I think I’m due a badge: I’m the last person in the UK to never have eaten at Nando’s. If I walk past a branch around dinner or lunch there’s always a queue around the block. I’m not sure why. It seemed to creep into the public consciousness out of nowhere. I’m sure it’s wonderful, but I’ve just never felt the compulsion to try it.
Therefore I was nonplussed when a bottle of Nando’s Smokey BBQ sauce dropped through my letterbox. But I was intrigued. It was a little tangy, a little sweet, a little spicy… so it ended up in this hash, which owes a small debt to Jools’ Pregnant Pasta.
Smokey BBQ beef hash (serves 2):
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 celery stick, chopped
1 rasher bacon, diced
400g beef mince
4 tablespoons Nando’s Smokey BBQ Portuguese Peri-Peri marinade
200ml beef stock
- Get a large pan on very hot. Add a splash of oil and add the carrot, celery and bacon.
- After a couple of minutes stir-frying the bacon should be starting to colour. Add the mince and a grind of seasoning. Continue to stir-fry for another 8 – 10 minutes.
- Add the BBQ sauce and stock. You want it quite soupy for serving with potato. Stir to combine well and check for seasoning. Serve with a jacket potato and creme fraiche.
Here’s a dish perfect for this time of year, but still doesn’t feel like stodge-o-rama thanks to the amount of veg involved. The star ingredient is the sausage, a meaty banger from Simply Sausages. I used their No.1 Recipe Smithfield Original, a relatively unadorned sausage which gives the pork plenty of space for flavour. Mrs. Spud and I thought it was quite simply the best sausage we’ve ever eaten.
The technique is inspired by a similar recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. Essentially process a whole bunch of root veg and fry with bacon and tomatoes as a sauce base! It’s a recipe with lots of room to maneuver, by just swapping the veg in and out you get a different taste each time. And even if you take it easy it should be 20 mins work, tops.
Thanks to Amanda from ZPR for the sausages!
Simply sausage ragu (serves 4):
6 No.1 Recipe Simply Sausages
2 rashers of bacon
2 carrots, trimmed and peeled
1 stick of celery, trimmed
Bunch of sage
1 red onion, peeled
½ butternut squash
2 cloves garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
1 Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot
Good-quality balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the grill on medium, get a large pan of salted water on to boil and put a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Get your food processor ready too.
- Pop the sausages under the grill and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, turning regularly.
- In the food processor whizz up the bacon and add to the pan. While that fries add the carrots, celery, sage and onion to the food processor, whizz that up and add that to the pan. Finally blitz the squash and add that to the same pan. Add some salt and pepper. Toss the veg regularly.
- While that cooks in the pan, add the pasta to the water and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Crush the garlic into the veg pan, and after a minute or so more’s cooking, add the tin of tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water and add to the pan along with the stock pot. Stir well. If it’s looking a little dry add some of the pasta cooking water to loosen it.
- When the sausages are cooked cut into slices, drain the pasta and toss both through the veg. Check for seasoning and serve, dressing with balsamic vinegar.
I love pork joints a lot, but I’m in danger of doing the same thing over and over again: bung it in the oven and roast. Nothing wrong with that, but surely there’s more out there?
Lucky for me The Ginger Pig Meat Book plopped through my letterbox, packed with great ideas grounded in everyday cookery. The Ginger Pig Butcher’s isn’t somewhere I was familiar with before this book, but after reading their story I was smitten. Almost the first third is taken over to their philosophy, their approach to rearing and the disasters and triumphs along the way.
It’s also got some my favourite things – those side-on diagrams of livestock, with all the cuts and joints labelled for butchery. I love these illustrations, giving me a wry smile at the fascinating variety from each animal. Have you heard of pig’s slipper, or jew’s fillet on a cow? I know I hadn’t.
I had a pork shoulder joint in the freezer needing a bit of love, so the recipe here for aromatic melting pork jumped out at me. It’s simplicity bowled me over, as did the use of milk rather than stock for the braising liquor. After hours of cooking it falls to pieces, with chunks of moist, succulent veg round and about. It’s an old-fashioned belter, I heartily recommend the dish – and the book!
Thanks to Octopus Books for the book.
Aromatic melting pork (serves 4):
1 pint milk
1kg boned and rolled pork shoulder
4 onions, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and halved
4 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed
3 celery sticks, halved
2 sprigs marjoram
2 sprigs thyme
2 strips lemon peel
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a large casserole heat the milk until it’s just about to boil, then chuck everything in the pan. Make a cartouche out of greaseproof paper, then fit the casserole with a tight-fitting lid an pop in the oven.
- After an hour turn the heat down to 150°C. Cook for another 1½ – 2 hours until the pork can be carved with a spoon. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing up and serving with the veg, spooning over the juices.
I got in from work the other day and Mrs. RP beseeched me with a desperate look in her eyes: “make this. MAKE THIS NOW!”
She was gesturing at the TV; Jamie Oliver had just made ‘super-fast beef hash, jacket potatoes, goddess salad, lovely butter beans & bacon’ on 30 Minute Meals. I admit it looked the business. 1 PVR and a flick through the book later, and I was ready. Not quite so manic as previous 30 minute recipes, this one also isn’t too harsh on the washing up. How long did it take? 31 minutes. I’ll take that – I had to stop briefly and try and calm my daughter down, distraught at the distinct lack of Mr. Tumble on the TV. I’m certain I could get it under 25 minutes next time having been through the motions once.
It’s real comfort food; nice big carbs and large flavours. The Worcestershire sauce is particularly satisfying, packing lots of gutsy savouriness. I also felt really nourished eating it – I think it was the amount of carrots and celery in the mince mix.
Jamie’s original recipe can be seen on his site here. I made a couple of minor substitutions based on what I had to hand.
Jamie’s 30 minute beef hash (plenty enough for 4):
4 baking potatoes
500g beef mince
4 rashers of smoky bacon, chopped
2 sprigs of thyme
Few sprigs of rosemary
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 red onion
3 sticks of celery
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tin butter beans, drained
1 tin tomatoes
1 handful lamb’s lettuce
¼ iceberg lettuce, shredded
300ml sour cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Bunch of parsley, chopped
- Get the grill on screaming hot and stick a baking tray under it to get nuclear. Stab the potatoes all over, pop in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Microwave for 14 minutes.
- Get a pan on to quite a high heat, chuck in the mince along with a dash of olive oil and seasoning. Fry and stir, browning all over. Meanwhile get some bacon frying gently in another pan.
- When the mince has browned, coat with the Worcestershire sauce and add the garlic, thyme and half the rosemary. Whack the onion, celery and carrot into a food processor and get them sliced up, then add those to the beef too.
- When the bacon is golden add the beans and tomatoes to that pan and simmer away.
- The potatoes are probably done now; prod with a knife to check they’re soft in the middle. If they are, slather with olive oil, the rest of the rosemary and some salt and pepper. Toss to coat then pop under the grill to crisp up.
- Turn to the salad now: whizz up half the avocado with half the sour cream, lemon juice and a little seasoning to make a lurid green dressing. Chop up the other half of the avocado and mix with the lettuces.
- The beef should be done by now, all crispy and craggy. Add most of the parsley and check for seasoning. Check the beans for seasoning – dash of vinegar perhaps? Rescue the potatoes, cut them open and dollop over the rest of the sour cream and parsley. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve the lot to hungry, lucky people.