Category Archives: The Main Course

Recipes for Main courses

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……”


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)

6 to 8 banana leaves (see note)


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.


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

Pepper, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Pepper Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Pepper, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

I fancied cooking something vegetarian for a change, this tasty one pot dish is quick and easy to prepare and is substantial enough to fill a hole in anyones appetite. It’s only about 170 kCals per portion too.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 2.5 cms Root Ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 mixed peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin of  Chickpeas, drained
  • 1 bag of Spinach, (200 – 250gms)


  1. Whizz the Garlic, Chilli and Ginger in a blender until it forms a paste, (you can substitute paste versions of these instead and use as directed on the tubes\jar)
  2. Heat the paste and olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pan, until it becomes fragrant and starts to sizzle (be careful not to burn the paste or it will become bitter)
  3. Add the onion and peppers and fry for a few minutes, util the onions start to become translucent)
  4. Add the spices and tomato puree and cook for a few moments
  5. Add the Chickpeas, and Chopped Tomatoes plus a splash of water and simmer for 10 mins.
  6.  Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until it’s wilted, then stir through the curry.

Serve with some plain boiled rice and a Naan or Chapati and enjoy this healthy delight…..

*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 Butternut Squash Soup

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

This creamy, hearty yet healthy soup, tantalised the tastebuds of my colleagues when I bought a batch to work for my lunch. at around 200 kcals per portion (without an added dash of cream) it makes a tasty and filling lunch.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 kg Butternut Squash, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2.5 cm root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and chilli. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the Butternut squash , ground spices, cumin seeds and garlic  and cook for a further 5 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Turn up the heat, then add the stock plus a good grind of black pepper and bring to the boil.
  5. Turn down to a simmer and allow to bubble slowly for 30 to 35 mins or until the squash is cooked (press against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon, it should be soft).
  6. Blend to a fine consistency with a stick blender, you might need to add some more hot water if the soup is too thick.
  7. Season to taste, then top with a swirl of single or soured cream (optional).

Serve with a hunk of home made bread like my Irish Soda Bread and enjoy…

*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 North-African style eggs with homemade flatbreads

North African Baked Eggs image: The Sydney Morning Herald
North African Baked Eggs
image: The Sydney Morning Herald

This recipe is a breakfast and lunch favorite with my family and I, it’s a quick and easy and very tasty meal. Baking eggs in a spicy tomato sauce is very common in many parts of the world, most famously in the Mexican dish huevos rancheros. This version is topped with cheese for an extra treat.


For the flat breads

  • 250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • pinch salt
  • 1tbsp olive oil

For the eggs

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • ½ tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 x 400g/14oz tins chopped tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 100g/3½oz feta cheese or Greek-style cheese, crumbled


To make the flat breads,

  1. Sieve the flour and a generous pinch of salt into a mixing bowl.
  2. Make a well in the middle and add the oil.
  3. Mix into the flour then add 100-150ml/3½-5fl oz warm water until the mixture comes together to form a dough.
  4. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, or until elasticated a little so that the dough springs back while you knead.
  5. Set aside to rest.

For the eggs.

  1. Heat a wide, heavy-based pan over a medium heat and toast the cumin seeds for a moment.
  2. Add the olive oil and gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt until softened and translucent. Add the green pepper, cover with a lid and gently fry for further five minutes, or until soft.
  3. Once the pepper is softened, add the garlic.
  4. Cook for two minutes, then sprinkle in the chilli flakes and add the chopped tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  5. Cook over a medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and rich, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Cook the flat breads.

  1. Meanwhile, divide the flat bread dough into eight balls.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball out to the thickness of a 50p piece (each flat bread should be approximately 12cm/4½in in diameter).
  3. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat.
  4. Cook a flatbread in the dry pan for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until slightly charred, cooked through and a little puffed up.
  5. Transfer to a plate and wrap in a clean tea towel. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  6. Keep warm while you finish the eggs.

Finish the eggs.

  1. Make six wells in the tomato mixture and break an egg into each.
  2. Cover the pan and cook gently over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the whites are set (cook for a further 2-3 minutes if you like your yolks set).

Sprinkle with the feta and serve with the warm flat breads on the side. If you are sort on time you can replace the flat breads with some warm pitta breads.

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


  • 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)


  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*


  • 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


  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.

Prosciutto wrapped Chicken

Prosciutto wrapped Chicken
Prosciutto wrapped Chicken

This is a family favourite, even the kids like it (well they do today, I can’t guarantee what tomorrow will bring though). It’s a quick and easy recipe that’s healthy and tasty too.

The chicken breasts can be prepared in advance and popped in the fridge until you need them. To make it even easier use a cream cheese with garlic and herbs already added

Serves 2 – Gluten Free


  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 heaped tsp Cream Cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 4 slices Prosciutto (or any other thinly sliced air dried ham)
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt (herb flavoured if you have any) for seasoning


  1. Heat oven to 200C\190C Fan.
  2. Mix the cream cheese, herbs and garlic and util the cheese is smooth and the herbs and garlic are fully distributed.
  3. Make a pocket in each chicken breast by inserting a sharp knife into the think end of the beast, being careful not to break the surface or base.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons of the cheese mix into the pocket.
  5. Wrap the breast in 2 slices of prosciutto, ensuring that the opening to the pocket is covered.
  6. Season with a little salt (sparingly as the Prosciutto can be salty) and freshly ground pepper
  7. Cook in the oven for 20 -25 mins or until the chicken is fully cooked and the prosciutto is crispy and golden.

Serve with Lyonnaise Potatoes and some steamed fine beans.

*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