Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pork and marinade

If you barbecue a thick or tough cut of meat, you may well need to cook it first, before marinating it and subjecting it to the fiercely hot coals. But what if you are cooking it indoors? Do you still need a two-stage process, when you can get decent results by simply putting the marinated meat in a low to medium oven?

I often buy spare rib chops, cut them into pieces, coat them in a marinade, and cook them in a low oven. But this cut gives off quite a bit of liquid, which you have to allow to evaporate before the meat browns and the marinade turns sticky. You don't know how long that will take, and you may have to fiddle with the oven temperature to speed the process. The pork can become tough.

I poached four chops (in a pot with a chicken carcass - they contributed to the resultant stock) for about 50 minutes. Then I cut them up and marinated them. Later I cooked them under the grill until browned and warmed through, first on a high heat, then on a lower one.

It works better than the one-stage method, I think. The meat is more tender, and the marinade penetrates it more efficiently.

Marinade recipes here and here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stuffed courgette

We received this yellow courgette, the size of a small marrow, in our vegetable box. It would be useless for sautéing in the normal way, because it is too watery. But it is fine for stuffing. You can scoop out the flesh much more easily than you would that of, say, an aubergine.

My stuffing consisted of the flesh and ingredients I happened to have in the house: olive oil, 1 red onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 75g rice, 60g diced Gruyere, a tbsp of cream cheese (I'm not sure that this was a good idea, but I thought the bit left in the tub needed using), salt, cayenne pepper. Extra or substitutional ingredients might have been pre-soaked raisins, toasted pine nuts, a few anchovies, and herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, or thyme.

Cook the rice in the normal way. (There's plenty of advice, only some of it inconsistent, on this blog.) Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, and gently cook it with the garlic in a tbsp or two of olive oil. Chop up the courgette flesh, throw it into the pan, and gradually turn up the heat as it exudes water. Cook it on a high heat until the water evaporates. Stir in the rice, cheese, and seasoning.

Put the courgette halves in a baking dish or roasting tin, and stuff them with the mixture. Pour boiling water into the dish to a depth of between 50mm and 1cm. Bake at gas mark 6/200C for about 25 minutes, or until the courgette is soft and the stuffing is slightly browned on top.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Greengage sponge

Figuring that a sponge pudding is simply a sponge cake, steamed rather than baked, I made this slightly raggedy but deliciously gungy effort according to the classic sponge recipe: in imperial measurements, four ounces each of butter, sugar, and flour, and two eggs. What worried me was the liquid from the greengages. But my batter was pretty stiff, and the greengages imparted the stickiness that you want in a pudding of this kind.

I realise that greengages are over now. You could use other kinds of plums, such as Victorias or damsons.

Serves 4.

115g butter
115g caster sugar
2 eggs
115g self-raising flour
1tsp vanilla essence
12 greengages (mine were small), halved and stoned

Cream the butter and sugar. I do this in a food processor: the mixture turns pale, then coheres into a ball, and then smears itself on the sides of the bowl. I stop at this point, and scrape it into a mixing bowl.

I cleaned the food processor bowl, fixed the whisk attachment, and whisked the eggs for about five minutes, until they had doubled in volume and were airy. Whether this effort to introduce more air to the sponge was worthwhile, I do not know. It is possible that the air bubbles collapse as soon as you stir the eggs with the other ingredients.

Pour the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar, tip in the flour, add the vanilla, and stir until you have a thick batter with no lumps. Gently stir in the greengage halves.

Grease a 1 pint pudding bowl with a little sunflower oil. Pour in the batter. Wrap the bowl in greaseproof paper, and then in three layers of foil.

Put the bowl into a saucepan. Pour in boiling water to come half way up the sides. Cover the pan, and simmer over a gentle heat for one hour.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Carbonnade Nimoise

My final Elizabeth David recipe (which I forgot to photograph) from our holiday was a stew, though not one cooked in beer as the name may suggest. It originates from Nimes, home also of brandade of salt cod (as featured here last week), and involves, in David's book, lamb or mutton from the leg. I used chops from the middle neck. The garlic and rosemary are also my adaptations. You must use new, waxy, potatoes, which can hold up even after stewing for three hours, at the end of which they are deliciously imbued with fat and meat juice. For 4.

4 middle neck lamb chops
1 packet lardons or pancetta; or better, 100g of pancetta chopped into cubes
1 head garlic, separated into cloves
Potatoes for 4, peeled (or scraped) and cut into cubes
2 sprigs rosemary
2tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper if you like (I usually add pepper on my plate)

This is a wonderfully simple dish. You toss everything in the oil, lay it out in a layer in a large baking dish, and brown the meat by starting it off at gas mark 8/230C for 20 minutes. Then you cover the dish with foil (or with a lid if it has one), and continue to cook at the lowest possible heat (my oven will simmer a stew at its lowest setting, gas mark S) for about three hours. That's it.

You might include other vegetables. My advice is to avoid carrots, which go dull if cooked for too long.