Hay Roast Chicken and Morel Mushrooms

Hay Roast Chicken
I don’t recall how I first heard about cooking things in hay but I saw an episode of a show with Tom Kerridge in it on the BBC that reminded me recently.

“Now that right proper grub” he said (or something like that, probably) in his West Country twang.

I was a little sceptical to be honest. I love the smell of cut grass and hay, it reminds me of growing up at home playing in the woods and fields at the back of the house, but to flavour meat? Hmm.

It certainly looks the part – chicken, baking parchment and straw – this is hipster heaven. I believe Mr Kerridge added some cider to his but I stuck with some chicken stock I had in the freezer. Chicken simmered in chicken stock: it’s pretty chicken-ey.

I’m not sure about the hay effect, but then I did use greaseproof baking parchment to cover the meat as I didn’t have enough muslin cloth left to do the job, maybe it did too good a job job of separating the bird and the hay. I find whole chicken a sod to flavour at the best of times though – get past the skin and it’s a often a fairly bland affair even after days of marinading.

The flavour, almost sweet and nutty, was definitely more noticeable from the bottom half, where it came in contact with the hay and the stock, so it was probably my fault for not being organised enough with the equipment. I’ll do this again one day.

To serve it I had some nice morel mushrooms, mixed cabbage and a reduction made from the cooking liquor with a little Muscat for good measure. Hay or not, this was a nice dish mind you and it made it a bit of fun for the kids. Lastly, to go with the theme, some shoestring fries – they kind of look like hay you see…..

Serves 3-4:

  • 1 whole chicken. Preferably one happily running around freely before it met it’s maker.
  • A few handfuls of hay.
  • 6 garlic cloves. Unpeeled and bashed with the side of a knife.
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • Muslin cloth (preferably not the parchment I used here).
  • About 500 ml of chicken stock
  • 3 or 4 morel mushrooms per person, depending on size.
  • Butter
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • A splash of muscat (couple of tbsp)
  • Salt
  • White and savoy cabbage thinly sliced and mixed
  • 2 small frying potatoes – Maris Piper or similar
  • Oil to deep fry

Wrap the chicken in muslin cloth with the garlic, bay leaves and thyme and tie. The parchment I used here was OK, but this would have been better.

Chicken with thyme and bay

Place in the bottom of a snug fitting lidded pot and pack the hay down the sides and over the top. Heat the stock and pour it over, place the lid on and cook for around 2 hours at 160ºC/320ºF – check it with a temperature probe.

Chicken in hay

Once done, remove the chicken and using a carving fork in the cavity, rinse off any hay under a tap. Pre-heat the oven as hot as it will go and put the chicken back in briefly, on a baking tray to crisp up/colour. Not too long or it will dry. Leave to rest under some foil and finish the rest.

Strain the liquor twice – through a regular sieve and then through a very fine one, or muslin cloth if you have either of them. Set aside in a jug.

Prep the veg – slice a mixture of savoy and white cabbage thinly and matchstick the potatoes (keep in water to stop them going brown, but dry well before using).

Place the cabbage in a steamer for a few minutes until softened, but not ‘school-dinner soggy’.

Fry the morels in a good knob of butter. Once nearly done, add a good splash of muscat (a couple of tbsp), stir and remove the morels, keeping them warm.

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Aided by my glamorous assistant…

Pour in the cooking liquor and reduce until it thickens and flavours intensify. Taste and season if necessary. Add the morels back to the pan, turn off the heat and stir through some chopped parsley and another knob of butter. Keep warm.

Pre heat the deep dat fryer.

Carve the chicken on a warmed plate and place on top of the cabbage. Spoon on the morels and a few tablespoons of the reduction – it should be very rich.

Last of all briefly fry the potatoes at around 170ºC/340ºF until crispy, it will take only a minute of two. Season with seat salt and serve them straight away or they can go soft.

A nice citrusy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc went very down very nicely too.

