Category Archives: Festive Feasts

Cochinita Pibil – Yucatán-Style Barbecued Pork

To kick off the 24th UK National BBQ Week I fancied cooking something a little special ‘Low and Slow’ rather than a bog standard BBQ Pulled Pork or chancing my arm with a British Grass Fed Beef Brisket (They can often end up dry as they are bred quite lean for the UK market).

I had been watching a Covid-19 lockdown rerun of Rick Stein’s “The Road to Mexico” and in the final episode, where he heads east from Oaxaca to the Yucatan Peninsula, he had a Pibil taco ( the Piib is the Mayan method of cooking meat in a earth oven, a Piib, with hot stones covered with banana leaves for an extended period of time), so I decided it was time to try a Pibil but in my Nova Kamado Oven not digging a my garden up for an earth oven!

The Conchita Pibil is one of the mainstays of the Festival of Pibil, that takes place in a number of Central South America countries that formed the ancient Mayan civilisation, and normally uses the juice of the bitter Seville Oranges as the base along with Achiote.

The trick with this Pibil is to build up the flavour layers as you go, the result is spectacular and knocks the standard BBQ Pulled Pork into a “cocked hat……”

Ingredients

1.8kg boneless pork shoulder cut into 3cm thick slabs
3 Plum tomatoes, sliced
1 red or green pepper, sliced
1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
12 bay leaves
1 whole head garlic, separated into individual unpeeled cloves
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
40g of achiote (annatto) seeds
2 tablespoons of Mexican oregano (or normal Oregano if you can’t get Mexican)
3 whole cloves
1 large Ceylon cinnamon stick, or a medium piece of standard supermarket cinnamon
2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of whole cumin seed
1 tablespoon of whole Allspice berries (a teaspoon of ground Allspice can be used at a pinch)
180ml of bitter (Seville) orange juice, or 60ml each of lime, orange, and grapefruit juice
60ml) of white vinegar
15ml of dark soy sauce
Salt (I used some home oak smoked sea salt flakes, to add another layer smokiness to the marinade)

Optional:
6 to 8 banana leaves (see note)

Method

1. Break up the garlic bulb but don’t skin the cloves, and thread them all onto a metal skewer and grill directly over the flame of a gas hob until completely blackened on all sides. Alternatively toss the cloves in a hot dry frying pan for about 3 to 4 minutes. Peel the blackened skins off the cloves when cool enough to handle.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat until shimmering then add the achiote, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin, allspice and toast, continually tossing until fragrant, this will only take a couple of minutes so be careful not to burn it. Transfer to a blender along with peeled garlic, Seville Orange juice or the Orange\Grapefruit\Lime mix, vinegar, soy sauce, and a big pinch of salt. Blend the mixture until smooth and season to taste with more salt if required. The mixture should be quite salty and have a consistency like tomato ketchup as you want it to cover and stick to the meat, if it’s too thick then thin with a little water until it flows a little more easily.

3. Pour marinade over the slabs of meat massaging it in with your hands. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least for an hour but preferably overnight.

Marinade

4. Lay out a large piece of baking parchment then add a layer of sliced onion, tomato and bay leaves and lay the meat on top, add more onion, tomato and bay as you go. Wrap the parcel tightly with another sheet of parchment and then the whole lot with a sheet of thick foil so that the steam will be kept in.

Ready to wrap

note: if you have banana leaves light toast over a flame to make the leaf more pliable then lay one out and add the onion tomato and bay with a single slab of the pork and wrap, creating a tight parcel with another leaf then tie tightly with twine.

5. Set your BBQ up for indirect cooking and get the heat up to 130 – 150C add a chunk or two of wood (use a fruit wood for a sweeter smoke, apple or cherry works well), adding more wood each hour. Cook the meat until the internal temperature is around 95C (at this temperature the collagen breaks down so the pork will “pull”) and the meat feels soft when probed. It’ll take between 4 to 5 hours.

Smoked and tender

6. Remove pork from the BBQ and transfer the parcel to a platter or shallow bowl. Unwrap and serve immediately, shredding the pork between two forks pouring over any juices that are left in the parcel.

