My love of food started at an early age, cooking with my Grandmother baking cakes. My grandparents had a large garden that my uncle grew many kinds of vegetables in along with the green house where I used to go and sit with the salt from the kitchen happily eating the tomatoes. That is how I remember vegetables tasting fresh from the garden with meat fresh from the local butchers, belly pork slow roasted a breast of lamb with roast potatoes braised liver and onions all now fashionable but were then the cheaper cuts of meat.
When I left school i went on a YTS learning catering while i waited to join the Army as an apprentice chef, I never liked the army but loved cooking so i left and worked in various restaurants. I left the industry many years ago but have continued to enjoy cooking and food.
In the last few years I have become increasingly interested in free range and organic food, shopping at the local farmers markets and farm shops, the tastes and smells reminding me of how meat and veg was when a child. We should all support our local producers and buy as much as we can from them rather than the multi national supermarkets whose only concern is profit not quality, for those that say they have to use a supermarket through cost this again is not true, my local butcher does 2 free range chickens for under £7 you will not get these prices and quality in any supermarket.
On this site I will try to bring you information on all things food form book reviews to recipes and guides. If you have any ideas or are looking for something in particular drop me a mail or message and I will try my best to help.
It is that time of year and to make a change from cold turkey sandwiches, cold meat and pickles and the obvious of turkey curry which I have nothing against this year I am doing something different with the legs off my bird. If you are getting your turkey from your local butcher get them to remove the legs for you if not there are plenty of videos on you tube showing how to remove the legs which is really very easy to do. Cooking the legs in this way will give you what resembles pulled pork in a rich Smokey sauce with a nice bite to it, will lift any boxing day meal to another level.
2 turkey legs, skin removed
1 large onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
4 cloves of garlic minced or grated finely
1 tbl spoon chilli powder of choice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
125 ml tomato sauce
75 ml cider vinegar
2 chopped chipotle chillis (these are dried chillis soak in hot water for 20 minutes to hydrate, keep the juice)
2 finely chopped jalapeños
1 tbl spoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tbl spoon molasses or honey
125 ml water
Sea salt and pepper to season
This can be cooked in a slow cooker, cast iron casserole or an oven proof dish. Can also be done in your BBQ or smoker, I will be doing this in the wood fired oven on boxing day and making up some special Christmas pizzas.
Sauté onion until soft and golden roughly ten minutes, add the garlic and spices and cook for a further minute. Stir in the tomato sauce, cider vinegar, chillis, Worcestershire sauce the honey or molasses and add the water. Stir well and cook through for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the skinned turkey legs either whole or as thighs and drumsticks cover with the sauce and cook for around 3 hours until the turkey is soft and tender. If cooking in a slow cooker either cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours until as above.
Once cooked transfer to a bowl and allow to cool so that either with your hands or two forks shred the meat into long shreds just like pulled pork. Stir the shredded meat into the remaining sauce and serve with good bread rolls, coleslaw, pickles and all your other boxing day sides.
The only fast food I have really eaten and one that since I started to eat only free range meat that I actually miss is fried chicken, everyone loves fried chicken with that crispy crunchy coating and moist tender chicken inside, picking the bones to get the last morsels of meat from them. For one reason or another it is not something I have cooked that often in the past, this is my method and recipe for making southern fried chicken, you can adjust the flour mix with various herbs and spices to get your own personal taste.
To get the most of this recipe you need to plan it in advance as you need to marinade the chicken in buttermilk for 24 hours minimum. The enzymes in the butter milk help tenderise the chicken and keep it moist when frying, I also find you get a crisper end result. Most supermarkets stock buttermilk. I used 8 chicken thighs and 500 ml of buttermilk.
After the chicken has been marinated for 24 hours it is ready to be dredged in your flour mix.
The easiest way to coat your chicken is in a large food bag with your flour mix in, this is far less messy than a bowl with the mix in.
My mix for this recipe was.
100g/3½oz rice flour
4 tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp baking powder
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and add to the bag containing the flour, shake well coating each piece with your flour mix. Pre heat a deep fat fryer to 165-170c, fry until golden and cooked through roughly 8 minutes for thigh joints. I always use a temperature probe when cooking and test the core temp chicken should reach 165f or 73c to be safe.
Another visit to my favourite farm shop and another gift off Dillys, two large pieces of flank steak the last flank I had from them I flash fried and it was amazing. The idea for this comes from Marcus Bawdon another outdoor cooking lover and an inspiration on the BBQ and Smoking side of it. It is always good to visit the farm shop and see the actual cows in the field or sheds that supply just great meat.
flank steak chilli
The recipe is not very different to my usual chilli, I used the same mix of chillis being ancho, chipotle, cascabel and jalapeno. The one difference in this was I used beer in the sauce rather than just stock.
