Monday, 30 April 2012

Passion for Pork Meaty Mixed Grill Feast

Mixed grills are probably more often comprised from not only different cuts of meat but different types of meat. Beef and pork may be the most common but we could equally have chicken, lamb, turkey or more thrown in to the mix. If you have a passion for a particular type of meat, however, such as pork, why not have a go at this recipe or an equivalent creation with such as beef? It definitely makes for a satisfying and interesting change.

Pork Mixed Grill Ingredients per Person

1 4oz leg of pork steak
2 pork sausages
2 large middle bacon rashers (or bacon as available)
1 slice of black pudding
2oz minced/ground pork
Generous pinch of dried sage
Salt and white pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
5 cherry tomatoes on the vine
2 small to medium mushrooms
2 slices of onion
1 slice of bread
1 egg
2 tbsp baked beans in tomato sauce


This mixed grill only takes about half an hour or so to make from start to finish but it is all pretty much hands on cooking. This means you should take care to have everything laid out and ready before starting to cook.

First of all, heat up some oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Season the leg of pork steak on both sides with salt and white pepper and put it in the pan. Add the unpricked sausages and cook on a low heat for a total of twenty minutes, turning the sausages frequently and the steak half way through.

Put the minced/ground pork in a bowl, season and add the sage. Mix thoroughly by hand, roll in to a ball and flatten in to a mini burger patty.

Remove the pork leg steak from the pan to a preheated plate and replace with the burger and black pudding. Add the tomatoes on the vine and the mushrooms. Remove the sausages to the plate with the steak and cover with foil to keep warm. Fry the black pudding and burger for five minutes each side, adding the onion rings when they are turned.

Cut a hole in the centre of the bread with an egg cup. Break the egg in to a small bowl and season with salt and white pepper.

Pour some more oil in to a second frying pan and heat. Just before the burger and black pudding are ready, add the bread and carefully pour on the egg, ensuring that the yolk slips in to the hole.

Take the black pudding and burger from the first pan and tuck them under the foil beside the sausages and steak. Replace with the bacon to fry for about a minute and a half each side, moving the onion on top of the mushrooms if you are short of space.

Carefully turn the eggy bread after about three minutes' frying, to fry for about a minute on the second side. Put the baked beans in to a small saucepan and on to a gentle heat to warm through.

Plate the eggy bread with the bacon alongside.

Lay the burger and the black pudding on top of the bacon, the steak on top of the bread and the sausages along either side.

Lay the tomatoes (still on the vine) on top of the steak. Spoon the beans in to the centre of the plate and add the mushrooms and onion on top of the black pudding and pork burger.

As usual, the HP Sauce is optional...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Big British Pasty with Northern Irish Champ (Food for Diamond Jubilee Celebrations)

It can scarcely have failed to escape the attention of anyone in the United Kingdom - and many far beyond - that 2012 is the year in which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Celebrations have been taking place, are taking place and will continue to take place throughout the year but it is on Tuesday 5th June that the United Kingdom formally celebrates the occasion with a special national holiday.

A big part of any celebration is of course the food we eat. While most of us can only dream of sitting at the table to partake of one of the many lush state banquets which will take place, this does not mean that we cannot create and enjoy meals appropriate to the occasion. Bearing this in mind, I wanted in the run up to the big day to look at some simple food creations that anyone can prepare at home, symbolic of the Queen, the occasion, or simply of the United Kingdom.  Where better to start in this respect than with a simple, inexpensive dish, the principal ingredients of which represent the four component parts of Her Majesty's Kingdom.

The beef in this pasty is Scottish, the pork is English and the cheese is Welsh cheddar. The prepared pasty is then served with that delicious, creamy comfort food from Northern Ireland, champ, and a glass of Victory Ale, created to commemorate the achievements of the great British naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson.

