Friday, 16 November 2007

Pot-Roast Half Pig's Head

My first experience of pig's head was a brawn at St John Bread and Wine. Not just a faultless terrine, it was served in its element - sourdough toast, pickles and beetroot leaves. The acidity of the pickles cuts through the fatty terrine and the bitter leaves refresh. Now why didn't I think of that?

Making "head cheese" is not rocket science but to achieve the consistent elegant simplicity of the St John menu is a true feat. St John mastermind Fergus Henderson is such an inspiring man. Though best know for dealing with the rougher cuts of the pig, it his his dedication to the traditional British dining experience which makes him my food hero.

You will just have to get down to St John to see what I mean. Starters include Ox Heart, Beetroot & Pickled Walnut, Brown Shrimp & White Cabbage and perrenial favourite Roast Bone Marrow With Parsley Salad. My preference is to eat in the bar and order 3 or so starters per head. They have a great selection of draft ales and a wonderful wine list so you should plan to wobble home. Finally, if you're there in the festive season, make sure you snaffle a mince pie with a glass of Le Vitriol.

Enough chat. Introduced and lovingly penned by Fergus, here is the recipe...

I say only half a head, as it is a perfect romantic supper for two. Imagine gazing into the eyes of your loved one over a golden pig's cheek, ear and snout.


To serve two

a dollop of duck fat
8 shallots, peeled and left whole
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
½ pig's head (your butcher should have no problems supplying this) - remove any hairs with a razor
a glass of brandy
1 bundle of joy - thyme, parsley and a little rosemary
½ bottle of white wine
chicken stock
a healthy spoonful of Dijon mustard
1 bunch of watercress, trimmed, or other greens - a case of Liberty Hall
sea salt and black pepper


Dollop the duck fat into an oven tray wide and deep enough to accommodate your half a pig's head and put it on the heat. Add the shallots and garlic and leave them to do a little sweating to improve the flavour of the dish. Shuggle the tin occasionally to prevent any burning, but you do want some colour.

When happy with these, cover the ear of your demi-head with foil so that it doesn't frazzle, then rest the head in the tin. To welcome it to its new environment, pour the glass of brandy over it, nustle in your bundle of joy, add the wine and then the chicken stock. Now, I'm sure we have covered this before - the alligator-in-the-swamp theory - what we are looking for is the half pig's head to lurk in the stock in a not dissimilar fashion to an alligator in a swamp.

Season with salt and pepper, cover the tin with greaseproof paper, offering some protection but not denying the need for the rigours of the hours to come in the oven - which is where you should now put your tin, in a medium oven for 3 hours, until the head is totally giving. Check it after 2-2½ hours; you could remove the greaseproof paper at this point and get a little colour on your cheek.

When ready, remove the head to a warm place. Whisk the Dijon mustard into the pan liquor, in which you should then wilt the bunch of watercress. Finally, on the head presentation platter, make a pillow of shallots, garlic and wilted watercress, where you then rest your head. There you have it, dinner for two; open something red and delicious: Moon, June, Spoon.

Dan can hardly believe his luck

Oh. Now you've read the recipe, why not watch the video?

This recipe is taken from Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly, Bloomsbury 2007

Notes for gluttons

Though most butchers can find you a pig's head, they may well need notice. Call the butcher a few days in advance to avoid dispair.

You will end up with a lot of cooking liqueur - far too much indeed to serve with the head. I suggest you remove two thirds of the juice towards the end of the process, reduce it over a furnace until gloopy and mix it back in with the remaining liquid.

Don't be shy about asking the butcher to half the head. However big your cleaver, you're guaranteed to make quite a mess doing this at home.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Slow Baked Quinces With Mascarpone

Quinces are deeply misunderstood. I suspect that kilos and kilos rot under their trees each year as people don't know what to do with them.