Cooked and unwrapped

Pulled Pibil

Serve and enjoy by stuffing it into tortillas with pickled red onions and salsa with some frijoles on the side

Classic Roast Potatoes

Roast Potatoes

The best roast spud are crisp and crunchy on the outside while being soft and fluffy on the inside. They are the classic side to any roasted meat. Adding semolina just before roasting adds extra crispiness to the spud too!

My favourite variety of potato to use is Desirée, but Romano and King Edward are also good for roasting

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg Potatoes
  • 100g fat or any oil with a high smoke point. Goose or duck fat is perfect as it has a high smoking point (reserved from the Two Fat Ladies Roasted Goose recipe is best)
  • 1 heaped tbsp of Semolina (optional)

Method

  1. Pre heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°. Put the fat or oil into a heavy based roasting tin, and pop into the oven to melt and heat.
  2. Thinly peel the potatoes using a potato peeler and cut in fairly even sized pieces , lengthways is best as it give you more edges to crisp up.
  3. Pop them into a pan, cover with cold water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for around 10 mins until they fare starting to go fluffy. To test this lift one of the potatoes, and scrape the edge with a fork, if it’s still smooth then cook for a minute or tw longer.
  4. Drain the potatoes using a colander, and put back into the hot pan, placing it back on the heat for a moment to dry the potatoes off.
  5. Put the semolina on top of the potatoes and pop a lid onto the pan and give them a quick shake, this will distribute the semolina and rough up the edges of the potatoes too.
  6. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and place on the hob on a high heat, 
  7. Put the potatoes into the pan a few at a time and using a spoon baste them with the hot fat\oil (this seals them and stops them from being greasy). Be careful not to burn yourself with the sizzling fat.
  8. Put the tray back into the top of the oven for 40 to 50 mins, until they are  golden brown.

Serve with your favourite roast meat, like my classic Roast Leg of Spring Lamb or “Two Fat Ladies” Roasted Goose

Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

Roast Leg of Lamb
Roast Leg of Lamb

Easter is approaching and one of my favourite meals for Easter Sunday is a nice roasted leg of Spring Lamb, studded with Garlic and Rosemary.

Serves 6-8 Gluten Free*

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of lamb, weighing about 1.8 kg (4 lb)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways into about 24 slivers
  • 2 large stems fresh rosemary, cut into about 24 small sprigs
  • 1 large brown onion, peeled
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC /gas mark 5/375ºF.
  2. Begin by making about 24 small, deep cuts in the skin of the lamb using a small, sharp knife. 
  3. Then push a sliver of garlic, followed by a small sprig of rosemary, into each cut.
  4. Season the meat generously with salt and freshly milled black pepper.
  5. Next, cut the onion in half and place it in the bottom of the roasting tin, then place the lamb in the tin sitting on top of the onion halves. 
  6. Cover the tin loosely with foil, then cook in the oven on a high shelf for 1½ hours. 
  7. After this, remove the foil and let it continue to roast for another 30 minutes. 
  8. Remove the lamb from the oven, cover loosely with foil again and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

Carve and serve with some crunchy roasted potatoes, roasted beetroot, steamed spring greens and a gravy made from the meat juices.

Follow this link to see a short video guide on craving a Roast Leg Of Lamb

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Cawl

Welsh Cawl
Welsh Cawl

I was reading through a old recipe book, that was my Grandmothers, I came across a heavily annotated recipe for Cawl, which a Welsh version of the ubiquitous Irish Stew. The book is starting to fall apart and St David’s is almost upon us I’ve decided to publish the recipe up here. The flavour improves if you make it the day before hand.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients

I’ve converted the Imperial Measurements in the book to metric for ease

  • 2lb (1kg) neck of lamb (on the bone), preferably Welsh, cut into serving pieces
  • 3 pints (2ltrs) lamb stock
  • 8oz (225g) potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8oz (225g) onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8oz (225g) leeks, trimmed and sliced into ½in (1cm) slices
  • 8oz (225g) carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8oz (225g) swede, peeled and roughly chopped

Method

  1. Place the lamb into a large pan and pour over the stock. 
  2. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat until it is simmering and leave to simmer for an hour.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and continue to cook for a further hour. 
  4. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to cool overnight.
  5. When you are ready to serve the stew, return the mixture to the boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely heated through.

Serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread and slices of a good Welsh cheese.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients listed are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Berry Marzipan Cupcakes

Marzipan Berry Cakes
Marzipan Berry Cakes

Over the weekend I caught a re-run of  Nigel Slater’s ‘12 Tastes of Christmas‘ and although I find some of his recipes a little over egg and mixed up these little beauties looked wonderful and will be on my cookery list over the next few days.

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 180g/6¼oz caster sugar
  • 180g/6¼oz butter, softened
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 80g/2¾oz plain flour
  • 150g/5oz ground almonds
  • 100g/3½oz marzipan
  • 100g/3½oz blueberries
  • icing sugar, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Cut out squares of baking parchment that would easily cover the holes of a bun tray. Line each one.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  4. Gradually beat in the eggs, then gradually introduce the flour and ground almonds. Continue to beat until all is well incorporated.
  5. Break the marzipan into small 1cm bite sized nuggets and fold into the mixture.
  6. Divide the mixture between the lined cups of the bun tray. Scatter 3-4 berries over each one.
  7. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

Dust with a little icing sugar and serve warm with a dash of cream. They are just as nice cold tho…

Roast Beetroot

Roast Beetroot
Roast Beetroot

Roast beetroot makes a great addition to any traditional roast, the deep vibrant red contrasts with the green of Brussels Sprouts or Savoy cabbage.

This recipe works brilliantly with the tradition round red beet, but for surprising change you can mix with other varieties like the Golden or the ‘Barbabietola Di Chioggia’ with it’s distinctive white and red rings. All add a virant cahange of colour to any meal

Serves 6 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients

  • 670g large uncooked beetroot
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (I have it on good advice that Balsamic vinegar is gluten free but you may want to verify this for yourself before using)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  2. Peel and cut each beetroot into 4-6 wedges and arrange in a large roasting tin.
  3. Mix the oil thyme and vinegar and pour over the beetroot.
  4. Season well, and toss together so all the beetroot is thoroughly coated in the dressing.
  5. Roast for 1 hour or until the beetroot is tender.

Serve and enjoy….

For a sweeter smokier taste glaze with 2 tbsp of clear honey or maple syrup half way through the roasting time.

 

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Spiced Apple Crumble

Spiced Apple Crumble
Spiced Apple Crumble
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

Apple crumble is a British pudding staple, and deservedly so! There’s nothing that can beat a hearty bowl of hot apple crumble with lashing of hot thick custard to drive away those cold winter blues away. The addition of the spices in this recipe gives it an extra zing and complements the flavour of the apples perfectly

Serves 4-6 (Gluten Free)

Ingredients

For the Apple Base

  • 6 large Bramley apples, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 5-6 tbps light muscovado sugar, this is to taste (check once the apples are cooked and adjust)
  • 2 star anise, broken up
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 orange (or 60 mls of fresh Orange Juice)

For the crumble

  • 300g plain flour (use a gluten free alternative like Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour, for a Gluten Free Version of the recipe)
  • Zest of 1 Orange, finely grated
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 100g flaked almonds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C \ 180C fan\Gas 5
  2. In a heavy based pan, sauté the apples in the butter, sugar and star anise and cook for about 8 min, until the apples are caramelised and just tender . Don’t overcook them to a purée as you want the apples to keep their shape.
  3. Carefully stir in the cinnamon and orange juice and cook for a further 2 minutes
  4. Pop the apple mixture into a lightly greased oven proof dish
  5. For the crumble mixture, mix the flour and ginger in a bowl and add the butter a few cubes at a time, rubbing into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  6. Stir in the flaked almonds and sprinkle over the apple mixture.
  7. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit mixture bubbling.

Serve with hot custard or thick cream, eat and enjoy….

If you can’t get hold of cooking apples and have to use a sweet eating apple, you’ll need to reduce the amount of sugar in the apple mixture by half and  the cooking time of that step to 5 mins.

