Friday, 27 January 2012

Roast Poussin

I’d previously, naively assumed, Poussin to be the preserve of those well versed in the culinary arts practiced by our Gallic cousins across the Channel. After having bought a couple on a whim and searched the web I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.  A Poussin is really just a baby chicken and man is it tasty

As usual I did some research looking at cooking methods, times and accompanying ingredients. Armed with a wealth of knowledge, I came up with this.

If you’re a dab hand at a Sunday roast then this should be breeze for you

If you get you’re cooking times right, remember what’s here is just a guide, then what you’ll get is small succulent bird that tastes wonderful. There is very little prep to do and it can look deceptively impressive when served at the table. I’ve included my method for roasting spuds, you’ll probably have your own but these are pretty ace.

Serves 2

  • 2 Poussin, I went for Corn fed from Sainsbury’s (about £6 for the pair)
  • ½ Lemon cut in two
  • About 12 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Smallish sprigs of rosemary
  • Good Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • 100 ml of dry white wine
  • 200 ml of chicken stock
  • A little olive oil

Roast Potatoes
  • Some Potatoes Peeled and cut into the size you want, usually about 3 of these chunks per person is sufficient
  • Goose Fat
  • Olive Oil
  • Herb mixture all or any of the following, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme (1 Sprig each and a teaspoon each for chopping)

Heat the oven to 230 Degrees, rub each poussin liberally with oil then season well with Sea Salt and Pepper. Inside each cavity place half the lemon and a sprig of Rosemary

Place the Poussins in a roasting tray and chuck in the garlic cloves
Place in the oven for about 25 mins

Meanwhile put the potatoes into boiling water and boil for 10 mins
Quickly pound the herb mixture and mix with a tablespoon of olive oil
Drain the potatoes but save the water in a jug (Good for gravy)
Pour the oil into the pan with the drained potatoes, season with salt and pepper, place the lid on the pan and shake gently to cover all the potatoes with oil and fluff them slightly. Leave the lid on and put to one side

Mix the Stock, wine and a table spoon of oil and pour over the poussin
Place back in the oven for around 25 mins , basting every 10 mins

Whilst the birds are cooking get another roasting tray and put in the goose fat and place in the oven

Remove the birds and test if they're done, my preferred method is to use a sharp knife , pierce the poussin right into the centre, remove the knife , quickly and gently place onto your lip! If the knife is very hot and makes you go ouch, then we’re done

Remove the birds from the oven

Place the roasting tray on the hob, tip in the potatoes, herbs etc and use a spoon to coat them all in goose fat. Whack up the oven as far as it will go, put the potatoes in the oven and cook for around 30 mins

Remove the birds from the roasting tray, put on a platter, cover with foil and leave to rest.

Remove most of the fat from the roasting tray, place on the hob and mash the garlic, pour in some of the saved potato water and deglaze the pan

Season to taste.

Pour gravy through a sieve into a small saucepan and push the good bits through to thicken the gravy slightly, scraping the underside of the sieve into the gravy. Put the saucepan on hob and reduce as required to taste

Pour and juices from the birds platter into gravy. mix well and we’re about ready to go
Serve with Veg of your choice

Monday, 23 January 2012

Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce

When I want something rich and tasty that isn’t beef or lamb, duck is always a good one to turn to, especially when they’re on offer as they were when I cooked this
It also helped that I’d been out in the week and seen a colleague having duck.
The sweetness of the Madeira goes really well with the duck and makes a change from the ubiquitous Plum or Orange.
You may note I use flour to thicken my sauce, as far as I can tell a true Madeira  wouldn't hold much truck with such a notion. I however like my sauces to slide of the spoon rather than splatter. If you don't want to thicken you're sauce leave that bit out

A lot of people claim that duck is really fatty and greasy, it can be but then that depends on how you cook it

As for the crushed potatoes, I went for the crème fraiche as it gives a vague nod towards potato dauphinoise but with a more rustic approach and far less cream

Of course the cabbage is there to give a veg type balance to the dish, what you have is optional and depends greatly on your mood or what's in the house. The method here gently steams the cabbage so that it retains its colour and bite. The white pepper gives a little heat and fragrance that goes perfectly with cabbage or other greens of this nature.