Well I've got news for you - there is more to life than quince jelly. This recipe shows of the unique texture of the fruit and ends up with a beautiful aromatic liqueur which also makes a great ice cream base (more on that later).

I am giving you the choice of using a low oven or a slow cooker. The latter is certainly more economical. You may also find that your oven has an auto cut-out after 6 hours or so so keep an eye on it. I've never tried the oven method but I've eaten the result and it is equally sublime.


Serves 4

4 quinces
a bottle of white wine
250ml water
400g sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
2 star anise
200g mascarpone or greek yogurt
bay leaves for serving


Heat the oven to 100c (gas mark 1/4) or warm your slow cooker up. Combine the wine, water, sugar and aromatics in a heatproof, ovenproof lidded dish (or a large pan if using a slow cooker) and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Scrub the quinces, peel them (reserving the peelings) and cut in half lengthways. If oven baking, add to the liquid-filled oven dish immediately with the peelings and transfer to the oven. If using a slow cooker, add the liquid, quinces and peelings to the cooker and set it to low.

Oven bake for 8 hours or slow cook for 10 hours. Over this time the cooking liquor will develop a deep red colour and your entire home will be filled with a glorious smell of Christmas. Once cooked leave to cool, strain out and discard the aromatics and peelings and serve the fruit with their juice, a dollop of mascarpone or greek yoghurt and a bay leaf to garnish.

Notes for gluttons

The cooked quinces keep for up to a week in the fridge so don't be shy, double up the quantities! Unless you guzzle it in a glass, you will have spare cooking liqueur when you have eaten the quinces. This can be reduced and used to flavour a delicious mild ice cream. I'll try and post it soon.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Fegato alla Veneziana (calves liver Venetian style)

It can be hard to find friends to share the delights of offal with. So much so in fact that I have had to start a monthly Offal Club to bring together ther real fans of "the fifth quarter". I think liver is quite an accessible organ and this recipe produces a flavoursome dish which can be enjoyed even by those with weaker stomachs.


Serves 2

225g calves' liver (ask the butcher to slice it thinly)
3 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
275 ml dry Marsala
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10g butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

NB. You will need two frying pans!


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a high heat, then add the onions and keep frying them over a high heat until they are dark round the edges. You'll need to keep tossing them otherwise they'll burn proper and become bitter - about 10 minutes. If they do co over the top (crispy), I suggest you start again.

Add the crushed garlic and toss that round the pan for a brief instant (30-60 seconds) before adding the Marsala and balsamic vinegar. Bring everything up to a gentle simmer, season, and then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let it just barely bubble (without covering) for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the liver by slicing it into approximately 1½ inch lengths keeping the lengths very thin. Imagine Mr Twit eating his worm spaghetti! When the 45 minutes are up, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil along with the butter in the other frying pan and, then when the butter foams, add the liver slices and sear them very briefly. They only need about 1-2 minutes to brown - any more will dry them out. If there's not enough space in the pan, you can do these in batches.

Add the liver strips to a warmed serving dish then deglaze the pan with a dash of marsala being careful to boil off the alcohol before adding the jus to the liver. Pour over the onions and sauce and serve immediately.

I like to serve this with spinach and chips made by shallow frying cold new potatoes. It would be equally at home (and a little more healthy) over a crisp baked potato.

Notes for gluttons

Lambs liver works well with this recipe too.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Octopus Slow Cooked In Wine

This is the first post to feature on YOTG which is designed to be cooked on the car engine. Didn't know you could cook octopus on the car engine? Shame on you. Its high time you had a look at Bangers on Bangers.

OK, so you've got the background. This dish was dreamt up for a long journey to the lake district. The cause of the trip is a swimming race so this will be high-protein, high carb and, most importantly, lip-smackingly tasty.

Leaving London at 8am, this should be ready for a lakeside lunch. The early departure will affect cooking time - a fast passage out of London will make for an even, low heat all the way. If you are starting your journey in heavy traffic (such as a Friday evening), you'll need to alter the recipe to allow for a high heat at the start followed by lower heat as you hit the motorway. I'd take an hour off the cooking time.


