Honey and soy-glazed roast pork loin

My butcher always has nice boned pork loin joints in the shop, generally for cutting off individual pork steaks, which are great for tonkatsu or similar breaded cutlet and escalope-type dishes, but they are also good for roasting.

I made a marinade from dark and light soy sauces, Chinkiang black rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey. I stabbed the pork all over with a thin knife and marinated the pork for 24 hours, turning it frequently. I find that zip-top freezer bags are good for marinating meat, because they have a tight seal and it makes turning the meat a simple and clean business. They also take up less room in the fridge than a bowl and you need less marinade to cover the meat properly.

I cooked the meat in a foil-lined roasting tray with its marinade(these marinades can stick really hard to your oven ware), with the foil wrapped loosely over the top and sealed to create a kind of tent for the first 45 minutes. Then I opened the foil up and gave it a further 45 minutes, basting frequently.

When the pork was done it looked quite blackened on top, but it wasn’t at all burnt. It was just the colour that the honey and soy had turned in the oven.

I made a chilli sauce to accompany this. I could have used a bottled sriracha sauce but I had some red chillies in the fridge to use up. I seeded the chillies and put them in a processor with a thumb of fresh ginger, two cloves of garlic, some fish sauce, a splash of sunflower oil, white rice vinegar, a knob of palm sugar and a squeeze of tomato purée and blended this until smooth.

I carved the pork and served it with steamed jasmine rice and steamed pak choi, with the roasting juices and marinade spooned over the top, and the chilli sauce on the side.

Neck of lamb casserole with chickpeas

Neck of lamb on the bone is a cheap cut, sometimes called lamb neck chops. I doubt that you will find it in a supermarket so it is a chance to get along to the butcher and help keep a small business alive. Butchers generally sell much better quality meat than supermarkets anyway, and any decent butcher should be able to tell you where the meat comes from, too.

So, neck of lamb. Yes it needs a longer cooking time, but that means you will end up with tender meat with lots of flavour. Cooking on the bone also helps with the flavour of the finished dish.

So, what I did was this;

Ingredients.

4 slices of lamb neck on the bone
2 sliced leeks
3 small turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 drained tin of chickpeas
4-5 sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil

First, I pre-heated the oven to 150C. Next, I heated an oven-proof casserole on the hob and seared the seasoned lamb on both sides. Then, I removed the meat and sautéed the leeks until they began to soften, then added the garlic and other vegetables. These were cooked on a low heat until they began to pick up some colour.

Then I added the tomatoes, thyme and chickpeas with some hot water and stirred everything together and covered the pan. This then went into the oven for two hours. I turned the meat over half way through.

After two hours, I tasted it and adjusted the seasoning and turned the heat down for the last 20 minutes.

That was it, perfectly cooked tender lamb.

We ate it with some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Chicken with Thai basil and chillies

This is a nice quick and simple dish that works well as a mid-week evening meal.

It is basically just chicken (I used breast meat), cut into cubes and marinated in a mixture of 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy, 1 teaspoon of sugar and two chopped red bird’s eye chillies for an hour or so.

Then you fry a finely chopped red onion in sunflower oil, add the chicken and marinade and stir-fry for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. A couple of minutes before the end of the cooking time, add a small chopped bunch of Thai basil leaves and some finely sliced green or red pepper for colour.

I think that this needs a vegetable side dish for balance, so I stir-fried some sliced shitake mushrooms in oil, added some chopped Chinese leaves and finished this off with some oyster sauce and sesame oil.

Steamed jasmine rice finishes this off perfectly.

Beef goulash

Probably not the most authentic goulash you’ll eat but it was pretty tasty and warming on a cold Saturday night!

I used shin of beef for this. I like shin. It is a hard-working cut of meat, from the leg, as the name suggests, and it looks quite unprepossessing when raw. It is also a cheap cut, which means that it needs proper long cooking to get the best from it, but that also means that it has a lot of flavour.

When you look at the meat, you would be forgiven for thinking that you need to trim off all the bits of membrane, connecting tissue and the bits that look like they will just be tough and chewy but, never fear, you don’t. It all goes in the pot and via the magic of long, slow cooking it is transformed into an unctuous and tasty mouthful.

