Category Archives: roast

Pork belly with cranberry glaze (Serves: 3/4 – Preparation time: 2-2.5hrs)

I am going through a phase of trying to use up leftovers and empty my freezer which is no mean feat.  As a family we are notorious for hunting down a bargain and raiding the reduced aisle for tasty goodies. In fact there have been several occasions of late where certain members of the family have  bragged about stocking up their freezer with organic meat that has been reduced to quite frankly a silly price.

So why pork belly and cranberry I hear you ask, well quite simply a month or so ago I picked up a decent piece of belly pork that had been reduced and it has been sitting in the freezer waiting to be used along with half a bag of frozen cranberries that I bought for Christmas.  In the interests of trying to be somewhat more frugal this month I decided to knock to together Sunday lunch using up these ‘scraps’ and I have to say that I was very pleased with the outcome!  A beautifully tender piece of pork, crackling, topped with a sticky sharp cranberry sauce – YUM!

Now, whilst I made my cranberry sauce, if you are looking to cheat then just use shop bought cranberry sauce.  In all seriousness there isn’t much to this recipe so do give it try, if you don’t make the cranberry sauce then there are really only two steps – how much more simple can you get?! Enjoy.

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Smoky roasted butternut squash soup (Serves: 4/6 – Preparation time: +1hr)

Pumpkins and squashes come in all manner of shapes and sizes and in my opinion they are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook with.  The good news is right now they are in season and fairly cheap to buy!  For today’s recipe I have decided to keep things simple and turn butternut squash into a wonderfully velvety soup which is perfect served in a mug for bonfire night or as a starter for a dinner party with crusty French bread on the side.

The vibrant orange colour of this soup is hugely inviting and has the effect of making you warmer simply by looking at it. However, it is the paprika in this recipe transforms this soup – turning it from the sweet delicate taste of the squash into a rich smoky flavour that makes you want to keep going back for more.

This is definitely a recipe to try this autumn/winter whilst butternut squash is in season and at its best.  The soup freezes well so can be made up in large quantities and squirrelled away until you need it.  Enjoy!

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Glazed gammon roasted in cider (Serves: 6 – Preparation time: 2 hrs)

Gammon has to be one of my all time favourite meats!  Whenever I have it I can see my childhood self standing bare foot in the larder carefully carving off thin slivers of ham and savouring the deliciously sweet and salty ‘melt in your mouth’ goodness.

Growing up we tended to only eat gammon at Christmas as it was considered a special treat.  My mother would cook it late on Christmas Eve and its aroma would waft through the house in an almost teasing fashion as we knew we’d have to wait until Christmas lunch before we were able to indulge. Self-restraint is not something my family are known for when it comes to food.

Gammon can be cooked like any other roast – pop it in a roasting tray with onion and other bits and bobs and then cook in the oven for as long as it needs depending on its weight.  For gammon you work on the principle of 30 minutes per 500g at 190C.

 As you cook the recipe below the smell of mulled cider will fill your kitchen as the spices infuse with the cooking liqueur. The ‘piece de resistance’ comes when you glaze the joint with runny honey mixed with the juices – the result will be a sticky sweet slightly caramelised unctuous gammon. Enjoy!

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Rolled Guinea fowl with Moroccan stuffing

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What a weekend it has been! We (my brothers, their other halves and I) have just celebrated Christmas up in Yorkshire as we are all heading in different directions this year. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of discussion over what we are going to eat. I mentioned to my brothers that I fancied trying to recreate a meal I had recently had at a school friend’s wedding breakfast (pheasant with a Moroccan stuffing).

After deliberating about how I was going to approach re-creating this dish for a Christmas feast – the suggestion I put to my brothers was Guinea fowl with a Moroccan style stuffing and dried fruits, wrapped in streaky bacon. The idea was well received until they heard that I was planning on deboning and rolling the bird which was met with much consternation. Their concerns revolved around:

  1. The fact I had never deboned a chicken let alone a Guinea fowl before.
  2. How much meat there would be left on the carcass?
  3. How long this meal would take to prepare as they wanted to eat at some point over the weekend.
  4. How many birds was I intending to do and was I sure that there would be enough to eat!?

I tried to quash their concerns by telling them that I had done a lot of research, watched a lot of YouTube videos and felt confident that I knew what to do.  In relation to timings, well we weren’t going to eat until the evening so even if deboning the Guinea fowl took an hour each we would still be able to eat around 7.30/8pm. And finally yes there would be enough to eat (I had ordered two Guinea fowl and just shy of 1kg of pork stuffing meat) I felt underfeeding was not going to be an issue.

I am pleased to report that in the end the meal was not only a success but that we had leftovers! It may have taken me roughly 45 minutes to debone each bird but it was worth it.  I couldn’t have been happier with you the meal turned and even better today we were able to enjoy some pretty yummy sandwiches for lunch before we all headed home.