Serves 2

250g prepared octopus (the smaller, the better)
10-12 cherry tomatoes halved
1 small bunch of parsley
1 lemon
1 glass white wine
good olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
2 heaped tsp. plain flour
1 thinly sliced small potato


Rince the octopus thoroughly in water and pat dry with kitchen roll. Slice the octopus as you like, but keep the chunks reasonable small, say not more than 2cm in any direction. Since it is quite a beautiful animal, you'll need to use your creative flair here to cut up the fish in a way that preserves its natural beauty.

In a mixing bowl add the octopus, flour, seasoning and parsley. A good pinch of sea salt is needed here but only a couple of twists of pepper. Stir until the flour is well dispersed. Add the juice of the lemon, stiring as you go, then do the same with the wine being sure to avoid lumps. When the liquid is looking smooth, add the halved cherry tomatoes and stir in gently.

Pour a generous splash of olive oil into a foil takeaway tray and line the tray with the sliced potato. This will stop the octopus from getting too hot and thus becoming tough. Add another glug of oil then with a slotted spoon, spoon in the octoups until it comes up to just below the top of the foil tray. Top up with the remaining liquid leaving about a centimetre gap at the top of the tray to minimise spillage. It doesn't mater if there are bits of octopus poking above the liquid as these will steam.

Seal the container as described on Bangers on Bangers and get on the road. I think this will need at least 4 hours of motorway driving but I'll probably give it 5 to be safe.

Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juice.

Notes for gluttons

Hands up if you've cooked octopus on a car engine. I reckon this to be a first but would love to be proved wrong. Remember where you saw it first.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


This has been a favourite of mine at Tupelo Honey for a long time. Last time I went, I decided to reconstruct it. The recipe is of South African origin and the internet is riddled with recipes. This recipe is a mixture of those I found online. It works well.


Serves: 6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 1/2 pounds good quality lean ground lamb
1 thick slice of white bread
3/4 pint milk
1 tablespoon curry powder*
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1/2 cup seedless raisins
50g flaked almonds
2 tablespoons Slap and Pickle (or similar) chutney
2 bay leaves
3 large or 4 small/medium eggs

* I use 1 part ground cumin, 1 part garam masala, 2 parts ground coriander, 1/2 part chilli powder. You probably have your own recipe.


For the meat:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Heat oil in large sauté or very large frying pan. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat until transparent. Add the meat and fry until lightly browned and crumbly. Break it up with a wooden spatula as you go - I hate large lumps in my mince! Soak the bread in the milk, squeeze out excess milk and mash with a fork. Reserve the milk for the batter and set aside.

Add the bread, curry powder, sugar, salt, pepper, turmeric, vinegar, raisins, almonds, chutney to the meat mixture and continue to fry for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish, press it down well so that it has a flat surface and there are minimal gaps. Nestle in the bay leaves and bake for 50-60 minutes.

For the batter:

Beat the eggs with the remaining milk, season well and pour over the meat mixture about 20 minutes before end of the baking time. Turn the oven up to 220 for the last stretch and keep a close eye on the batter crust. When it goes golden brown it's done. If it goes too dark, it probably means you've dried out the dish.

This is real comfort food. Its like a shepherd's pie with a twist. I serve it with a salad of flat leaf parsley, cubed tomatoes and cucumber dressed with a mustardy vinegarette.

Notes for gluttons

Try substituting 1/2 pound of lamb with the same weight of minced fatty pork. I tried this and the extra moistness was noticable.

