Pork braised with soy sauce and spices

A few years ago I started venturing on beyond stir-fries in my explorations into Chinese cooking. Along the way I discovered the wonderful world of red-cooking, a Chinese braising technique in which soy sauce is a significant component of the braising liquid. Used most often on pork, it turns the outside of the meat a lovely reddish color, and imparts that wonderful soy-sauce savoriness to the whole dish.

This recipe is a simplified version of the red-cooking technique that I adapted from a number of sources. It’s totally dead-easy, but it does take a long time to let the meat do the full low-and-slow braise to get properly tender. This of course makes this dish a great candidate for crock pot cookery (only dropping the bit about taking off the lid and turning the meat every now and then, since crock pots don’t like that). But even if you do it in a conventional cooking pot it requires minimal intervention.

You can do this recipe with any number of pork braising cuts–it’s especially glorious with fresh pork belly. Here I used a bone-in pork shoulder blade roast, with some of the skin layer intact. If you really dislike the skin, get a skinless cut or remove the skin. But I invite you to give the skin-on version a chance–the Chinese consider the jelly-soft braised skin a particular delicacy, and I don’t blame ’em.

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 4 lb. pork braising cut (shoulder, Boston butt, fresh ham, belly pork, etc.), preferably with a modest layer of fat plus skin
  • 1/4 cup Chinese soy sauce (Pearl River Bridge is a good brand)
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 or 4 chunks Chinese yellow rock sugar candy, or 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 quarter-sized slice fresh ginger root, or 1 tsp. dried ground ginger
  • 1 or 2 star anise pods (optional)
  • 1 small dried red chile (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the meat in a heavy thick-bottomed braising pot with a well-fitting lid, that holds the meat comfortably but without a lot of excess room. Pour or sprinkle remaining ingredients over meat; add about 2 cups water, or enough to come just barely halfway up around the meat. Turn the meat over a few times to get it bathed in the liquid on all sides.
  2. Bring the pot just up to a boil on the range-top, then back it off to the lowest simmer you can manage–the liquid should just be burbling gently, not actually bubbling. Put the lid on and let it simmer for a good couple of hours, until the meat is very tender but not falling apart. Occasionally check the pot to make sure the simmer is staying at the right level, and to turn the roast so all sides get their turn in the cooking liquid. Be gentle when turning the meat, especially as it gets tender and more breakable–tongs and a wide-blade spatula help a lot. (Alternatively, you can do the braise in an ovenproof lidded casserole in a pre-heated 350F oven.)
  3. When the meat is done, remove it to a platter to rest before carving. Strain the cooking liquid; either spoon off the fat on top, or put it in the fridge overnight so you can remove the congealed fat more easily.
  4. Slice the meat across the grain, and in such a way that each slice has a bit of the skin on top. Serve with white rice, with a bit of the cooking liquid spooned over the meat and the rice.

Variation: You can add chunked braising vegetables to the pot for the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking. I especially like carrots, turnips, and/or daikon braised this way.

Servings: 6 to 8 if the main dish; a lot more if part of a multi-course Asian dinner.

–posted by Denny Kozlov

Leave a comment

Filed under Asian, Chinese, Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy, Dinner, Long but worth it!, Meat

Lemon Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes

Every 2 weeks I get a fresh veg box delivered. So on occasion I have the chance to get unusual veg that I’ve not tried before. My last box had Jerusalem Artichokes in it. That name though is a bit of a misnomer; they aren’t artichokes. They’re a root veg and have a similar texture when raw to radishes. They’re often also called Sunchokes.

So since I didn’t have a clue about using them I hit up the internet for a few ideas. In the end I came up with Lemon Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Chicken Thighs
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/8 cup Lemon Juice
  • Pinch Saffron (optional)
  • 4 Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), peeled and diced
  • 1 cup Double Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • Cooked white rice (enough for 3 people)

In a large deep skillet heat 1 tbps of oil. While this is heating, sprinkle the chicken thighs with a bit of salt and pepper on each side.  Once the oil is hot, place the thighs in skin side down and brown each side, turning only once. Once browned place on a plate and set aside.