Full Ingredients List for Two Servings

4oz Scottish minced beef
4oz English minced pork
2oz Welsh cheddar cheese
8oz puff pastry
Salt and black pepper
Flour for rolling pastry
Beaten egg for glazing
1lb floury/starchy potatoes
3 scallions/spring onions
2oz butter, plus extra for greasing baking tray
2 fl oz milk
White pepper


Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F and grease a baking tray with some butter.

Dust a clean, dry surface with flour and roll out the pastry to a square of slightly more than 13". Use a 13" dinner plate as a template to cut a circle in the pastry. Mix the beef and the pork together and season with salt and black pepper before laying on one half of the pastry - leaving a 1" border - as shown in the photograph below.

The cheese should then be coarsely grated and carefully laid on top of the meat.

Glaze the border of the pasty around the meat and cheese with a little beaten egg. Fold the empty half of the pastry over the filling and carefully crimp the edge to seal. Be wary of stretching the pastry too much - you don't want it bursting in the oven!

A spatula or fish slice is ideal for carefully lifting the pasty on to the baking tray. Glaze it fairly liberally all over with more beaten egg and be sure to make a 1" slit in the top with a sharp knife. This is imperative to allow steam to vent during cooking. Otherwise, the pasty will burst. Put the tray in to the oven and cook the pasty for about thirty-five minutes, until the pastry is beautifully crisp and golden.

When the pasty has been in the oven for about fifteen minutes, it is time to start preparing the champ. The potatoes should be peeled and chopped in to fairly large chunks before being added to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil before reducing the heat to achieve a simmer for about twenty-five minutes until the potatoes are soft.

When the pasty is ready, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest for about ten to fifteen minutes while the champ is completed.

Just before you drain the potatoes, chop the scallions/spring onions and add them to a small saucepan with the milk. Gently heat to bring to a simmer.

Drain the potatoes through a colander and return them to the empty pot. Leave them in the hot pot for a couple of minutes to help them dry out before mashing them with 1oz of the butter. Stir in the milk mix and season to taste with some more salt and white pepper.

Carefully cut the rested pasty in half before transferring to two serving plates with a spatula.

The champ can now be spooned on to the plates beside the pasty halves and half the remaining ounce of butter added to the top of each pile for some extra creaminess and Northern Irish authenticity.

I hope this is a dish you will try at home, whether to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee or simply to enjoy a tasty and nourishing meal. Please also come back soon to find more food ideas relevant to the big occasion in the run up to 5th June, all interspersed between the more usual and universal postings to this blog.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pan Fried Herring Fillets on Bruschetta with Summer Salad

Herring are a late spring and summer fish here in the UK and with summer (hopefully) on its way, herring are starting to appear more frequently in supermarkets and fishmongers, albeit very much the smaller ones for now. This recipe for one includes two small herring, from which the two side loin fillets have been cut and pan fried.

Ingredients per Serving

4 small herring loin fillets
1 small tomato
2" piece of cucumber
2 garlic cloves (1 for salad, 1 for bruschetta)
8 to 10 pitted black olives
Handful of fresh rocket/arugula
1" thick slice of farmhouse bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Flour for dusting fillets
1 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 basil leaves to garnish


It is advisable to begin by preparing the salad. Chop the tomato in to six wedges and the cucumber in to six even sized pieces. Peel the garlic clove. Add the tomato and cucumber to a small bowl with the olives and grate in the garlic clove. Pour in some extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until required.

Use a proper filleting knife to take the fillets off each side of the two herring. If you wish, you could ask your supermarket assistant/fishmonger to do this for you.

Scatter some flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Wash any blood and innards from the fillets in cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Pat the skin side only in the flour and shake off the excess.

Add some vegetable oil to a frying pan and fry the herring fillets on the skin side until you can see they are almost done. This will only take a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and turn the fillets over to complete cooking while you toast the bread.

Toast the bread on both sides until nicely golden. Peel and crush the second garlic clove and rub it over what will be the top side of the toast. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Lay the bruschetta on a serving plate. Arrange the rocket/arugula alongside and spoon on the salad mixture.

Carefully place the herring fillets on top of the bruschetta and garnish with some freshly torn basil leaves before serving.