If you like more of a curry flavour, try substituting the Slap and Pickle chutney for Patak's Brinjal Pickle.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Date, Fig & Fennel Chutney


2.5 kg fennel, roughly sliced
750g figs, roughly chopped
400g dates, roughly chopped
2 pints cider vinegar
180g ginger, finely chopped
750g soft brown sugar
4 tsp salt
4 onions, finely chopped


Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. The bigger the pan, the better as it will help to reduce the liquid. You will need a pan that is at least 7.5 litres to fit the above in. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Bear in mind that the chutney will thicken as it cools, so make sure there is some liquid left. Spoon into jars straight from the hot pan. This will ensure a vacuum seal.

Notes for gluttons

If you're planning on keeping the chutney for a while (say, more than 6 months) then I recommend leaving a bit more liquid. This somehow helps the flavour to develop and prevents the chutney from drying out. If the chutney doeas get too dry, or if you want to cook it a little longer to make the flavours richer, you can add a bit of water. Just make sure the chutney has a good boil after you've added it so that any nasties are done away with. Now don't touch the chuntey for 3 months so that it has a chance to mature. Ideally, aim to cellar it for a year or more. As long as its moist enough, this chutney will keep for about 3 years. I bet it wont last that long!

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Slow cooked pig trotter and hock terrine

Serves about 10 as a starter.

2 pig's trotters, each chopped into 3 or 4 pieces
A 1kg unsmoked ham hock
300g fatty pork belly strips
2 small onions, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bayleaves
1 large glass white wine
1 tsp redcurrant or crab apple jelly
Salt and freshly ground pepper


I didn't ask the butcher to cut the trotters into pieces as I wanted to try out my new cleaver. Big mistake, I was hacking away for a while, so get your friendly butcher to see to this for you.

I made this in a slow cooker. I am a big fan of the slow cooker, especially where bones are concerned. The product is always that bit richer and I have been known to leave it running on the lowest setting for 24 hours. You could just as easily use a heavy saucepan or a cast iron casserole.

Wash the trotter pieces well being sure to clean between the toes (a strange sensation to say the least), then place in the slow cooker, along with the whole hock, belly, vegetables and herbs. Pack everything in as well as possible, then pour in the wine and enough cold water to cover. Turn on the slow cooker and run it for 8-10 hours. By now, the trotters will be tender and the skin should fall away from the bone. Remove the meat and set aside.

Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve lined with muslin or a clean tea towel into a clean pan. Bring to the boil, reduce by three-quarters, then stir in the fruit jelly. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. You will need to add a generous pinch of good salt. Remember you're going to serve this chilled, so the flavour will be surpressed.

Pick all the skin and meat from the trotters, and the meat from the hock and belly. Here you can make a decision about how rustic you want your terrine to be. I chose to discard a lot of the skin and some of the fatty bits. On reflection, I think I was a bit heavy-handed as the terrine came out a little lean. Roughly chop the meat, skin and fat into pieces about 1cm square and put in a bowl. Stir in the prosciuto fat. Pour over the reduced cooking liquid, stir and check the seasoning again. Pack into a terrine (or several ramekins or a medium pudding basin), place a weight on top if necessary, then leave until completely cool. Chill for at least a few hours to set before serving (ideally a day or two).

Serve with crusty bread and your preference of cornichons, chutney and/or mustard.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Ligurian Rabbit Casserole

I am having a rabbit crisis. A recent wild rabbit experience was so powerful, that I almost swore myself off them for good. Since then I have eaten a couple of delicious tame rabbits but I can't quite come to terms with the fact that I might prefer the farmed version to the natural gamey animal.

This works with farmed (I still find it funny that they call them "tame") rabbit but would probably not work quite so well with a wild beast. I'll hunt for a good wild rabbit recipe and post it shortly.


