How to Grill – UK BBQ Week

UKBBQWeek2018It is the middle of a heat wave in the UK right now and everyone will have fired up their BBQ’s or more precisely grills and if you are using charcoal or a gas grill, you need to know the best temperature for cooking your food. Now you can guesstimate by holding your hand over the grill, but I would not recommend it. I suggest getting yourself a decent thermometer and attaching the probe to your grill close to where you cook your meat or fish. Your BBQ, if it has a lid, will often have a built-in thermometer but that will measure the air temperature which can be 50 degrees cooler than the cooking surface where the action takes place.

BBQ charcole

Adjusting the temperature is easy with a gas fired BBQ you can simply adjust the flames on a charcoal fire, once the coals are glowing and turning white your best method is to move the distance between the grill and the coals. The higher the grill the lower the direct heat.

Low Heat Around 325 F / 160 C is perfect for sausages which need to be thoroughly cooked with burning or bursting the skins. You will be able to hold your hand over the heat source for up to ten seconds.

Medium Heat  Around 350 F / 180 C is best for cooking chicken thighs and drumsticks where it is important that the meat is cooked through without the exterior burning to a crisp. It is about six or seven seconds before you will need to move your hand.

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Grilling Fish

Medium-High Heat Between 400 and 450 F / 200 to 230 C. When you want to get a nice browning or crust on your food, but the interior is moist and tender, such as a thick piece of fish, grilled vegetables or a tasty medium-rare burger. You will only be able to hold your hand over the grill for about five seconds.

BBQ 2

High Heat

A temperature of 450 F / 230 C and above is perfect for flash cooking seafood, chicken or steak kebabs, and onglet or hanger steaks. The high heat adds some charring, with regular turning to prevent burning, and is sufficient to cook the food. If you hold your hand over the heat you can only bare it for one or two seconds.

Baked Portobello Mushroom and Chorizo

Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg

After the excesses of Christmas, I quite often want something with plenty of flavour but that is perhaps not too substantial and relatively simple to create. It can be very easy with lunches out with family and friends between Christmas and the New Year celebrations to easily be over faced with just too much food. In my case that is quite difficult but never the less still possible, so here is a recipe for Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg that is very tasty and quite light and very easy to make.

Baked Portobello Mushroom and Chorizo
Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo

In this recipe for Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg, I use braised Chorizo, which is a staple in our kitchen at home great for flavouring stews, soups and casseroles. If you cannot get Portobello mushrooms, open-cap field mushrooms area perfect substitute.     

Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg             serves 4

4 Portobello Mushrooms, peeled and stems removed

150 gr braised Chorizo, drained, plus reserved oil

2 large handfuls of Baby Spinach, washed and dried ( optional )

4 fresh free-range Eggs

A sprig or two of fresh Thyme

Fine Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with foil. Place the mushrooms, gills side up, on the baking sheet, drizzle with a little braised Chorizo oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for ten minutes. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a little more Chorizo oil in a frying pan, over medium heat, and quickly toss in the baby spinach, season and remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven and divide the spinach between them. Top with the braised Chorizo and sprinkle with fresh Thyme leaves. Place back in the oven for ten more minutes before removing once more and cracking an egg into each. Place back in the oven and bake for a final ten minutes. Remove and serve with a little lightly dressed herb salad.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour     Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page

My Mardis Gras Cajun Gumbo

And so it is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, and today I am cooking a Cajun classic, Gumbo. Gumbo is a type of stew from southern Louisiana combining the ingredients and techniques of a melting pot of cultures, including French, Spanish, German, West African, and Choctaw. In general, a Creole gumbo generally contains shellfish, tomatoes, okra and filé * powder. Native words for either of the last two ingredients are the likely root of the word gumbo. A Cajun gumbo is generally based on a dark roux made from fat and flour and is spicier. Both use a ‘ Holy Trinity ’ of ingredients,  chopped onion, celery and green pepper as a base,  developed from the classic mirepoix. Andouille sausage * or ham is often added to gumbos of either variety. After the base is prepared, vegetables are cooked down, and then the meat is added. The dish simmers for a minimum of three hours, with shellfish, filé and extra spices added near the end.

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*Gumbo filé powder is a necessity for cooking authentic Creole or Cajun cuisine. Filé powder is the powdered leaves of the sassafras tree. When ground, they have a rich, spicy flavour with a hint of eucalyptus. Andouille sausage is a staple of Cajun and Creole cooking brought to the United States by French immigrants to Louisiana. It is a course pork sausage flavoured with garlic, pepper, onions and wine.