The Moroccan flavoured stuffing with the dried fruits kept the guinea fowl meat wonderfully moist.  The spices were subtle and did not overpower the Guinea fowl.  The dried fruits added just enough sweetness and gave the stuffing a slightly tangy flavour and finally the pistachio added a pleasant texture.

If you don’t wish to go to the efforts of deboning a Guinea fowl then just make the meat into stuffing balls instead and cook the Guinea fowl (or chicken if you prefer to choose a slightly cheaper meat) and stuffing separately.

So the big question, would I make it again? Without a doubt! However, I would stress that this is a meal for special occasions given the time it takes to prepare but it is absolutely worth the effort!  Good luck and enjoy!

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Rolled Guinea fowl with Moroccan stuffing (serves 10)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Guinea fowl (c.1.25 kg in weight)
  • 16 slices streaky bacon
  • 900g seasoned pork stuffing meatDSC_0184 (4)
  • 3 red onions (finely diced)
  • 100g apricots (diced)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 175g pistachios (shelled)
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger

Steps:

1. Place the onions in a sauté pan with a little oil, cover with a lid and sweat on a low heat until soft. (Do not rush this process as you do not want the onions to catch and burn).

2. Place the apricots, cranberries, pistachios, breadcrumbs and spices in a large glass bowl and mix together thoroughly.

3. Once the onions are soft and have cooled slightly add to the mix with the pork meat. Use your hands mix together all of the ingredients making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the stuffing. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge whilst you prepare the Guinea fowl.

4. Debone your Guinea fowl. (I would strongly encourage you watch a video demonstrating how to do this). The method I used is as follows:

  • Make sure your boning knife is very sharp and if necessary sharpen your knife before starting. Make sure that you have a clean tea towel to hand before starting.
  • Start by removing the Parsons nose.
  • Remove the wishbone, being careful not to snap it off. If you do snap it off by mistake, you’ll need to remember to remove the splinters of bone at the end.
  • Next move on to the wings, if you imagine the wing to be an arm at the ‘elbow joint’ remove the lower section of the wing so that you are left with just the top section of the wing.
  • Turning to the legs, at the knuckle carefully slice through the skin. Then holding the chicken leg in the tea towel pull the knuckle off – the reason you do it this way is so that you remove some of the sinew. If you are not strong enough don’t worry, just cut the knuckle off at the joint.
  • Next place your Guinea fowl breast side down on your chopping board. Cut straight down the centre of the back of the bird from head to tail.
  • Working on one side at a time (my preference is to do the left side first), slowly and carefully starting at the head and working down the bird cut the meat away staying as close to the bone as possible and making sure that you remove as much of the meat as possible.
  • When you get to the wings and legs cut through at the joint to enable you to continue working down the length of the carcass until you get to the bottom.
  • Repeat the process on the other side.
  • When you get to the point that the bird is only attached to the carcass by the backbone, using your finger to avoid tearing the skin run you finger between the backbone and flesh to remove the carcass.
  • Next tunnel bone your wings, pulling the bone out at the end to turn your wing inside out. The reason you do this is so that you have no holes in the skin once you have finished deboning the Guinea fowl.
  • Repeat the same process with the legs. Once the legs are inside out remove as much of the sinew as you can. Once you have completed this you will have a deboned Guinea fowl ready to stuff and roll.

Note:  Remember to use all the bones and trimmings to make stock which will form the base of your gravy.

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5. Once you have deboned both of the birds you can prepare them for cooking.  Split your prepared stuffing in two and shape into cylinders.  Then place the stuffing in the centre of the birds where the carcass would have been. (Don’t worry if you have too much stuffing to go in the middle as you can shape it in to small balls and cook as separate stuffing to serve with it).

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6. Next fold over the skin so that it overlaps slightly and then wrap the rolled guinea fowl with streaky bacon.

7. Next tie your joint with some cooking string to hold it together whilst cooking. The best knots to use are a slip knot followed by an overhand knot (aka a Butchers knot). Don’t worry if you find this too difficult just tie a knot that will hold the meat securely.

8. Place the meat in a lightly oiled roasting tray and cook at 180C Fan/ Gas mark 6 for 1hr 15mins -1hr 45 mins.  To test that your birds are ready insert a meat thermometer into the centre of the joint, if it reads over 65C they will be cooked through.

9. Once cooked remove from the oven, wrap both joints in tin foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

10. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and don’t forget the gravy.

Enjoy!

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Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust with celeriac and potato mash

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We live in a region where wild boars are fairly common.  During the winter months our local hunt go after the boar in order to keep their numbers under control and to prevent them doing considerable damage to the farmers’ crops.  The French are very strict when it comes to shooting boar and they impose some hefty fines if for example the matriarch is killed.  The reason for this is that it can result in a ‘population explosion’ creating an even bigger problem in the surrounding area as the family splits and new matriarchs are created.