Add the lemon juice and chicken stock to the pan. If you’re using the saffron, add it now also. Bring this to a boil and scrape off any stuck chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Jerusalem Artichokes and the Herbes de Provence to the mix and return the chicken to the pan with any accumulated juices.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the Jerusalem Artichokes are tender.

Now stir in the cream. It may be easier to do this if you again remove the chicken from the pan so it is easier to stir and then put it back in. Taste and adjust any seasoning and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve over rice.

If you don’t have any Herbes de Provence, you can use basil and thyme as a substitute. Any herb that goes with chicken will work with this recipe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chicken, Difficulty - Sous Chef, Dinner, Lunch

More Simple Things: Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce

When I was a kid my mom used to make tomato sauce that was heavenly. Every summer we’d can fresh tomatoes and she’d use them throughout the year in many thing. By far my favourite was her tomato sauce. She’d cook it for a day or two in the slow cooker using whatever leftover meat we had in the house or just normal ground beef.

I don’t have any freshly canned tomatoes, but I do have tinned tomatoes. These are just as good and turn out as lovely of a result.

The ingredients are simple and need only a little prep for a great result.

I put a lot of herbs in mine, but you really only need 3 herbs and some salt and pepper. Dried herbs are always a good option when slow cooking with plenty of liquid. As long as they aren’t too old they’ll give plenty of flavour to your cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 4x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes (Plum or Romas suggested)
  • 2 Medium White Onions – Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 250g Ground Beef (optional)

If you’re using ground beef, brown it in a pan now.

Combine the tomatoes, chopped onion and any meat you’re adding in your slow cooker. Using one of the tins from the tomatoes, fill it with water and add to the mix.

Add all of the herbs and spices and stir everything together.

That’s it. Just pop the lid on and turn the heat to medium. Let cook for 20-24 hours. Check on occasion to stir or maybe adjust seasoning, but remember that it will reduce and intensify, so the herbs and spices will also intensify.

This should make enough for 2 batches that will feed 2 adults. I like to make this up and freeze it for later use.

This is a good base recipe that can also be added to. Some suggestions would be mushrooms or even diced bell peppers. Substitute meat suggestions would be sausage or even Chorizo. And if you like things a bit spicier you could always add Cheyenne, Paprika or even finely chopped fresh chillis.

 

~Kostika

4 Comments

Filed under Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy, Dinner, Italian, Long but worth it!, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Just seemed like the right thing to make for Sunday morning breakfast today.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or sucralose
  • lemon zest

Streusel Topping

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans

Muffin Batter

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour 18 muffin cups, or use paper liners.
  2. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, lemon zest and sugar. Beat until smooth, then set aside.
  3. For the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
  4. For the muffin batter: In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, olive oil and vanilla. Beat together until smooth.
  5. Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter. Try to keep cream cheese from touching the paper cup. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F (195 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

Eva

Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Cake

Simple Things II: Pan-Seared Tuna

I feel quite certain that Rowan and I are not alone in having busy evenings which are not at all conducive to making meals requiring more than 30 minutes to prepare.  Does this mean that our food should [always] be pre-packaged or pre-prepared?  No indeed!

What I share with you now is a favorite preparation of fresh yellowfin tuna.  Freshness is the first key to gastronomic success in all cases, but most especially when working with seafood.

Let’s start with the fish.  Selecting your tuna (or any other type of fish for that matter) steak or fillet:

Look for vibrant flesh. All fish fade as they age.  Should you select a cut with skin remaining, look for shiny, metallic skin.

Smell it. The smell test is especially important with fillets. They should have no pungent aromas.

Is there liquid on the meat? If so, that liquid should be clear, not milky. Milky liquid on a fillet is indicative of decay.

If the fishmonger lets you, press the meat with your finger. It should be resilient enough so your indentation disappears. If your fingerprint remains, move on.

Ingredients:

  • Tuna steaks
  • black sesame seeds
  • mustard seeds (either brown or white)
  • cracked black pepper
  • dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • NOTE – Do experiment with spices that make you happy.  I generally vary the spices each time I prepare this dish.

