Meaty, Recipes

BBQ Chicken Wings – Recipe

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BBQ wings of joy

Mmmm, wings. My personal favourite BBQ side dish and a wonderfully simple addition to any serious grill-based cook-up. Some might argue that they are fiddly and end up either dry and miserable, or woefully undercooked and instantly bin-able but I beg to differ – all you need is a bit of patience, a decent rub and BBQ sauce, and a decent BBQ. If you are lucky enough to have a proper smoker then hurrah, but anyone with a standard kettle BBQ can do this recipe with very little fuss and as the wings only take a fraction of the time of, say, spare ribs or pulled rub, they can be added to form part of a bigger meaty feast. It’s better to joint the wings up as they will cook more evenly (you can get a butcher to this for you but it’s pretty easy) and a remote BBQ thermometer is a veritable boon. You can do this in an oven and then finish the wings on the grill but you will lose out on the delicate smoky flavour that runs through the meat. It’s up to you…

Oh, you’ll end up with a lot more of the rub than you need but it will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. And of course if required the recipe can be scaled up or down as required.

Ingredients

For the rub

  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika or ground chipotle
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tbsp. chili powder (as hot as you prefer)
  • ½ tbsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tbsp. granulated onion
  • ½ tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

For the wings

  • 10 chicken wings, jointed and tips removed
  • BBQ/hot sauce of your choice

Method

  • Set your BBQ up for indirect cooking – charcoal on one side, drip tray with water on the other. Light the BBQ and give the charcoal a chance to get up to temperature – once the flames are gone and the coals are turning white then you are good to go. If you have a chimney starter this part of the process is infinitely quicker but if you going old school, it should take about 30-40mins depending on the charcoal. Don’t use cheap fuel – it’ll make everything taste horrible.
  • While the BBQ is getting up to temperature, mix all the rub ingredients together in a bowl then rub generously into your jointed chicken wings.
  • Once your charcoal is ready to go, put a few good chunks of wood on to smoulder (I generally use oak), replace the grill and arrange the wings over the drip tray – a bit space between each one is good. If you are using a remote thermometer, put it into the fattest part of the biggest wing you have.
  • Put the lid down and leave to smoke and smoulder for about 1 ½ – 2 hours. You will probably need to refresh the charcoal after an hour although top-end briquettes (like Weber) will be good for up to 3.
  • Once the internal temperature of the meat is 74c/165f – this is where the remote monitor is useful – then brush the wings with a sauce of your choice and move them over to the charcoal side of the grill to char a bit, turning once or twice depending on how fast they colour.
  • Serve immediately with any other delicious meats and sides you are preparing, or just pile into a bowl and scoff them all yourself – dip optional.
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Meaty, Recipes

Pulled Pork – recipe

Pulled pork bun

Pulled Pork bun of joy

It’s hard imagine a pub/festival/café/market menu without pulled pork appearing somewhere. Whether served on its own, drowning in (often sadly generic) BBQ sauce, piled on a burger, folded into a pasty (yes really), or chucked onto a pizza, the true wonder of this stalwart of American BBQ has become a sadly abused dish that deserves a bit of attention and re-vitalisation. I am in no way trying to re-invent this truly wondrous piece of cooking, merely trying to show how bringing it back to basics can elevate it to its deserved place atop the meaty heights of glory. And the best thing is that you can do this recipe at home in your oven (although arguably it would be even better if you did it in a smoker) with minimum fuss. It really is a case of having faith in the low and slow school of cooking and just leaving it alone until it is done – that can be anything from 8-18 hours depending on oven temperature and how big the piece of pork is. I would highly recommend getting a meat thermometer for this and, if you can, get one with a remote probe that you can leave in the oven and thus preventing the need to keep getting the pork out to check. This recipe is pretty much as laid out by the excellent Felicity Cloake and all I’ve done is lowered the temperature slightly and tweaked the rub.

