Another quick food round-up

Once again, I find myself not having posted anything for ages. Of course, that doesn’t mean Continue reading


Halibut steak with prawns

This is a decidedly non-Christmassy plate of food, which is a good thing before the meaty excesses of the next few days. Continue reading

Pot-roasted chicken with a cream and cider sauce

Pot-roasting is a good way to cook a chicken, because it stays moist and none of the cooking juices are lost.

It is also a nice lazy way to cook, because you just prepare the food, bung it in the oven and forget about it for about two hours.

I used a mixture of leeks, carrots and celery as the vegetables in the pot, with thyme, rosemary and sage as the aromatic component.

The chicken was rubbed with oil and placed on top of the vegetables and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Then, I poured in a bottle of cider, an off-dry one from Normandy, and put the covered pot in an oven at 170C for two hours.

After that time, I poured off the cider and juices and made a sauce with the addition of Dijon mustard, crème fraiche and beurre manié. This was sieved to ensure a nice smooth finish.

The chicken was so tender it was easy to pull apart and it was served with some creamy mash and some sautéed cabbage, plus some of the roasting vegetables and the creamy cider sauce.

Beef, mushroom and ale pie

This is classic English cooking.

You first make suet pastry which is dead simple, 220g of plain flour, 110g suet, a big pinch of salt and about 150ml of cold water.

All you do is mix everything together and make a simple pastry. You may need to add a bit more flour if it is too sticky or a bit more water if it is too dry.

While the pastry is resting in the fridge, you make the rich beery, mushroomy, beefy filling.

For this you need;

Some cubed braising beef, about 400-500.
200g of mushrooms, cut in half
One large or two smaller onions, peeled and sliced in half-moons.
One large carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
A big sprig of fresh thyme, chopped
Half a pint of dark beer
Lea and Perrins
A squirt of tomato purée
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

In a large saucepan or a casserole that can be used on the hob, fry the onions and carrot in oil. Leave this on a low heat so the vegetables soften.

Coat the beef in seasoned flour and fry in batches in hot oil, adding each batch to the onion pan.

When all the beef is browned, deglaze the pan with the beer and add this to the beef and onions, then melt the butter in the pan and sauté the mushrooms with the thyme.

Add this to the beef too and adjust the seasoning. Add a splash of lea and Perrins and a squirt of tomato purée. Bring to the boil and simmer, adding boiled water if it becomes too thick and reduced before the meat is done.

Once the beef is soft, roll out the pastry to line an oven-proof dish, and roll out a smaller piece to make a lid.

Drain the meat filling through a sieve if there is too much liquid left. You want a moist filling but not a wet one or the pastry will be a soggy mess.

Any leftover gravy can be served with the cooked pie.

Assemble the pie, cut a steam hole in the lid and glaze the top with egg wash.

Bake until golden in a Gas Mark 6 (180c) oven.

Serve with mash, a green vegetable and maybe some English mustard on the side.

To drink, you can have beer, maybe the same one you cooked with, or a decent red wine, possibly a Bordeaux, a southern French red or something from the New World.

We chose a South Australian 2005 Lyrup Crossing Cabernet Sauvignon from Salena Estates.

This was definitely a full-bodied wine, with a lot of maturity, subdued tannins and Autumn berry fruit flavours. It went really well and I think it is a shame that I don’t have any more bottles from this vintage left.

Chicken wrapped in ham with tomatoes, asparagus and mashed potatoes

The breasts were slit open and stuffed with some cheese, Ossau Iraty, but any hard cheese will work, and wrapped in Black Forest ham.

They were then roasted in olive oil. At the same time, I roasted some yellow and red baby plum tomatoes in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbes de Provence.

To accompany this, I made some buttery mashed potatoes and steamed some asparagus.

The juices from the tomatoes made a nice simple sauce, drizzled over the chicken.

We had a bottle of 2007 Chinon rouge with this, a lovely wine by Couly-Dutheil, one of the larger producers in that appellation. They produce some excellent wines and this one was no exception.