Method:

  • rinse fish lightly in cold water and pat dry
  • combine mustard seeds, pepper, garlic, and finely chopped tomatoes & cilantro
  • rim the outer edges of the tuna with the spice combination
  • place a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat; the pan is ready for the oil when a hand hovering over the pan (about 1 or 2 inches) feels warm
  • add the black sesame seeds to one side of the steak along with the kosher salt
  • place enough olive oil in the pan to coat it and allow to heat;  your pan is ready for your fish when a hand hover over the pan feels so hot that it is uncomfortable.  Note: Be mindful of olive oil’s low smoking point. You will want to watch the pan carefully once the oil is placed.

Place fish with sesame seeds down in the hot pan.  WATCH closely!  The goal is to sear the tuna without cooking through.  As it cooks you will see the pink flesh begin to turn brown.

    Once you have achieved the searing level you desire, turn the fish and sear the other side briefly.  Ensure that a line of pink remains visible to you on the side in order to achieve a nice rare-medium rare preparation.

      Last night, I served the tuna with a long grain brown rice, some cilantro puree, and a simple arugula salad (lightly dressed with D.O.P Monti Iblei olive oil and celtic fleur de sel)

      As Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett might have said of this meal:

      Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

      ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
      And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

      ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
      When true simplicity is gain’d,

      To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
      To turn, turn will be our delight,

      Till by turning, turning we come round right.

      Cail Bruich!

      Eva

      2 Comments

      Filed under Quick, Seafood

      Simple Things: Pasta with Spinach, Bacon & Sun-dried Tomatoes

      In my younger days, I used to go through a lot of effort to make perfect pasta sauces… long-simmering marinaras, or alfredos that were quietly and slowly heated to perfection. And while those are still worthy chores, in my harried existence now, I much prefer fast and fresh. Most of my pasta dishes now are of the ‘toss together’ variety – pick a few ingredients, boil the pasta, toss it all together.

      And ingredients are in fact key. I know I am not alone in feeling the economic crunch these days. But I find if I ‘invest’ in a few really nice ingredients here and there, it goes a long way to making me feel like things aren’t quite so dire. For example, spending an extra £/$ or two on a lovely flavoured Dijon that I can then use to season my sauces and salads is for me a worthwhile expenditure. And as a condiment, it goes a lot further than splurging on a dinner out, or even a really choice cut of steak (Alas!).

      So, with that! I popped in the lovely little deli on my street, and picked up some nice imported pasta (egg pappardale) and a little wedge of parmigiana to make with some things I already had: sun-dried tomatoes, capers, good olive oil… and everyone’s favourite: bacon!  Oh, and spinach.  You know, to be healthy.

      Step 1: Cut up some bacon (I used 3 strips of back bacon) and cook in a non-stick skillet over medium-high until starting to brown.

      Step 2: Toss a whole big bag of spinach in on top, cover, and wait a couple minutes for it to wilt.

       

      Step 3: Uncover, stir, add a dash of olive oil, the tomatoes (and their oil!), a tablespoon or so of capers, stir... cover and remove from heat.

      Meanwhile… boil the pasta of your choice – Al Dente, always!!

      Pasta done? Toss in a nice big bowl (see top pic), drizzle with olive oil, top with the yummy mixture. TOSS! Add fresh grated parmigiana. TOSS!  “Plate up”, top with a bit more cheese, then serve with a bottle of San Pellegrino, a vanilla scented candle, and two 19th century volumes of Dante!

      Bon appétit!

      Rowan

      PS – I should say that you should obviously mix this one up however; not everyone likes capers (I love ’em!) and the tomatoes and bacon are perhaps salty enough. I’ve also been known to make this with baby roma or grape tomatoes, sliced in half and cooked in some olive oil and garlic with the capers tossed in at the end; then with slices of prosciutto torn up (not cooked) and tossed into the pasta.

      1 Comment

      Filed under Bacon!!!, Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy, Dinner, Italian, Mediterranean, Quick

      Bacon Shortbread Cookies

      By popular demand and sheer love of bacon, I’m sharing this with all of you.

      Know that this took several attempts and different methods were used. Like the first try had the bacon glazed in syrup prior to frying. That didn’t work very well. Sugar burns and my cast iron pan suffered.

      Couple of things to explain before I give you the holy grail of bacon recipes. As I currently live in England I’ve used Golden Syrup. I’ve used this instead of Maple Syrup mainly because it’s what I have and works. You can use a light maple syrup instead.

