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Friday 25 January 2013

Recipe: Oxtail & Sweet Potato Mash w/ Red Cabbage & Beetroot in a Port Reduction

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Oxtail w/ Bread and Butter Crisps, Sweet Potato Mash & Port Jus

When the weather is starting to get cold as well as raining all the time, it's nice to have something warming to feed you guests. Using a few ingredients that are in season, this recipe gives you a dinner packed with flavour! Oxtail is one of those inexpensive cuts that a lot people don't register at all in the supermarket - probably because it's already cut up into segments and tied into a sort of circular arrangement that doesn't look much like a tail! But, when slowly cooked for about two and half hours, it becomes sticky and soft and falls off the bone - it's simply gorgeous! And, if you don't fancy sweet potato mash, this will go equally well with roast potatoes!
If you've never tried oxtail then give this a go . . .  see variations for super quick version.

Can't beat a glass of wine whilst making Sunday Lunch - best way to relax ever . .  humming away in the kitchen to the radio! Aaaaah

ingredients (serves 4-6)
for the oxtail & prune purée

2.5kg oxtail
750g (10) med onions (peeled & cut into 6ths)
100ml extra virgin olive oil
20g thyme (bouquet garni)
8 cloves garlic (cut into 1/4's lengthways)
750ml red wine
75g ~20 prunes (stoned)
3L chicken stock
plain flour for dusting
cinnamon powder
10 dates (stoned and chopped)

for the mushrooms
280g mixed mushrooms (shitake, shimeji, enoki, oyster, for example)
40g butter

for the sweet potato mash

Browning before braising (Maillard reaction)
1kg sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
300ml double cream (reduced by half)
50g butter (cut into 1cm cubes)
1 limes (juiced)
1L chicken stock (enough to cover the potatoes by 1cm)

for the red cabbage & beetroot
600g red cabbage (sliced)
2 beetroots (peeled, then 1 cm cubes)
300ml water
600ml tawny port
50g salted butter (small cubes)

for the bread and butter crisps
a bit of old French stick (cut into 2mm slices)
butter (melted)

for the garnish

5g chives (finely chopped)
baby chard leaves

special equipment
rubber gloves for beetroot
stick blender

oxtail & prune purée
Trim all the excess fat off the larger pieces of oxtail.
Season and coat the oxtail in flour and fry off in a pan until golden brown, then add to the boiling pot.
Oxtail usually comes held together with a piece of butcher's string.
You can use this to make a bouquet garni with the thyme: take the thyme, fold it in half, tie it with the string and add it to the pot.

Bouquet garni made with string from oxtail!!

Add the onions, prunes, red wine, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and pour in enough chicken stock to cover the meat by 1cm.

Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer, leaving the lid off.
Top up with chicken stock occasionally to keep the water level above the meat.

After 90mins remove the prunes with a slotted spoon and 2/3 of the onions. Place them along with the dates in a small pot, add a pinch of cinnamon and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Keep on a low heat, allow to thicken to a purée.

The oxtail should be ready after about 2.5 hours. When it is, remove it with a slotted spoon into a tray and keep warm.
Pass the stock through a sieve and return it to the pot, reduce until it is a thick sauce.

Melt the butter and sauté the mixed mushrooms together until golden brown. Season with a touch of salt.

Boil the sweet potatoes until they are fully cooked but not falling apart. They're done when the tip of a knife enters with little resistance.
Drain them in a colander. (Reserve the liquid for the base of a soup) Let the potatoes cool a little. While they do, prepare the cream:

Add the cream to the pot and bring to the boil; lower the heat a little and continue to boil until the cream has reduced by half. As soon as it has, add the butter.
Once the butter has melted, add the potatoes and the lime juice over the top.
Season and mash the potatoes until smooth. Set aside until required.

Removing the alcohol.

red cabbage & beetroot in port reduction
Add the cabbage and the water to a pot with a lid and bring to the boil.
After 3 mins add the beetroot cubes and replace the lid.
After 2 mins more remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate until there is almost none left.
In a separate small pot (without a lid) bring the port to the boil and reduce by 3/4 to 150ml. 