I would highly advocate using bone-in shoulder of pork for this with the rind still on. The bone will add flavour and the rind and fat will help keep the meat lubricated as it cooks and slowly breaks down into melting, tender piggy joy. Once shredded the pork also needs to sit for a while (preferably overnight) in the fridge with the juices so make sure you plan ahead for the time. This version of the recipe will easily feed 20 people – if you are using a smaller piece of shoulder then simply reduce the rub quantities and cooking time (a 2kg piece should be done after 6-8 hours) and keep an eye on that internal temperature….

Ingredients

  • 1 whole shoulder of pork, bone-in and with rind still on – weighing about 6.5kg
  • 6 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 6 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika or ground chiplotle
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • Soft white rolls, BBQ sauce, coleslaw – to serve
  • Preheat your oven to 220c/Gas Mark 7.
  • Score the rind with a sharp blade (or get your butcher to do it for you) so the rub can wiggle its way through – a criss-cross or just lines, it’s up to you.
  • Mix together the salt, sugar, paprika, and black pepper and rub about half of it on to the pork. Really work it in and cover the whole shoulder with it.
  • Put the pork in a roasting tin (you will need a big one) and place in the oven, letting it sizzle and crackle for 30-40 mins.
  • Take the pork out and turn the oven down to 110c/Gas Mark ¼, stick in your remote thermometer (if you have one) and cover the vast slab of pig with a tent of foil to keep the moisture in. Don’t wrap it tightly as you want the humid air to circulate a bit. Put the pork back in your low oven and leave well alone for anything from 12 to 18 hours. The pork is ready for pulling when the internal temp is between 85 and 89 centigrade – be patient! The wait is worth it. If you haven’t got a remote thermometer, check the pork after 8 or so hours and keep cooking as needed – try to keep taking it out of the oven to check the temperature down to a minimum as it will only slow things down.
  • When your thermometer reaches the longed for temperature (your kitchen and probably entire house will probably be full of porky aroma), take the pork out, remove the tent of foil and then turn the oven back up to 200c/Gas Mark 6.
  • Drain off the juices (there will be a lot) into a jug or bowl and set aside. Put the meat back in for 10 mins or so to firm it slightly then remove and leave to rest, covered again with a tent of foil, for half an hour. It should practically escaping from the bone by this time.
  • Using a couple of sturdy forks, shred the pork into ribbons and chunks, skin and all. The bones should slide out clean but give them a scrape if reluctant meat is clinging to them. Once you have shredded the meat, mix in the rest of the rub and then return the juices to the meat and stir it all together. It will smell epic.
  • Leave to cool then cover and place in the fridge to mingle and mix – overnight if you can.
  • When you are ready to eat, remove from the fridge and reheat in a moderate oven. If you are serving this as part of a buffet or party, you can always leave the pork in a slow cooker to keep warm.
  • Grab a bun and slice it in half, put a goodly dollop of your favourite coleslaw on the bottom, pile a huge mound of sticky, glorious pork on top, squirt on some quality sauce, and put the top on. Eat instantly and expect to be liberally covered juice and sauce. Then sneakily reach for another bun and repeat. You know it makes sense!
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After 18 hours it should look a bit like this…

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Meaty, Recipes, Spicy

Chilli con carne

Sorry to have neglected you all for so long – it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s simply because being the father of a small child (10 months old at time of writing) often means that one barely gets a chance to even cook exciting food, let along write about it. And as for eating out…well, it’s rare, let’s just say that. But I’m here now! And hopefully will be here a lot more over the coming months. But I can’t promise anything…
This is a great recipe, regardless of the season, and is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver. It would be epic cooked in a cauldron over a fire (if you have one, do it!) but is equally sensational done in the relative safety of a kitchen at home. What I really like about it is the heat from the fresh chillies that sings through in a much fruitier manner than if powdered heat was used. I use pretty hot peppers – cayenne or habanero – but it is up to you and, if you want a safe version, it is equally delicious without the addition of fresh chilli at all. But where the fun be in that…

