This week I have given in to the comfort pie for Sunday lunch, let’s face it who doesn’t love a good pie? This one, although it’s cooking away for a long time is easy as you are not making your own pastry. If however, you are feeling the call of making your own then either suet or rough puff would work a treat. But the rest of the week is incredibly low effort with some really light dinners thrown in for those who want a light bite rather than a full meal.
Saturday – Cola poussin
Sunday – Beef and ale pie w/ steamed greens
Monday – Sweet potato hash
Tuesday – Smokey chorizo rarebit on toast
Wednesday – Roasted tomato soup
Thursday – Venison stir fry
Friday – Pollock in a lemon and caper sauce with creamy mash and crispy croutons
5 cm piece fresh galangal (or ginger will do), peeled and finely sliced
10 kaffir lime leaves
3 red shallots, finely sliced
3 stems lemongrass, bruised
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp oyster sauce
4 little poussin (or you could use a 1kg chicken if you can’t find poussin)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 and a bit cans of cola or around 400 ml
Ground white pepper, for sprinkling
1 lemon, juiced
Put the galangal, lime leaves, shallot and lemongrass in a bowl then add salt and the oyster sauce and mix well. Stuff the mixture inside the cavity of the poussin. Using a pastry brush, brush the soy sauce over the outside of each bird making sure to cover every bit of it.
Place the birds in a casserole pot with enough room for them to lay in the bottom, breast side down. Pour about 50 mls of the cola into the cavity of each the birds on top of the stuffing. Then cover and place on the stove top, over medium heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Turn the birds over, then pour the remaining cola on top of them. Cover and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the birds are tender and cooked through and you have a richly coloured sticky glaze on the outside. Sprinkle with sea salt and white pepper and serve with lemon juice for drizzling.
Beef and ale pie w/ steamed greens
Large chunk of beef dripping (you can buy this in most supermarkets)
700 g boneless beef shin, cut into large chunks
20 g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
200 g smoked bacon lardons or smoked pancetta cubes
225 g whole baby onions or little shallots
400 ml sweetish dark ale
400 ml beef stock
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp cocoa
Ready made sheet of puff or suet pastry
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Heat the dripping in a large frying pan over a high heat, toss the beef in seasoned flour to coat then fry the beef in batches until properly browned. Spoon into an ovenproof casserole dish once done.
Turn down the heat slightly and add the lardons and the onions to the pan. Cook until the bacon fat begins to melt, and the onions to brown on all sides, then tip into the casserole with the beef. Pour a little of the ale into the pan to deglaze it and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom, them pour over the meat. Add the rest of the ale, stock, herbs, sugar, vinegar and cocoa and bring to a simmer. Cover, and put in the oven for 2 1/4 hours, then uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender and approaching falling apart. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 4. Unroll your sheet of pastry. Once the filling has cooled spoon it into a pie dish and cover with your pastry, pinching down on the edge to seal. Brush with milk and then cut a slit in the middle of the pastry to allow the steam to escape. Put into the oven and bake for 50 minutes or so until you have a lovely golden top. It may take a little longer or a little less than the time given, use your judgement on this. Serve with steamed greens of your choice.
Sweet potato hash
750 g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
200 g tenderstem broccoli, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
6 rashers of dry cure streaky bacon, cut into pieces
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 eggs, poached or fried to put on top of the hash
Steam the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli to the sweet potatoes and cook for a further 4 minutes until both vegetables are just tender. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the bacon and onion for 5 minutes until the onions have softened. Add the sweet potato and broccoli to the pan, pat down with a wooden spoon and cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally to break up the lovely crust that forms on the base. You want it to have lovely crunch bits at the bottom. Serve with each plate topped with a poached or fried egg with a runny yolk!
Smokey sausage rarebit on toast
200 g smoked cheddar
1 tsp horseradish cream
1 tsp strong mustard
Cooked ring chorizo sausage, chopped up into really small pieces
2 thick slices of sourdough rye bread
Toast the bread. Grate the cheese and mix together with the egg. Stir the horseradish cream, mustard and crumbled sausage into the cheesy-egg mixture and heap on the toast. THen put under a medium to hot grill for approximately 5 minutes until the cheese has melted and is starting to brown. Serve with some green leaves for a light dinner.
Venison stir fry
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
500 g venison fillets, finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
2 red peppers, sliced
2 green peppers, sliced
4 large spring onions, sliced
1 stem of lemongrass, finely sliced into rings
2 fresh red chilli, chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, sliced
100 ml chicken stock
Dark soya sauce, a couple of splashes
Heat half the vegetable oil in a wok over a medium heat and fry the peppercorns for about 20 seconds. Turn up the heat and add the sliced venison and turmeric then fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time, until the venison gets some colour. Tip everything out of the pan and keep on one side.
Add the rest of the oil to the wok and stir-fry the peppers, onions, lemongrass, red chilli (if using), garlic and ginger for a further 2-3 minutes. Then Return the venison to the wok, and add the soya sauce and chicken stock. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the stock has reduced by two-thirds. Serve straight away with rice or noodles.
Pollock in a lemon and caper sauce with creamy mash and crispy croutons
40 g unsalted butter
4 Pollock fillets, (180 g each) skin on, bones removed
50 ml Water or veg stock
1/2 Lemon, peeled, segments removed & juice reserved
2 tbsp Capers, washed and drained
1 Shallot, peeled and finely chopped
Small handful of Parsley, finely chopped
White bread unsliced, chopped into little crouton sized chunks, toasted for 5-6 minutes at 200°C
1 kg potatoes, cut up and boiled for 20-25 minutes until soft and ready to mash
180 ml whole or semi skimmed milk
Pre-heat your oven to 200C/gas 6. Pat the Pollock fillets dry to remove any excess moisture and season the flesh side with salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof frying pan on a medium heat the butter to a foaming stage, add the fish fillets flesh side down. Colour the flesh side for 5-6 minutes, then carefully with the aid of a fish slice turn the fillets onto the skin side, cook for a further 1 minute and then transfer the pan to the hot oven for 4-5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and place back on to a high heat for 1 minute. Remove the fish fillets from the frying pan and move on to a warm serving dish. Add the shallot to the pan and cook for a few minutes until they, then add the water or stock to the hot pan so that the caramelised juices are dissolved and emulsified into the liquid as it boils. Add the remaining ingredients to the frying pan bring back to the boil. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.
Once the potatoes are boiled, drain them and allow the steam to escape for a few minutes. Then push them through a potato ricer or mash by hand till you get all the lumps out. Add a small knob of butter, sea salt, a little white pepper and enough of the milk to get a lovely silky consistency.
On 4 large plates place the purée in the middle with the fish on top, pour the sauce over and around the fish. Sprinkle the croutons over the top and serve. If you like you could also serve some steamed spinach finished in a little butter with this.
(Credits: Luke Nguyen, Raymond Blanc, Atul Kochhar, Felicity Cloake, JJMoola’s Kitchen)