If I’m honest I still haven’t mastered true crispy duck skin outside of Chinese cooking but I’m getting there

Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce

2 Duck Breasts
Groundnut oil

200 ml Madeira
300 ml Chicken Stock
1 Shallot finely Chopped
Tablespoon flour (for thickening, if you want to)

Crushed Potatoes
Enough Potatoes for two
1 Clove of Garlic crushed
125 ml Crème Fraiche

½ Savoy Cabbage, washed, central stem removed
Nob of butter
White pepper
2 shot glasses of water

Put the potatoes in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 2 mins

Shred the cabbage, put into a frying pan, add the butter, water and pepper

With a sharp knife score, diagonally, the skin of the duck breast
Rub each duck breast with oil and season well with salt and pepper

Heat a heavy frying pan until hot, place the duck breasts skin side down and fry for 6-8 mins, Gently turn over, the skin should now be golden and crispy. Cook on the other side for a further 5-8 mins or until it’s cooked to your liking.

Remove from the pan, cover in foil and rest

Pour off all but a teaspoon of the duck fat and put to one side

Check the potatoes with a sharp knife, if they’re done, drain and place into a serving dish, cover with foil and keep warm in an oven

Gently fry the shallot in the pan with the duck fat until soft
De-Glaze the pan with the stock and Madeira mix
Season with Salt and pepper

In a small bowl and liquid (table spoon at a time) from the pan to the flour, mix and repeat until you achieve a smooth loose paste.
Pour the paste into the sauce and whisk to avoid lumps, simmer

Mix the crushed garlic into the crème fraiche
Crush (not mash) the potatoes with the back of a fork
Spoon on the crème fraiche

Put a lid on the cabbage, turn on the heat and cook for about 5 mins, shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking. Check cabbage so that it’s cooked to your liking

Pour any juices from the resting duck breasts into the sauce and whisk

Slice the duck diagonally and arrange on the plate

Sprinkle chopped spring onions or chives on top of the potato/crème fraiche

You're ready to go

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Queens Pub - Primrose Hill

The thing is you see, I don’t normally feel compelled to write about places I’ve eaten in. I put this down to the fact that working away in London most weeks, I do eat out quite a lot and there has to be a particularly outstanding reason to blog about something I do most nights of the week.

Now then, given the above statement you could be forgiven for thinking I’m living the life akin to Mr Reilly. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, for two very good reasons:

One, I have no idea who Reilly is, let alone how he spends his spare time. Rumour has it that he’s generally having a whale of a time. This though, is rumour and we are dealing with facts here people. There is no mention of him having the details of his super-injunction leaked on twitter, he isn’t, as far as I know, desperately trying to secure his next Panto role by appearing on the “Celebrity” Big Brother and there are no pictures of Mr Reilly adorning the pages of Hello and other such publications (no I don’t read them). Which, if may digress a moment, leads me onto another thought. If men are such babies when they’re feeling ill, always claim to suffer terribly from one minor ailment or another and basically they are massive hypochondriacs, then why, why, are doctors waiting rooms furnished only with Women’s magazines?

Two, we’re on an expenses budget. So more often than not were limited to either chain restaurants or the lower end of the market. Unless that is you discover a gem such as The Queen’s in Primrose Hill

If you’re ever in the area and looking for a quality and very reasonably priced meal I thoroughly recommend coming here.