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 1 kg stewing steak, cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 250g smoked bacon/pancetta, chopped
  • 250 ml hot coffee
  • 1-2 large dried chillies – ancho or chipotle
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 large red, yellow or orange pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3–4 fresh chillies
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons molasses or muscovado sugar (or any brown sugar)
  • 1 x 400 g tin of your choice of beans – kidney/pinto etc.
  • 50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • Sour cream to serve

Method

  • First of all, make the coffee and soak the dried chillies in it for a few minutes to let them rehydrate. Peel and slice/chop up the onions, peppers, and garlic if you haven’t already – some people (like me) prep everything before starting to actually cook but hey, it’s your kitchen…
  • Heat about a tablespoon of oil in your largest casserole pan on a medium heat and add your chopped bacon/pancetta. Stir it about and let it sizzle and sing until is coloured and crispy. Once the bacon is cooked, add the cumin, paprika, oregano, bay and onions and reduce the heat slightly. Fry for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and your kitchen is filled with a wonderful aroma of spices and bacon. Mmmmm….
  • Deseed (if you like) and chop up half the fresh chillies and then slice up the rehydrated ones and add them to the onion mixture along with the chopped fresh chilli, the cinnamon stick, sliced garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the coffee, sugar, and tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Stir and then add the chocolate, stirring until it has oozed and melted in. If you taste the stew now it will predominantly taste like chocolate – fret not, it will all mix and mingle while it cooks.
  • Add the pieces of stewing steak, cover with a lid and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Depending on what meat you have used the cooking time will vary – check after a couple of hours and if your meat is falling apart it is done. If not, keep going! Alternatively you could put it into a low oven for about the same amount of time.
  • When it’s all soft and unctuous (at least 2 hours later) use 2 forks or a potato masher to break the meat up and pull it apart.
  • Once you’ve done this, add the chopped peppers, then drain and add the beans and leave to simmer with the lid off for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Have a taste and season well – if you want more heat then add the rest of the sliced fresh chilli.
  • Dollop a big spoonful of soured cream on to your chilli of joy and serve with rice, flatbreads or whatever carby delight you fancy. And it is perfectly acceptable to eat this with chips. Or over a jacket potato. Or half rice, half chips. I’m not judging you.
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Meaty, Reviews

Temper, Soho – review 

 

As Christmas is nearly upon us and everyone is thinking about turkey, sprouts, pigs-in-blankets, and a whole host of other assorted festive requirements, allow me to distract you with some fire, smoke, and meat.
You know you want me to….

Temper is the brainchild of meat and BBQ maestro Neil Rankin and occupies a wonderfully smokey basement in London’s Soho (there is also now a branch in the city). Neil has worked for Barbecoa, Pitt Cue Co, and also opened the excellent Smokehouse in Islington – he is a man who knows his meat and, most importantly of all, knows how to cook it.

As you descend into the dining room from street level, your nostrils begin to tingle with the earthy smells of smoke and charcoal, a background hum of the outdoors that is hovering in the air and undercut with the soothing aroma of meat being cooked over coals. Once at the bottom of the stairs, a huge indoor fire pit is revealed, a clay oven at one end, various racks and grills at the other, and a counter that runs all the way round for diners to revel in the sight of meats (and fish) being lovingly, simply prepared and cooked before their eyes. It’s quite a statement and one which is sure to melt the heart of any BBQ fiend. For those who prefer a more traditional dining experience, tables away from the fire and smoke are also available, although I’m not sure why you’d want one!

The emphasis here is, obviously, on meat but don’t come expecting St Louis ribs or chicken wings – this is a different BBQ game. Starters come in the form of soft tacos – baked to order – and with a range of toppings like crab and pickled onion pork skin, prawns, or the wonderful Aged Cheeseburger; Small patties of beef, charred and juicy, with a slab of melted cheese served on piping hot, soft tacos are truly a thing of beauty and wonder and could, if ordered generously, satisfy as a main in their own right. A simple but delicious beef fat taco is worth a go as was, on one visit, the wonderful tuna and salsa offering which was clean, punchy, and utterly delicious. 