Hay roast chicken with morel mushrooms

Pan Roast Chicken, Kale, Lentils and Chorizo

chicken, lentils, chorizo, kale

My wife’s started jogging again.

“Great news”, you say, “good for her, she’ll feel much better for it”. Which is of course true, but then it leaves me with a bit of a dilemma in that I’m most certainly not jogging at the moment. Nor ever in fact. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed sports as a whipper snapper, loved it even, but running any sort of distance was a by-product of whatever it was I was doing. It got me where I needed to go that bit quicker.

Needless to say, my enthusiasm still hasn’t taken root even as I entered my 40’s last year. I admire those that do, but it’s just not for me, I’m just not wired up that way.

Still, as I stood there, scratching the back of my head thinking about what the heck to make for diner in her absence, a sense of guilt did cross my mind. Momentarily, you understand. This dish was then a last minute vain attempt to feel remotely virtuous I suppose and I can say with all certainty as she came  back into the kitchen panting (but happy), no, it didn’t work.

So: kale, lentils (again, sorry), shallots, mushrooms, lean chicken? The very stuff of athletes. Single cream, mustard and chorizo picante? No so much, but hey, an old injury forced me out of the Olympics next year anyway….

Olympics again NEXT year? Where does the time go?

  • 2 chicken breasts.
  • 100g lentils
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • About 6 handfuls of kale, remove any thick stalks
  • 15 button mushrooms, halved
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • About a thumb length of chorizo (or more if you have stubby fingers), finely diced
  • 1/2-1 tsp of mustard of your choice
  • About 100ml single cream
  • Salt and black pepper
  • A little oil

Preheat an oven to 160ºC/320ºF.

Get the lentils simmering in the chicken stock first. They’ll take about 20-30 minutes in a pan with a lid on.

After 10 minutes, gently fry the shallots and chorizo in a small pan, and add the mushrooms to soften.

Meanwhile, heat an oven proof frying pan with a little oil and sear one side of the chicken until well coloured. Flip over, seasoning both sides and place in an oven at 160ºC/320ºF for about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your breasts (no sniggering at the back), until it reaches 60-65ºC/140-150ºF in the middle. Remove and leave to rest once done.

The lentils should be just about done so pour about 300 ml of the cooking stock into the pan with the shallots, chorizo and mushroom, and place  the kale on top. Put a lid on and simmer until the kale is just wilted.

Stir in the the mustard and cream, simmer a little longer and season to taste. That’s it, serve it up with a drink of whatever you fancy and talk about past sporting glories as compensation….

Chicken, chorizo, kale, lentils

Spiced Seafood and Cauliflower Veloute

Spiced seafood and cauliflower veloute

Experts reckon the 19th of January was ‘Blue Monday’. On this day we all felt at our lowest ebb in the post Christmas hangover, our bank balances were begging for mercy and we were struggling with the shortened, dark days (in Northern Europe at least).

Except, I like January. I find it a soothing antidote to the manic pace of December. I prefer the weather too with crisp cold mornings and the occasional snowy day. A far cry from the usual drab grey weather of the month before. Dicken’s best efforts to convince us of a winter wonderland generally proving a little optimistic. Baa humbug.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand about January though is that the food media is filled with recipes described as ‘comforting’. Comforting. I just find it a toe-curling adjective to describe food. For me it’s light, heavy, filling, spicy or rich – that kind of thing. To the point.

I don’t find food ‘comforting’, any more than I find it patronising, sarcastic or arousing. Mind you there was a rib of beef I made once that came close….

I digress. I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago and it IS somehow light, rich, heavy and spicy. I took number 1 daughter down to the local fishmonger with me and we spent an age perusing the offerings I just knew she wouldn’t eat.

I’ve banged on about Latimers plenty of times before; they have superbly fresh fish. I contemplated the enourmous live lobster on display until another punter asked how much. £82 according to the scales. So anyway, I got some Red Gurnard and squid, caught within 20 nautical miles of the store apparently. There was also some massive prawns, which I presume came from some rather warmer shores.

