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Circassian Chicken

Circassian chicken

We’re not sure if we would would have ever made this except for having a load of walnuts and red peppers that needed used. Definitely one of the most interesting dishes we’ve cooked this year. We’ve had it warm and also cold; as a side dish and in a floury bap for lunch; a tasty starter and a midnight snack. Delicious every time.

Wine Suggestion: If you decide to eat this warm or cold you need the spice a red wine gives and a chill for freshness and vitality; 30 minutes in the fridge is sufficient, so chilled, not freezing! We’d recommend either a Spanish red, the Jesus Romero Rubus, a rarity from Teruel in Aragon or if you’d like to push the boat out Laurent Combier’s Cap Nord, one of the best Crozes-Hermitage we’ve tried in a long while. The link between these is Syrah, so if you find another one you like try chilling this and giving it a go with this dish.

Circassian Chicken – serves 3-4

  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 200g walnuts halves
  • 1 slice stale white bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • small handful of coriander, chopped

FOR THE PEPPER DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste/½ tsp sweet paprika & ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

Put the chicken stock into a large pot with the chicken breasts. Bring to the boil, then simmer and poach for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Blitz 150g of the walnuts in a food processor to make a powder, then add the breadcrumbs and garlic with enough of the poaching stock to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

Pull the cooked chicken into long pieces and combine with the walnut sauce and chopped coriander. Drizzle with the red pepper dressing and decorate with the reserved walnuts.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

Red pepper paste

This red pepper paste is used in loads of Turkish dishes. It’s a very useful paste to have in the fridge and is particular good on a pizza instead of tomato sauce. You can buy Turkish pepper paste in specialist shops but it’s very easy to make and will keep for about a week in the fridge.

Turkish Red Pepper Paste

  • 660g red peppers
  • 50g tomato purée
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 30ml olive oil

Roast the peppers for about 30 minutes at 220ºC/gas 7 until charred & soft. Put in a bowl and cover with cling film, then leave until cool enough to peel. Remove the charred skins, stalks and seeds. Blitz the roasted peppers with the other ingredients in a blender. Store in a jar in the fridge until needed.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

Chilli con carne

Oh yes, another chilli recipe. This one is interesting though as it uses braising steak instead of mince. We loved it!

Wine Suggestion: A juicy red with a bit of spice is our choice for this dish especially those with a good dollop of Grenache in them. First choice might be a good Cotes du Rhone, but venturing a bit from the tried and trusted we found a Spanish Garnacha made by Bodegas Monfil. An inexpensive wine from the Cariñena region is Spain with bags of flavour but also open, round and juicy; perfect for a Chilli!

Chilli Con Carne – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 400g braising steak, trimmed and cut into very small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • ½-1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 small square 85% cocoa dark chocolate (optional)
  • tin red kidney beans, drained
  • sour cream, to serve
  • chopped coriander, to serve
  • cooked brown rice, to serve

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole dish over a low heat. Fry the celery and onions over a gentle heat until softened and translucent.

Add the garlic & chilli and fry until the garlic is cooked, then add the cumin and paprika and cook stirring for another 30 seconds. Remove this mixture from the pan and set aside. Add another tbsp of oil to the pan, turn up the heat, and quickly fry the meat in batches to brown it.

Return the onions to the pan and add the tin of tomatoes, breaking the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon. Crumble the stock cube into the tomato tin, fill with water and tip into the pan. Add the chilli flakes and simmer gently for 2 hours, or until thick and glossy, stirring now and then.

Add the chocolate and stir in, then stir in the kidney beans and heat through.

Serve with brown rice, coriander & sour cream.

(Original recipe by Victoria Moore in BBC Olive Magazine, April 2013.)

Poached Garlic Sauce

Garlic sauce

This is a great sauce for a beef or lamb steak. Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic; the poaching process takes away any harshness from the garlic and results in a sweet and delicious sauce.

Wine Suggestion: While your choice of wine might be determined somewhat by the type of meat you have, with the garlic sauce the key is to choose something robust, not delicate. For this steak we had an old vine Carignan (with a touch of Grenache and Syrah in the blend) from Domaine Roc des Anges in Roussillon. Their “Reliefs” cuvée is one of the best we’ve tasted of this grape variety. It is smooth and sophisticated and yet down deep it seems informed by a rustic prehistoric core.  Supple, deep and fleshy with sheets of shimmering tannin, great driving depth, cherry and dark chocolate flavours and a full, juicy and balanced finish.

Poached Garlic Sauce – serves 4

  • 3 garlic bulbs
  • milk
  • 3 tsps extra virgin olive oil
  • ½-¾ tablespoon sherry vinegar

Break up the garlic bulbs and throw away the woody roots. Put the garlic cloves, skins on, into a small saucepan and cover with milk by at least 3cm. Bring the milk and garlic to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the garlic is soft. Reserve 6 tablespoons of the poaching milk and discard the rest. Either put the garlic through a mouli or squeeze the soft garlic out of each skin and mash to a puree. Add the reserved milk to thin it slightly , then stir in the olive oil and sherry vinegar. Season well with salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

Turkey Chilli with jacket potatoes

This is a good chilli for mid-week. It uses turkey mince which is lean, and easy to pick up now in supermarkets. It’s not lacking in flavour and we will definitely be doing it again.