If you are going to cook Cajan then you can get in the mood with this version of the Hank Williams classic. My Gumbo recipe is no exception, the only time I waiver from the truly authentic is adding a little extra butter to my chicken, sausage, and prawns to produce a rich sauce to top the finished dish. As they say in New Orleans,

” Laissez les bons Temps Rouler -let the Good Times Roll “

My Cajun Gumbo                               serves 4

12 large prawns, peeled and de-veined

4 chicken breasts, butterflied

200 gr Andouille sausage, sliced

200 gr Long Grain Rice

150 gr Butter

50 gr Flour

1 litre quality Chicken Stock

50 ml Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 sticks of Celery, washed and chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 tablespoons of Cajun-style seasoning

2 tablespoons Filé powder ( available from a good Deli )

2 Bay Leaves

1 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce ( you can use more if you prefer )

Juice of 1 Lemon

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Freshly chopped Parsley

In a medium bowl mix the prawns, chicken half the sausage and 2 tablespoons of the Cajun style seasoning. In a large heavy-bottomed, saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onion, pepper, and celery for ten minutes without burning. Remove from the pan and reserve. Melt half of the butter and stir in the flour. Cook out the roux over a gentle heat, stirring continuously until a dark nut brown. Add the cooked trinity, the seasoned chicken, garlic, bay leaves, the sausage, the remaining Creole seasoning, and Tabasco sauce. Pour in half of the chicken stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over the lowest possible heat for two and a half hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

In a second pan, cook the rice by bringing the remaining stock to the boil, add the rice and place on a tight cover. Simmer for five minutes then remove from heat and leave to steam for ten more minutes. Add the prawns to the gumbo and reduce the cooking liquor down by a third until the prawns are cooked. Add the filé powder, the lemon juice, butter, and check the seasoning. Finish the gumbo with chopped parsley then divide the cooked rice into bowls using a slotted spoon and top with a piece of chicken, prawns, sausage and some cooking liquor.

My Cajun Seasoning

3 tablespoons Smoked Paprika

2 tablespoons Onion Powder

2 tablespoons Garlic Powder

1 tablespoon Hot Mustard Powder

1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper

1 tablespoon Dried Oregano

1 tablespoon Dried Thyme

1 tablespoon Salt

½ tablespoon ground Bay Leaves

½ tablespoon ground Black Pepper

Mix in a food processor and store in an airtight container.

National Seafood Week – Mussels with Beer and Chorizo

This lovely Autumnal recipe pairs two fantastic flavours with fresh mussels and is perhaps my favourite of all the mussel dishes I regularly cook. There is something about the combination of the pungent braised chorizo and aromatic, slightly bitter, beer with the cooking liquor of the mussels which creates a wonderful broth in which to dip great chunks of freshly baked crusty bread. For the beer I would naturally recommend Liberation IPA or Butcombe Bitter of course but Adnam’s Broadside, Fuller’s London Pride or Moorland Old Speckled Hen all give great results, for the braised chorizo recipe follow the link to The Online Cookery School.

Mussels with Beer and Chorizo

Mussels with Beer and Chorizo Sausage                            generously serves 6 people

2 kg fresh Mussels ( about 350 gr of Mussels per person )
140 gr Braised Chorizo
A good sized nugget of Butter
A slug of quality Olive Oil
6 large Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
300 ml of deep flavoured Beer
3 tablespoons Tomato Puree
A good handful of Parsley, washed and finely chopped
The juice of 1 freshly squeezed Lemon
Freshly ground Black Pepper

To prepare the mussels see my recipe for the classic Moules Marinières

In a large, heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté for about ten minutes until they are soft and gently coloured. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, tomato puree, chorizo and a generous few turns of the pepper mill. Stir well and cook for two minutes. Pour in the beer, stir and bring to the boil before tipping in the mussels. Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for five minutes until the mussels are all open. Remove the lid and simmer for two more minutes to slightly reduce the cooking liquor. I like plenty of the cooking juices to mop up with lots of crusty bread. Finish the mussels with the lemon juice and lots of parsley and serve.

Wine

 

What to Drink? A fruity French Rosé will stand up to the spices and tomatoes as will the slightly bitter flavours of Belgium pale ales.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk Oyster Possibly Sulphites in the Beer

Please see the Allergens Page

Sausage, Apple and Thyme Hash

Sometimes you just want simple, full flavoured food. Something more than a snack but perhaps nothing as complicated as a full meal. Hash is a great and easy to prepare dish that can be made with beef, corned beef from a tin is great but flakes of your own cured salt beef is better, confit duck and pulled pork. Hash is a dish made from diced or chopped meat, potatoes, and flavourings such as onions, spices and herbs that are mixed together and then cooked. The name is thought to come from the French verb ‘ hacher ‘ meaning to chop. Corned beef hash became especially popular in Britain, during and after the second world war, when rationing limited the availability of fresh meat.