1 tame rabbit, jointed
plain flour
1/2 cup olive oil (preferably ligurian)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves peeled but whole
a sprig of rosemary
a few sprigs of thyme
a small handfull of sage leaves
some finely chopped parsley stalks
24 black olives, stoned and halved
2 glases dry white wine
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
a small amount of chicken stock


Wash and pat dry the rabbit portions. Coat them in seasoned flour and brown in a cast iron casserole over a high heat to get a bit of colour on the meat and also the pan. Brown the garlic cloves at the same time. Set the rabbit aside and add the onions, olives and herbs. Sweat them down until the onion is softened. Pour in the wine, deglaze the burnt patches on the pan and simmer off the alcohol. Return the browned rabbit to the pan along with the tomato paste and a generous seasoning.

Cook slowly either on the hob or in a medium oven for 1 and a half to 2 hours. Serve with grilled polenta

Adapted from Carluccio's Complete Italian Food

Friday, 23 March 2007

Roast bone marrow with parsley salad

This is always on the menu at St John in Smithfield. I have it whenever I go there and it never disappoints.

Experience suggests that it helps to give your butcher a bit of notice here. This morning I was charged a staggering £15 pounds for my marrowbone as when I requested it, the butcher ordered in the shins specially, and boned them for my pleasure. Alternatively avoid rip-off butchers. See previous post.


12 x 7-8cm pieces of middle veal marrowbone
1 bunch of flat-leafed parsley, picked from the stems and chopped
2 shallots, very thinly sliced
1 modest handful of capers, (extra-fine if possible)
juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground salt and black pepper
toast, to serve
coarse sea salt


Preheat the oven as hot as it goes. Place the bone marrow in an roasting tin or oven-proof frying pan and once the oven starts to burn the remains of your last week's dinners, put it in the oven. Getting the oven hot is important here. Roast the marrow for 20 minutes until the marrow is loose and giving, but not melting away.

Mix together the parsley, shallots and capers. Make the dressing by mixing together the lemon juice and olive oil.

Just before serving toss the parsley mixture with the dressing and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt. Serve with a pinch of parsley salad on top.

Notes for gluttons:

Really good toast is important here. I recommend pain de campagne or better still sourdough. I use Poilene sourdough and slice it quite thinly. You can butter it if required, but so much fat comes out of the bone that this is one of the few times my toast goes unbuttered.

You can buy marrow scoops but they cost a fortune. Lobster picks are easier to get hold of and cheaper. An essential tool in the offalman's quiver.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Steak Tartare

I had never eaten this famous dish until I cooked it last night. My interest was created by my recent ice swimming trip to Finland where I was served Reindeer Tartare.

For 2 as a starter.


About 150g fresh beef fillet
1 raw egg yolk
1 good teaspoon shallots, finely sliced
Half a teaspoon of salted capers
A couple of finely chopped cornichons
A good pinch of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
A small dollop of dijon mustard or quarter of a teaspoon of English mustard
3 good shakes of Worcester sauce
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce
A pinch of salt
Ground black pepper


Trim the meat of all fat and sinew, then process it finely. Combine the ingredients trying to fluff-up the mixture as you do. Shape the meat mixture into neat patties, one per person, and place on serving plates.

Serve with toasted sourdough.

Friday, 23 February 2007

The Love Of Butchers - to be continued...

Over the last year or two, being constantly on my bike around London, I have encountered many butchers of varying quality, price and cooperation. I currently have the number of 6 butchers in my mobile so can usualy guarantee to track what I want. If none of those have it, I go to Selfridges food hall where I've never been let down. Here's a lowdown:

Randalls, Wandsworth Bridge Road
113 Wandsworth Bridge Road
020 7736 3426

I have a love/hate relationship with this place. It costs a fortune - without doubt the most expensive meat in London. They always look down their noses at me when I walk in, sensing that my pockets aren't as deep as fucking Gordon's. They have warmed to me slightly slightly but I think they're just a bit up themselves. The main reason for their snobbery is Gordon Ramsay who buys his meat there. Jamie Oliver and a host of other famed foodies also shop there, so you're paying partly for the celebrity association.