Place the dried chillis in a bowl and cover with hot water to rehydrate. Finely chop onions and mince garlic fry until softened in olive oil.
Blend the chillis with the liquid they were re-hydrated in and add to the onion and garlic, finely chop the oregano and stir in. Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock cube and beer and bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Use either a hand blender or food mixer to blend the sauce, add the flank steak and beans to the sauce in an oven proof casserole, if you can not get flank brisket, shin or some braising steak will be a good substitute.
Place in a preheated oven at 140c for 6-8 hours, this could also be cooked in a slow cooker placed on before you go to work in the morning.
Well not being one to do things by half I though I know an easy way to raise a few quid for charity I will have a BBQ and have a few mates over.
What was planned as a”BBQ” turned in to a cooking marathon with 16 hour smoked beef brisket, 18 hour pulled pork shoulder, 16 hour smoked rolled beef brisket that was turned in to pulled beef. add to that lot frankfurters, pickles, coleslaw a mixed bean BBQ chilli, pastrami and wood fired Pizza and you can see that it was not your run of the mill BBQ
Pork, Beef, Charcuterie, Bread and Pickles that are amongst the best that you can get anywhere.
With such great produce you have to pay it respect and create what is simply stunning food.
Along with the food we had a raffle to raise a few extra quid for our chosen charities Pilgrim Bandits, Talking2Minds and Hope GB.
All in all we raised over £500 and fed people what in their own words was some of the best food they have ever had, to hear people praise your food is all you wish for and to hear people say I never thought it would be this good makes me happy.
Proper chips not skinny little fries from fast food outlets but chunky deep-fried in beef dripping chips just like we had as kids.
There are only a few steps to perfect chips number one is your choice of potato a good floury potato is best for chips so you can not go far wrong with King Edwards or Maris Pipers. Number two on your checklist is the fat you cook your chips in forget vegetable oil or sunflower oil what you need is a proper fat a natural fat such as beef dripping or lard.
Peel and cut the potatoes in to chips the width of your thumb giving you a nice chunky chip, always rinse the chips well to remove the starch, then dry well.
Heat your fryer to 150c lower chips in remember never more than half fill any pan or deep fat fryer with fats or oils. Fry for 6-8 minutes until they just start to colour remove from fryer shake excess fat from chips and place on kitchen paper and allow to cool once cool place in fridge and chill.
The second frying is at 170c and for around 3-4 minutes until the chip is just about cooked through again remove from fat drain excess fat and place on kitchen paper and allow to cool.
twice cooked chips
To finish off your perfect chips heat your fat to 190c, it is only going to take about 2 minutes to get that golden brown outer and keep that soft fluffy inside of your chip.
Perfect chips and Steak
The extra bit of effort really does make it worthwhile if you want perfect chips.
So as the season for cooking outdoors comes to an end for the majority of people and as Summer drifts in to Autumn I decided that I was going to have a bit of an end of season party in the garden. As most people who know me are aware when I cook in the garden i don’t just throw a few burgers on the BBQ in the past it has been whole shoulders of pork with various sides for about 75 people while having a live band in the garden, another time turning out about 50 12″ pizzas when I got the new wood oven. I decided that I would make it a charity BBQ and raise some funds for worthwhile causes. We will be raising money for 3 great charities that have personal meaning to myself but that also do amazing work.
The Pilgrim Bandits was established by a small group of Special Forces veterans in 2007 with the sole aim of using our unique training and experience to help and inspire wounded soldiers to live life to the full.
Hope GBHope GB is a voluntary support group which provides practical help and encouragement for people affected by autism.
I then wondered how best to raise funds for the charities other than donations from guests attending the BBQ for the feast of fine food that I would be serving up. I started messaging people on twitter and facebook and began getting donations of raffle prizes and even of meat for me to actually use at the event. Within a few days I had donations and prizes from the people listed below.
Pork for the pulled pork and other pork goodies is being supplied by
Quiet Waters Farm We are a small, family run, mixed farm in Atherington, in the heart of North Devon.
The Welsh Pig Company Happy pigs are stress-free, looked after with care and given everything they need to live how pigs live best: outdoors, free-range, with plenty of sunshine and stimulation.
Sausages not your average BBQ bangers, all from award winning producers.
Native Breeds Native Breeds are a small Charcuterie based on the Lydney Park Estate in Gloucestershire.
Trealy Farm Local award winning charcuterie based in Penperlleni Monmouthshire.
All BBQ’s need bread in some form but this will not be stodgy white buns this is bread from a world champion Artisan baker.
Alex Gooch Local artisan baker using only the finest ingredients.
Higgledy Garden grow traditional annual flowers in a Cornish paddock. They are grown without the use of any chemicals and are available to buy online and from a select few Cornish shops.
