Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Shin Beef Rogan Josh with Turmeric Rice

Shin of beef rogan josh on turmeric spiced rice

Shin of beef in my opinion - as I may have mentioned once or twice before - is the most under-rated of all cuts of beef. It is often perceived to be tough and unpalatable but when it is cooked properly, long and slow, it is as tender as can be and absolutely packed full of flavour. If, of course, you wish to use a different stewing suitable cut of beef, this dish will work almost as well.

When I make curries of any type, I most often do so from scratch, using the various spices and bases as required. In this instance, I noticed that these curry sauce jars were on special offer in my local supermarket so I decided to give one a try. I was actually very pleasantly surprised with the results.

Shin of beef, onion and rogan josh sauce

Ingredients (Serves 2)

3/4 pound shin of beef
2 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
1/2 medium white onion, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 a 1 pound jar of rogan josh cooking sauce
1 pint fresh beef stock
6 ounces basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Freshly sliced basil leaves (or herb of choice) to garnish

Starting to brown diced shin of beef


Dice the shin beef to approximately one inch cubes. Pour the oil in to a large stew pot and gently heat. Add the beef and stir with a wooden spoon to brown/seal over a medium heat. This should take two to three minutes.

Sliced onion is added to browned shin of beef

The onion should then be added to the beef. Cook in the same way for another couple of minutes until the onion is just softened.

Rogan josh sauce is added to browned beef and onion

Pour the rogan josh sauce in to the pot and stir well.

Beef stock is added to beef and rogan josh sauce

Add the beef stock to the pot and stir well. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for two and a half hours until the beef is just tender. Stir every so often and monitor the liquid level. If there is too much liquid with around half an hour of the cooking time remaining, cook from this point onwards uncovered.

Rice is washed prior to being boiled

Around quarter of an hour before the beef rogan josh is ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of ground turmeric and stir well. Wash the rice thoroughly under running cold water through a fine sieve.

Boiling rice in turmeric water

Carefully add the rice to the water and bring to a gentle simmer for ten minutes.

Turmeric rice is thoroughly drained

Drain the rice through a sieve and allow to steam off for a few minutes.

Rogan josh shin of beef is ready to serve

The beef should by now be ultra tender and the sauce lush and thick.

Turmeric rice is formed in to beds

Arrange the rice as beds in two deep serving plates.

Shin of beef rogan josh is spooned on to rice beds

Divide the beef rogan josh between the two plates and garnish with the sliced basil or herb of choice.

A spoon makes rogan josh and rice easier to eat

Friday, 24 July 2015

Roasted Mediterranean Veg with Pasta

Cooked and drained conchiglie pasta is stirred through assorted roasted veg

This is an incredibly simple but ultra tasty and healthy dish, based upon two different popular aspects of Italian cuisine: pasta and sunshine fresh vegetables. Although I'm certainly no vegetarian, I could probably eat something like this just about every night and it is of course incredibly variable if you use different vegetables, pastas and herbs.

Supermarket pack of assorted vegetables ready for roasting


12 ounce pack of mixed roasting Mediterranean vegetables
2 tablespoons olive oil
Generous pinch of dried basil
Generous pinch of dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 coffee mug full of conchiglie pasta (pasta shells)
2 or 3 medium basil leaves, rolled and shredded, to garnish

Mediterranean vegetables ready for roasting


These oven-ready trays of mixed Mediterranean vegetables are available in many supermarkets but if you can't get hold of one, simply mix and match your own vegetables of choice and cook them in an appropriate ovenproof dish.. This tray included red and yellow bell peppers (capsicums), courgette (zucchini), red onion and cherry tomatoes.

Vegetables are carefully stirred half way through cooking

Start your oven preheating to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8. Season the vegetables with the dried basil and oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and mix carefully but well with a wooden spoon. Put the tray in to the oven for half an hour, removing to carefully stir again half way through cooking.

Measuring out a portion of conchiglie pasta

You can measure out the pasta any way you choose but I find that a coffee mug of dry shells is a good indication of how much is required per person.

Conchiglie pasta is added to a pot of heavily salted boiling water

Remember that you need plenty of water in which to cook the pasta. Too little water is what causes pasta to stick as the starch isn't sufficiently diluted as the pasta cooks. The water should also be heavily salted. Bring the water to a boil before adding the pasta to cook for ten minutes.

Conchiglie pasta is thoroughly drained

Drain the pasta thoroughly through a colander or sieve.

Drained pasta is added to tray of roasted vegetables

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add the well drained pasta to the tray.

Pasta is carefully stirred through roasted vegetables

Stir the pasta carefully through the vegetables with a wooden spoon.

Pasta and roasted vegetables are plated

Use a slotted spoon to plate the pasta and vegetables.

Fresh basil leaves ready for rolling and slicing

Lay the basil leaves one on top of another, roll and finely slice. Scatter over the plated pasta and vegetables.

A spoon makes eating the pasta and veg easier

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Mexican Fajitas Spatchcock Chicken

Fajitas spiced spatchcock chicken with chilli chips

Spatchcock chicken is simply a chicken which has its backbone removed before it is flattened out to be cooked. This technique is especially useful if you intend barbecuing or outdoor grilling the chicken but it is also a great way to cook chicken in a conventional oven.

Parsons nose and leg ends are cut from chicken

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 small chicken (about 3 pounds)
1 tablespoon Mexican fajitas spice
Handful mixed sliced bell peppers
1 medium red chilli
1 medium green chilli
1 small red onion
Salt and pepper
Vegetable or sunflower oil
Spicy chilli crisps/potato chips to serve
Freshly chopped coriander/cilantro to garnish

Backbone is removed from chicken


It's important to make sure the chicken is cooked from room temperature and not straight from the fridge. It will take a minimum half hour out of the fridge to reach room temperature.