That aside, their meat is amazing. Not just the quality, which is faultless, but the way in which it is prepared. Their game comes beautifully dressed in a protective layer of pork fat (to ensure moistness) and impeccably tied. Many of the prepared joints are stuffed with fresh herbs and there is always a pungent pile of herbs in the shop ready to be stuffed in a glistening hungry orifice (calm it Stu, wrong blog).

If you're looking for a real treat, and have just been paid, then this is the place for you. Otherwise, please so pop in as a spectator. Everyone should see this place, even vegetarians.

AA King, Parsons Green
30-34 New King's Road
020 7736 4004

King's is a great balance of quality and price. Their meat is great quality but despite it's location, you don't pay through the nose for it. Good for game, always friendly and keen to order you the less common cuts, this is one of my favourites in London. Until recently, the butcher most frequently behind the counter was a lady. It was a pleasure to be served by Sally and a rare sight to see a female butcher.

The funny thing about Sally is that she can't cope with the thought of eating rabbit. So whenever I bought rabbit I'd get a stern look, an anecdote about her pet rabbits and a gereral air of disapproval. Funnily enough, she has occasionally asked a furtive question such as "so is it really nice then?" which showed that deep down, she is still a butcher.

Best value butcher I know of in London and a really great place to go if you have no idea what you want for tea.

Chadwick's Organic Butchers, Balham
208 Balham High Road
SW12 9BS
020 8772 1895

I went to university with Gary Chadwick and had no idea that 3 years later, he'd pop up as my local butcher.

Pure Meat Co, Kentish Town
258 Kentish Town Road
Kentish Town
020 7485 0346

Coming soon.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Squid with pangrattato

This recipe is amazing. I can't really imagine getting more out of a squid. This gives all the savoury, oily comfort that deep fried calimari gives, but in a more interesting and slightly lighter dish. Its from Jamie's Italy. I've always had problems with this man but hot damn, I'm starting to come round.

The garlic, not being peeled, doesn't burn but can still be heated to a high temperature. The result is that the breadcrumbs pick up a great garlic flavour and a good piquancy from the chilli. The chilli's wholeness prevents it from frying as normal so you get a touch of roasted pepper coming through. Need I say more?


350g per person of baby squid
half a lemon

The pangrattato will serve about 4. Do the maths if you need more. For the pangrattato:

2 slices of bread crumbed in a food processor
6 cloves of garlic in the skin, squished a bit under a knife
2 large red chillis whole but pricked all over with a fork
a big handful of chopped parsley
olive oil, salt, pepper


Leave your squid whole but put them on some kitchen roll to drain the water. If possible, leave like this for an hour or so as you want to remove as much water as possible. If not, the squid will not colour and you'll miss out on the browned bit of squid. We wouldn't want that to happen would we?

Get a thick-based frying pan and warm a good (and I mean good) glug of oil (good I said) and add the chilli, garlic and breadcrumbs. Fry on a hot hob until the breadcrumbs start to toast. Season well and set aside. This will probably take 10-15 minutes so in the meantime, chop the parsley while you're salivating over the smell of bread and garlic cooking simultaneously.

You must be hungry by now. Once the pangrattato is done, remove it from the heat and stir in the parsley so that it gets a chance to wilt. Reheat the pan (medium-hot) with a small splash of oil and fry the squid and lemon together. The squid may release water. If so, keep draining it so that the pan is almost dry. This should allow some colour on the squid and lemon. If the pan is small, do this in batches - a full pan will inevitably stop the contents from colouring. You don't need to fry these for long. Get the pan hot and keep it dryish and it should be 6-8 minutes per batch to get a bit of colour. If the pan gets too dry, add more oil. Oil is fine but water is the enemy at this point.