Sausage Hash

You can add just about anything you want to use up in your fridge and ramp up the heat with lots of pepper and chillies if you so choose. I like the sweetness in this recipe that you get from the onions and apples, a classic flavour combination with pork sausage and make sure there is a real good grind of black pepper for a little kick.

Sausage, Apple and Thyme Hash                                             serves 2

6 grilled, good quality Pork Sausages, from your local butcher

500 gr boiled Baby Potatoes, sliced

2 large Spanish Onions, peeled and finely sliced,

2 Red Peppers, de seeded and sliced

2 Crisp Green Eating Apples

2 fresh free range Eggs ( Duck Eggs if you can get them )

80 ml Vegetable Oil

50 gr Butter

½ teaspoon freshly picked Thyme leaves

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

A handful of curly Parsley, washed and finely chopped

Heat half of the oil and the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan until foaming. Add the onions and sauté for five to ten minutes, over a medium heat, until they start to soften but not colour. Add the potatoes, peppers, apples and thyme, stir and cook for ten more minutes until the potatoes are starting to colour. Place the sausage pieces in the pan and finish cooking, stirring occasionally. After ten more minutes, the sausages should be thoroughly heated through and the potatoes nicely golden brown. Season generously and keep warm. In a second frying pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the eggs. Stir in all most all the parsley into the hash, transfer into bowls and top with the eggs and remaining parsley.

Saute Squid with Chorizo and Harissa

Warning: This is a Knock your Socks off Dish

Squid with Chorizo and Harissa
Saute Squid with Chorizo Sausage and Harissa

Imagine a full assault on your taste buds, a big, bad, bruising combination of squid, Chorizo, garlic, chilli, salt, and spice. The big secret is cooking your squid perfectly and in this recipe, it is almost the last ingredient tossed in a very hot wok and sautéed for just a couple of minutes. Your Harissa paste will handily keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container in your refrigerator and the braised Chorizo likewise. The best thing about this recipe is the great flavour is so easy to achieve and so simple and quick to cook if you use ready prepared Harissa and Chorizo.

I developed my taste for Harissa in Tunisia, searching out Roman ruins and sampling fantastic, fresh and tasty food some fifteen years ago. Harissa is undoubtedly hot with chilli but is also rich with the flavours of coriander, cumin, and garlic. It is now available commercially in tins or jars but this pales beside the freshly made product which is quick and simple to make. It can be stirred into stews and tagines, used as a thin crust on baked fish or added to couscous for a really easy taste boost.

My Harrisa

6 to 8 Serrano Chilli Peppers

1 large bunch of fresh Coriander

1 large handful of fresh Mint Leaves

2 bulbs of Garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons Coriander Seeds

2 tablespoons Cumin Seeds

1 tablespoon Caraway Seeds

1 tablespoon of Smoked Paprika

1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon

Zest and juice of 2 large Lemons

100 ml quality Olive Oil

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan heat and gently toast the whole spices to help release the essential aromatic oils and flavourings. Cool for a few minutes. Place the spices, chilli, and garlic into a food processor and blend. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to form a rough paste. Store in a sterilised glass jar covered with a thin film of extra olive oil and sealed with a tight-fitting lid.

Sauté Squid with Chorizo and Harissa serves 4

You can buy fresh or frozen prepared squid from your local supermarket or fishmonger, the squid is cleaned and the quill is removed. You can use tinned sweet red pimento peppers for your convenience. Do not season the dish as the olives and Chorizo are sufficiently salty.

3 to 4 prepared Squid ( ask your Fishmonger ), cut in half centimetre slices

250 gr waxy Baby Potatoes, washed and par-boiled then sliced

75 gr braised Chorizo and a little of the flavoured oil

75 gr roasted Sweet Red Pepper, sliced

50 gr good quality Black Olives

2 heaped tablespoons of Harissa paste

A small handful of freshly chopped Coriander

Freshly squeezed juice of half a Lemon

Mixed Salad Leaves

Heat the braised Chorizo oil in a wok and sauté the sliced potatoes for around five minutes until golden brown. Add the squid and fry for one minute stirring all the time. Add the peppers, olives, and Chorizo and fry for another minute. Then add the Harissa paste and cook out for one further minute. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander and divide on to four bowls of salad leaves.

Wine

What to Drink? This dish pairs well with younger medium bodied wines with plenty of acidity try Rioja, Pinotage, and unoaked Shiraz wines that stand up well to the flavour of the Chorizo and the Harissa. Over-oaked and high alcohol wines can actually make the chilli heat seem worse. Alternatively, try a malty Pale Ale like Fullers ESB if you prefer beer.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Oyster   Milk  in the Chorizo.

Please see the Allergens Page