they're black and white, but they stand in a green field. They deserve death.

If you want to roast beef (who doesn't?) then choosing a good quality cut is very important. The cut in the picture is a rib, which I used for this recipe, but other good roasting cuts include sirloin and topside. Good quality beef is a bit darker than what you see on supermarket shelves due to the aging process. Also, note the extensive fat running through the beef - this will baste the flesh as it cooks, making it juicy and delicious. The best beef is hung for 28 days to intensify the flavour, and as far as I know you can only get this in the UK. Finally, I recommend keeping it on the bone if you can as the bone conducts heat and adds flavour.

A two-rib "chine" like the one in this picture will easily feed at least four people with enough left for extra helpings. The onion halves caramelise during the cooking process and flavour the gravy nicely, but they retain their shape and avoid burning, so you can have them as a nice accompaniment to the beef.

  • 1 x two-rib chine of beef
  • Rock salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 pint Newcastle Brown Ale
  • 2 tbsps English mustard or mustard powder
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil or beef dripping
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsps plain flour
  • 2 red onions, halved and peeled
  • 600ml good quality beef stock
  • Handful of rosemary sprigs
  • 1 x bulb of garlic, chopped in half
  1. Get your beef out of the fridge about an hour before you want to roast it. Preheat the oven to 240 degrees.
  2. Rub your beef with the mustard, salt and black pepper. Use plenty of pepper.
  3. Put a roasting tin on the hob and turn up the heat. Add the oil, and when it's really hot (i.e. smoking) put the beef in, skin side down. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side until nicely browned, then remove to a plate.
  4. Put the rosemary, garlic and onions in the roasting tin and put the beef on top of them, then put it in the oven. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 190 degrees and continue roasting for 15 minutes per pound (yes I said pound) for medium rare beef. If you don't like it medium rare I would suggest roasting it for 12 minutes per pound for rare or 18 for well done. You can check how rare is it by piercing it with a skewer. Baste the beef twice during cooking.
  5. When the beef is done, return the tin to the hob. Remove the beef and the onions to a plate and cover with foil while you make the gravy; this will let the meat relax and redistribute the juices.
  6. Turn the heat on high underneath the roasting tin. Using a whisk, stir in the flour and deglaze the pan with the ale. When the ale has reduced by half add the Worcestershire sauce, any extra juices that have leaked out of the beef while it's been resting and the beef stock. Boil until reduced to a thickness you like. Strain the gravy into a jug (or, if you're posh, a gravy boat).
  7. Carve the beef and serve on warm plates with the onions and roasted or mashed potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. As it was quite hot on the day I did this beef I fried some mashed potato fritters with rosemary, mustard and creamed horseradish as a lighter accompaniment.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Ov Mince and Hellfire

I was getting a bit bored with my usual pictures of the finished dish sitting on my kitchen worktop, so I thought I'd take a photo of my chill con carne mid-cooking to really push back the boundaries. Also it lends some credence to the idea that I do actually cook these meals.

Good quality minced beef is one of those cheap and cheerful superingredients that can be used to make delicious and easy recipes. Although one or two ingredients will be different, the basic method of cooking mince is the same whether you're doing moussaka, cottage pie, bolognaise sauce or chilli. I recommend using normal (as opposed to steak) mince as the extra fat will add flavour to the sauce.

NOTE: some of the ingredients of this chilli are not uber-traditional, however I do think they work well.