Cabbage braise & cover in a reduced port jus!!

I find easiest way to know how reduced it with scales, then oncereduced to a third by viscosity with a spoon. (don't be a dumb ass and use plastic scales - use metal heatproof ones) >>>

Bread Crisps or Bread Tuiles - whatever you want to call them they're tastey!

bread and butter crisps
Take some old French stick cut into thin (2mm) slices and brush with melted butter. Bake in the oven at 180C for 4-8min, the time will depend on whether your oven is fan assisted or not. Remove when golden and crisp.

what could go wrong? (TIPS)
My reduction burnt! TIP: Watch anything you are reducing like a hawk: to begin with, it will seem like it will never reduce, but the more it reduces, the faster it goes, and it will evaporate completely and burn if you don't keep an eye on it in the final stages!

I burnt my kitchen down! TIP: When reducing alcoholic liquids, be careful. Always keep the lid at hand so that if they catch fire, you can simply put the lid on to put it out. (or let it burn off carefully!) DO NOT blow on it to try and put it out, you will engulf your head in flames! Use a lid to extinguish the flame: Bring the lid in horizontally from the side and cover the pot.

My mash is watery : ( TIP: Don't over cook your spuds / sweet potatoes - if they start to fall apart they are no use for mash. Make sure they are properly drained, leaving them until no more steam is coming off them.

My mash has come out like glue! TIP: Never use a stick blender or food processor to make mash since it creates a starchy gloop, resembling wall paper paste!! Use a masher or a potato ricer.

to serve
Add the butter to the hot port reduction, mix in and pour this into the cabbage and beetroot, reserving a little to dress the plate.
Plate the oxtails and cabbage in layers and pipe (or spoon) on the mash, surround with mushrooms and onions.
Season the mash with a little black pepper and garnish with a bread and butter crisp.
Add a little of the prune puree, pour the sticky oxtail sauce over the oxtail and dress the surrounds with the remainder of the port.
Serve immediately.

For a low hassle, great comfort food winter dinner: Don't remove anything from the oxtail except the bouquet garni, dish up the oxtail with the onion and prune sauce, serve with the cabbage and roast potatoes! Result: A no-nonsense great tasting dinner!

Pick the meat and use it and the sauce to make: Prune and Oxtail Pie

Oxtail is also a great component for a Pho Soup

Alternative presentaion - Choux buns are filled with sweet potato mash - Surprise!!

The finished product! Honestly! Oxtail, roasties and peas is much easier but it was fun to make!
thinking ahead
The mash can be made in the morning and stored in the fridge in a plastic container so it can be microwaved just before serving! The oxtail, cabbage and the port reduction can be left in the pot and reheated. Add the butter to the port sauce last minute so it doesn't split. and the bread crisps will happily last a day in an airtight container!! So it's basically an assembly job for dinner!! Shall we go for a couple of pints and have it when we get back!!! ; )

Friday 18 January 2013

Experiment - Recipe: Beef Shortribs w/ Cinnamon and Orange (& beef dripping)

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab
I often see recipes that look or sound so enticing, with ingredients that I kinda sit there
and go . . .  yeah, right, so I'll be trying that out some time soon . . . . NOT! So when I do come across things that I've been meaning to get around to experimenting with, I'll more often buy them than not! What is life for if not for experimenting!!

A quick look around the ol' interweb thingy, scan through a few of me cookbooks and it's clear - unsurprisingly - that a slooow braise is in order. . .

ingredients (serves 2-4)
for the short ribs  - G2 / 150C / 4hrs
short rib cut (one piece cut into 4 ribs, coated in EVO and salt)
3 onions (cut into sixths)
2 peppers (coarse chop)
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 bulb garlic (crushed)
10g thyme
peel of 1/2 an orange
1 large chilli (rings, seeds and all)
a good slug of EVO

for the dripping
this is a by-product of browning the ribs

for the stock
2 beef stock cubes
1L water

apparatus / equipment
coarse sieve (frying basket)