Once the squid is done, put on plates and sprinkle pangrattato generously over it. Serve on hot plates with a light salad in side bowls. I like to combine them, but there are salad devotees who get upset by this so best to leave a choice.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Penne Con Sugo di Salsiccie


2 tablespoons olive oil
8 italian spiced fresh pork sausages meat removed from skins and crumbled
2 small red onions peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
2 smaii dried chillies crumbled
2 bay leaves
1/3 bottle red wine (preferably Chianti or Sangiovese)
1 x800g tin peeled plum tomatoes drained
1/2 nutmeg freshly grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
120g parmesan freshly grated
150ml double cream
250g penne rigate


Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the sausage meat stirring and breaking up the pieces. After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run add the onion, garlic, chill and bay leaves. Cook gently for almost 30 minutes until the onions are brown. Add the wine increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates.

Now add the tomatoes lower the heat and simmer gently until you have a thick sauce about 45-60 minutes will do but 2 hours, with the occasional dribble of water will make for a richer creation. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper (add plenty of pepper if the sausages were not spicy) and add the parmesan and cream.

Cook the penne in a generous amount of boiling salted water then drain well. Add the penne to the sauce combine and serve.

Taken from the River Cafe Cookbook - Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Stuffed Lambs Hearts

I had never eaten heart until last night. Well, lets face it, I probably put away a good few in my student days in the guise of Iceland sausages, but I have never set out to eat heart. At a cooking demonstration I once heard Ray Smith wax lyrical about lamb's heart for a good 20 minutes. He spoke of it as if it were white truffle or beluga roe and ended the discussion by wrapping up said heart in a bag and presenting it to his favourite member of the audience. Enough.

6 lambs hearts (as un-butchered as possible)
18 rashers streaky bacon
1 litre good chicken stock

For the stuffing:
Duck fat or butter
4 red onions peeled and finely chopped
4 bulbs of garlic (I used only 2)
2 glasses of red wine
225g stale white bread
a couple of good sprigs of sage (leaves only, chopped)


First make the stuffing. In a pan with duck fat or butter cook your onions and garlic gently so that they do not colour but become soft and giving. Add the wine, let this reduce by half, then add the bread, season, and cook together gently for 15 minutes: if it appears too dry add a splash more wine. Cool then add the sage.

Meanwhile trim the hearts of any excess fat nodules at their openings and any obvious sinews, and the flap at the top. Finally, with your finger, scoop out any blood clots at the base of the ventricles. You are ready to stuff.

With your hand, press the stuffing into the heart, and level off the opening at the top. Then drape 3 rashers of bacon over the exposed stuffing in a star fashion forming a lid and secure with string.

Find an oven dish or deep roasting tray in which the hearts will fit snugly; stand them upright. Pour stock over - they do not need to be completely covered. Cover with tinfoil and place in a medium oven for 2.5 hours. When cooked remove and keep warm. Strain the juice and then reduce by half for a delicious sauce. Untie and serve with mashed swede.

Taken from Nose To Tail Eating - Fergus Henderson

Piedmontese Peppers

I nearly had an accident when Jean was describing this one to me. I think Delia did it originally but it may have been altered since then as I received it in a frantic email. You can't really believe the amount of juice that will come out of these puppies. You end up with half a delicately balanced pepper almost full with sweet, sugary juice. I served it as a starter, thinking we'd have half each, but we couldn't stop there and had 2 halves each.

4 large red peppers (green are not suitable) - 1 per person
4 plum tomatoes
8 tinned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
8 dessertspoons Italian extra virgin olive oil
freshly milled black pepper

To serve:
small bunch fresh basil leaves

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350?F (180?C).

For this it is essential to use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). If the sides are too deep, the roasted vegetables won't get those lovely, nutty, toasted edges.

Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they're not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape). Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place two quarters in each pepper half.

After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies. Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a few scattered basil leaves. These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime - focaccia would be perfect.

Taken from Delia Smith's Summer Collection

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Beef Hash

Yes yes. I had beef last night and since myself and Fanoo Flipper couldn't eat 2kg (it was close), I had the pleasure of a beef hash. Mmmmm, worth doing extra for.