      Now what kind of bacon you use is very very important. Don’ t use English back bacon. It won’t crisp up like it’s needed. So make sure you use streaky bacon. For you Americans out there, that’s just normal bacon. Whether you decide on smoked or unsmoked is up to you, but I highly recommend you use smoked.

      Now what you’ve been waiting for.

      1 cup normal Butter – softened (not unsalted)
      1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
      2 cups Plain Flour
      2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
      250g Streaky Bacon

      Preheat oven to 170 Celsius for a fan assisted oven and 180 Celsius for a normal oven..

      First you need to prepare your bacon. Simply fry all of your bacon until very crisp. Let the bacon cool on a paper towel covered plate.

      Once cooled separate in half. Roughly chop one half of the bacon. This should roughly be 1/2 a cup of bacon. Set aside, but don’t refrigerate.

      The remaining bacon needs to be shopped very finely. You could use a grinder for this but I suggest doing it manually.  Chop this bacon up to a fine chop that resembles fine wet sand.It can be finer, but you don’t leave it rougher. It will interfere with the shortbread’s texture.

      Put this bacon into a small bowl and stir in 1 Tbsp of the Golden Syrup. Set this aside, but don’t chill. If you put it in the fridge the Golden Syrup will make itself rather solid.

      In a medium sized bowl whip the butter until it’s smooth.
      Stir in the sugar until well mixed.
      Stir in your bacon and Golden Syrup mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
      Stir in the roughly chopped bacon.
      Measure out your flour and mix it in gradually until it is all thoroughly incorporated.

      Your dough will seem slightly squishy, but it should stay together without any problems. Flour a surface and lay out your dough. Using your hands press out your dough to about 1cm thick.

      Cut out your cookies using a cutter or a glass and place on a cookie sheet. You can place the cookies pretty close, but not touching, as they shouldn’t spread and will only rise slightly.

      Before putting them in the oven you need to put a light glaze on them. In a little bowl mix the other tablespoon Golden Syrup and a splash of warm water. Brush a this over the cookies just before they go into the oven.

      Cook for 20 minutes, but check after 15 minutes to see how they are getting along. When done they will feel sightly dryer and solid and will have a very light brown colour.

      Once done, place on rack until completely cooled.

      Once cooled, try not to eat them all at once. Should make around 16-18 cookies.

      ~Kostika

      2 Comments

      Filed under Bacon!!!, Cookies, Dessert, Difficulty - Dishwasher Easy

      Chicken Almondine

      I came from a foodie family (as I imagine many others here did as well). They were (and are) all great cooks, but it was my grandfather who taught me to be a gourmet. I remember sitting in his lap and practicing my reading with a Betty Crocker Cookbook. No, not the height of gourmet, but there was this chart in the front that helped you with what herbs and spices went with what foods.  We made it a game. He would ask ‘Rosemary?’, and I would respond, ‘Lamb, chicken, potatoes…’, you get the idea. I guess it is like learning a language fun… it really sticks in that sponge-like youthful brain!

      He first taught me to make scrambled eggs, which although simple, is all about technique. I’ll likely post that one some day.  But today I’m sharing my favourite meal, and a family recipe, which I began helping with when I was around 5 years old, when Poppop let me ‘bam the chicken’. Like the eggs, it is a simple recipe, but all about technique.

      Ingredients:

      • Chicken breast (boneless & skinless, at least one per person, but you’ll want leftovers!)
      • Flour seasoned with salt, pepper, herbs de provence
      • An onion, chopped
      • A couple cloves of  garlic, chopped
      • Sliced almonds
      • Olive oil
      • Butter
      • White wine
      • Wedge of lemon

      Take the chicken breast and ‘bam’ it – use a mallet to pound it fairly thin, about a quarter of an inch, then cut each piece into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. Dredge your pieces in the flour mixture (a few at a time is easiest, when you are ready to cook it). Heat enough butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, so that it will make a thin layer over the bottom (tip: using both is not only healthier than using just butter, but also olive oil stops butter from browning/burning too quickly). When your butter is melted and bubbling, add the chicken to the skillet and cook a few minutes on each side, until starting to brown.