Mains are, for the most part, ordered by 100g portions and they suggest two or three to share for two people plus some sides. I’d normally skip sides to focus on more meat but do not, under any circumstances, skip these sides – beef fat roast potatoes covered in grilled, tangy Ogleshield cheese are truly sensational and a wonderful gluttonous treat. Likewise, the grilled corn with lamb fat bearnaise is a fabulous dish – some of the corn is popped to add an extra and exciting texture, the creamy, unctuous sauce cut perfectly with a dusting of mint. And of course, both of these sensational sides go perfectly with the hunk of smoked meats that come served on freshly griddled flat bread.

Beef fat potatoes with Ogleshield

Goat is rich, deeply flavoured and utterly moreish, demonstrating here why it is a meat we need to eat more of – totally delicious and increasingly available. If you think you don’t like goat or are too scared to try it, go to Temper and have some and all your worries will be over. Likewise if you’ve ever been slightly disappointed by dry, soulless BBQ beef then the charred, moist, and wonderful offering here will sooth any previous beef trauma. Also worth diving in to is the beef and marrow chilli which comes with fresh, spicy jalapeño and sings with delicate, fresh flavours of lime and coriander – a perfect example of what many restaurants only vaguely achieve. 

Beef and marrow chilli

To follow this fresh-faced feast, the warm baked cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is an absolute must and comes served in the pan it was baked in. Gooey, sweet, sticky, indulgence of the highest order and well worth saving some room for (although on both visits we ended up sharing one between us).
Wine is available by the glass or bottle with a very decent selection of grapes and prices – house wines start from about £26 – and there are various tempting cocktails and craft beers. It is worth noting that if you do sit by the counter, white wine will get warm quickly as the heat from the pit radiates towards you – be warned!

Service is professional, relaxed, and of the highest standard and it is a marvellous place to spend a couple of hours, especially on a cold winter’s day. Dinner for two including drinks and service is about £100 but if you skip starters it’ll come in at nearer to £80 – but with food of this quality this is fantastic value. There are few places where you can enjoy such fantastic food in such an exciting and unique environment and Temper ticks the boxes for being one of the finest meateries around. And is more than worth returning to for feasts of meat and fire.

You will come out smelling like you’ve been slowly smoked over coals but this is a very good thing…

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Meaty, Recipes

Roast rib of beef – recipe

DSC_2232-01.jpegA friend recently told me that she loved eating beef but she’d never cooked it. I asked her why and she really didn’t know – by all accounts she is an experienced and accomplished cook so this did seem rather odd. I showed her a picture of a rib of beef I’d cooked for my birthday and she asked how long I cooked it for, looking slightly surprised at the short cooking time and saying she wasn’t sure if she’d be brave enough to tackle something like roast beef as surely it was quite complicated.

There are lots of people who think a large roast is a complicated thing but really, it’s all down to planning and organisation and, more often than not, it’s all the accompanying dishes that cause the headaches. Unless you’ve got a fantastically complex meal in mind, roast meats (and beef in particular) are pretty easy to get right and a simple but delicious hunk of meat is always going to please.

Obviously if you are vegetarian or vegan you will massively disagree with me but there it is.

For me, the quality of meat is a defining factor and, put simply, the higher quality meat then the better the finished dish. I insist on free range, high welfare meat as not only to do I think this is morally the only choice, but there is no comparison when it comes to quality of flavour. Buy the best you can afford – it will be worth it, trust me.

As for timing, I always follow the blast-then-low method (which I learned from, the ever-dependable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) – where the oven is preheated to its highest setting and the meat gets a good 20mins or so to start the cooking process. The temperature is then reduced for the rest of the cooking time and the results are always spot on. You can adjust how long the lower temperature cooking is depending on how you like your meat cooked – I insist on rare for beef and lamb but I will give you times for medium too. Well-done is simply unacceptable in my opinion and doesn’t bear thinking about.