Quantities are hard to specify here as you are unlikely to have the same amount of leftovers as I had. I think 500g of leftover meat will feed 3-4.

Leftover beef - shredded
Some pre-boiled potatoes - chopped
An onion or two
Plum tomatoes
Sprig of thyme
Salt & pepper


Soften the onions in olive oil and set them aside. Now get the pan really hot, add a bit more oil and fry the beef, potatoes and thyme together seasoning them as you go. When they have developed a good colour, add back in the onions, some chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat until the tomatoes reduce down to moisten the meat and potatoes.

Serve topped with 2 poached eggs per person. Fergus' recipe says fried eggs but since this is already a full blown fry-up, and buy the egg point I've probably got through 200ml of olive oil, I think poached add a welcome bit of lightness.

This dinner will restore any broken mind or body.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Pot Roast Rib Roast Of Beef

Serves 6 to 8, depending on side dishes


2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 onions, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
2 whole heads of garlic, skin on (I peeled them, slap my wrist)
Bundle of fresh herbs (I used flat leaf parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary
10 black peppercorns
2kg piece of beef brisket or rib roast - as it comes off the animal, unboned, unrolled
1 litre unsalted chicken stock
2 glasses red wine


This is seriously low maintenance. Add the veg, herbs and everything but the meat, wine and stock to a high sided roasting dish or pot in which the meat fits fairly snuggly. I used a Creuset casserole. Make a nice flavoursome bed for the beef then nessle her in there free from the base and sides of the dish/tray. Add the wine and stock. It should come about four fifths of the way up the side of the joint.

Cover and cook in a medium/low oven for three hours. It should be simmering, so check it throughout to check there's no raging boil happening.

Serve with a ladlefull of juice. Thicken it if you like or serve with mash to soak it up. The remaining juice can be strained to make a great soup base. As there's a sealing layer of fat on it, it also keeps well in the fridge. I chucked in some watercress and something else that escapes me now and it was a great Sunday night restorative soup.

Adapted from Nose To Tail Eating - Fergus Henderson

Monday, 1 January 2007

Slow Cooked Beef Shin

I cooked this for 30 friends on New Years Eve. I had huge marrow bones for the stock which cooked for a day or so before the casserole was started. The casserole cooked for about 8 hours in a very low oven. I've adaped the recipe here for a kilo of beef. It's probably more use that way.

Feeds 5 hungry folk


1kg beef in large chunks (I use shin)
2 tablespoons seasoned plain flour
2 sticks celery
2 large carrots
1 litre good beef stock
1/2 bottle wine
olive oil to fry
2 bay leaves
tablespoon chopped thyme


Finely chop and fry the onions, carrot and celery (together) till they are well softened. Stir in the flour and set aside. Get a pan really hot and brown the meat in batches and add to the veg mix. Try to slightly burn it all. The flavour seeps through the stew in the slow cooking. If you use a non-non-stick pan, and its a mess by the end of this, you're in luck because you can deglaze the pan with some wine and the dark burnt bits make a lovely stock. I use a le creuset if possible. However burnt it gets at the start, the bottom is always free after the long cooking.

Once all the meat and veg are done, put them in a casserole and stir in the stock and wine. Bring to the boil on the hob then put in the oven at about 140 for 3 hours. Alternatively, stick it in a slow cooker for 12 hours or more. The flavour just keeps concentrating throughout the cooking, especially if the meat is really well browned.

Taken from my own imagination and love of all things hearty.

Why all this blogging?

I need targets. Whether it is to better myself or just to prevent laziness, I find that setting myself challenges helps me to get more done, have more fun and yes, to eat more. I am a creature of habit and cook the same trusted recipes over and over. I do love my favourites but I know there's more out there. So my resolution for 2007 is to cook two recipes from each food book I own. My library currently stands at 33 but I think its going to be a good year for my library.

My name is Stuart Palmer and I am a glutton.