It seems the Gurnard’s stock is rising at the moment (much to the despair of the Gurnard presumably) being relatively plentiful and therefore sustainable at the moment. Some suggest, rather rudely, that its unpopularity has been down to the ugliness of the poor blighter. I can’t personally see any fish winning a beauty contest, but I see their point.

You could use all manner of fish for this, although I might substitute the squid next time, but something with a little firmness such as Monkfish would be a good alternative  (now, that very much is the Shrek of the seas).

The veloute was very rich and made with a stock derived from the Gurnard’s ugly mug and the prawn shells. It was finished with a kind of basic tempering oil made simply with fennel seed. It worked nicely with the spices.

For the spiced seafood.

  • 1-2 whole Red Gurnard, filleted.
  • 2 large prawns or lobster tails, if you’re feeling flush.
  • 2 whole squid
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam massala
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the veloute

  • 1/2 a cauliflower head, cut into eight.
  • 1 onion
  • 50g butter
  • 200ml single cream
  • 500ml fish stock
  • Salt

For the ‘tempering oil’

  • A good lug of oil
  • 2 tsp fennel seed

Prep the seafood carefully, preferably accompanied by uplifting montage music…

Fish Prep Edited-imp

Fillet the Gurnard and remove the head and backbone. Keep them but discard the innards. Locate the pin bones in the fillets and carefully cut or tweeze them out.

Remove the squid’s innards by pulling the head away. Cut away the tentacles and squeeze out the beak. Locate and pull out the transparent quill – very satisfying. Remove as much membrane from the squid as possible, slice to open and clean well under a tap. Score with a very sharp knife.

Remove the prawn tails under the shell around the head, and peel. I use scissors to cut the shell from under the tail. It comes away quite easily.

Prepared seafood

Place the fish and prawn trimmings in a small pan, cover with 750ml water and bring to simmer for 30 minutes or so and season to taste. You could use aromatics (celery, bay or carrot) but I didn’t find it necessary.

Fish stock

Sieve through muslin cloth or a very fine strainer.

Fish stock straining

Fry some roughly chopped onion gently in the butter until soft. Add the cauliflower pieces and, cream and the stock. Simmer/reduce for 20 minutes. The cauliflower will be quite soft. Blend well and return to the pan. Season to taste.

Cauliflower veloute

In a small milk pan, very gently fry the fennel seed for a couple of minutes without burning them. Remove from the heat

Tempering oil

Mix the spices and flour and dust the seafood well.

Spices

Fry the prawn tails first, one at a time so as not to crowd the pan. Keep warm. Next fry the Gurnard fillets for no more than 1 minute, on the skin side. Flip only to colour the flesh side and keep warm. Lastly, cook the squid, it will be ready in seconds so don’t over cook it.

IMG_1999-imp

IMG_2013-impSpoon some veloute into a warmed dish and lay over the fish. Dot with the tempering oil and you’re good to go. Spiced seafood and cauliflower veloute

Smoked Salmon and Prawn Fish Cakes with Tarragon Cream Sauce

fishcake with tarragon sauce and spinach

Forever a food legend in this house along with “Helen’s Super-Tangy Fish Pie®” (and man, it was tangy) was the disastrous “Fish-Splat”. It was a hastily assembled and surprisingly liquid concoction supposedly resembling a fishcake.

Things didn’t start well – as the cakes hit the pan, they immediately doubled in circumference. Things got worse as I tried to flip the gloop with a fish slice; the individual cakes became ‘one’ in a spectacular display of entropy. A mega-cake formed in the centre of the pan and the Fish-Splat was born.

As I despondently scooped a quarter of Fish-Splat onto our plates, filling the air with profanities that would cause Tarantino to blush, something changed. Like that hangover from your first bottle of booze after raiding your mate’s Dad’s drinks cabinet at their 17th birthday party (french brandy…shudder…), I couldn’t face the prospect of going through it again.