Also, the resting time is vital – if you try and carve meat straight from the oven you will not get the best results. Meat needs to relax after cooking, to let the juices sink back in – in short, to rest is best! Also if you’ve slightly under-done it, your roast will continue to cook slightly as it rests which can be a big help. I rest meat for a minimum of 30 minutes but longer is fine – just don’t cover the joint too tightly with foil or there is a risk the residual heat may overdo your carefully timed roast.

I always have beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, greens, gravy and hot horseradish sauce but you can have whatever you prefer. But if you are one of those strange people who has cauliflower cheese with a roast dinner I’d rather not know about it.

Weirdos.

This quantity will feed 6-8 depending on how greedy you are.

Ingredients

  • 1.8-2kg rib of beef (or any other roasting joint)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • An hour or so before cooking, get you meat out of the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature
  • Pre-heat your oven to its highest setting
  • Slosh a glue of olive oil over the meat, season generously with salt and pepper, and rub it all over, making sure the whole piece is covered with the oil and seasoning
  • Place your meat on a rack in a roasting tray (you can put sliced onions and veg to aid your gravy underneath if you like) and put it in the middle of your screaming hot oven
  • After 20-25 minutes, open the oven door to lower the temperature and reduce your oven to Gas Mark 3/160c then cook for 10 minutes per 500g for very rare, or 12-15 minutes per 500g for medium
  • Once the cooking time is up, remove from the oven and put the beef on a warm plate and cover loosely with foil (don’t wrap it tight or it’ll over-cook) for at least 30 minutes
  • Use the juices and whatever is in the tray to make gravy
  • Carve, eat, rejoice
  • Just don’t have cauliflower cheese with it….
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Meaty, Recipes, Spicy

Spicy chicken and red pepper curry – recipe

This recipe is adapted from an amazing dish by the ever dependable Madhur Jaffrey – my parents only ever used her cookbooks when we were growing up and my Dad’s (signed) copy of Indian Cooking is coated in oil, spices, and memories.

I am always tempted just to turn to the same reliable recipes when I flick through this book – lamb with onions (do piaza), butter chicken (makkhani murghi), lamb with potatoes (aloo gosht) but I recently decided to go for something that I definitely hadn’t made before and I am so, so glad I did. This recipe is absolutely delicious and very simple to make – I always use chicken on the bone for this as it adds extra flavour but it would be equally delicious with chunks of lamb neck (cook it for a good couple of hours) or even just as sauce with some chunky white fish. If you are using boneless meat, reduce the cooking time accordingly. I have made a few tweaks to the version in the book and the results are, I think, pretty spectacular. The heat factor can be adapted to personal taste – I like mine fiery but not everyone does, simply reduce the amount of fresh chilli and cayenne if you want something milder…

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1kg skinless chicken pieces, bone in
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 2-3 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 red chilli, chopped (with seeds if you like)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsps ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Water
  • Black pepper

Method

  • If using chicken legs, divide into thigh and drumsticks. Breasts should be cut in half and kept on the bone.
  • Put the onion, garlic, ginger, almonds, peppers, chilli, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and salt into a food processor and pulse until you have a thick, smooth paste.
  • Put the oil in a wide pan over a medium heat and, when hot, stir in the paste and fry for 10-12 minutes, stirring to stop it from colouring. Your kitchen will start to smell amazing.
  • Add the chicken, lemon juice, and pepper then add enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Stir and mix together then bring to the boil.
  • Cover and turn the heat to low and let the curry simmer for 45mins to an hour, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked and falling away from the bone. If you like, you can remove the pieces and shred the meat back into the sauce but I don’t bother. Adjust the seasoning as required.
  • Remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce your sauce – you can have it as thick or as runny as you prefer – then serve immediately with steamed rice and flatbreads.

If you were doing this with fish, cook the sauce for about 45 minutes and reduce slightly before adding the fish – it will only take a few minutes to cook through.

