Spaghetti Bolognese is my go to comfort food. It never fails to cheer me up or warm me up when needed, and even the act of making it is oddly comforting, go figure! But sometimes you just can’t be bothered… Sometimes you just want the comfort without the effort. Which is where this awesome new recipe find from Delicious Magazine comes in to play! Normally I’ll tinker with a recipe, but this is one instance where the recipe was perfect straight out of the box (so to speak!).
The veal makes this feel like a really indulgent supper, and I love how the sauce is rich but light thanks to missing out the ubiquitous can of tomatoes that goes into most ragu sauces. The splash of red wine vinegar at the end helps cut through some of that richness, and adds a wonderful counter flavour to the otherwise sweet ragu.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love recipes that taste like they were hard work but are actually anything but. This recipe is a perfect example of that, super easy to throw together but tastes like something that required an awful lot more time in the kitchen then it actually did. And the long slow cooking makes it the perfect Sunday night supper 🙂
ps – if you don’t like veal then mince beef would work just as well, and appreciate the slow cooking just as much.
Veal Mince Ragu with Tagliatelle
A poshed up version of that old British favourite, spag bol!
- 50g butter
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 300g British rose veal mince
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 150ml white wine
- 250ml beef stock
- 100ml milk
- Splash of red wine vinegar
- 400g cooked fresh tagliatelle
- Start with a large saucepan or wok over a medium heat and melt your butter before adding all of the chopped veg. Gently fry until the onions are going transluscent, then remove to a plate.
- In the same pan, add the veal mince and give it a good season. Turn the heat up until the meat is browned off.
- Add the tomato puree and stir through the meat, and then cook for a couple of minutes before adding the veg back into the pan and giving everything a good stir.
- Next, add the white wine and, still on a high heat, bubble for 2 minutes before adding the beef stock and milk.
- Once it’s all bubbling again, turn the heat down until your ragu is simmering and then cover. Leave it to simmer away 1½-2 hours, giving it a stir every now and then and tasting to check the seasoning.
- Take the lid off for the last half hour of cooking. If it's too dry add more stock.
- Just before you’re serve, stir through a splash of red wine vinegar, then toss through the tagliatelle and plate up with generous shavings of parmesan.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
I have created a curry monster…! When Hubby first arrived on these shores with his American palate, his spice tolerance was firmly skewed towards all things Mexican. His first curry confused his tastebuds what with being all spicy but in a way he wasn’t used to, but he soon overcame that and now gets a little grumpy if he goes more than a week without a curry. Which probably explains why I feel like I’ve made a curry every weekend for the last wee while, because the curry monster has been a bit demandy-pants!
So I’ve been trying out some new recipes, with Hubby as guinea pig, and two are proving to be quite good. There’s a chicken pathia that I’m still working on that is almost there (but not quite!) and then there’s this lamb and spinach one, a particularly great find from the peeps at Olive Magazine. And since it’s National Curry Week, it seemed like a good time to blog it!
My favourite curries always seem to be lamb ones, that slight gaminess that lamb has just seems to partner perfectly with lovely aromatic Indian spices. Lamb is even better when you slow cook it for hours, which is the biggest adaptation I made to this recipe, extending the cooking time from an hour to two and a half. The result is a sweet melt-in-the-mouth lamb that almost falls apart when you stick a fork in it. And the spinach wilts perfectly into the spicy sauce to add a lovely layer of flavour as well as a bit of texture to the dish.
Another thing to highly recommend this recipe is how easy it is to make, with the help of a food processor to save you time chopping the onions, garlic and ginger. There’s also no need to skin or deseed the tomatoes (which always takes ages!) as they melt down into a lovely sauce. And if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes to hand (or can’t be arsed dealing with them!) a can of chopped tomatoes will do the job just as well. Honestly, all the hard work is done by the slow cooking, leaving you free to put your feet up and enjoy the lovely aromas coming from the pot or, as in Hubby’s case, be driven mad with hunger by them for the better part of a weekend afternoon! But don’t take my word for it’s deliciousness, take Hubby’s, who has demanded this curry two weekends in a row and declared it his (new!) favourite 🙂
Lamb & Spinach Curry
A slow cooked melt-in-the-mouth lamb curry to celebrate National Curry Week.
- thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 600g lamb neck fillet, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 4 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can chopped tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 100g spinach, chopped
- 1 lamb stock cube
- pinch sugar
- Ghee (optional)
- Throw the ginger, garlic and onions in a food processor and pulse blitz everything until it's somewhere between a liquid and a paste.
- Heat about 1 tbsp oil (or ghee) in a stewpot then brown the lamb in two or three batches (if you crowd the pan the lamb will end up stewing and not browning). Remove all the lamb and set aside.
- Add the blitzed onion mix to the empty stewpot, sliced green chillies and 1/2 tsp salt (with a little more oil if you need to) and cook for 5 minutes.
- Next, add the spices to the pot and stir well until the spices are mixed throughout the onions, and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Stir in the tomato puree and give that a minute or two to cook in before adding the lamb back to the onion and spice mix. Stir well and let it cook for a minute or two.