It’s a new year and a new me though – time to man-up and face the fear.

Well, I pleased to say things turned out a little better this time. I took the liberty of using some of the mustard flavoured with pieces of truffle shown below. I’m normally a little skeptical of anything infused with truffle, but this was potent stuff and had to be used carefully. Any mustard is fine of course though, pick your weapon of choice.

Truffle mustard

Joking aside, there is little secret to a good fishcake, jut ensure you let the mashed potato dry thoroughly and avoid introducing any extra liquid.  A quick chill before adding the breadcrumbs and frying goes a good way to avoiding Fish-Splat too, unless you’re into that sort of thing.

The tarragon cream sauce was basically a white sauce made with a little extra cream for richness. The tarragon was added once the heat was removed so as not to lose its delicate flavour. Finally, some steamed spinach –  the perfect partner to counter all that richness – and peashoots for a little freshness and flourish.

Makes 4

For the fish cakes:

  • 200g hot smoked salmon (broken up well)
  • 3 handfuls of good quality fresh (but cooked) or frozen prawns
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 medium sized potatoes, peeled
  • Grated parmesan (to taste)
  • 1 tsp of mustard or truffle mustard as I used – sparingly (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Flour to dust
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A few handfuls of breadcrumbs to coat
  • Oil for frying

For the tarragon cream sauce:

  • 200ml whole milk
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • Salt
  • Steamed spinach and peashoots to serve

Cook the potato, mash and lay out thinly on a tray to steam dry until cool.

Mashed potato drying

Chop the parsley and capers and mix into a bowl with the smoked salmon, cooked prawns and potato.

Fishcake mix

Add the parmesan, truffle mustard and salt to taste. As all the ingredients are cooked, tasting the mixture is no problem. Make into cake shapes and chill for half an hour.

Fishcakes

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Once chilled, coat them in flour, then egg and finally breadcrumbs.

Fishcake floured

Fry on each side, until golden brown, in plenty of oil, keeping them well spaced in the pan.

Fried fishcake

Marvel at their firmness – wipe the tear from your eye.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce by blending the butter and flour. Fry it gently in a saucepan for a couple of minutes then gradually whisk in the whole milk. Once at a simmer add the cream and reduce until thickened a little, but still easily poured. Remove form the heat and stir in the tarragon. Season to taste.

Serve it with steamed spinach, some peashoots and a nice Sauvignon Blanc.

Merry Christmas

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No recipe tonight. I’m now sat with some stollen and a glass of ale after a long and busy day preparing for tomorrow’s dinner and assembling toys.

As has become traditional in our house it’s roast pork for Christmas Eve with mildly pickled red cabbage and mash made with 60/40% potato and butter. Yes, I know….

So, I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks rest after an extraordinary year. Plenty of time to cook too I hope.

Merry Christmas everybody.

Three Day Game Pie

Game Pie

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Very recently humans managed to land a satellite on a comet. An utterly incredible achievement. Yes, I know I’m a little out of date, like reading a dentists’ waiting room magazine, but it’s pertinent so bear with me.

It launched in 2004 and was sent around the sun to gather speed. It headed back to the Earth then was slung, using nothing but gravity, all the way to Mars, at which point it was flung back to the Earth again before heading off into outer space to meet with a city-sized ball of ice and rock. Both parties were, and still are, moving at tens of thousands of miles an hour. It really is truly remarkable. A tribute to the ingenuity and perseverance of humankind.

Much like my three-day game pie really. An epic voyage of culinary fortitude and grit, albeit moving a lot more slowly. Three long and tiring days passed before we could sample this gem.

