Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Griddled Gammon Steak with Bell Peppers

Tucking in to a griddled gammon steak with bell peppers and fried egg

Gammon steaks are cured steaks from the hind leg of a pig. They are perhaps most often simply shallow fried but griddled gammon steak recipes tend to be more imaginative as well as more attractive on a plate. Griddling is also a healthier way of cooking than frying, with the food cooked more quickly to retain vitamins and nutrients and the ridges on the pan allowing fats and oils to run off without drying out the food. If you have never tried griddling, you can very often pick up a quality, bargain griddle pan on Amazon, Amazon UK or your local Amazon and discover for yourself this delicious and healthy way of cooking an ingredible variety of foods, including meats and vegetables.

Parboiled potato wedges ready for the fridge

Ingredients (Serves One)

  • 2 medium baking potatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 1/4 each of red, green and yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • Pinch of chilli powder (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 gammon steak
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • White pepper
  • Chopped chives to garnish (optional)


Wash the potatoes and chop them in to wedges. Steep in cold water for about ten to fifteen minutes to rid them of the excess starch. Drain well and add to a pot of fresh cold water. Season with a little salt and bring the water to a simmer for ten to fifteen minutes or until the skin is just starting to part from the flesh at the wedge edges. Drain well and add in a single layer to a plastic dish. Let them steam off for about five minutes or so before adding to the fridge for half an hour. When you put the potato wedges in the fridge, take the gammon steak and the egg out so that they may reach room temperature before being griddled/fried.

Frying mixed bell pepper slices

Add a little oil to a small, non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a fairly high heat before adding the sliced mixed peppers. Season with a little salt and some black pepper plus the chilli powder if using it and fry (stirring frequently with a wooden spoon) for seven or eight minutes until the peppers are softened and starting to char.

After about half this time, get your griddle pan on to reach a very high heat and the oil heating in your deep fat fryer or deep frying pan.

Brushing gammon steak with oil for grilling

When you are cooking on a griddle pan like this, it is the food that should be oiled, rather than the pan. Use a pastry brush therefore to cover the gammon steak evenly on both sides with vegetable oil.

Starting to griddle gammon steak

Lay the gammon steak away from you in to the red hot griddle pan. The cooking time will vary depending upon the thickness of the steak, this averagely sized one taking about two minutes each side. In order to check doneness, you can look at the steak from the side, or lift a corner only with cooking tongs to see how it's colouring up underneath.

Deep frying potato wedges

The potato wedges should be added straight from the fridge to the hot oil and fried for about five minutes or until they are browned and crispy.

Gammon steak is griddled on both sides

Turn the gammon steak using cooking tongs.

Egg for frying is seasoned in a small bowl

Break the egg carefully in to a small bowl and season with a little salt and white pepper.

Griddled gammon steak

Lift the griddled gammon steak to a serving plate with your cooking tongs.

Fried peppers are laid on griddled gammon steak

Using tongs again, lift the peppers on to the top of the steak. Wipe the frying pan carefully clean with kitchen paper (leaving an oil residue) and carefully pour in the egg. Once the egg starts to set around the edges (after just about twenty seconds or so), reduce the heat to medium to low. Fry until the albumen is set all the way around the yolk then carefully turn the egg over to fry for about a minute on the second side.

Potato wedges are plated with gammon steak and peppers

Drain the potato wedges on a plate covered with kitchen paper and plate alongside the gammon steak.

Fried egg is laid on gammon steak and peppers

Lift the egg on to the peppers and garnish with the chopped chives, if desired.

Chopped chives garnish gammon steak, peppers and fried egg

Friday, 11 April 2014

Roast Chicken with Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing and Deep Fried Red Potatoes

Roast chicken, pork sage and onion stuffing, deep fried red potatoes and mixed veg

It is very rare for me to stuff a chicken that is going to be roasted, least of all buy one that has already been pre-stuffed. This is because I feel it can be an invitation to unevenly - and even worse, improperly - cooked chicken. I prefer to cook anything that is ultimately to be served with the chicken separately. On this occasion, however, I couldn't resist buying this bargain priced pork, sage and onion stuffed chicken and carefully giving it a go.


3 to 4lb pork, sage and onion stuffed chicken
Olive oil
6 (or as required) medium sized red potatoes (halved)
1/2 pound casseroling suitable mixed vegetables
1 pint fresh chicken stock
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish

Bargain pork, sage and onion stuffed chicken


This chicken had been reduced in price from £6.03 to £1.99, simply because it was about to reach its sell by date. That meant it had of course to be cooked on the day of purchase but that was already my intention. By the time I got it home from the supermarket, it had already reached room temperature so it was ready for final preparation and roasting. I started by getting my oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Pork, sage and onion stuffed chicken ready to be roasted

I lightly oiled a roasting tray and cut away the trussing from the chicken. I then weighed the bird to calculate the precise cooking time. This is vitally important and you shouldn't just take the word of the label on the pack. The cooking time is calculated by allowing twenty minutes per pound and twenty minutes extra. (Remember that if you are stuffing the chicken yourself, you should weigh it after it has been stuffed as it is the gross weight which determines the cooking time). The chicken then went in to the preheated oven for the alloted period of time.