Bev Reed Award winning pâtissier who has worked at Claridges in London and Michelin starred restaurants at Château de Montreuil in France, Stuckis and Der Walserhof in Switzerland and L’Ortolan near Reading.
Liz Knight We make flavours and special seasonal treats inspired by the food that grows around us – here in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside.
One Mile Bakery The One Mile Bakery delivers handmade bread, soups and preserves within a one-mile radius of its kitchen in Cardiff.
Trish Maccurrach stock includes tripods, enamel hanging Kotlich/Bograc and colourful enamel cookware. Everything is suitable for camping and use on an open fire.If you have not discovered outdoor cooking yet, now is the time…
Illtud Llyr Dunsford Charcutier Ltd is an artisan charcuterie company which brings together British, South European and North American methods of curing.
Cwrtau Bach Farm grows greenhouse produce and creates award-winning homemade, artisan foods in the heart of West Wales.
Vivien Lloyd enthusiastic about the use of selected varieties of home grown ingredients to achieve the best possible flavours in high quality preserves.
Roadii Open fire cooking and campfire chat….the self contained firecooking system that beats a barbie anyday.
Blaenafon Cheddar Company are a specialist cheddar cheese company based in the World Heritage site of Blaenafon, South Wales. At present we produce fifteen very distinctive cheddars and four varieties of goat’s cheese.
Smokewood Shack Quality Smoking Wood, Charcoal & Grilling Planks for your Barbecue & Smoker.
It is not every day that you do food for your step daughters wedding, most people go to weddings to eat food and party. I spent 16 hrs the day before and a few hours on the actual day of the wedding cooking, not your standard wedding buffet of chicken drumsticks and sausage rolls but 16 hr Pulled Beef Brisket, a four chill mixed bean vegetarian chill along with 13 litres of coleslaw, tomato and basil salad, roast root vegetables and peppers with rosemary then throw in sage and lemon thyme pan-fried chicken and as you see I had my work cut out.
As with 99% of my beef cooking I get it direct from the farm shop in Raglan, 3 large rolled beef brisket weighing in at around 12kg in total was to go in the ProQ otherwise known as old smokey.
Rolled Beef Brisket
Rolled Beef Brisket
As with cooking any meat it is removed from the fridge a good 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temp and to have its rub applied, this rub is my standard for doing beef brisket in the smoker, Smoked halen mon sea salt, piquant paprika, dried parsley, ground coriander, brown sugar, toasted garlic powder, onion powder. Rubbed over with mustard first before the rub.
Rolled Beef Brisket with rub
The smoker is brought up to heat of 230 f ready for by my calculations a 16hr cook, to get the beef to an internal temp of 190 f. When using the smoker or doing any BBQ cooking I try to only use the best lumpwood charcoal I can buy from sustainable sources, I do not want to taint my food with any nasty chemicals from instant lighting charcoal, I use a chimney starter to light the charcoal and this is by far the best way to start your BBQ. With the smoker lit and it only being 9 am it was a bit early for the usual tipple when cooking in the garden so it was time for coffee and tunes while enjoying the sun.
Once lit the ProQ can generally left to its own devices during the cook I only topped up the charcoal twice to keep up the cooking heat. Once the beef reaches its internal temperature I remove it from the smoker and wrap in foil with a rich beef stock to keep moistness. The rest period is at least two hours this allows all the juices and fats to settle in the joint before being pulled.
Pulled beef brisket
As the picture shows this is rich, unctuous and full of rich beef flavour. I have cooked this joint many times but this was without doubt the best I have done. The comments and feedback from all the guests was amazing, it was the first of all the food to be eaten with people not happy they could not have seconds. The vegetarian mixed bean chilli was a big hit as well with both vegetarians and meat-eater alike.
I was so pleased that it proved a success with everyone from Bride and Groom and all the guests that actually managed to get some, after all it was mainly done for those that did not eat hog roast for what ever reason as that was the days main act but when the best part of 30lb of meat and 15 litres of mixed bean chilli is the talk of the banquet that makes me a happy man.
Next on the agenda is my Charity BBQ that I am holding in my garden, doing more of the beef, pulled pork the bean chilli by request which shall be cooked over an open wood fire, the wood oven will also be in action that night doing my sourdough pizzas, outdoor cooking is not just for summer 🙂
Having a large amount of the shin of beef left from yesterdays Sunday dinner there was an easy decision made for me I adore chilli and chillies in general, it is said that they have an addictive property, chillies are addictive. peppers contain capsaicin, a natural chemical that sends a burning sensation from the nerve endings in the mouth to the brain. the body defends itself against this pain sensation by secreting endorphins, natural painkillers that cause a physical “rush” – a high that keeps us coming back for more. so indulge your pepper cravings, and rest assured that you will soon build a tolerance.
I love to use left over beef in chilli, I also use cuts like shin when I do a slow cooked chilli along with the minced beef. The difference in textures just adds that something extra.