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can with cold water (equivalent of 2 cups) and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for at least 2 and a half hours - lamb neck fillet loves slow cooking!
- About an hour into cooking, add a lamb stock cube and stir until it's melted into the sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning and add more cayenne if required. If the sauce is looking a bit thin, continue to simmer without a lid to help it thicken up.
- Add the spinach for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
- Serve with rice and naan bread.
Adapted from Olive Magazine
I’ve had this Nigel Slater recipe, courtesy of a blog called Simply Delicious, pinned On Pinterest for almost as long as I’ve had boards there. There’s just something about the blogger’s mouthwatering photo of the dish that made me long to a) make this, and b) in a lovely shallow Le Creuset. As I didn’t have a lovely shallow Le Creuset the recipe went unmade, but I’d look longingly at it on Pinterest every now and then, and then go and check the price of my object of desire in the vain hope there was a sale on. Patience finally paid off on Christmas day when Hubby managed to find one online for almost half price, so we splurged for it (it still wasn’t cheap!) and my beautiful new piece of cookware finally arrived this week. And I knew exactly how to christen it…
I love creamy white wine sauces. Once the alcohol burns off it leaves behind an awesome sweet note that just tastes of indulgence. And if there are mushrooms they always manage to soak that indulgence right up so that you get randomly intense hits of it whenever you bite into one. The chicken itself was perfectly tender and moist, which was a relief as we’d used chicken breasts rather than the acknowledged (and rightly so) more flavoursome thighs or legs.
Which reminds me!
Along with my lovely le crueset, I also got a fantastic Christmas present from an even more fantastic friend of a subscription to Cooks Illustrated – an American foodie mag – that had an article in it recommending that you start chicken and duck breasts skin side down in a cold skillet if you want properly crispy skin. It’s a French technique apparently, and gives the skin time to render its fat before the meat overcooks. I suspect I got impatient and turned my chicken too quickly, but even still the skin was definitely less soggy and sad than some of my previous attempts to brown it.
I’ve adapted the recipe to feed two to four by halving the ingredients in the original, so if you’re looking to make this for a larger group then it should happily scale up. And you don’t need a posh pan to cook it, a large frying pan should do just as well – I think a deeper sided pot like a stockpot, however, might now allow the alcohol to burn off as easily but that might just be me making stuff up (!)
We had this on rice which was absolutely perfect for soaking up all that delicious jup (an awesome Chinese word for sauce), not that my Chinese half is being biased or anything. And whilst January is supposed to be the month for under-indulging after the holidays, it’s miserable enough if you ask me without stinting on comfort food every once in a while.
Hubby had already requested this again before he’d finished his plate so it’s probably safe to assume this was a success! I’m giving at least half the credit for that to my lovely new Le Creuset 😉 If you fancy a look at Le Creuset’s beautiful casserole range, check their website out and prepare yourself for some serious cookware desire!
Coq au Riesling
Chicken and mushrooms in a lush white wine and cream sauce, comfort food in a French stylee.
- Stuff you'll need
- 25g butter
- splash of olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 4-5 rashes of streaky bacon, cut into strips
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 chicken breasts with skin on
- 150g portabellini (or brown/chestnut) mushrooms, sliced
- 250ml Riesling (or other dry white wine)
- 125ml double cream
- handful chopped fresh parsley
- salt & pepper to season
- Pop the butter and oil together in a large shallow pan or frying pan and while it's still cold place the chicken breasts skin side down. Turn the heat on and up to high and brown the chicken on both sides, then remove to a plate.
- Turn the heat down to medium and in the same pan add the onions and bacon. Fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is browning nicely. Add the sliced garlic and fry for another 30-60 seconds before removing it all from the pan, tilting to leave as much as of the cooking fat behind.
- Now add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 5 minutes or so, until they've shrunk and started to brown. Then add the onion, bacon and garlic back into the pan. Season and give everything a good stir before popping the browned chicken on top, skin side up.
- Add the wine and turn the heat up until it comes up to a boil. Give it a couple of minutes before turning the heat down so that the liquid is simmering. Cover and leave to bubble gently away for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, take the cover off and turn the heat up. Let it bubble madly for a couple of minutes and then taste. If it's still too boozy then let it bubble for another couple of minutes and taste again. Repeat until the alcohol has burned off (I probably needed 5 minutes or so) and season again if it needs it. Add the cream and cook for another 10 minutes, by which time the sauce should have thickened up a bit - if not, add a wee bit of cornflour mixed with cold water and stir through.
- Finally, scatter generously with parsley and dish up.
Following my last post’s unusual tarragon and lamb combo comes a much more traditional one of tarragon and chicken, courtesy of my work chum Laura who tipped me off to this delicious recipe while we were raving about our mutual love of tarragon and James Martin, whose recipe this is. As you might expect from the cuddly host of Saturday Kitchen this dish doesn’t stint on the cream, but it’s absolutely luscious as a result and after one mouthful Hubby was already demanding that I make it again!