So, the goulash.

I fried three chopped onions with two teaspoons of caraway seeds in some leftover chicken fat and olive oil from a roast on a lowish flame until the onions were soft and added in the cubed shin meat, turning it until it was coloured. Then I added a crumbled dried red chilli, a teaspoon of dried thyme and two tablespoons of ground paprika, stirring so that the meat was covered. Then I added in a large carton of tomato passata (which I don’t think is authentic) and some salt and pepper and simmered this, covered for about an hour and a half.

At this point I added in three chopped red and green peppers and some water and simmered this stew for another hour. By this time the meat was pretty much done and the sauce nicely reduced. I had a few leftover Polish smoked sausages so these were sliced and added to the pot with a tub of soured cream. I cooked some fresh pappardelle pasta and that was it.

As I say, probably not authentically Hungarian, but good stuff nevertheless.

Red and green pepper stew with Polish sausages and potatoes

This is a kind of Eastern European-flavoured dish, probably more Hungarian than anything else and is a quick and simple thing to cook on a weekday evening.

You will need;

some roughly-chopped red and green peppers
two chopped onions (I used red ones)
a couple of crushed garlic cloves
a tin of chopped tomatoes
a few Polish smoked pork sausages cut into chunks
three or four peeled and chopped potatoes
a tablespoon of paprika
a teaspoon of caraway seeds
sour cream or crème fraiche
salt and pepper
oil or fat for frying the vegetables (I had some chicken fat left over from a roast)

It is as simple as anything.

Fry the onions and garlic in the hot oil/fat until soft and add in the peppers and carry on frying. Add the potatoes and all the seasonings and fry until everything is coated in paprika. Add the tinned tomatoes and a tinful of water. Stir, bring to a simmer and add in the sausages. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream and serve. A chunk of crusty bread is all you need to accompany this.

If you want to drink something with it, a lightly chilled Pilsener beer would be nice or an uncomplicated fruity red wine would work as well.

Pork chops with potatoes, parsnips and pears

Before

After

This was originally a Jamie Oliver recipe, from The Return Of The Naked Chef that I used to cook all the time but, as often happens, I got bored with and forgot all about.

Anyway, I was in the butcher’s on Friday and it came back to me while I was looking at the pork chops.

The original recipe calls for rosemary, but I had sage and thyme, so I used those instead.

Basic stuff so far as prep goes; peel and chop potatoes (I used Charlottes), parsnips and pears, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, add the chops and herbs and marinate for a couple of hours.

To cook, pre-heat the oven to 180C and bake the chops for about 45-50 minutes, making sure that the potatoes are done, and that is it.

Jamie suggested a minted bread sauce to go with his chops, but I don’t like bread sauce, so I don’t bother with it.

Marmalade-glazed roast duckling

I haven’t roasted a duckling in ages and I do like a roast duck, so this is what I cooked last night.

The duckling weighed about 2 kg and I stabbed it all over with a fork, rubbed it with salt and roasted it on a rack at 180C for about an hour.

At this point, a lot of fat had run out of the bird and I poured this out and used it to roast some par-boiled Charlotte potatoes.

I also smeared a few spoonfuls of honey and marmalade over the duckling and returned it to the oven for another 45 minutes.

I’d already made stock with the giblets and some carrot, celery and onion, flavoured with sage and thyme and a good glug of Marsala.

When the bird was cooked, I removed it to rest while I made a sauce. I poured off the rest of the duck fat and added the stock to the roasting pan, stirring it over a medium heat to dissolve all the lovely sticky bits in the roasting tray. Then I sieved the enriched stock into a saucepan, added the juice of an orange and allowed it to reduce a bit before I thickened it with a little bit of cornflour paste.

I served the duckling with some petits pois à la française made with tinned petits pois and a quartered little gem heart in some duck stock and the roasted Charlotte potatoes.

We drank a nice claret with this, a 2011 Château Segonzac Premières Côtes de Blaye from Waitrose. This was a lovely wine, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with some nice oak ageing which worked well with the rich duck.

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