Ingredients to serve four:
  • 500g beef mince
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x red onions, diced
  • 2 x large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 x star anise
  • 1-2 tbsps dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (preferably freshly ground toasted seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 x red chillis, finely chopped
  • 600ml beef stock (you probably won't need all of it but I'm not sure of the exact amount)
  • 2 x tbsps olive oil
  • 1 x tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 x tbsps tomato puree
  • 1 x tsp sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans (or butter beans if you prefer)
  • 1 x 400g tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  1. Heat a wide frying pan on a high heat and add the oil. It should be smoking hot as you really want to sear the mince.
  2. Season the mince well - be liberal with the pepper as it's excellent with beef. Chuck it in the pan and let it fry vigorously for about 2 minutes until it's brown. Spread it out well across the pan, and if you're cooking the amount in this recipe I strongly recommend you do it in at least 2 batches. If you crowd the pan, it will reduce the temperature of the oil and the mince will boil rather than sear. And if this happens, you will see the juices leak out of the mince, resulting in horrible dry meat. A little bit of charring is better than boiling, but add a little more oil if you think it's going to burn. When your mince is browned, remove the mince to a plate and return the pan to the heat.
  3. Turn the heat down a little as the ingredients at this stage burn easily. Add your whole garlic cloves, star anise, onions and chopped chillis to the pan. If you like it really hot leave the chilli seeds in. Stir the pan to prevent burning. When the onions are transluscent, add the cumin and chilli powder and stir for about 10 seconds until it's fragrant.
  4. Create a "well" in the centre of the pan and add the tomato puree. This will help to get rid of some of its tartness. Next, add the beef back in, along with the kidney beans and oregano. Stir it all together and deglaze the pan with a drop of red wine vinegar.
  5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes have started to melt, add the sugar to offset the acidity of the red wine vinegar and then add enough beef stock to almost cover the meat. Bring it to the boil and then cover and simmer it gently for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened into a smooth paste.
  6. Serve with freshly steamed basmati or long grain rice.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Honey and mustard crusted mackerel fillets with samphire, saute potatoes and simple hollandaise sauce

Mackerel are not as good as other fish when it comes to slapping someone in the face as they're quite small. They make up for this somewhat as they're cheap and very tasty.

Mackerel has a very robust, meaty flavour. My fishmonger said that honey goes well with it, as does anything that goes well with beef, e.g. mustard or horseradish. He also had samphire, which is a sea vegetable I've seen a few times on Great British Menu so I thought I'd give it a go as well.


  • 1 x whole mackerel, cleaned and gutted (get your fishmonger to do this)
  • 1 x medium/large waxy new potato
  • 1 x garlic clove
  • 2 x free range egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 x free range egg yolks, unbeaten
  • 3-4 tbsps flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-2 tsps English mustard, according to taste
  • 1 or 2 thick slices of stale (yes I really do mean stale) white bread
  • 2 tbsps samphire
  • 100ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Generous handful of flat-leat parsley, roughly chopped

  1. Turn the oven on at 180 degrees, heat a frying pan at a medium-high heat and get a saucepan of water boiling.
  2. Cut the crusts off the bread, break it into pieces and put it into a food processor along with the parsley, mustard, honey and plenty of salt and pepper. The reason you want stale bread is that it's harder and will form a nice crunchy crust this way - for the avoidance of doubt I do NOT mean mouldy bread. Whizz it all up into a fine mixture.
  3. Fillet the mackerel. If you don't know how to do this, this video provides a good guide You could get your fishmonger to do it but I recommend getting the practice. Make sure you use a damn sharp filleting knife for this otherwise you will just rip the flesh and you'll end up with half of it still on the fish. Once you've filleted it, carefully remove all the pin bones in the fillets using a pair of tweezers. Check you've got all of them out before the next stage.
  4. Dip the mackerel fillets into the beaten egg yolks, then the flour, and finally the breadcrumbs. Roll it around well to get a nice coating, then lay the fillets on some kitchen foil on a baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes (I didn't time this but I don't think it could take much longer than that as the fillets aren't that big).
  5. While the fillets are cooking, thinly slice the potato, season the slices and put them in the frying pan. Fry them for a couple of minutes on each side until they're golden brown. Blanch the samphire in the boiling water for a couple of minutes and then add to the pan, but keep the water boiling.
  6. Put a bain-marie (that's your mum's glass mixing bowl) on top of the saucepan and add the eggs. Season the egg yolks, beat them vigorously with one hand and slowly add the olive oil with the other - the slower the better, otherwise you're in danger of splitting the sauce like I did. Do as I say, not as I do! Add the lemon juice to finish.
  7. Serve the fillets with the trimmings on the side.