Friday, 26 September 2014

Chicken and Leek Casserole Gratin

NAME: _Chicken and Leek Casserole Gratin

1 dbl chicken breast or two marylands
6 medium potatoes
1 leek
1 large brown onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp lard
100g streaky bacon
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek seed
600ml buttermilk
1 tbsp plain flour
1 chicken stock cube
150g cheddar cheese

Wash the potatoes, place in a steamer with the chicken pieces and steam for 40 - 60 minutes, until the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a skewer, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Grate all the cheese, divide into three portions. Pull the chicken off the bone and tear into chunks. Cut to about 1/2 inch cubes.

Peel and slice the onion into half inch thick slices, fry in the fat in a hot frypan until browned, then lift out of the fat and place in a layer on the bottom of a casserole dish. Use the same fat to fry the bacon, diced to about half inch squares, lift from the fat, and set aside.

Slice the leek into half inch rings, wash well and dry with a tea towel or paper towel, place in the frypan and fry until beginning to brown. Peel and slice the garlic thinly and add to the leek, then add the bacon back again, and the spices. Fry a further three to five minutes then add about a quarter of the buttermilk and let simmer for around five to ten minutes. Add one third of the cheese, he cubed chicken pieces, stir to mix, and remove from heat.

Slide the skin off the potatoes and slice three of them into 1/4 inch slices, lay over the onions, then lift the leek / chicken mixture out of the buttermilk and layer that on top of the potato. Slice the last three potatoes and lay those over the top of the casserole.

Put the frypan back on the heat, stir the flour in and keep stirring, add the remaining buttermilk, the crumbled chicken stock cube, and one third of the cheese, heating gently until the cheese dissolves. Pour the mixture over the contents of the casserole, working it down among the contents, then crumble the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake in a moderately hot oven for 30 - 50 minutes until the cheese browns.

Serve after allowing to rest for ten minutes or so.

Nothing. Just enjoy.


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Beer and Barley Bunny Ballyhoo

NAME: _Beer and Barley Bunny Ballyhoo

1 rabbit
2 medium onions
3 medium potatoes
3 medium carrots
4 - 6 kale leaves
1/4 cup barley
1 cup dried swiss brown mushrooms
1/4 cup dry faba beans (or pinto or navy - faba just seem nicer)
370ml (one small bottle) of beer.
beef or rabbit dripping
chicken stock cube

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of clean water, change it and soak some more, depending on the beans you've decided to go with. About an hour before beginning the cooking, open the beer and let stand while doing everything else so it has a chance to go flat. 

Cut the rabbit into fryable sized portions, salt lightly and fry them off until golden in the dripping, then put them in an appropriately sized pot, Slice the onions into really thick slices, fry them and the barley off unti the barley begins to show browning and put in the pot, also the drained faba beans. Deglaze the frypan with 500ml of water and add that to the pot. Add a further 1.5L water and the stock cube, and bring to a boil then simmer for around an hour, remove the rabbit pieces and continue to simmer for another hour until the barley is tender. 

Cut the potatoes and carrots into big (3cm approx) slices and add those, add the dried mushrooms, shred the kale and add that too, let it simmer until the carrots are just tender. By now the liquid should be well reduced so add around half the beer (more or less according to taste, make up the balance with water if necessary) and allow to come to a simmer again. Gradually add a paste of about 4 tsp flour and water and stir in, checking for desired consistency as you go. Don't feel you need to add all the flour, nor that you should only use four teaspoonsful or less. Don't forget it will continue to thicken for a few more minutes. 

Debone the rabbit meat and add it back into the stew, then remove from heat and allow to sit for 20 minutes or so before serving.

Serve as is with crusty bead and butter, perhaps a dollop of sour cream. This sized serving could feed four average appetites or two hungry ones.

I like faba beans, but there's no reason you couldn't use cannelini beans or something similar. Or different mushrooms, come to think of it.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

"Meat" Meat Pies

NAME: _"Meat" Meat Pies
Shown served with buttered riced potato topped with grated cheese.

500g lean minced beef
2 tbsp besan flour
juice of half a small lemon

2 tsp rock salt
2 tsp raw sugar
3 tsp granulated garlic
1 (or 2, to taste) tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 cup coarse burghul

200g (approx) frozen mixed vegetables
1 tsp cooking salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
juice half a small lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

8 eggs
1 cup and a bit grated cheese

Put minced beef, besan flour, and lemon juice into food processor with steel blades. Put ingredients from rock salt to cumin seeds into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder, add to food processor and process to fine consistency. Be careful to make sure everything stays cold, and process in short bursts so as not to make greasy. (Warm fat "breaks" and smears through the meat mixture. It alters the texture and the flavour.) Add the burghul and process until barely mixed through. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. This gives the cracked wheat time to absorb some moisture out of the meat mixture.

Place the frozen vegetables, salt, pepper, lemon, and olive oil into the food processor and process in bursts until the vegetables are in coarse crumbles. Set aside.

Divide the meat mixture into as many portions as you intend to make pies. In my case, I used eight micro loaf tins, so formed eight portions. Place a portion in each dish, and use either another dish or something similar to force the meat to adopt a pastry shell shape.
Note the toothpick dispenser wrapped in plastic and used as the stamp.
In my case, a toothpick cylinder made the ideal pressing block. I wrapped it in plastic wrap for hygiene's sake, and for ease of cleaning up. Add a spoonful or two of the vegetables to each pie and smooth out, then break an egg into it, top with grated cheese. Bake at 190C for around 40 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.

May be served hot or cold. If hot, rice or mashed potato is a good choice of accompaniment, along with a vegetable cooked in tomato based sauce, I used okra garlic and onion in tomato sauce. Serves four when served with sides.

The only reason lean mince was specified is because if it is not kept almost frozen, the fat will "smear" during the processing, and that affects the texture and flavour of the shells. Smeared fat also affects how the burghul absorbs moisture out of the meat mixture.

The idea came about because I like meat kibbeh and wanted to try a Turkish / Arabian based dish but of my own recipe. It is even GPG (my wife, aka "Guinea Pig Goddess") approved. Thank you Kerry for testing my food experiment ideas with me. You're a brave woman. %)

This style of "meat pie" can be the basis for a whole lot of different recipes. As they can be served cold as mezzes, you could make up different batches and serve as party food. Or adjust the sides to suit each different style. The secret to the pastry casing is the food processor developing the meat glutens, and then the starch (burghul, polenta, chickpea flour, etc) being given time to absorb and bind.

Six variations I can think of right away:
-Minced lean pork, fine polenta, cayenne pepper and cumin for the shell, refried beans and chilli con carne for filling, nacho cheese for the topping, would be Mexican style,
-Or substitute chorizo and olive based filing topped with sliced tomato and herb crusting  to make Spanish style. Both served with white rice, tomatoes, chillies, and side salad type things.
-Minced lamb, burghul, curry spice for the shell, chicken / tomato / raisin / cardamom based filling, and goat cheese topping for a Middle Eastern version...
-For the ultimate meat lovers, make a beef shell as above with a minced lamb, burghul, and toasted pine nut filling, and close the top with more beef shell. This would be a "kibbeh meat pie." Serve both Middle Eastern versions with lentil and raisin rice or pilaf style.
-Minced beef, basil, polenta, with a filling of bolognese style sauce with small pasta stars and topped with slices of tasty cheese for Italian style. Serve with garden salad dressed with olives, cheese, pickled capers.
-Minced goat or lamb with mint and burghul, filling of chopped eggplant moussaka and topped with goat feta for Greek style. Greek salad goes without saying.



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