Red potatoes

Wash the potatoes and cut them in half but don't peel. Add them to a pot of salted cold water and bring the water to a simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, just until you can see the skin starting to separate from the body of the potatoes and no more. Carefully drain and return to the empty pot. Allow to steam off for about five minutes before covering and leaving to cool completely.

Parboiled red potatoes are drained and left to steam

These vegetables were also on bargain sale at my supermarket, reduced in price from £1.47 to 25p, making this an all round very budget friendly meal! Do be sure that even when the pack states it is not required, you do wash them thoroughly in a colander under running cold water before use.

Mixed vegetables designed for casseroling

Although the vegetables were intended for slow oven cooking, I simply cooked them on the hob in a pot. Add the required amount of vegetables to a suitable pot and pour in the cold chicken stock, bring to a simmer for about half an hour or until done (cooking time will vary depending upon type of vegetables used).

Mixed vegetables are poached in fresh chicken stock

When the chicken is ready, take it from the oven and be sure to pierce the thickest part with a skewer to ensure all the juices run clear. Leave to rest for fifteen minutes.

Roast chicken with pork, sage and onion stuffing is rested

While the chicken is resting, you should deep fry your potatoes. This can be done in a deep fryer but I prefer to do it in a deep frying pan, allowing me to better monitor the potatoes as they cook. Make sure you bring the oil up to a high heat before carefully adding the cooled potato halves. They will take around five minutes.

Red potato halves are deep fried in hot oil

The chicken could be conventionally carved but I prefer to portion it. I start by slicing off the leg portions and the wings, followed by the two breast fillets.

Starting to portion roast chicken with pork, sage and onion stuffing

Lift the potatoes to a plate covered with kitchen paper with a deep frying spider or large metal slotted spoon to drain.

Deep fried red potatoes are drained on kitchen paper

Drain the vegetable through a colander. Plate up the meal componenets (not forgetting the stuffing!) and scatter with chopped paresley as a final garnish before serving.

Roast chicken with deep fried red potatoes and mixed poached vegetables

Monday, 13 January 2014

Haggis Chicken Croquettes with Clapshot

Haggis and chicken croquette on clapshot bed with peas

Burns' Night 2014 is less than two weeks away and all over Scotland and beyond many people will be turning their thoughts to serving up haggis, tatties and neeps in honour of Scotland's Bard. While many will favour the established way of serving haggis with some boiled - perhaps mashed - tatties (potatoes) and neeps (Swede turnip/rutabaga), others will be like me and be looking for something just that little bit different this year without losing touch altogether with the tradition of the occasion.

Clapshot is simply tatties and neeps mashed together with some butter, pepper and chives. I've used the clapshot in this instance as a bed for a creation loosely based on the classic Scottish dish Balmoral Chicken, which sees a chicken breast stuffed with haggis. The chicken breast piece is here wrapped in haggis before being breadcrumbed and deep fried.

Haggis and chicken breast meat

Ingredients per Person

2 golf ball sized balls of haggis (I use MacSween's haggis)
1 small piece of chicken breast (approximately 1/6th small breast fillet)
1 small egg
2 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour
4 tablespoons golden breadcrumbs
1 large floury/starchy potato
1/4 small Swede/rutabaga
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 teaspoon freshly chopped chives, plus extra to garnish
Salt and white pepper
2 tablespoons frozen peas

Haggis and chicken parcels ready to be breadcrumbed


Start by peeling and chopping the potato and turnip in to large chunks. Add to a pot of cold, salted water and bring the water to a simmer on a high heat. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about twenty minutes or until the pieces are just softened.

Flatten a ball of haggis between the palms of your hands in to a disc of approximately a quarter inch thickness. Lay a chicken piece in the centre. Flatten a second ball of haggis in the same way and lay on top. Carefully shape the creation in to an approximate egg shape, ensuring the chicken is completely encased in the haggis. Alternatively, you could roll the haggis between two sheets of clingfilm, as you would do when making a Haggis Scotch Egg.

Breadcrumbing ingredients for haggis and chicken parcels

Put the flour in one small flat bottomed bowl, the breadcrumbs in a second and lightly beat the egg in a third.

Haggis and chicken croquettes ready for deep frying

Carefully roll each haggis and chicken parcel in turn in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. By then repeating the egg and breadcrumbs dip, you will get a nice, thick breadcrumbs coating.