Ginger Cup Cakes with Clementine Cream Cheese Icing

Ginger Cupcakes with cream cheese and Clementine icing
Ginger Cupcakes with cream cheese and Clementine icing

I don’t do much cake baking, I think it’s because it’s less forgiving if you make a little ‘change’ to the recipe by putting too much or little of something in. However this is one cake recipe I do make, it’s sticky, gingery and orangey at the same time which is good in my book.

Makes 12

Ingredients

For the cup cakes

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • Zest of 1 clementine, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml butter milk
  • 2 balls of stem ginger in syrup, chopped

For the icing

  • 150g Cream Cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 clementine, finely grated
  • Juice of 1 clementine
  • Slivers of clementine zest and stem ginger, to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C\ 150C fan\Gas 3
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases
  3. Melt butter, muscovado sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside to cool slightly
  4. Sift flour into a bowl with the ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda then add the salt and clementine zest.
  5. Add the metled butter, sugar and syrup mixture, eggs, buttermilk and stem ginger to the flour and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour into the cases, the mix will reach quite high up the sides.
  7. Bake for around 25 minutes until golden and springy, Don’t worry if they haven’t risen particularly well as the are meant to be a dense and sticky sponge.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin,this makes the sponge even more squidgy.
  9. Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth
  10. sift the icing sugar over and gradually beat in
  11. Add the clementine juice and zest and mix until fully incorporated
  12. Smooth a generous amount over each cupcake and top with the slivers of stem ginger and clementine zest for decoration.

Eat and enjoy….

If you like your ginger sponge to have a stronger, richer flavour, wrap the tin of un-iced cakes tightly in foil or cling-film and leave for a day or two. The sponge will get darker and the flavour more intense. Ice, decorate and enjoy even more gingery sticky goodness…

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Brussels Sprouts with Panchetta
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

The Brussels Sprout season is upon us again and I love these tiny tender green globes, steamed, boiled (as long as they aren’t boiled into oblivion) or broken down and sautéed in butter. This is by far my favourite recipe though, and it’s great on the side of any winter roast and special enough for your Christmas extravaganza.

If and that’s a big ‘IF’ you have any left over just add them to some cold potatoes and sautée for that delicious English leftover favourite ‘Bubble and Squeak’!

Serves 4-6 Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 500g Brussels Sprouts, trimmed but left whole
  • 120g thinly sliced Pancetta
  • 1tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2tbsp Marsala
  • 240g cooked sweet chestnuts

Serves 4  Gluten Free

Method

  1.  Steam the sprouts for 5-6 mins, depending on their size, until they are tender.
  2. Once cooked drain thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat and lay the pancetta over the base.
  4. As the pancetta begins to melt and turn golden underneath scatter with the sugar.
  5. Turn the rashers and cook until burnished and crisp.
  6. Remove the pancetta from the pan and replace with the sprouts and chestnusts, stir thoroughly and add the Marsala, allowing to sizzle and steam off the alcohol.
  7. Season with black pepper and return the pancetta for a a few moments to heat through.

Serve in to a warm dish and enjoy…

This recipe works wonderfully as an accompaniment for a Sunday roast or the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ Roast Goose for Christmas.

Roasted Garlic Mash

Roasted Garlic Mash
Roasted Garlic Mash

Even though I love a serving of good buttery mashed potato, I’m always on the lookout for different ways to add some variety to my meals. This recipe adds an extra depth to the mash with the subtle roasted garlic giving a touch of luxury.

Serves 4-6 Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 2 whole Garlic bulbs
  • 4 tbls Olive Oil
  • 2kg Potatoes, peeled and halved is large (Desiree, King Edwards or Maris Piper are good mashing varieties).
  • 100ml single cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)
  2. Cut horizontally through the top of the garlic bulbs, exposing the bare cloves inside.
  3. Place the bulbs on a piece of foil and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Wrap the foil into a loose parcel around the garlic and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are soft to a knife point.
  6. Drain and return to the pan for a minute or two over a low heat to dry them off.
  7. Squeeze in three quarters of the roasted garlic, add the cream and olive oil and mash until smooth.
  8. Stir through the remaining garlic.

Serve and enjoy…

This recipe works wonderfully as an accompaniment for your favourite sausages or the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ Roast Goose for Christmas.