Category Archives: Meat

Artichokes

The first time I tried artichoke was in the form of loose leaf Artichoke Tea from the hill town of Dalat in Vietnam. A strange way to start a new tasting experience, perhaps, but it was enough to get me hooked.

Artichoke

Globe artichoke

Artichokes grow wild in the Mediterranean and the US. Whilst they are also hugely popular around France and Spain, they have fallen on deaf ears here in the UK, which completely baffles me.
image

Thinking about it, however, this could be put down to the following:

Preparation – artichokes are tricky to prepare compared to other vegetables – as you may have worked out from the gnarled, prickly image above – requiring some assertive trimming work with a kitchen knife.

Economies of scale – they are not very economical: once scrubbed and peeled half of the vegetable ends up on the compost heap. They’re obviously not going to be on any best-selling ‘15-minute meals’ Christmas cookbook then.

As an ingredient they have an earthy, nutty and robust flavour and are especially flavoursome if you buy them marinated in olive oil (and char-grilled – yum). They also go well with tomatoes, green beans, chicken (see recipe below), spinach or baked with goats cheese. Artichokes are also extremely well-suited to seafood as Nigel Slater shows to great effect in his recipe. For a great pasta recipe, Rick Stein goes all-out in his recipe for Italian artichoke pasta with fresh herbs and garlic.

The nutrition levels in artichokes are substantial; containing a high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and soluble fibre.

Types of artichoke:

Globe artichoke: Part of the thistle family and related to the burdock leaf and salsify.

Jerusalem artichoke:  They may be artichokes by name but there’s an elephant in the room (two in fact) – Firstly, they are not real artichokes. Their more commonly known name is the ‘Sunchoke’. It is the underground tuber or root of the plant and part of the sunflower family. They resemble ginger root more than anything else.

Secondly, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the Holy Land.

Chinese artichoke: Part of the mint family and used extensively in Oriental cooking. You can usually buy them fresh or tinned in most Asian supermarkets in the UK.

Recipe:

Chicken salad with marinated artichokes and mushrooms

This colourful and filling salad is a great way to use marinated artichoke; providing a very tasty meal without much preparation.

Chicken and artichoke salad aerial

Serves 1 -2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • 150g char grilled artichoke halves, marinated in oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 100g mixed mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, button), washed and sliced
  • 1 baby gem lettuce, shredded
  • A handful of lambs lettuce
  • 6 – 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 spring onion, sliced diagonally into 2 cm lengths
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  • Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium heat and cook the mushrooms with the garlic for about 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Set aside and leave to cool.
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss together.
  • Season with salt and pepper, add the mushrooms to the bowl and serve.

Lamb: an Easter crowd-pleaser

There are no words, only superlatives. Lamb has always been my favourite meat and I thought it would make a fitting tribute to celebrate Britain’s new season lamb in the run up to the Easter period.

Aside from being intensely flavoursome and economical I find that lamb lends itself to so many uses in the kitchen. It works well cubed and marinated in olive oil and spices, rolled into meatballs or burgers and gently fried or simply served with a minty pesto sauce. The strength of the meat also lends itself to punchier flavours like anchovy, mint and a whole range of different spices. If you’re having a lamb joint as part of a old-fashioned Sunday roast, don’t feel pressured into demolishing the whole thing in one day; lamb is particularly good, if not better, eaten cold the day after either as a sandwich filling or in a salad.

The recipes below should give you some inspiration for cooking with either a roasting joint or with ground lamb.

Roast lamb shoulder with garlic, herbs, vegetables, new potatoes and tahini dressing

Whenever I have a joint of meat I like it best served alongside a mountain of chunky roasted vegetables.

Vegetables in roasting dish

Oven roasted vegetables

This makes a good rustic dish, with sliced garlic nestled into small slits in the shoulder joint alongside fresh sprigs of rosemary. Try rubbing it with ground cumin before roasting it for an extra kick.

Lamb shoulder joint

The addition of the tahini dressing, composed of tahini (sesame paste) and yoghurt, gives the dish a silky, nutty finish. You can use a whole bulb of garlic; dividing four cloves for stuffing the meat with the remainder tossed into the roasting tin.

