Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sous-vide Bacon Belly

I've been cooking using sous-vide for a while now, but realised that I wasn't recording my recipes so I was at risk of forgetting them. I built my own sous-vide, but you can get clip-on devices for under £200 these days, so it's almost in the reach of everyday cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 600g slab of cured pork belly, cut into thirds
  • 10 leaves of fresh sage
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 2 Bramley or cooking apples, peeled, core removed and sliced into half cm slices.
  • 15g butter

Method:

  1. Put your sous-vide machine on to 68 degrees Celsius.
  2. Turn down the top of three zip lock freezer bags (to reduce the risk of getting raw meat on the outside of the bag) and place each slice of pork into a separate bag.
  3. Rip up the sage leaves and divide between the bags.
  4. Use the water submersion method to squeeze all the air out of the bags, sealing the top just as it's above the line of the water.
  5. Place in the sous-vide machine for 24 hours. Pork belly sometimes floats (although rarely when cured) so you might need to rest a plate gently on top to force it under the water.
  6. About 25 minutes before it's time to eat, put the onions in a saucepan with a tablespoon of the sunflower oil. Put a lid on the pan and sweat the onions over a low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the apple and cooking for a further 15 minutes with the lid on, stirring every minute or so. When the apple starts to break apart then its ready. If it looks a bit dry at any point then add a couple of tablespoons of cold water.
  8. When the meat has had its day of cooking, remove it from the sous-vide machine and pour the cooking liquids out of the bags into a jug. Use kitchen towel to wipe the skin side of the pork until it's fully dry.
  9. Heat the last two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  10. Place the slices of pork onto the frying pan, skin side down, and fry for about a minute to crisp up the skin.
  11. Put the slices of pork on your serving plates and throw the juice from the sous-vide bag into the frying pan to deglaze the pan. Let it simmer for about a minute before adding the butter.
  12. Once the butter has melted into the sauce, drizzle it over the slices of pork and place a spoonful of the apple sauce on the side.
  13. Serve with mashed potato, rice or some proper homemade baked beans.

Serves 3.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Pan Fried Pork Belly

If you don't want to spend a week curing the meat then you can marinade the meat in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce overnight, but it doesn't give quite the same effect or flavour

Ingredients:

  • 600g slab of cured pork belly, sliced into 1cm slices
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 spring onions, washed and thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  2. Cook the slices of pork belly for about 10 minutes on each side: you want to develop a nice colour so you might need to press them down with the back of a fish slice after a few minutes in the pan.
  3. While the pork belly is cooking, mix the ketchup, chilli sauce and soy sauce in a bowl until it's a uniform consistency.
  4. Place the browned pork belly onto a place, sprinkle over the sliced spring onions and then drizzle the sauce over the top.
  5. Serve with plain rice and some green leaves, such as lettice (the crispness of the leaves goes well with the rich belly).

Serves 3.

Pork Belly Bacon

This isn't really a recipe, more just a statement of how easy it is to make bacon from a lump of pork. There are so many pre-made mixes of curing salts available from internet retailers that it's ridiciously easy to do. You buy a packet of the salt, get a piece of meat and then you're basically done.

Ingredients:

  • 600g slab of pork belly
  • 40g of pre-mixed curing salt mix (check with the mix you've chosen for the exact quantities though: too much nitrates can poison you)

Method:

  1. Place your piece of meat in a plastic bag that can be closed, like a zip-lock freezer bag. Make sure to turn the tops of the bag over when placing the meat in to reduce the risk of getting raw meat on the outside of the bag.
  2. Sprinkle the curing salt over the meat in the bag.
  3. Use your fingers through the bag to work the salt into all the cracks of the meet.
  4. Fill a bowl or your sink full of water and carefully lower the bag into it to squeeze out all the air. Lower the opening at the top to just above the level of the water before sealing.
  5. Place in the back of the fridge for a week, turning every couple of days.
  6. Slice and cook like bacon or roast it whole.

