Category Archives: Difficult

Recipe: Roast Rib of Beef and Roast Gravy

Sliced Roast Beef with roast gravy
Sliced Roast Beef with roast gravy

Ingredients;

Rib of beef
3 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 leek
1 onion
2 sticks of rosemary picked and finely chopped
Salt
Oil
Beef Stock


Season the joint with salt, then peel and roughly chop the veg and place in the bottom of the roasting tray to act as a trivet. Drizzle some good quality olive oil over the joint, sprinkle the chopped rosemary over the meat and place in a preheated oven at 230C – 250C.

Baste the joint frequently with the juices and fat that run out of the meat. Reduce the heat to 200C once the meat has sealed. The total roasting time is 15 minutes per 500g plus 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

Once removed from the oven the joint should be rested for 15 minutes before carving.

While the meat is resting, remove the fat and oil from the roasting tray, this is best done by lifting one corner of the tray carefully so the liquid runs to the opposite corner, then simply spoon off the clear liquid. Next get the roasting tray over a high heat and use a wooden spoon to gently work any bits that are stuck to the tray loose, at this point it’s a good idea to add a generous measure of red wine or (my personal preference) port to help “de-glaze” the tray.

Once all the pieces have been worked loose, think about how much gravy you want when finished and add roughly twice that amount of hot beef stock to the roasting tray, bring it to the boil and remove from the heat.

Now strain this through a sieve into a clean saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow the liquid to reduce by half and it should thicken just enough to give a really rich gravy, if it thickens too much just stir in a little stock to thin it down again.

Recipe: Ragu Giorgio (aka the best spag bol)

Ragu
Ragu

Ingredients;

Extra virgin olive oil
3 x carrot, halved lengthways and chopped
3 x celery sticks, halved lengthways and chopped
3 x onions, finely diced
3 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x anchovy
5 large tomatoes
50g sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped or blitzed in a blender
150g tomato puree
2 x large handfuls of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground cumin
500g lean mince beef
2 x bay leaves
500ml water
250ml wine
300ml Italian tomato sauce


Once you have completed all the preparation, get a large saucepan, pour in a generous lug of olive oil and get it onto a high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Add the anchovy and fry this hard until it starts to break up and disappear. At this point add your carrots and bring the heat down to a medium heat.

Fry these for about 5 minutes, then add the onion and celery and reduce the heat to a low heat and continue to fry this until the onions begin to caramelise (usually twenty to twenty five minutes) stirring occasionally.

While this is happening you need to skin, quarter, core and de-seed the tomatoes. To skin them you will need a pan of boiling water and a bowl of ice cold water. First score an X on to the bottom of each tomato, with the water boiling hard, carefully pop the tomatoes in for about 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in the bowl of ice water to stop them cooking and make them easier to handle. Now you should be able to remove the skin by simply tearing from where you made the X. Next quarter the tomatoes and using a teaspoon remove the core and seeds in one go, you only want the flesh of the tomato. Remember to keep an eye on the main saucepan while you are doing this.

If the onions are starting to caramelise by now, simply remove the pan from the heat. Begin to fry the mince, with a pinch of cumin powder, in a large frying pan over a high heat. You want to brown the meat as quickly as possible, making sure that you brown all the meat.

Depending on the quality of the mince you may find that it releases some water once you start to fry it, if this happens keep the heat as high as you can and keep turning and moving the mince until all the water boils off. This can take a bit of time so don’t forget about the other pan, and remove it from the heat if the onions start to caramelise before the meat is done. You want to keep frying the mince until it is completely dry looking and starts to stick to your frying pan.

At this point your onions should have started to caramelise and you may have removed them from the heat, if you have, get them back onto a low heat for about a minute then add the meat. If the onions haven’t started to caramelise then turn the heat down on the meat and give it an occasional stir until the onions start to caramelise and then add the meat and stir the lot together.

By now there may well be some mince and fat stuck to your frying pan, this is great because that’s pure flavour. Add a good splash of your wine to the frying pan and using a wooden spoon or spatula gently stir and scrape those little bits off the pan, the heat and wine should make this very easy and in less than a minute all that flavour should have combined with the wine which you can now pour into the saucepan.

With regards to the wine: The conventional wisdom is to use red wine. If you have some available great, however the day I came up with this recipe, I looked at our collection of unfinished bottles and there were no reds, as I didn’t want to open a bottle of red just for this, I picked up a bottle of white wine, a Sauternes (very sweet wine) that had been open too long and had started to vinegar a little. A quick bit of measuring and in it went.

Now if my mum was still alive I would have gotten an earful, not only letting such a good wine start to vinegar but also for using it for cooking, that is until she tasted the end result, this gave the whole dish a different flavour than if I had used a red wine and exaggerated the caramelised flavour of the veg in a way that’s hard to describe.

Next you will need to add all the tomatoes, tomato purée, the blitzed sun-dried tomatoes, Italian tomato sauce, oregano, the rest of the wine, basil, bay leaves and stir gently.

Now bring this up to a medium heat and start to add the water, while stirring continuously. You want to add enough water so that the sauce is slightly thinner than you want the end result to be. In my case this turned out to be 500ml almost exactly but depending on the water contents of your ingredients you may require less or more. Once you’re happy with the consistency bring it to a very gentle simmer and cover the pot.