      When browned, remove your chicken to a plate, add a little more olive oil and the onions & garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add the almonds. Cook both until the onions are cooked and clear, and your almonds start to toast. Return the chicken to the skillet, then pour some white wine (not too much, but enough so it sizzles and steams) and squeeze the lemon over the top. Cover and turn your heat to low or off, and let simmer/steam for a few minutes.

      I like to serve this with a grain dish. In my hometown of Miami, we would sometimes serve it with Vigo yellow rice to make life easy. But with no access to Vigo – and wanting a bit of a nicer alternative, I’ll sometimes make some saffron rice to go with it  (add one cup basmati rice to 2 cups boiling water, add saffron, cover, remove from heat until infused, about 20 minutes). Tonight I decided to make more of that couscous I had with my lamb, cause it was so good. It is a perfect accompaniment, especially when mixed up with the toasty almonds!

      This is wonderfully paired with a fruity white wine, or a rosé, which is happily back in fashion and what my family loved to drink.

      Bon appétit!

      Rowan

      1 Comment

      Filed under Chicken, French, Grains, Meat, Wine

      Yes, even YOU can make haggis


      As we prepare to celebrate Robert Burns in the Steamlands of Second Life™ on January 22, 2011 (as noted in my personal blog), I wanted to share with you both a traditional Scottish haggis recipe as well as a modern haggis recipe in the event that you would enjoy celebrating the Bard of Scotland in your own real life home.  Perhaps you have always wanted to try haggis, but were put-off by the sheep organs that must be used as part of the traditional recipe.

      It is a shame that the “Great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race” should be regarded (by some) with such a mixture of horror and humor. The vision of sheep’s stomachs and other intestines seems to send people running the other direction, but it has long been a traditional way of using up parts of the animal which otherwise might go to waste. Made properly, it is a tasty, wholesome dish, with every chef creating his or her own recipe to get the flavor and texture that suits them. Personally, I like a haggis which is spicy from pepper and herbs, with a lingering flavor on the palate after it has been consumed.

      Finding a butcher who can supply sheep’s heart, lungs and liver may not be easy although nowadays beef bung (intestine) is often used instead of sheep’s stomach.

      Enjoy!

      Traditional Scottish Haggis

      Ingredients:

      • Set of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver (cleaned by a butcher)
      • One beef bung
      • 3 cups finely chopped suet
      • One cup medium ground oatmeal
      • Two medium onions, finely chopped
      • One cup beef stock
      • One teaspoon salt
      • ½ teaspoon pepper
      • One teaspoon nutmeg
      • ½ teaspoon mace

      Method:

      Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the sheep’s intestine and, if present, discard the windpipe. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or possibly longer to ensure that they are all tender. Drain and cool.

      Some chefs toast the oatmeal in an oven until it is thoroughly dried out (but not browned or burnt!)

      Finely chop the meat and combine in a large bowl with the suet, oatmeal, finely chopped onions, beef stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mace. Make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Stuff the meat and spices mixture into the beef bung which should be over half full. Then press out the air and tie the open ends tightly with string. Make sure that you leave room for the mixture to expand or else it may burst while cooking. If it looks as though it may do that, prick with a sharp needle to reduce the pressure.

      Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for three hours. Avoid boiling vigorously to avoid bursting the skin.

      Serve hot (and removed from casing) with “champit tatties and bashit neeps” (mashed/creamed potato and turnip). Some people like to pour a little whisky over their haggis – Drambuie is even better! Don’t go overboard on this or you’ll make the haggis cold.

      Modern Haggis

      *I located this recipe online at Suite101.  It seems quite a nice version of the traditional entree.