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Meaty, Ramblings..., Recipes, Reviews

Pig’s Trotters on Sourdough toast – review & recipe

It may seem odd to be reviewing a recipe but sometimes a dish requires more than a list of ingredients and a method. Generally I always try to follow instructions as closely as possible on the first attempt of a new recipe, only making changes if something is not working properly i.e. burning. Which does sometimes happen. But every cook will tweak recipes as they go and I’m no different. However this recipe is so good that I find very little adjustment is required.
It is one I’d been wanting to try for a while but had never quite been brave enough to attempt – the ingredients alone fill one page of the recipe book and the process takes several hours. However it was the first dish I ever ate a fine dining restaurant (the excellent Trinity in Clapham) and has stayed with me ever since. I saw that it featured in Trinity chef Adam Byatt‘s book ‘How to Eat in’ and I managed to get hold a copy to ogle over. And there it was ‘Pig’s Trotters on toasted Sourdough’. Brilliant. But, as I said, complicated and time consuming. It also features a fair amount of meat and, as my wife is a vegetarian, it was never going to be something that I could present for a normal dinner at home. And it’s a starter anyway so there you go.

However, as she was away for a couple of weeks and I had a good friend coming to stay – one with whom I often cook over-the-top and ambitious dishes – it seemed like a good opportunity to give it a go. And the recipe says that the cooked trotter mix can be kept refrigerated for several days (ideal for making in advance) and also frozen so allowing me to make a full batch and only use what was required for two before storing the rest. Or scoffing it myself. However, in the end I decided to do a half batch as I wasn’t sure I’d get four trotters in my casserole.

As the title suggests, the main component is pig’s trotters which was not something I had ever cooked with but that never stopped me before. It also needs smoked ham hock along with stock vegetables, vinegar, and spices. I had decided to forgo the garnish of crackling – not because I dislike it but purely because as I was only cooking for two it seemed a bit excessive and crackling doesn’t exactly keep well. After ringing various butchers with no avail to enquire about the availability of trotters, I meandered into Brixton where, of course, I was soon in possession of two huge trotters and a good hunk of smoked hock. The recipe says that some trotters need to cleaned and soaked overnight to remove impurities before having any hairs removed but these were ready to go and so no fuss for me. Thankfully.

The cast iron casserole was dug out and my instinct about only doing a half quantity was proved wise – the two trotters I’d bought only just fitted in. Lucky me. I carefully prepared everything – chopped vegetables, measured oil and vinegar, found the right amounts of spice – then, after re-reading the recipe again, I began.

Trotters ready to go!

Trotters ready to go!

It is here I must tell you that although I said the recipe was complex, the processes involved are actually very straightforward – there are simply several of them. Vegetables and spices are browned in oil then quickly caramelised with honey, vinegar added and then reduced before the meat and stock are added. All very simple. This is where the time factor comes in. The trotters need to be simmered slowly to break down all the gelatinous tissue so the initial cooking-time is five hours with regular basting. Note that the trotters will curl up slightly (as if they are still alive) during this period – this may be slightly alarming the first time you open the lid to baste them. Well, I was alarmed.

After five hours in a low oven, the casserole is removed and the mixture allowed to cool (time factor again) then the meat and skin is separated and diced, the vegetables strained and discarded, before the stock is left to chill in the fridge (again, plan you day carefully to allow for this), skimmed of fat and then reduced. Not complicated stuff – just a series of processes.  I didn’t add all of the skin as the recipe suggests, opting for about two thirds as it seemed to be plenty.

While the stock reduces, more onions are fried in a pan and joined by the meat and stirred together before the rich coloured stock is added and everything is reduced to the consistency of a sticky, juicy and chunky pâté. At this point, the mixture can be cooled and stored for future reheating and this is what I did. Although I had a sneak preview first of course.

My sneak preview

My sneak preview

It was gloriously rich, almost overpoweringly so, but the finished dish features a sharp and creamy Sauce Gribiche and a fried quail’s egg to help counterbalance the richness so I wasn’t worried. The Sauce Gribiche was a recipe I’d used before so I didn’t use the same as Adam although the ingredients and flavours were the similar – hard-boiled egg, oil, vinegar, cornichons and capers, tarragon and parsley. Great with many things not just trotters.

