Mustard

Meatballs with brown ale gravy

meatballsbrownale.jpg

I made these last week and they were fantastic – comforting and homely with a good old-fashioned meatball taste (more school dinner or granny’s kitchen than IKEA). Ben said they tasted just like faggots but I disagreed (there is no offal involved for starters, which is good because I hate offal). Everyone in our house loved them and I will definitely be making them again.

I recently began a subscription to Honest Brew beer delivery service. The idea behind it being that I should drink LESS but BETTER beer. It’s expensive (£36 a month for 12 beers, which I have to share with Ben!) but I drink less so it sort of evens itself out. I get very excited when the delivery arrives (sad, I know). Aside from interesting tasting beers I take a huge amount of pleasure in the beautifully designed beer labels – the creative collaboration between illustrators and craft beer makers is a truly wonderful thing indeed.

I used this tasty little number from Siren Craft Brew for the beer gravy with my meatballs.

beerlabel.jpg

Tom Kerridge’s pork meatballs in brown ale gravy

Makes 24 meatballs

For the meatballs

  • 600g of good quality minced pork
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 100g of dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of English mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of dried sage (I used fresh because this was all I had)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 egg

For the gravy

  • 2 shallots or small onions, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 300ml of brown ale
  • 500ml of chicken stock (homemade is best but readymade is fine)

Fry the diced onion gently in a little oil until soft (about 10 minutes) and leave to cool (I missed this bit by accident and added it to the meatball mix raw – the results were still good).

In a large bowl add all the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands. The more you mix the better the meatballs will hold together. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight (or for at least an hour).

Divide the mixture into quarters and then divide each quarter into six and roll each portion into a ball so you have 24 meatballs. Put them on a plate and cover and chill again for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Fry the meatballs in a little vegetable oil until well browned on all sides. They do not need to be cooked all the way through. Put them into an oven proof serving dish.

Turn on the oven to 190oC.

To make the gravy, put the onion, garlic, rosemary and 250ml of beer in a saucepan. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and almost all the beer has evaporated. Add the stock and reduce by about a third.

Pour the gravy through a sieve over the meatballs and bake them (uncovered) in the oven for 20 minutes until the gravy has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through.

To finish pour in the remaining beer, sprinkle over some fresh sage (or I used parsley) and give everything a good stir. I thought it sounded strange to add ‘raw’ beer to the mix at the end but trust me it really does work.

Tom serves his meatballs with buttered peas and mushrooms. I served mine with homemade potato wedges (I  really wanted oven chips). But they would also be good with mash, rice, spaghetti – pretty much anything really.

meatballswithchips

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Nigella’s crispy cornflake chicken

cornflake chicken

I’m really enjoying ‘Simply Nigella’. I am a sad case but I look forward (with great anticipation) to my Monday night escape into her wonderful world of liquorice treasure boxes, giant walk in pantries and pretty pink tableware.

But the best bit for me is that she makes food that I actually want to eat.

Now I’m a huge fan of Carluccio’s Chicken Milanese (if you haven’t come across this it’s basically a giant middle-class chicken nugget), so when I saw Nigella make crunchy chicken cutlets (that looked very similar) I knew I had to give them a go.

First my daughter played guinea pig and I used the cornflakes as a coating for chicken without the mustard/cinnamon/garlic seasoning. She loved it. Then I followed the recipe almost to the book (but with a little less mustard) and fed it to my husband. He declared it ‘surprisingly delicious’. He was surprised because in his eyes Nigella is a crazed mad woman and he can’t get past the programme’s introduction before he has to leave the room.

The mustard and cinnamon tasted amazing and I’m going to use that idea again even if I do opt for proper breadcrumbs. There’s something gratifying about turning old bits of bread into breadcrumbs for dishes like this, but in our house of hungry gannets bread is rarely leftover any more so this makes a good (and cheap) alternative. Shop bought panko breadcrumbs are so expensive.

PS. I’ve also made Nigella’s fish tacos (8/10).

Nigella’s crispy cornflake chicken

If you want the real recipe go to http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/crunchy-chicken-cutlets or ask Santa to bring you the book (Santa it’s only £12 in Tesco!)

  • 2 chicken breast fillets battered out with a rolling pin to about 1cm thickness
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 75 grams cornflakes
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a big pinch of salt
  • Oil for frying (Nigella uses 2 tablespoons but I needed more)

Crack an egg into a shallow dish that you can fit both the chicken breasts in and whisk in the mustard, cinnamon and garlic. Add the chicken breasts and spoon over the mix. Leave to marinade while you prepare the coating.