Wine Suggestion: a lighter Spanish red is the trick here; make sure it doesn’t have too many tannins. Our find of the moment is a rarity from Teruel, in Aragon which has a harsh climate of hot summers and very bitterly cold winters. From a resurrected-reinvented vineyard the Jesus Romero Rubus is an unoaked blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Syrah. The beauty of this wine is the purity of fruit that sings and layers itself across the palate and has a very long finish. Never heavy, yet full of life. That said, it’s mid-week, so go for it, have whatever is open and it’ll be grand!

Turkey Chilli Jacket Potatoes – serves 4

  • 4 large baking potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 300g turkey mince
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 350ml passata
  • cheddar cheese, grated, to serve
  • 4 scallions, chopped, to serve

Heat oven to 220ºC.

Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Rub with a little oil, and bake for 20 mins, then turn the oven down to 200ºC and cook for 45 mins-1 hour depending on the size of your spuds.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and some seasoning, and cook for 5 mins until soft. Add the turkey mince and season again, then increase the heat and break up the mince with the back of your spoon. When it’s cooked through, add the spices, vinegar, sugar and passata. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 mins or until the liquid has reduced.

Cut a cross in the potatoes and serve filled with the chilli, some chopped scallions and grated cheese.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Herb-roast Chicken

Herb roast chicken

This is an easy solution for feeding a crowd and almost everyone likes roast chicken. All you need is some new potatoes or creamy mash on the side. We love the fresh tarragon with the peas but you could use mint if you prefer. The combination of the peas, shallots, herbs and pancetta really add extra depth to the chicken and lift even ordinary chickens to feast-like levels. Of course, if the budget allows, get a good, free-range one as the extra flavour is really worth it.

Wine Suggestion: As this dish is a bit richer than your standard roast chicken it demands more than most white wines can deliver. We find Pinot Noir a good choice. This time we chose the Justin Girardin Santenay 1er Clos Rousseau and the earthy flavours danced with the salty, crispy pancetta and sweet peas. The tarragon made it all the more reminiscent of holidays in France.

Herb-Roast Chicken – serves 8-10 (easily halved)

  • 200g cubetti di pancetta
  • 800g shallots, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chickens (about 1.5kg each)
  • 500ml hot chicken stock
  • 800g peas (frozen will be fine)
  • small pack tarragon, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 190C/170C/gas 5.

Fry the pancetta gently in a heavy frying pan until crisp – if you start with a cold pan you shouldn’t need to add any oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan and fry in the pancetta fat for 10-15 minutes or until golden and starting to soften. Tip the shallots into a very large roasting tin.

Rub the olive oil over the chickens and season well with salt and pepper, then place the chickens into the roasting tin with the shallots. Roast for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove the chickens from the tin and cover with foil.

Put the roasting tin directly onto the hob and stir in the stock. Bubble for a few minutes and scrape any sticky bits off the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon. Add the peas, pancetta and most of the tarragon to the stock and bubble for a few minutes or until the peas are cooked, then season.

Meanwhile carve the chicken into large pieces. Transfer the peas to a warm serving platter and serve the chicken on top with the rest of the tarragon sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2010.)

Ripped red pepper duck curry

Ripped red pepper duck curry

The addition of fresh red peppers and cherry tomatoes gives this curry a really fresh and summery feel. Perfect for when you fancy something spicy on a warm evening. It is also equally at home as the nights draw in, like the moment in Dublin and you fancy an open fire to cosy up to.

Wine Suggestion: A good Gewürztraminer makes a surprisingly brilliant match for this dish with enough weight for the richness and texture and plenty of aromatics to compliment the flavours. Our choice this time was the excellent Cave de Turckheim’s Reserve Gewürz, an off-dry wine that balanced perfectly with the heat of the red curry paste.

Ripped Red Pepper Duck Curry – serves 4

  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced lengthway
  • 5 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • juice of ½ a lime, plus wedges for serving
  • 12 baby plum tomatoes
  • a handful of Thai or regular basil
  • red chilli and shallots, sliced finely to serve
  • steamed rice, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/Gas 6.

Rub the duck legs with some salt and pepper, 1 tbsp of the fish sauce, lemongrass, crushed garlic and 2 tbsp of oil. Place in a roasting tin, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and add the sliced red peppers to the tin, tossing them in a little of the duck fat. Turn up the oven to 220ºC/200ºC fan/Gas 7 and roast uncovered for another 15 minutes or until the duck skin has crisped and the pepper slices are blistered. Remove the peppers and keep to one side. Pull the duck meat and skin from the bones and keep to one side.

Simmer the bones in 500ml water for about 30 minutes to make a stock.

In a saucepan, fry the curry paste in the oil until darkened in colour. Stir in the coconut milk, then add the stock, fish sauce and sugar and simmer for about 20 minutes or until it has thickened slightly. Squeeze in the lime juice. Stir in the strips of pepper, baby plum tomatoes and the shredded duck – reserving some crispy-skinned pieces for serving – and gently simmer for about 3 minutes or until heated through.

Remove from the heat and stir in a small handful of basil leaves. Ladle into bowls, piling on top the reserved crispy duck, some extra basil and shredded chilli and shallots to taste. Serve with lime wedges and steamed rice.

(Original recipe by Alastair Hendy in BBC Olive Magazine, August, 2014.)