I take no credit for this recipe, it’s (fairly) regularly on the menu at a favourite restaurant of mine, the Broad Chare near the river in Newcastle. Well worth a visit if you’re passing, but you probably need to book. We managed a night out a little while back and ordered it from the specials. “For 2/3″ it said. Presumably a week as it turned out,  but man it was good. Incredibly rich with superb crispy pastry.

Of course I had to try it and whilst, predictably not quite as good at the ‘original’, was pretty darn good all the same.

Game Pie (Courtesy of the Broad Chare)

Day one: marinade in an obscenely good bottle of red wine. I used Malbec. I didn’t marinade the vegetables though, maybe that was my downfall.

Game meat marinade

Day two: Fry the game meat, add the wine, vegtables and simmer for a few hours in the wine, cool and leave in the fridge overnight. Taste and season accordingly at this point.

Fried game meat

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Day three: Spoon into a generous pie dish, cover with puff pastry (I bought it, I’m not a masochist), brush with egg wash and bake until golden. Serve with some mashed carrot and swede.

Game Pie with Carrot and Swede Mash

Smoked Salmon, Celeriac Remoulade and Toasted Rye Bread

Smoked salmon and remoulade

Apologies for the tardiness in recent postings; it’s been an exciting and busy time both…..

“What you doing?”

Sorry all, one second….

“I’m writing a very mediocre intro for a post on my blog”

“A bog?”

“Yes, a blog”

“What’s a bog?”

“It’s where I write about food I’ve made and post the photos I’ve taken of it”

“Why?”

(In fairness, good question) “I enjoy it”

“Why?”

(An even better question) “I just…do”

“Can I push the buttons?”

htfTFTU…… mjfeokhkoegwp@@LPKIJ{P J.

Apologies again. *Urges little one to go and find Mummy as she may have an ice cream and shuts door*

I know this is another smoked salmon post, but it’s based on a dish we both thoroughly enjoyed a while back albeit with some roast beef. It’s a classic celeriac remoulade with some griddled rye bread and good smoked salmon. I’ve tweaked the remoulade a little but it works nicely.

Criminally under used, in the UK at least, celeriac is brilliantly versatile and this is a superb way of using it – just make sure you don’t drown the delicate flavour in a tidal wave of mayo. I actually added a bit of creme fraiche, courtesy of a tip from Nigel Slater that I liked. I think it worked.

As before, this borrows heavily from recent Scandinavian influences so even though the calorie count is moderately high, it darn well does feel like it. Besides, the festive season is round the corner and this feels just about right I think. Plus, it’s cold outside. The glass of Prosecco, whilst doing nothing for my sense of masculinity was nevertheless a great pairing too.

  • 4 slices of good smoked salmon.
  • 1 medium/small celeriac
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 4 heaped tbsp mayo – make your own if you can. Try to avoid ‘lighter’ versions
  • 1 heaped tbsp full fat creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard (English mustard is too strong)
  • 4 tsp capers, chopped
  • Small handful of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped dill
  • 4 slice of rye toast
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Juice the lemon and place half of it in a bowl large enough to eventually hold the celeriac. Keep the rest for later if you feel it needs it.

Peel the celeriac well (remove all traces of the knobbly skin) and julienne into strips – don’t be too exact about it.

As you make the julienne celeriac, mix it into the lemon juice to stop it browning.

Julienne celeriac

When done, chop the capers and walnuts.

Celeriac capers walnuts

Throw them into the bowl with the two mustards, mayo and creme fraiche.

Celeriac remoulade

Mix thoroughly, season with a little salt and taste. Tweak the mixture to taste – add some more mustard if you like, or a little more lemon. Leave to rest for 20 minutes or so.

Lay out the salmon to bring to room temperature.

Smoked salmon

Heat a griddle on a high heat until smoking hot. Slice the rye bread and brush well on each side with olive oil. Season with sea salt and griddle until nicely charred on each side.

Layer the celeriac remoulade on the rye bread, followed by the salmon and sprinkling of the chopped dill.

Smoked salmon rye bread celeriac remoulade