Place the dried chillies in hot water to re constitute. finely chop the onions, in a heavy based pan heat the oil and add the onions, saute until soft but not coloured. Chop the chillies including the ones that have been soaking(retain the juice), add to the softened onions. Remove the onions and chillies and place to one side in the same pan brown off the minced beef then remove to one side, if using stewing beef add this to the pan and brown off add the retained mince, onions and chillies.
Add the tin of tomatoes and the smoked hot paprika and stir together, add enough stock to cover, transfer to a casserole and place in the oven at 140c and cook for 3-4 hrs check the level of sauce during cooking though at these low temperatures the sauce should only reduce and thicken slightly.
As I am doing whole 30 and not eating wheat, rice etc this was served with cauliflower rice which is so simple to make and so versatile.
Take 1 cauliflower cut into florets and blitz lightly in a food processor not to fine or you will get a puree you want it to look like grains of rice.
Heat a heavy frying pan and add a glug of olive oil, you can season the oil with garlic or spices and herbs, add the blitzed cauliflower and fry off for 3 minutes it will still have a bite to it and takes on flavours really well, also makes great egg fried “rice”
On the way to collect my little girl from school yesterday I decided to pop into the local farm shop as it is only 2 minutes from the school and I was early for her, I buy my bacon from the shop and generally 99% of my beef, they breed Devon Reds which produce fantastic beef. I had intended on getting some bacon and a few steaks for tea. As soon as i looked in the first display cabinet I saw a whole shin of beef reduced from almost £19 down to £9, as often is the case there was nobody in the shop so I went around to the cabinet and picked out the shin of beef a couple of packs of bacon and some sirloin steaks. The grand total for 4 large sirloin steaks, 2 packs of bacon with 8 rashers in each and these are not skinny shrink in the pan rashers, plus the shin of beef was just over £30, you could easily pay that just for the steaks in a supermarket not that you would get the quality of meat in many supermarkets.
Shin of Beef
I never mess around with good steaks and simply season with salt as I find if you add pepper before frying it burns in the heat of the smoking hot skillet.
The shin is a cut of meat that is often forgot and requires slow cooking, to me the easiest form of cooking as you can put it on and carry on with your day, this joint will get about 8 hours cooking in its marinade. This can either be cooked stove top on a heat that just lets the liquid create bubbles that just break the surface, in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hrs or in a crock pot in the oven at 130c for 8-10 hours. The marinade is a bottle of red wine, black and white peppercorns, cinnamon stick and star anise, when it comes to cooking time i will add salt and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, this gives the final sauce something extra. Once the meat is cooked and resting the liquid it has been cooking in along with juices from the meat will be reduced to make a sauce, serve with seasonal roasted root vegetables.
When i post pictures to Facebook or twitter friends often say how the hell is what you are eating a diet, first I tell them it is not a diet. Diets do not and never will work they are in general short-term with short results, how many know people who have been on weightwatcher’s etc for years on end or go back every year, the methods the diets use are simply not sustainable. Our Grandmothers never followed fad diets, then again they were not bombarded by food advertising and huge supermarkets with aisle upon aisle of packaged, tinned and processed food’s, if you walk around the perimeter of your local supermarket you will generally find the vegetable aisle, the butchery department, the fish monger this is due to it being easier to get the power to these areas and to chill and keep “natural” foods. As you delve deeper into the store you get to all the processed foods, the foods created in factories and laboratories. Growing up I remember my mother cooking fresh food every day, making a trip to the local shops to buy produce, the same at my grandparents with the addition that my uncle grew veg year round in the garden so that was merely a walk into the garden and collecting that days veg.
Our generation has been told by various “health” and government agencies what is and what’s not healthy. Our hunter gatherer ancestors were not told what was and what was not healthy, they ate what they hunted, picked and foraged, this is the simplest way to explain it if you can not pick it, kill it or gather it then it is not a whole food, anything that has changed from its original appearance to be packaged into a box, a packet or a tin is not how nature intended us to eat it. This sadly now includes the way meat is “grown” the methods being used by the multinationals to grow our animals for meat is nothing short of Frankenstein methods, how many knew that the largest buyer of antibiotics from the major pharmaceutical corporations were the farming industry, the US figure is over 80% of all antibiotics produced go to agriculture then we wonder why the prevalence of superbugs and strains immune to antibiotics is on the increase, when our food is fed on mass with them to promote growth, to limit fat production and to retain fluid within the growing animal along with hiding all the nasty illness that prevails in these huge animal factories I will not call them farms as they are far from being a farm in any sense of the word. For more on the “factory farming” I can not recommend Pig Business video on this highly enough.
There are far better resources online than my brief explanation of what paleo is. The people I have learnt from include Robb Wolf , Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson’s there are many more online and as with everything else google is your friend.