To make a cartouche fold a piece of baking paper into a dart. The point of the dart is the centre of the final cartouche.
Cut the other end off in an arc. The centre to the arc is the diameter of you pot!! (Make it a touch larger than the pot)
This does of course assume your pot is round.

short ribs
Coat in oil, salt and brown - fat side first to render the fat.
Once browned nicely, remove to baking tray, and pour excess fat into a second pot (dripping)
Add the onions and garlic to the fat and brown off; then add to baking tray with the rest of the ingredients.
Deglaze the pan with the stock and add to the baking tray (half way up ribs)
Cover with a cartouche - (allows moisture escape, stops skin forming, stops meat drying out)
Roast in pre-heated oven.

Let any excess fat in the secondary pan solidify, store in a container.

G2 / 150C / 4hrs? Thought . . . maybe that'll turn out stringy, that was my first instinct.
Was pretty gooey and soft after 3hrs, which I think was enough, maybe try 4hrs next time!! . . . .  

 If I do it 4hrs think I'll drop the temp to 100C too!!

to serve
Plate each rib into a hot shallow bowl generously spooning over vegetables and jus!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Recipe: Morcilla Croquette w/ Poached Egg & Peas

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Sometimes simplicity is all that is required . . .  

ingredients (serves 4)
for the herb oil (you'll only need a fraction of this!)
500ml extra virgin olive oil
100 baby spinach
15g parsley
10g chives
5g salt

for the peas
150g peas
40g butter
250ml chicken stock

for the morcilla croquettes (8)
280g morcilla
50g panko bread crumbs
1 egg
plain flour for coating

for the poached eggs
4 eggs
herb oil (in a squirty bottle)
cling film
4 bag clips

for the garnish
coriander shoots (or cress)
herb oil

herb oil
Wash the spinach and herbs, and squeeze dry.
Heat the oil to 90C, with heat still on add the spinach, and the herbs, mix well for 1minute and turn off the heat.
Blend until smooth and store in a squeezy bottle. Hazaaaah!


Put all in the ingredients into a small pan.
Cook on a gentle heat until the stock and butter form an emulsion.
Season to balance the egg, don't forget the herb oil is also a seasoning!
Keep warm . . .

morcilla croquettes
Quenelle the morcilla into 30g quenelles, pane it.
Deep fry them at 160C / 3mins. (or shallow fry turning frequently to give an even golden coat)
Put aside and keep warm until ready to plate.

poached eggs

Pull some cling film, cut it. Make sure it's enough to envelop an egg.
Give it a quick squirt of herb oil. (for flavour and so the egg doesn't stick to the cling film!)
Pop it over a gap in the egg box oil side up - where you took the egg from, and crack an egg into it.
Seal it with a bag clip. (Cut off any excess cling film)
Boil for 4mins, then gently remove from pot.
Cut the clip off, and carefully unwrap the egg for plating!

so serve
Plate up peas first, croquette, egg, black pepper, and some coriander shoots (or cress), and a quick squirt of herb oil.

Pane: if you do it properly you'll end up with one wet hand (coated in egg) and one dry hand (with a little flour on it) - which is A LOT cleaner, and quick to wash and dry - rather that 2 hands that are all sticky and coated in a thick layer of bread crumbs!! It helps if you quenelle a batch onto a bed of flour first! ; )

quick tip!
Growing init! Coriander shoots are a very popular garnish, if you fancy kicking off a background task sprinkle some coriander seeds on a little, err what exactly did you do mum?
Compost that's it!!

Sprinkle them on compost earth. You have 2 options for sourcing the seeds, you could go to your local garden centre and pay £2.50 for 15 seeds or you can go to a half decent indian supermarket and buy a 1kg bag (don't buy roasted they're not viable!) of coriander seeds for £2.99 (gotta be 60,000 seeds - I didn't weigh them I swear!! £10/g = £10,000 / kg think the garden centre has it sown up, boom boom!!)

Thanks mum for the gardening, and the gardening tips! : )

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More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes
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