Pot Roast Pheasant with Fennel and Chorizo
You will need:
2 medium onions, sliced
2 large fennel bulbs, sliced chunkily
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
150g chorizo, sliced
100ml sweet and dark sherry, preferably Pedro Ximenez
500ml fresh chicken stock, from the chiller cabinet
1 tin butter beans or cannellini beans
a few sprigs of thyme
crusty bread, to serve, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Add a little oil to a frying pan and cook the onions and fennel slices until softened and beginning to go golden. Add the garlic slices and continue to fry until just soft. Remove and place in a large casserole dish or pot.
2. Add another splash of oil to your frying pan and heat until really hot. Season the pheasant and brown on all sides, this should take no more than 5 mins. Nestle the pheasant in the casserole dish, sitting on top of the fennel and onion.
3. Fry off the chorizo slices until browned and crispy. Add these to the casserole dish as well. Deglaze the frying pan by pouring in the sherry, simmering for about 5-7 mins, stirring and scraping the pan as you go until slightly reduced and sweet-smelling.
4. Meanwhile, add the stock to the casserole dish and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the reduced sherry, beans and thyme sprigs. Cover and place in the oven for 1 hr 30 mins until the birds are cooked through and the sauce is thick and glossy. Serve with some crusty bread for dipping and mopping, if you like.
Paprika Roast Chicken with Red Pepper, Olive and Apricot Couscous
You will need:
200g dried apricots
75g butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp smoked paprika
handful parsley, optional
1 whole chicken, approx 1.5kg
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 lemons, juice and zest
100g green olives
3 long red peppers, cut into chunks
Rocket, to serve, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Finely chop about 75g of the apricots and mash into the butter along with the garlic, 1 tsp paprika, seasoning and, if you like, some roughly chopped parsley. Loosen the skin covering the chicken breasts and generously dot the butter underneath, smoothing down as you go.
2. Place the rest of the butter into the cavity of the chicken, along with the juiced out lemon halves. Scatter most of the apricots, half of the olives and all of the red pepper chunks into a large roasting tin. Mix together 1 tbsp of oil with the lemon zest, juice, 1 tsp paprika and some seasoning. Use half to toss through the vegetables and the remainder to rub or brush this liberally all over the chicken. Sit the bird in the roasting tray, tucking in as many stray bits of vegetable and fruit underneath as possible. Roast in the oven for approx 1 hr 20 mins, until cooked through and tender.
3. Towards the end of the cooking time, cook the couscous according to packet instructions. I like to tip it into a large bowl, pour over boiling water, covering by at about 2 cm. Tightly cover with cling then leave for about 10 mins. The water should have been absorbed and the couscous soft. Fork the remaining oil through the couscous along with some seasoning.
4. Once the chicken is cooked, place on a chopping board to rest. Tip the fruit and veg into the couscous along with the rest of the olives and apricots, as well as a little of the juices from the roasting tin. Fork through to distribute then season to taste- adding a little more oil or lemon juice if necessary. Serve with the chicken and a rocket salad.
I’m lucky to live just the other side of the park from the Deli Downstairs in Victoria Park Village (or Lauriston Village to use its proper name). It’s a wonderful place to pop in for a treat- they do beautiful pies, quiches, sausage rolls and cheeses. I’m a fan of their black pudding scotch egg. You can also bring your own bottle to fill with some red or white from Borough Wines. But the real reason why I love it is because it stocks the odd unusual ingredient that is just a bit harder to source- wild garlic or goats curd for example. Or a bag of pearled spelt grain for the bargainous price of £1.50.
I’d never cooked it before, but this ancient grain turns out to be fantastic stuff. It has a slightly nutty flavour, but much more neutral than something like pearl barley, which I always think tastes like musty, damp socks. You simply boil it until tender and then use it as a side dish, instead of rice or in a salad as you would do with cracked bulgur wheat or couscous. I decided to go down a more risotto-esque route by stirring in some creme fraiche, feta cheese, lime zest and thyme. Along with a colourful salad of tomato, peppers and chorizo, this made for a satisfying supper which I highly recommend. You just might have to pop down to South Hackney to get all the ingredients.
There’s been a lot of chatter recently about pulled pork. And by pork, I mean the Americana, southern-drawl, smoky, whiskey-laden, Scarlett O’Hara of pig variety.
There’s clearly an audience for this kind of cooking, with places like Pitt Cue off Carnaby St and Duke’s Que and Brew in Dalston opening to queues (ha!) of hungry hipsters. I smell a fad, but I’ll happily embrace it for now.
Here’s my take on BBQ spare ribs. Served, of course, with a shot of rye while listening to this great song by the Punch Brothers.
You will need:
A rack of pork spare ribs
1 lime (juice and zest of)
2 tbsp golden or maple syrup
1/2 tsp of paprika
pinch of cumin
dash of Worcester sauce
dash of soy sauce
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 chopped red chili (or 1 tsp chili jam)
salt and pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and whisk together until well combined.
2. Pour over the rack of ribs and leave in a zip lock bag to marinate in the fridge overnight.
3. You can either go ahead and put the rack straight on the BBQ or into a hot oven for about 20-30 min, turning every so often. You can also, of course, get your butcher to chop up the rack for you before you cook them, which also makes them a bit easier to marinate, if you are short of fridge space.
I served my ribs with a carrot slaw, crisp roast peppers (I may have taken my eye off them for a minute), sweet potato wedges and sweet corn salsa.