Start your oven preheating to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Mixed peppers and red onion

It's not essential but I like to begin by removing the parson's nose from the chicken and the bony ends of the legs, where the latter have not already been removed.

Seasoning and preparing roasting bed for chicken

Sit the chicken up on its broad end with the backbone facing you. Use a Chinese style cleaver or very robust, very sharp knife to carefully cut down either side of the backbone and remove it. It is essential to weigh the prepared chicken at this stage as this is how you will calculate the cooking time. It should be cooked for twenty minutes per pound (450g) and a further twenty minutes over.

Chicken is laid on seasoned vegetables

Slice the chillis in to discs and peel and slice the red onion. Add all the pepper pieces and red onion to a large roasting tray. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt, pepper and about a third of the fajitas spice. Stir with a wooden spoon and arrange as a bed for the chicken.

Chicken is seasoned and ready for roasting

Lay the chicken skin side up on top of the spiced peppers and onion. Season with salt and the remaining fajitas spice, carefully rubbing it evenly over the skin with your hands. Note that if you wish to dry marinade the chicken for an hour or two in advance of cooking, this will help enhance the flavour. I simply didn't have time in this instance.

Spicy spatchcock chicken is left to rest

Put the chicken in to your oven for the cooking time you have calculated from its weight. At the end of this time, carefully remove from the oven and pierce the thickest part, ensuring the juices run clear. Assuming they do, cover with foil and set aside to rest for twenty to thirty minutes.

Legs fall off properly cooked chicken at a touch

You will find that the legs and wings will fall cleanly off the chicken at barely a touch. With a bigger chicken, I would further separate the drumstick and thigh but with a small bird like this, I don't bother.

To remove the breast fillets, lift the main body of the chicken to a chopping board and carefully slice them off starting either side of the backbone.

Fajita spiced spatchcock chicken portions

Lay the chicken pieces in an appropraite serving dish. Add the crisps/potato chips and garnish for service with the coriander/cilantro.

Chilli crisps/potato chips are served with fajitas spiced chicken

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Venison Sausage and Spicy Pepper Rolls

Succulent venison sausages served on bread rolls with stir fried peppers

I saw these venison sausages on special offer in a local supermarket a few nights back and had to give them a try. Although I love venison cooked and served in many different ways, I think this was the first time I had ever tried venison sausages. This serving suggestion came about simply through having the peppers in my fridge needing used and I was delighted with the results.

Highland Game Scottish venison sausages

Ingredients (Makes 2 Rolls)

4 venison sausages
Vegetable oil or similar for frying
Generous handful mixed sliced bell peppers
1/2 red chilli pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1/2 green chilli pepper, seeded and finely sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro
2 soft bread rolls

Starting to fry sausages


It is vital to fry the sausages at a very low heat, so that they both cook evenly and do not burst. The time this takes will depend on the size of the sausages but these ones took fifteen to twenty minutes.

Mixed bell peppers and chillies

Turn the sausages regularly as they cook, either with cooking tongs or simply by gently shaking the pan.

Peppers prepared for frying

When the sausages are ready, lift them to a plate with cooking tongs, cover with foil and leave to rest for the few minutes it will take you to prepare the peppers.

Cooked venison sausages are removed from frying pan

Put the prepared bell peppers and chilli peppers in to the pan vacated by the sausages and season with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to medium.

Peppers are briefly stir fried in venison sausage juices

Stir fry the peppers for about a minute until just softened.

Freshly chopped coriander

Add most of the coriander to the peppers in the pan and stir well, keeping a little in reserve for scattering over the sausages.

Stir fried pepper beds on bread roll bases

Cut the bread rolls open and divide the pepper combination evenly between the two bottom halves.

Venison sausages are laid on pepper beds

Lift the sausages on to the peppers, scatter with the remaining coriander and close over to serve.

Venison sausages are scattered with a little coriander

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pitta Pockets

Chopped sausage in a spicy tomato paste is served in a pitta bread pocket

Pitta bread pockets are a fabulously adaptable concept. There really is no limit to what we can fill them with, just like any form of what, loosely speaking, is a sandwich. This was an idea I came up with last night and although I only prepared one to start with, I immediately prepared a second as soon as I'd finished. I hope you like the idea and will give it a try.

Starting to gently fry sausages

Ingredients Per Serving

2 good quality pork sausages
Vegetable oil or similar for frying
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
1 teaspoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, plus a little extra to garnish
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 button mushrooms, halved
1 pitta bread

Combining ingredients for spicy tomato paste


The sausages should be fried over as gentle a heat as possible until done. This will take up to twenty minutes. Do not prick the sausages, as this simply allows the juices and flavours to escape to the pan. Decent quality sausages cooked slowly over a very low heat will not burst.

Spicy tomato paste

As soon as the sausages are in the frying pan, combine the tomato ketchup, curry powder and coriander in a bowl. You can vary this sauce any way you wish, particularly in the spice(s) which you use.

Onion and button mushrooms added to frying sausages

When the sausages are almost ready, add the mushrooms and onion to the pan to fry for the last two to three minutes.

Cooked sausages are roughly chopped

Lift the sausages from the pan with cooking tongs to a plate. Chop in to small bite sized pieces.

Sausage, tomato and mushroom added to spicy tomato sauce

Add the sausage pieces to the sauce, along with the mushrooms and onions. Stir carefully but well.

Pitta bread is cut open to form a pocket

Heat the pitta bread per the instructions on the pack and cut it open along one long side with a very sharp knife to form a pocket.

Spoon the spicy sausage mix in to the pitta pocket and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Spicy sausage mix is spooned in to pitta pocket