Note on cooking time: 3.45 – 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 shoulder of lamb weighing 2.5 kg
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 small bunch of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 litre beef or lamb stock
  • 500g new potatoes, halved

for the tahini dressing

  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  • Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hr before roasting.
  • Using a sharp pointed knife, make small incisions all over the outside of the meat.  
  • Peel 4 garlic cloves, slice them in finely and place into each incision. Do the same with the sprigs of rosemary too.
  • Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  • Heat a large frying pan, add a little oil and brown the lamb all over (unfortunately this process was too messy to photograph!). Remove from the pan and set aside. 
  • Meanwhile, scatter the carrot, onion, parsnip, courgette, new potatoes, parsley and the remaining garlic and rosemary in a large roasting dish, pour in the stock, then place the lamb on top of the vegetables.
  • Roast the lamb joint for about 1 hour 45 mins. Turn the joint halfway through the cooking time.
  • Turn the heat down to 150C, cover the roasting dish with foil and place back in the oven for a further 2 hours.

To make the tahini dressing

  • Combine the tahini with the yoghurt and lemon juice in a bowl and mix thoroughly using a whisk or spoon. Set aside. 
  • Remove the lamb from the dish and place on a plate. Cover with the foil and rest the joint.
  • While the lamb is resting, make the gravy. Pour all the stock from the tin through a sieve into a saucepan to remove all the vegetables and herbs. This stock should be rich, slightly thick and have a great lamb flavour.
  • Reduce it a little on the hob if you feel you want to concentrate the flavour, skimming off any fat that comes to the surface.
  • Using a serrated carving knife carve the lamb into slices.
  • Serve the lamb with the gravy, potatoes, vegetables and tahini dressing.

Lamb burgers

Shaped into nice round patties with plenty of gorgeous toppings. Try these burgers out on the barbecue for the best results. If you are looking for a middle eastern twist on lamb meatballs then Felicity Cloake’s Lamb koftes are a thing to behold.

Lamb burger with mint and rosemary

Ingredients (makes 2 large patties)

  • 500g ground lamb mince
  • 2 tsp dry whole coriander
  • 2 tsp dry whole cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 small onion, finely grated
  • 1 handful mint, finely chopped
  • 2 slices of brown bread, soaked in water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Squeeze the water out of the bread and together with all the other ingredients, place it in a mixing bowl.
  • Gently dry fry the coriander seeds and cumin for 2 minutes over a medium heat, then grind together in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
  • Gently mix everything together and form it into thick patties/burgers.
  • Heat your griddle pan or barbecue until it is smoking hot and grill the burgers to perfection.
  • (optional) Garnish with sliced red onion, tomato and lettuce leaves.

How to make… Peanut Satay sauce

roasted peanuts

This Indonesian-inspired recipe is truly one of my favourites. ‘Satay’ is a fragrant peanut-based sauce traditionally paired with either beef or chicken (served on skewers) in Indonesia and throughout South East Asia.

Don’t restrict yourself to meat based dishes, however, as the sauce makes an excellent accompaniment to plenty of vegetables; like baked aubergine, boiled broccoli and even as a dip for raw cauliflower or crunchy carrot sticks.

One of my favourite vegetarian satay recipes from Indonesia is ‘Gado-Gado’ which usually contains cabbage, beansprouts, carrots, red onion, small tomatoes, red chili, tempeh (fermented soybean), a fried egg (optional), some coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime – all smothered in crunchy peanut butter.

In the UK, peanut butter is now more popular than ever, and this recipe wholeheartedly backs up that statistic. For some more excellent tips with peanut butter, please refer to my previous post, containing a very moreish recipe for peanut butter and date flapjacks.

Peanut satay ingredients

the aromatics: 1/2 onion, garlic, lemon, ginger and sesame seeds

Peanut Satay recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 100g Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 75ml greek yoghurt or natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 honey or sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 1 tsp chopped red chilli or 1 tbsp chilli flakes
    2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

Directions

  • To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the onion for a few minutes.
  • Add the chopped garlic and ginger and stir. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

    Peanut satay

    Creamy chicken satay

  • Add the chopped chilli or chilli flakes, soy, honey and lemon juice. Add the peanut butter and yoghurt. Bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes until thickened, adding water if necessary.
  • Stir in half the chopped coriander and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  • To serve, garnish with the rest of the coriander and spoon over other ingredients. Alternatively, serve alongside in a small bowl.