I had got some quail’s eggs from the local butcher and, once the toast (my own sourdough of course) was on, the trotters reheating, we carefully cracked them into the pan and cooked for about one and a half minutes. The dish was assembled and looked, well, pretty damned impressive I must say. Almost professional standard in my own rather humble opinion. And it tasted utterly amazing with the richness being perfectly balanced out by the Gribiche and quail’s egg. A truly wonderful starter and one of the best dishes I have ever cooked.

The finished dish.

The finished dish.

So in conclusion, should you try this recipe out for yourself? Yes. Absolutely. Don’t be put off by the size of the ingredients list and the time involved – other things can be done while the trotters simmer and the advance preparation make it perfect if you’re planning a special dinner. Or just a greedy night in. Is it as good as the one in the restaurant? Well, that’s a matter of opinion isn’t it?

If you want to try it, here is the version that I used – it makes enough as a starter for 4-6 people.

Ingredients

  • 2 shank pig’s trotters (check with the butcher if they need cleaning and soaking)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 head of garlic
  • 2 large white onions
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small leek
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 25ml red wine vinegar
  • 500g smoked ham hock
  • 1 litre Chicken Stock
  • 2 quail’s eggs

For the Sauce Gribiche

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 cornichons – finely chopped
  • 1 tsp capers – rinsed, dried, and finely chopped
  • Handful each of parsley and tarragon leaves, finely chopped

Method

Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 3/170⁰c.

Peel and roughly chop the carrots, garlic cloves, and one of the onions.  Trim and roughly chop the celery and leek.  Peel and finely dice the remaining onion and keep separate (to add to the cooked trotter mix later).

Heat half the oil in a large cast iron casserole and colour the roughly chopped vegetables with the spices over a high heat.  Onceed brown, stir in the honey and boil for a few minutes and caramelise lightly, then add the vinegar and boil for a further 2 minutes until reduced by half.

Drain the trotters and place on top of the vegetable mix with the ham hock.  Pour in the stock, put the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, before transferring to the oven and cook for 5 hours, basting the trotters from time to time and turning them over at hourly intervals (and not being too freaked out by the movements of the toes!)

Remove the casserole from the oven and leave to cool, then lift out the trotters and ham hock and set aside.  Tip the contents of the pan into a fine sieve set over a bowl and let the stock strain through.  Chill the stock in the fridge so that the fat rises and sets on the top.

Carefully remove the meat and skin from the trotters, then dice both the meat and skin and place in a bowl.  Separate the meat from the skin and bones of the hock.  Dice the meat and add to the bowl.

While you wait for the stock to chill you can make the Sauce Gribiche (or whenever you need it to serve) by placing the egg in a pan of boiling water and simmering for 7-10 mins until hard boiled. Remove and run under cold water until cool then peel the egg and separate the white from the yolk (which should be a solid ball), reserving the white for later. Mash the yolk with the mustard in a bowl until you have a smooth paste.

Slowly dribble in the oil (as if making mayonnaise) and mix the paste – it will look like it has split or turned into a horrific mess at first but keep mixing until it turns into a smooth, silky mixture.

Chop the egg white into small cubes and stir in to the yolk-mix, along with the chopped capers and cornichons, then finally add the chopped herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary and keep refrigerated until required.

Skim the fat off the chilled stock, then transfer the stock to a pan and reduce by half over a high heat.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan until hot and fry the diced onions until caramelised. Mix with the diced meats, and stir in the reduced sauce.  Season and keep warm until ready to serve – or cool and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Toast some sourdough bread and carefully fry the quail’s eggs for no more than one and a half minutes (any longer and you won’t get a runny yolk) then assemble your dish by spooning a generous amount of the trotter mix onto the toast, top with the fried egg and garnish with a dollop of Sauce Gribiche and a scattering of parsley.

Feel very pleased with yourself.

I’d like to thank Adam for not only creating this brilliant recipe but also giving me encouragement via Twitter as I made it!

 

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