      Ingredients:

      • 2 lbs. liver (almost any kind)
      • 3 onions
      • 1/4 lb beef suet
      • 2 cups oatmeal
      • Black pepper
      • Salt
      • Grains of Cayenne Pepper or Drops of Tabasco Sauce
      • 2 cups stock or broth

      Instructions:

      1. Cook 2 pounds of liver with peeled onions for about 20 minutes
      2. Put the liver and onion through a chopper
      3. Chop suet
      4. Put oatmeal into a heavy frying pan and stir over fire until lightly toasted
      5. Add chopped liver, onions and suet
      6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper
      7. Add few grains of cayenne pepper or couple of drops of Tabasco as desired
      8. Moisten with liquid in which liver and onions were cooked
      9. Put into a large heat-proof buttered bowl, filling a little more than half full
      10. Cover with greased paper, waxed paper or buttered aluminum foil
      11. Tie or press down foil securely
      12. Steam for about two hours or cook in pressure cooker under 15 pounds pressure for about 30 minutes

      Serves eight. Takes between 90 minutes to three hours to prepare and cook depending upon method of cooking.

      Source (Modern Haggis)

      A Cook’s Tour of the Bayou Country, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana (Southwest Deanery) including Trinity Episcopal Church in Morgan City, Louisiana. The cookbook includes Creole, Cajun, Southern, Wild Game and other regional food in addition to occasional international selections such as Haggis and Hungarian Goulash reflecting the diversity of the Gulf Coast.

      Enjoy,

      Eva

      Editor’s Note: I’ve been living in Scotland going on 5 years, and I’m here to tell you that haggis is DELICIOUS. If you enjoy any kind of sausage, you’ve no business thumbing your nose at it – the meat (offal) in it is the same as your favourite salami! It is seasoned with pepper and barley, and cooked traditionally in the lining of a sheep’s stomach (again, a step above the intestine that most sausage is cooked in), but more often today you find them plastic casing. Either way, they are steamed, and the meat is scooped out and served on your plate – the casing is not consumed. So GET OVER IT and tuck in to some haggis!! – Rowan

      1 Comment

      Filed under Beef, Dinner, Grains, Lamb, Meat, Scottish

      Lamb & Couscous with Minted Yoghurt

      So for my first recipe, just a little something I whipped up. I tend not to measure when I cook, I wing it a lot, so this recipe will be a bit conversational – more art than science.

      Here is what you need:

      • Some lamb (I used lamb leg steaks, cut up into cubes)
      • Olive Oil
      • Lemon
      • Mint
      • Red wine
      • Honey
      • Garlic
      • Couscous
      • Raisins
      • Onion
      • Chicken stock cube (or a cup of chicken broth with another 1.5 cups water)
      • Greek yoghurt

      Put your lamb into a bowl, and then sprinkle liberally with salt (I have sea salt in a grinder) and fresh cracked pepper, then add to marinate: about 2 tbs olive oil, juice of half a lemon, some chopped mint, and about a tablespoon or so of honey. Oh yeah, and chopped garlic!  Very important. And some red wine! Ok, let it sit at least 15 minutes (the longer the better, I say). Notice there is enough here for lots! You could use some for this dinner, then cook the rest tomorrow as kebabs. Or cook it all an enjoy leftovers for a while. Or invite friends!

      Meanwhile, take some more mint,chop it up, and add it to about 1 1/2 cups of greek yoghurt with a quarter of lemon, salt and pepper. Set it aside.

      When you are ready to cook your lamb, add some olive oil to a non-stick skillet (or, if you like, a nice cast-iron pan), and add half the onion. Sautee for a few minutes, then add the lamb, trying to hold back on the marinade (but reserve it!).  Simmer the lamb over medium high, but pour off any liquid (back into the marinade) that builds up. You want to sautee your lamb, not boil it.

      Meanwhile…

      In a pot with a tightfitting lid, sautee the rest of the onion in some olive oil, along with about a quarter cup of raisins (golden is preferred, but I used Sunmaid California and it was delicious!). Cook for a few minutes, then add 2 cups couscous and stir to coat. Add 2.5 cups water and a chicken stock cube (make sure it dissolves!). Bring to a boil, stir, cover, and remove from heat.

      You’ve been watching your lamb, right? Is it getting nice and golden? Great! Pour the liquid back in, and let it simmer down til it caramelises, it should only take a minute or so. Serve the lamb over the couscous with a nice dollop of that yoghurt-mint sauce (which, btw, also makes a lovely dressing for a spinach & tomato salad).

      Bon appétit!

      Rowan

      2 Comments

      Filed under Difficulty - Sous Chef, Dinner, Grains, Greek, Lamb, Mediterranean, Spring, Summer