Serves 3 (aim for about 200g per person)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Marinaded Courgette Salad

This year I grew a couple of courgette plants in the garden and they are producing a large number of sizeable courgettes. While looking for recipes, the @sweden account on twitter posted a recipe, which I used as inspiration for this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of courgette, about 6 'normal' courgettes, sliced into 1cm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with a garlic press
  • 2 tsp of capers, without liquid
  • 100g of feta cheese, finely chopped or crumbled

Method:

  1. Put the courgette slices into a large bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and toss around until they are evenly coated.
  2. Season with salt and pepper while you heat up a griddle, barbecue or frying pan on a medium-high heat.
  3. Lay the slices into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. You want to get a nice char on them for added flavour. Unless you have a large pan, you'll probably end up needing to do two or three batches.
  4. Return the cooked slices to the large bowl and pour over the lemon juice and garlic. Mix well so that everything has a good coating.
  5. Cover and place in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.
  6. Just before serving, top with a sprinkle of the capers and cheese, give it a bit of a stir.

Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Porcini Salt

Flavoured salts are very easy to make: requiring little more than an airtight jar and some patience. The rich flavour of the porcini mushrooms makes this salt one to use sparingly.
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 125g sea salt flakes

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Place the dry porcini mushrooms into a mini-blender, coffee or spice grinder and blend until slightly finer than your salt flakes.
  2. Combine the finely chopped mushrooms with the salt and give it a good mix.
  3. Pour into an airtight container and leave for two weeks for the flavours to infuse.
  4. Sprinkle a little on a mild dish, such as pasta, risotto or scrambled eggs, for a flavoursome addition.

Makes a small jar of flavoured salt.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Beer Can Burgers

These can be cooked on the barbecue or in the oven: the barbecue is best as it gets a nice char on the bottom.

Ingredients:

  • 500g minced beef, about 15% fat is best
  • 8 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 or 5 medium sized mushrooms, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 red pepper, cut into small strips
  • 100g of finely grated Emmental (or other Swiss-style cheese)

Method:

  1. Season the mince with salt and pepper (the salt will help to keep the shape of the cup) and divide into quarters
  2. Take each quarter of the meat and shape around the bottom of a chilled, but unopened, beer can
  3. Wrap two strips of streaky bacon around the sides of the beef while it is still on the can
  4. Carefully slide the beef and bacon off the can and place carefully on a plate
  5. Repeat for the remaining three portions of mince
  6. Place the cups in the fridge and chill for at least an hour
  7. When you're ready to cook the burgers, heat your barbecue to a low setting or put the oven on to 150 degrees
  8. Fry the onion in the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes
  9. Add the mushrooms and beef stock cube and fry for a couple more minutes
  10. Add the pepper and stir well, frying for a further couple of minutes
  11. Take the beef cups out of the fridge and distribute the vegetable mix between them
  12. Top each beef cup with the finely grated cheese
  13. Carefully place on the barbecue grill and close the lid (or on a baking tray in the oven)
  14. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the beef and bacon look cooked
  15. Serve on burger buns with a dollop of tomato chutney

Serves 2

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Blue Cheese Crème Brûlée


This is surprisingly simple to make, but looks amazing when served up.
  • 100g stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled
  • 250ml double cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 50g walnuts, finely chopped

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Gently grease 4 125ml ramekins (what I'd call normal size) with a tiny bit of butter
  2. Put the cheese and cream into a saucepan and heat on a gentle heat: you don't want it to boil
  3. Once the cheese has melted into the cream, take it off the heat and stir it well
  4. Put the yolks into a bowl and break up
  5. Pour the cream mixture into the bowl and yolks and mix well
  6. Split the egg, cheese and cream mix between the ramekins
  7. Cover the ramekins with cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
  8. Place the chopped walnuts in a dry frying pan and put over a medium-low heat
  9. Toss the walnuts around the pan every couple of minutes until they have changed to a darker brown, then remove from the heat and place in a bowl to cool
  10. When ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees
  11. Place the ramekins in a high sided roasting tin and pour in about half an inch of boiling water before placing in the oven
  12. Cook for 15 minutes in the oven
  13. Top with the toasted walnuts and then serve with freshly cooked bread and a green salad

Makes 4 portions.