Deep frying haggis chicken croquettes

Deep fry the croquettes in moderately hot oil for about ten minutes or until the breadcrumbs are nicely golden. Don't have the oil too hot or the breadcrumbs will burn before the chicken is cooked and as always, it is imperative that the chicken be fully cooked!

Draining haggis chicken croquettes

Lift the haggis chicken croquette(s) to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain while you finish preparing the clapshot and simmer the peas in boiling water for three minutes before draining.

Boiled potatoes and turnip are allowed to steam before being mashed

Drain the potatoes and turnip and let them steam off in the pot for a few minutes to avoid soggy mash.

Mashing potatoes and Swede turnip for clapshot

Add the butter to the potatoes and turnip, season with white pepper and mash with a hand-masher.

Chopped chives finish off clapshot

Stir the teaspoon of chives in to the mash with a spoon.

Clapshot bed and garden peas

Arrange the clapshot as a bed in a circular serving plate and spoon the peas around it.

Haggis and chicken croquette

The haggis chicken croquette can be served either whole or halved. The benefit of serving it halved is that it allows you to see immediately whether the chicken is indeed fully cooked. In the unlikely event that it is not, you can simply deep fry the two halves for a further minute or so before draining again to serve.

Garnish your dish with the remaining chives. While haggis, tatties and neeps will often be served with a wee dram of Scotland's national drink, I prefer to enjoy a fine single malt before and after my meal, not with it. A fine Scottish real ale such as Orkney Dark Island I find an infinitely more appropriate and satisfying option.

Scottish ale is served with haggis chicken croquette and clapshot

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pork Casserole with Spicy Apple Sauce

Slow casseroled shoulder of pork with spicy apple sauce and roast potatoes

Casseroling is a very popular way of cooking the tougher cuts of pork, such as leg and shoulder. If you are not careful, however, even the perfectly slow cooked meat can become dry and tasteless. This experiment involving cooking and subsequently briefly resting the meat while the casserole accompaniments are blended to form a sauce is something I believe worked very well.

It is also worth specifically pointing out the stock I used in this recipe. Usually, a pork casserole recipe will call for the use of chicken stock. I got to wondering why we never tend to make actual pork stock. I decided to give it a go and made my own homemade pork stock before incorporating it in this casserole.

Pork shoulder steaks

Ingredients (Serves Two)

3/4 pound pork shoulder steak, chopped to about one inch chunks
Olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, cored but not peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli pepper, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
3/4 pint fresh pork stock (or chicken stock)
12 new potatoes (or as required)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 ounces trimmed green beans

Browning and sealing diced shoulder of pork


Start your oven preheating to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Pour a little oil in to a large pot or saucepan and bring up to a medium heat. Add the pork and stir for two or three minutes with a wooden spoon to evenly seal all over.

Vegetables and fruit for pork casserole

Carefully tip the pork in to a large casserole dish and pour the pork stock in to the empty pot. Heat the stock gently until it reaches a simmer.

Solid ingredients for pork casserole

While the stock is heating, add the apple, onion, chilli, garlic and seasonings to the dish with the pork and carefully stir/fold to combine.

Pork stock is added to casserole ingredients

Pour the heated stock in to the casserole dish, put the lid on and pop in to the oven for two hours.

As soon as the casserole is in the oven, add the unpeeled potatoes to a large pot, season with salt and pour in enough cold water to comfortably cover. Bring to a simmer for half an hour or so until the potatoes are softened. Turn off the heat and drain the potatoes at your sink. Return them to the pot and let them steam for five minutes before covering and leaving to cool completely.

Preparing potatoes for roasting

Ten minutes before the pork is due to come out of the oven, pour two or three tablespoons of olive oil in to a small roasting tray and place it in the oven to preheat. Carefully peel the cooled potatoes with your fingers. When you remove the casserole from the oven, set it aside for a minute while you carefully stir the potatoes and roughly broken rosemary sprigs through the oil. Turn the oven up to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8 and cook the potatoes for twenty minutes, stirring or shaking gently halfway through cooking.

Cooked pork is removed from casserole dish

Take a minute or so to remove the pork chunks from the casserole with a large slotted spoon and a fork to a heated bowl and cover with foil. Ladle the gravy and vegetable pieces in to a blender and carefully blitz until smooth.

Blitzing apple sauce for pork

Pour the blitzed gravy in to a pot and gently reheat. If you want it a bit thicker, add a teaspoon of cornflour/corn starch mixed to a paste with a little cold water and stir through for a couple of minutes.

Blitzed spicy apple sauce

Take the potatoes from the oven and drain on kitchen paper while you blanche the beans for a couple of minutes in boiling, salted water.

Draining roast potatoes

Plate the potatoes, beans and pork before spooning the gravy over the pork to serve.

Plating up casseroled pork, roast potatoes and trimmed green beans