29 posts tagged maincourse
29 posts tagged maincourse
A simple and light barbecued dinner for a blazingly hot Sunday: Simon and Garfunkel grilled chicken (because it’s seasoned with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme…), caramelised baby leeks, caprese couscous salad. The chicken and leeks were cooked on the barbecue with applewood chips.
The herby dry-rubbed chicken was an experiment, the first time I’d tried this seasoning mix. It was very good and was a nice change from the more typical barbecue flavours like paprika, sugar, and cayenne. I think you could serve this as part of a meal with pulled pork or brisket or pork ribs and it would be able to hold its own, to still have a sense of identity.
Tonight’s dinner: haddock with leek and potato sauce and sautéed potatoes, from Heston Blumenthal At Home
My first chance to use both birthday gifts I received from my sister Hayley: a Kenwood hand blender (which I used to make the sauce) and a copy of Heston Blumenthal At Home (from which I took the recipe).
Turned out pretty good. Perhaps a little elaborate for a weeknight meal — the recipe (with some minor alterations) can be seen here if you’re curious. Wasn’t my prettiest plate of food; the fish had been manhandled by the fish counter staff in Morrisons so wasn’t holding together very well, unfortunately. I’m pleased with the composition of the plate, though. I’ve been putting a lot more work into how I present my food lately, and although I still have a long way to go, I feel like I’m at least making progress.
Dinner tonight: risotto alla milanese, roasted silverside of veal, glazed carrots
The risotto was by the numbers. The veal was the last piece I bought from a food festival late last year, left to languish in the freezer ever since; I wrapped it in bacon to roast it, as silverside is a pretty lean cut and the delicate veal meat needs some protective fat to protect it from drying out. The carrots were glazed to the recipe from Heston Blumenthal At Home, which means they are essentially deep fried in melted butter. I was fine with that, although I’m not planning on making a habit of cooking carrots this way for obvious health-related reasons. One small variation there: I swapped the sugar out for a touch of maple syrup.
The veal came from Bocaddon Farm, which means it’s ethical veal. It’s true that veal has a very bad reputation, with many Brits associating it with distasteful animal welfare issues on the Continent. But the fact is that veal is a byproduct of all dairy farms; the male calves born to the cows are often shot at birth, as many as 150,000 a year, because there is no market for them.
Farmers like Bocaddon Farm and Jimmy Doherty are trying to reverse that wastage by creating a domestic market for so-called “rose veal” (because the calves are fed normal cow feed, rather than the traditional milk, so the meat is pinkish rather than the more typical off-white). It’s certainly an argument that makes sense to me, and I’ll be looking out for rose veal in my local markets in the future.
What I made for dinner tonight: blackened steak with Cajun rice.
Quite proud of how it came out; a good, rare steak with a nicely caramelised crust.
Tonight’s dinner: roasted pepper and leek soup, followed by spaghetti alla bolognese
Sometimes you go out and shop for the perfect ingredients to make the perfect meal, and sometimes you open the fridge, find all the things that are about to go off, and throw them together. This soup came from the latter school of thought, and I got lucky; it was great.
Leek and roasted pepper soup
Put the peppers in a large, shallow roasting tray. Toss with smoked sea salt and olive oil. Roast at 200 deg C (400 deg F) for around 20-30 minutes, until just starting to char.
Meanwhile, melt butter or put olive oil in the bottom of a large pan. Sweat the onion, garlic and leeks for ten minutes until soft and golden.
Add the stock and the peppers. Bring to the boil and simmer for twenty minutes. Season to taste with pepper and smoked salt. Using a stick blender, purée thoroughly, adding water if desired to thin the soup. Serve immediately, decorated with a swirl of cream.
Dinner tonight: chicken Parmesan
I’ve made this a number of times before — who hasn’t, right? — but I don’t like to just keep making things the same way so I tried something different today: this recipe from Serious Eats / Cook’s Illustrated.
I’ve always been dubious about the baking part of chicken Parmesan. You go to quite a lot of effort to get crisp breadcrumbs, then immediately soak it in tomato sauce, thus ending up with a soggy exterior again. This recipe fries the escalopes, tops them with cheese, and grills them to melt the cheese, adding the sauce only as the meal is plated. That’s much more to my tastes.
You do need to be careful that the chicken is cooked through, however. I paid quite close attention to the timing and heat, removing the chicken from the pan as it hit approximately 55 deg C (measured via my Thermapen). It finished cooking under the (fiercely pre-heated) grill and came out pretty good.
Dinner tonight: Seared tuna Niçoise
Recipe credit to Nick, who’s gone through a huge amount of trial and error to settle on this recipe.
I put 4 TBsp of olive oil and 4 TBsp of cider vinegar in a small food processor and blended to a smooth emulsion. Added half a shallot, 2 tsp capers, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 anchovy fillets (all finely diced), blended again (briefly) to make the sauce. I set that aside to infuse.
Next I boiled some eggs (you can do hard or soft to your preference); those were peeled and quartered. I roughly chopped some olives.
I boiled potatoes (I used 300 g), then at the end of cooking added the fine green beans (I used 200 g). Finally, as I plated the salad (layering beans, potato, olives, and dressing), I briefly seared the tuna.
Pretty easy and very delicious indeed. Definitely going to be making this again soon.
Pan-fried salmon fillet with roasted cauliflower
Best fried salmon I’ve made yet, hands down. Turns out, according to Serious Eats, I’ve been cooking it too hot (so the skin wasn’t crisped up by the time the flesh was cooked) and cooking it on both sides equally (which dries out the flesh). The one in the picture cooked for almost 10 minutes, skin side down, at low-ish heat, then just 1 minute the other way up to colour the outside. It was nicely medium-rare through the centre and the skin had a good texture. I think I had the heat a little too low, though; the recipe calls for six minutes, but it simply wasn’t cooked enough at that time.
First time I made cauliflower this way, based on a different Serious Eats recipe. Dissect a head into florets. Make a paste of 4 cloves of garlic, 4 anchovies, salt, and 1/2 tsp chilli flakes. Add 4 Tbsp olive oil, mix, and toss through the cauliflower. Roast at 230 deg C for 25-30 minutes. It was delicious and simple, so I’ll be making that again.
Mushroom and asparagus risotto with prawns marinated in chilli and lime
A fairly simple dinner I made last week. Prawns were deveined, then marinated for half an hour in the juice of two limes, with some olive oil, a smashed clove of garlic, and a finely chopped chilli. They were briefly pan-fried before serving.
The risotto was a pretty standard affair, with chorizo fried first, mushrooms and shallots next, then the rice added and cooked with wine and ladelfuls of stock whilst stirring constantly in the usual manner. The asparagus was blanched beforehand and stirred through the risotto with a generous amount of butter and parmesan, shortly before serving.