You want to simmer this for at least an hour stirring it occasionally. After an hour give it a good stir, if it’s still a little thinner than you like leave the lid off and let it simmer for a few more minutes and it should thicken up. I’ve had this Ragu simmering for up to 3 hours on occasion and if anything it just improves the flavours.

Finally, taste it and season it with salt and pepper if required and stir in 2 tablespoons of the best extra virgin olive oil you can find.

I like to serve this with fresh Tagliatelle and some Parmesan cheese, grated fresh over the top at the table.

Thankfully this recipe freezes really well and is ideal for freezing in bags as described here, 150ml is a serving so we tend to freeze it in bags of 300ml for the two of us. Alternatively, we’ve found the leftovers make great pizza. just spread some on your pizza base, add some cheese over the top (crumbled Mozzarella if you want to be really decadent) and cook as usual.

Recipe: BBQ Ribs

BBQ ribs hot from the oven
BBQ ribs hot from the oven

Ingredients;

1 portion BBQ rub
BBQ sauce
500ml apple juice
Cider vinegar
2 racks pork back ribs (approx 400g each)

Serves 2-4

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Start by getting a roasting tin large enough to hold both racks of ribs and adding the apple juice and a splash of Cider Vinegar to the tin. Next take a chopping board and sprinkle some of the BBQ rub on to it.

Now place the racks into the roasting tin and make sure they are well covered in the liquid. One at a time remove the racks and place them on your chopping board, sprinkle liberally with the BBQ rub until they are coated, massage the rub into the ribs, you should feel the rub start to feel more like a smooth paste, once the entire rack feels like this, wrap it in clingfilm, put it in the fridge and move onto the second rack.

Once both racks are rubbed, wrapped in clingfilm and in the fridge, pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a sealed container and store this, then do the dishes 😉 The racks will need to sit overnight before cooking.

The next day, take the racks out of the fridge at least an hour before you are ready to start cooking, this allows them to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 130C.

Once the racks are up to room temperature, place them curved side up (think sad face) in your roasting tray and cook them for an hour and a half.

Remove them from the oven and turn them over (think happy face) now pour half the juice and vinegar mixture into each rack, don’t worry if it spills out the ends. Now either cover the roasting tray or wrap it in tin foil folding the ends over to make a sealed parcel around the tray. You can wrap each rack individually but I find it easier to handle when I just wrap the lot. Place back in the oven for another hour and a half. if you haven’t already made the BBQ sauce this is the perfect time to do it, although I would recommend having it ready in advance.

Once the time is up remove them from the oven, get rid of the foil and drain away the liquid. It’s easiest to remove the racks carefully (they will be quite tender and likely to fall apart) rather than to try to hold the racks while pouring the liquid away, or you could use a turkey baster to remove the liquid.

Put the ribs back on the tray (if you have removed them) and pop them back into the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out a little.

Once they’re dry remove them from the oven again and brush on the BBQ Sauce, generously, on both sides. Now pop them back into the oven for thirty minutes, so the sauce/glaze has time to set.

Depending on the mood you may like to serve each rack as a portion with a small salad and some coleslaw or split them in half with a larger salad to serve 4. Whichever way you decide to serve them, be aware that they will be incredibly tender so be careful when moving them.

Now sit back and enjoy, what is to me, the greatest of all soul food dishes.

Recipe: Perfect Peach Ice-cream

Perfect Peach Ice-cream
Perfect Peach Ice-cream

Ingredients;

1 400g tin of peaches, drained
6 large egg yolks
125g golden castor sugar
400ml milk
300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out

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Another Soul Food classic, peaches are plentiful in the Deep South so it’s no coincidence that they are used in so many Soul Food recipes. This is a very subtly flavoured ice-cream so can be easily over powered if you partner it with a pie, I find it at it’s best served on it’s own or with some sliced peaches.

There are 2 options regarding the fruit the first is to purée the drained peaches and the second is to purée half and chop the rest into chunks to be added when freezing. I find that adding the peaches as chunks gives a bit more texture but the fruit chunks tend to lose their flavour when they are frozen. So I tend to go with the “purée all the fruit” option, but both work well.

Next put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk them until they are creamy and smooth. Then add the milk, cream and vanilla seeds and whisk them together.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and stir continuously over a low heat until it thickens into custard that coats a spoon when dipped in it. You don’t want the mixture to overheat as the eggs will scramble, so if you have a suitable kitchen thermometer, use it. Ideally you want to keep the mixture between 65C to 70C this gives a margin for error as the eggs will scramble around 75C.

Once the custard has thickened remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl to allow it to cool.

Now if you have a home ice-cream maker simply add the peaches to the cooled custard, stirring them in well and follow your ice-cream machine’s instructions to freeze the ice-cream.

If you don’t have an ice-cream machine then simply stir the peaches into the mixture and pour it all into a sealable container suitable for use in your freezer and pop it in your freezer. It can take anywhere up to eight hours for the ice-cream to set fully and during this time you will need to stir it every 20-30 minutes while it’s freezing to prevent ice crystals forming.

If you’ve ever put some melted ice-cream back into the freezer you will know exactly why you don’t want the ice crystals forming, basically it makes it frozen flavoured custard rather than ice-cream, but that said an ice-cream maker does not have to be expensive. We pickedup one in a Lidl offer a few years back for around €30 and I saw this similar one available from Amazon. So why not treat yourself, summer is almost here and this does make the process of ice-cream making far easier 😉