Put the cornflakes into a bowl and crush them by hand with your fingers until they look like coarse bread crumbs, you don’t want dust. Add the salt, paprika and cayenne.

Take the chicken breasts out of the egg mixture one by one and toss them in the cornflakes until they are really well coated on both sides. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and when medium hot, fry for 3 minutes on the first side, then turn them over carefully and give them another 3 minutes. By this time the chicken should be cooked through but do check.

Serve with salad.

Unglamorous gammon

gammon revised

Gammon is so uncool – it’s one of those foods that conjures up images of old people’s homes and really bad pub food. And I’m not going to do its reputation any favours when I tell you that when recuperating from a sickness bug that floored my entire family and made me lose my appetite for an entire week, this is the first thing that I actually fancied eating.

And who did I turn to for a recipe to cook this unfashionable foodstuff but the most uncool of cookery writers – Delia. I’ve cooked this dish many, many times and I don’t bother experimenting with other recipes because it works so well. First you boil the joint in cider which is a good way to use that run-of-the-mill stuff (like Strongbow) that sits around going out of date after a big party. Nigella does a similar thing with coke (the fizzy drink sort) which sounds bizarre but is probably nice and I’ve also seen recipes using ginger beer.

As a Sunday roast gammon is the boring one, the one that doesn’t come with anything – no stuffing, no Yorkshires, maybe just a splodge of parsley or mustard sauce (which I couldn’t stand as a child). But the great thing about a nice bit of gammon (and something that you only really appreciate as an adult who has to cook their own dinners) is that you can do so much with the left overs. A couple of slices are great with oven chips and a fried egg, or you can slice into thin strips and toss with linguine, egg yolks and parsley for a carbonara type dish. But for me sliced in a sandwich with English mustard is the best.

Some people serve gammon as an addition to turkey for Christmas dinner. That’s never been a tradition in our family but I think it sounds like a nice idea and this recipe would be perfect because you could do the boiling part a day or two before and then roast on Christmas day once the turkey is out of the oven resting.

Delia’s sugar-glazed gammon

Serves 4 with left overs

  • 1 piece of middle cut gammon, rolled, about 1kg – I prefer mine smoked but it doesn’t have to be
  • 1 onion studded with a few cloves
  • A bayleaf
  • 570ml dry cider
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of English mustard

Put the gammon in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to the boil and then throw out the water which will look disgusting – all grey and foamy.

Now add the bayleaf, peppercorns and onion and pour in 425ml of cider and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for one hour.

Remove the gammon, let it cool and then remove the string and skin with a sharp knife. If you are doing this part in advance then wrap in cling film and store in the fridge until ready to roast.

Preheat the oven to 190oC fan.

Stand the gammon up (fat side uppermost) and smear the mustard and brown sugar over the surface – it’s easiest to do this with your hands. Then put the joint into a roasting pan with the remaining cider in the bottom and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, basting the joint a couple of times with the juices.

NOTE: In the original recipe Delia studs the gammon with cloves all over before roasting. This probably looks prettier but I don’t bother with this as I find the taste of that many cloves a bit overbearing.

Smeared with mustard and sugar before entering the oven.

Smeared with mustard and sugar before entering the oven.

I like to serve gammon with ‘pommes coq d’or’ (pictured in the main photo)

Pommes coq d’or 

Serves 4

Take 5 medium sized floury potatoes (I use Wilja). Cut the potatoes as thinly as you can with a sharp knife (or with a mandolin if you have one and can be bothered to get it out and wash it up). Generously butter a shallow tin (mine is 23cm diameter and 4 cm deep) and layer the potatoes in the tin overlapping them slightly. I save the neatest ones for the top. – you want about 4 layers. Crush two cloves of garlic and add this to 250g of chicken stock (made up with half a Knorr chicken stock pot), along with 10 twists of the pepper mill. Pour the stock over the potatoes until it comes to just under the top layer (you may not need it all), then dot the top of the potatoes with butter. Bake in the oven at 180oC fan for 40 minutes foil-covered and then 30 minutes without foil or until the top is brown and crispy.

Great, great grandma Marguerite’s French dressing

It’s always useful to have a good salad dressing recipe to hand. My grandmother gave me this classic recipe which was handed down to her by her French grandma. It is very straight forward and tastes good on a simple green salad (especially if the healthy green leaves are accompanied by a nice juicy steak). You can also use it as a dressing for a rice or pasta salad.

French dressing

Enough for one large salad

  • 1 ½ tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons of groundnut, sunflower or other flavourless oil
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the ingredients into a jam jar and shake well until combined.

You can also add chopped herbs from the garden.

This dressing keeps well for a week or so in the fridge.