Up until last year I had never seen a boar in our region and then in fairly quick succession I came across three.  The first was a boar the size of an Alsatian that I ‘bumped’ into walking the dogs.  Fortunately for me I didn’t have to climb a tree as the boar turned and ran off as soon as it saw us and our dogs do not have the quickest of reactions so there was no risk of them coming to any harm!  The second was a young boar that ‘Biggles’ our springer spaniel put up in the woods.  The last was probably the most special as I came across him twice within 24 hours.  The first time, he confidently walked up to the small orchard one side of our house (not batting an eye at our neighbours dogs that were working themselves into a frenzy barking at him across the fields) to eat windfall plums under the trees (unfortunately I was not prepared to get too close to him to take a photo and my long lens was just not good enough…).  However, it seemed this guy wanted his picture taken and the following morning, when driving home from the village, I came across him rootling in a neighbouring field.  He was so engrossed in eating that I was able to go home, get my camera and take pictures from the safety of the car about 4-5 metres away.

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It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to cook with wild boar, however, a few weeks ago a friend dropped by and gave us a large haunch.  Having never cooked with boar before I sought the advice of one of our neighbours, who informed me that it is best cooked coated in mustard at about 190C for an hour.  I decided to adopt the idea of the mustard coating, however, was somewhat concerned about the cooking times as the French are notorious for enjoying their meat cooked fairly rare.  Consequently I decided to cook the joint in a similar way to how I cook a leg of lamb and I was very pleased with the outcome.  I served it with potato and celeriac mash, which went well with the strong ‘gamey’ taste of the boar.

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Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:

  • 1 haunch of wild boar (1.5 – 2kg)DSC_0318
  • 4-5 carrots (halved lengthways)
  • 1 potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1 onion (halved)
  • 2 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard)
  • 150ml water

Steps:

1.  Place the carrots, potato and onion on the base of a large roasting tray to form a ‘bed’ on which to place the wild boar.

2.  Mix together the wholegrain mustard and Dijon mustard together in a bowl.

3.  Cover the wild boar completely with the mustard mix and then place on top of the vegetables.

4.  Add the water to the pan, then roast in the oven at 220C fan for 20 minutes, before covering with tin foil and cooking at 170C fan for a further 90-120 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your meat.

5.  Make sure you rest your meat in a warm place covered in tin foil for 15-30 minutes whilst you make your gravy.  Do this by heating the juices in the bottom of the pan with some stock or vegetable water and adding little cornflour to thicken it (if needed add some honey or redcurrant jelly to lift the flavours a little).

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Celeriac and potato mash

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • 1/3 of a celeriac (roughly 200g in weight peeled, cut into chunks)
  • knob of butter
  • 5-6tbsp milk
  • seasoning

Steps:

  • Place the potatoes and celeriac in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until a knife passes through both the potatoes and celeriac easily.
  • Once they are cooked, drain them and return them to the saucepan.
  • Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the vegetables until they are smooth.  Serve.

Lamb Roast

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A Sunday roast has always been one of the meals I look forward to the most.  Tender meat served with crispy roast potatoes, loads of vegetables with a rich gravy – it doesn’t get much better than this.  I remember when I first started cooking roasts I found them fairly stressful due to all the component parts.  However, it is all about good preparation and timing- if you can get that right then it is a fairly painless process.

As we rear our own ducks we tend to make our own duck fat, which is then frozen in portions ready to be used for roast potatoes.  After plucking, drawing and butchering the ducks we render the unwanted skin of the bird down in a hot oven (180C – 200C fan) for about 40 – 55 minutes to draw out the fat.  The fat is then sieved and left to cool slightly before pouring it into small pots ready to be frozen.  If you can’t get duck or goose fat then use olive oil or vegetable oil in its place.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, as a family we prefer to eat lamb well done, consequently all timings recommended for the meat are made with this in mind.  If you prefer your meat medium or rare please see the notes.

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Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary

Ingredients: (Serves 4)DSC_0656 - Copy

  • 1 leg of lamb (1kg – 1.5kg)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3-4 stalks of rosemary (cut into 2” pieces)
  • 1-2oz butter (softened)
  • 1-2tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C fan.
  2. Mix the garlic, butter and oil together in a bowl.
  3. Take a sharp knife and make deep incisions into the joint roughly 6-8 times.
  4. Smear the garlic butter all over the joint, push some gently into the incisions.
  5. Insert the rosemary pieces into the incisions and season well.
  6. Place the meat joint in a roasting tray.
  7. Place in the oven and cook the lamb for 1hr -1hr 15 minutes basting occasionally for a well done joint.
  8. Remove from oven, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes in a warm place before carving.