The only change I’ve made to Mr Martin’s original recipe was to halve the amount of chicken used so that we could have all that lovely sauce over rice for two 🙂 Hubby and I are a pair of ‘jup’ monsters after all…
It’s possibly one of a handful of supper recipes that doesn’t use onion and/or garlic which I have to admit gave me a wee cause for concern, but the wine base and the tarragon are so full of flavour that I didn’t miss the otherwise ubiquitous bulbs a bit. The lack of the usual vegetable prep work also makes this a really quick and easy supper to rustle up which, given how damn tasty it is, only makes this recipe better still!
Getting the chicken skin crispy on the hob is essential, not quite duck skin crispy but make sure it’s browning up nicely before it goes in the oven. The honey will do the rest of the work, not to mention adding a lovely sweet note to the dish without overpowering it.
Thanks again Laura, this one’s definitely a keeper 🙂
Chicken with a Tarragon Cream Sauce
Chicken in a too-easy-to-be-so-tasty tarragon cream sauce.
- 2 chicken breasts, skin on
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 75ml/2.5fl oz medium dry white wine
- 150ml/5fl oz chicken stock
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- 150ml/5fl oz double cream
- 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
- Get the oven on and preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
- Place a roasting tin or shallow casserole over a high heat and brown the chicken breasts in a little oil, making sure the skin side starts to crisp. Season, turn skin side up, and pour over the honey.
- Pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, and then remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil before popping back into the now turned off oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
- Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin (or shallow casserole) before placing on a high heat again. Add the wine, scraping the pan to make you sure you get all the lovely juices from the chicken, and bring to the boil. Reduce until the alcohol has all burned off and there’s only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left in the pan.
- Add the stock and two sprigs of tarragon and bring to the boil again, until the stock has reduced by a third. Next, stir in the cream and bring to the boil again, allowing it to reduce a little before removing the sprigs of tarragon.
- Finally, add the freshly chopped tarragon to the sauce and check the seasoning, adjusting if required, and then serve over the chicken.
I’m not entirely convinced that this recipe is in any way authentically creole, but it is authentically delicious and isn’t that what really matters 😉 It’s also another one of my mum’s recipes that I’ve been cooking since Uni (at least) but I’d always made it with chicken… Until now! Mum made us her fish version last month and the whole family were completely converted, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever make it with chicken again – tasty as that was, with fish it’s even tastier 🙂
This is a properly comforting dish and is perfect for chasing this last lingering bite of winter away. The warmth of the paprika and chilli just goes so well with the garlicky tomatoey stew, and its heartiness is a perfect contrast to the delicate flakey buttery cod.
Speaking of butter… This is a dish that loves butter, and lots of it. I’ve tried subbing corn oil in an attempt to make it healthier but ended up with a pale shadow of the real thing, so much so that I’d rather not have it if I can’t go all out on the butter in a James Martin stylee (!) My compromise, then is to just not make this too often 😉
If you do want to make it with chicken instead then use thighs not breast (so much more flavour!), keep the pieces pretty big and sautee off to seal and brown before cooking in the stew for 30 minutes.
PS – how cute are my little fishy bowls! They’re actually measuring cups but serving fish in them was too good an opportunity to miss!!
Cod in a rich, spicy, garlicky tomato stew, comfort food Creole style.
- 400g cod fillets (or other firm, white fish)
- 1 white onion, sliced (chunky rather than fine)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green pepper, cue into vaguely triangular shapes
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp paprika (not smokey!)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 chicken stock cube or pot
- pinch of sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- white flour
- salt and pepper
- Put a wok, or large saucepan, over a medium-high heat and melt a generous tablespoon of butter until it’s starting to bubble and saute off your onions for a couple of minutes until the edges are starting to brown. Add the green peppers until the skin has blistered a wee bit and then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic burn.
- Add the tomatoes, spices, chicken stock cube and a generous pinch of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can about a quarter full with water and give it a good swirl to pick up any last bits of tomato, and add.
- Now, the measurements I’ve given for the spice is probably a little cautious. That and I’ve long since stopped using actual measures of spice for this dish so don’t actually know what the measures are! Taste and add more parpika and/or chilli to suit.
- Leave the tomtoey stew to simmer away for 30 minutes.
- When the time’s up, pat the cod fillets on kitchen roll until they’re as dry as you can get them – this stops them from tasting fishy (apparently!) Cut the cod into generous sized chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches which should hold them together while cooking. Shake some flour onto a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll your fish chunks in the flour to just coat them, and then lift out with a shake to get rid of any excess flour.
- In a frying pan, melt another generous tablespoon of butter and as soon as it starts to bubble lay your fish chunks gently in the pan. Give them 2-3 minutes and then gently turn over. The flour should colour up nicely so that you’ve got some lovely brown bits on the fish. Give the other side 2-3 minutes as well and then move the pieces of fish from the frying pan into the tomatoey stew. Add the lemon juice and then give everything a gentle stir before leaving to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add a final tablespoon of butter to give the sauce a lovely glossy sheen, stirring until it melts.
- Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice, and try not to think of all that butter… 😉