I was extremely pleased with this. I knew a cold evening was coming up and that we had guests round, so I wanted something big, hearty and packed with warming flavours. I knew I had to look to tomatoey-based stews to heat the cockles. I also really wanted something paprika-y. Here’s what I came up with.
I griddled some thickly-sliced chorizo first, to get those attractive black bar-marks, as well as to get an interesting charred flavour on them. Then in a big-ass Creuset pan I fried a red and white onion, and a fair whack of garlic. Then some diced pork chop went in, and when browned some lovely sweet paprika. It never fails to amaze me how it’s flavour permeates the whole dish and resonates for such a long time. Then a tin of tomatoes, and my chorizo chums join the party. To this I add a jar of drained peppers and leave to simmer for about two hours. I served it with sour cream and homebaked bread for a true winter warmer.
Pork belly, how I love thee so. Economical, tasty, and so absorbent for flavour. In this case it’s salt and fennel, roasted with onions and celery until juicy and crisp. Served with roast potatoes and broccoli it’s meal for a king.
Chilli (chilli con carne) is a sentimental dish for me; it’s the first thing I properly made. Now it’s Liam’s favourite, so it’s often on the menu. I also love the ways you can serve it: flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or with plain rice. In this case we served it with tacos and fried onions & peppers.
It’s very simple, and a great dish for learning a lot of fundamentals that you can then transplant into other dishes. It’s also adaptable, you can turn it into bolognese, shepherd’s pie and a dozen other meals with a twist on the herbs and spices.
This one is made by frying an onion with garlic, then browning mince. At this point I’ve two directions to go in, if I’m rushed for time and can’t let the dish bubble for a couple of hours I add an Oxo cube for seasoning. Then I add a tin of tomatoes, then powdered chilli and cumin. After half an hour of simmering it needs seasoning and then we’re good to go. Personally I don’t like it too spicy, more savoury, so often a splash of soy ends up in there for depth of flavour.
Another thing I like about this is the sharing aspect. You’re all sat round a table, grabbing a taco shell, spooning in some chilli, dollop of creme fraiche, sprinkle of cheese, hands bumping over the food… great communal stuff. I love it.
Using the chicken in white sauce from Sunday makes this dead easy. Get some pasta on the boil along with some broc, meanwhile heating up some frozen chicken sauce and adding a little cream to loosen it up. When all is ready tumble into the same dish and bake. DONE.
I’ve never been quite sure what’s kingly about peppers, but it’s tasty so that’ll do me. Yet again using the ever-bounteous frozen chicken, I warm this up with some ham from the deli. Then I add a drained jar of peppers in oil and end up with a very yummy dish that makes me grin all over.
The title’s ironic, OK? I posted on Facebook that I was “looking for an interesting gnocchi recipe”, and that a couple of days later I had “found an interesting gnocchi recipe”. Three separate people asked me about – it’s easy to forget the reach that Facebook has.
Anywho, it’s dead easy. First I fry some spinach with a little sliced garlic until all straggly, then season and add nutmeg before removing to one side to cool. Once it’s cooled I squeeze the juice out and chop finely. Meanwhile I’ve some gnocchi on the boil (note: I made gnocchi myself once – it so wasn’t worth the effort, nor the washing up). Then I fry some pancetta in the same pan, and once crispy I throw the boiled gnocchi in the pan to absorb some hammy flavours. Then the spinach is back in to warm through, finally some creme fraiche, s&0, a touch of parmesan (I added too much the first time) and it’s done. Creamy and extremely filling.
Not my finest photography ever. Thankfully it ate a lot better than it snapped.
I fried some pancetta, and added Sunday’s frozen chicken. Then some peas in there. Sticking it in an individual pot and topping with frozen puff pastry was the hardest part. Sometimes I just get a craving for a pie, with a crispy brown top, that slightly soggy undercarriage, followed by a warm and gooey filling. This satisfies those cravings and then some.
An exercise in time-economy this one: make a meal base good for three dinners on a lazy Sunday, reap the rewards x3 during the pressured week.
I diced 6 chicken breasts and fried in batches till coloured and then left to one side. Meanwhile I fried an onion and deglazed with white wine. Once done I started getting my roux on; butter and flour coming together to make a paste, before adding chicken stock to make an unctuous gloop of savouriness. Then a little cream to thin it out, and we’re done.
It doesn’t sound like much written like that, but the process takes the best part of an hour. Now three potential meals are within arms reach. I divide this mixture into three and freeze once cooled in freezer bags, one of my favourite ever inventions.
Not mucking about now – this is proper winter food.
It’s very simple and fills like few other dishes. I use lamb neck fillet, which I’ve espoused the glory of before. It’s diced and layered here with onion rings, sliced potatoes (sod peeling), and diced carrot. Each layer is seasoned and dashed with chopped rosemary. Finally lamb stock is poured over and allowed to mingle between the bits. Then I leave it in the oven for about three hours, so everything gets a chance to soften and develop.
It comes out of the oven as pure wholesome warming comfort food. As a total flavour contrast I pair it with pickled cabbage out of jar, which gives you a real mouth-puckering tang against the savoury meatiness.
I bloody love filo pastry. Crispy, buttery and melt-in-the-mouth, can’t get enough of it. I’ve pressed it into service here (ready-rolled stuff -blow making it from scratch!) atop an unctuous savoury pie.
The filling is dead easy. Turkey is fried to browning, then a few chopped broccoli florets are added. After a few minutes a can of Baxter’s Ham, Broccoli & Stilton soup is added, and once warm put into a dish and topped with pastry. Lovely.