Note:

If you prefer a more scientific approach to cooking meat and would rather use a meat thermometer to gauge how your leg of lamb is cooked work on the following principle:

  • 50C – Rare
  • 60C – Medium
  • 70C – Well done
  • 75C – Very well done

Alternatively, insert a knife into the joint and press down slightly so that you can see the colour of the juices, the pinker the juices the rarer the meat.

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Roast potatoes in duck fat

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces)
  • 2-3tbsp duck fat.
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place the potatoes in some salted water and par-boil for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and set above the pan to continue to drain for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Roughly 40 minutes before serving, place the duck fat in a roasting tin and place in the oven at 180-190C fan for 5 minutes to melt the fat.
  4. Remove from the oven and very carefully tip in your potatoes.  Stir and turn the potatoes in the pan to make sure they have all been covered in oil and then season.
  5. Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

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Red cabbage with sultanas

Ingredients:

  • 400-500g red cabbage (finely sliced)
  • 1 handful of sultanas
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2-3tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp sugar

Steps:

  1. Place the cabbage and sultanas in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes (or until the cabbage is soft).
  2. Drain the cabbage well, then return to the pan and add the vinegar, oil and sugar and stir well.
  3. Taste and add seasoning as required, serve.

 

Honey glazed carrots with parsley

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 carrots (peeled and cut into batons)
  • 2 heaped tsp honey
  • 1 heaped tsp butter
  • 1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place the carrots in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes (or until the knife goes easily into the carrots).
  2. Drain the carrots and return to pan, add the butter and honey stir together and add cover for 5 minutes.
  3. Just before serving scatter over the parsley and season with a little salt and pepper.

 

Roast onions

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions (peeled, and left whole)

Steps:

  1. Cook the onions in the same roasting pan as your joint.
  2. Remove the onions from the pan after about 40-45 minutes.
  3. Place in a small ovenproof dish, cover with tin foil so that they stay warm.
  4. If they cool too much, pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

Gravy (for lamb)

Ingredients:

  • juices from the meat pan
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 heaped tsp red currant jelly
  • ½ pt – ¾ pt water (or vegetable water)
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1-2 heaped tsp cornflour (made into a paste with a little water)

Steps:

  1. Having removed the meat, place your meat pan along with its juices on the stove and heat.
  2. Add the glass of wine and allow to bubble away for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add ½ pt of water, red currant jelly and crumble in the stock cube stir together.
  4. Pour in the cornflour paste and stir continuously as your gravy thickens, add a little more water if it is needed.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

 

Roast Duck with Plum Stuffing

My brother rang me yesterday to tell me that he had shot a duck and was wondering what he should do with it. Fortunately I had cooked a duck a couple of weeks ago so I was able to talk him through what I did with it.  I love having stuffing with a roast and found that this plum stuffing worked particularly well with the duck and it helped to keep the bird moist as it was cooking.

My parents keep Muscovy ducks, for several reasons; firstly they make great parents often rearing clutches of 15-18 ducklings. Secondly, they are fairly attractive ducks, so are fun to have wondering around the place and thirdly, they keep our peacocks in their place….

Earlier this autumn this year’s ducklings were ‘harvested’ and put in the freezer for eating over the winter months.   It is always possible to tell which of the ducklings are female because they are a different shape and tend to have smaller thighs than the males.  Our ducks have a gamey taste, as they are left to wander around the fields and woods from day one and are harvested later than commercial ones.  As a result we prefer to eat our ducks well done, as opposed to the French way, where the meat is cooked rare and can be quite bloody.  If you have any fat in the roasting dish after cooking make sure you drain it off into a little pot so that you can use it to make your roast potatoes with next time.

 

Roast Duck with Plum Stuffing

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 duck weighing roughly 1.25 – 1.5kg (with liver and heart if possible)
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 8 plums (de-stoned)
  • handful of lardons
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1tsp thyme
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 190C fan.

2.  Make your stuffing by placing the duck’s liver, heart, breadcrumbs, plums,  lardons, onion, garlic, thyme and seasoning into a food processor and blitzing until all the ingredients are combined.  

   

3.  Stuff the duck’s cavity with the plum stuffing, packing it in as best as possible.

4.  Dry the top of the duck with paper towel before seasoning well.

5.  Place the duck in the oven and cook for 1¼ – 1 ½ hours, to test if the duck is done, see if the juices run clear when you place a knife in the thigh of the of the duck.

6.  Remove the duck from the oven, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 – 15 minutes.

7.  Use a spoon to remove the stuffing before carving and place in a bowl to be served with the duck.

(Note:  I always make stock with the carcass.  You can do this by placing the carcass and any juices in a saucepan with an onion, celery stick, 2 carrots, dried mixed herbs and then covering it will water.  Cook on a medium heat for a couple of hours.  Then use to make soup later in the week.)