The new Chef Robert’s touch is evident in the food, the quality, especially for the price is of a very high standard. The Queens is a traditional pub with an upstairs (these are quite steep and get trickier as the evening progresses. Good wine and rickety stairs don’t mix) dining room. The staff are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

I had the Risotto which tasted wonderful, not too rich and not too watery. The mushrooms were as varied as they were tasty and the stock used for the risotto was divine. Robert came out to talk to us at the end of the evening and we spent a good few minutes discussing the love of cooking. Robert even explained how make the demi-glace which he’d used in the risotto. Impressive stuff, when you consider that all Wagamamas can tell you about their new dish is the sauce is made in a factory.

Andy  had the fish cakes, which he said were brilliant, as you can see from the picture below,  as well as being delicious he also found the shape of them enticing (what’s the female equivalent of phallic?), he claims to have been testing the temperature before tucking in

Phil Nicholson was blown away with his seared duck and he said that it was the best he’d ever eaten

So in summary, it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area or not. Excellent food, friendly staff and very expense budget friendly.

Have a look at their website to see what's on offer The Queens Pub at Primrose Hill

If any of my colleagues are reading this then get down there lads. The new chef is very good and the more of us that go they’ll likely do some kind of deal for us

Friday, 6 January 2012

Coq Au Vin

Another post and another one plagiarised from Olive Magazine, as mentioned before I've not been too creative of late but I wanted to share this with you as its bloody lovely

I’ve never had this classic before, primarily I think, it’s because it was, until the recent vogue for retro foods, deemed as old hat and sat along side of Black Forrest Gateaux and Prawn Cocktail, both of which are making a comeback

Jointing the chicken was a new experience and to be honest it was quite tricky to get it right, even after watching a few Videos on You Tube. Still, it’s a useful skill to have I guess.

The overnight marination makes for some lovely deep flavours

The only change I would make to this is to use less bacon or perhaps used non-smoked. The recommended amount here tends to dominate the flavour of the dish too much.

That aside it was very, very good indeed

1 large chicken , about 2-2.5kg, jointed
1 garlic clove , crushed
1 bottle red wine
olive oil
12 shallots , peeled
250g smoked bacon , diced
300g mushrooms , sliced
400ml chicken stock (You can use the Carcase after Jointing to make this)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
20g plain flour
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley , chopped

Put the chicken joints, garlic and wine in a non-metallic bowl and marinate overnight in the fridge.
The next day, heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Remove the chicken from the marinade (keep the marinade for later). Pat the chicken dry with kitchen paper.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the shallots and cook for 10 minutes until golden. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a casserole.
Add the chicken to the same pan and cook, turning until browned all over. Add to the casserole with the shallots.
Add the bacon and mushrooms to the pan and cook until browned then add into the casserole.
Add the marinade, stock, bay and thyme to the frying pan and bring to the boil to deglaze. Season and tip into the casserole. Cover with a sheet of baking parchment, put on the lid cook in the oven for 1 hour.

When cooked take out of the oven, remove the chicken and shallots with a slotted spoon to a serving dish and keep warm. Sift the flour over the remaining sauce and whisk in until smooth. Put on the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens. Then add the chicken back in and stir through the chopped parsley

This goes really with some crusty bread

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Gruyère, Leek and Potato Pie

Yet another recipe from Olive, a few adaptations required, such as using a plate to bake and blind baking the base.

This is all that you could expect from a cheese and potato pie and more, the buttery leeks complement the potatoes and cheese well. The use of Gruyere adds an additional depth of flavour and makes a change from the usual cheddar

500g Charlotte potatoes , peeled and sliced

2 leeks , sliced and washed
4 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
100g Gruyère or cheddar, grated
500g block puff pastry
1 egg , beaten

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool.

Cook the leeks in a large knob of butter until really tender. Cool then stir in the crème fraîche and cheese and season.

Heat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas6. Roll out half the pastry, cut out a large circle using a dinner plate as a template and put on a baking sheet, although the original instructions were to use a baking sheet I used an old plate to help retain the shape of the pie. Also because of the depth of the filling you might find it best to blind bake the base for 10 – 15 mins first to ensure all of the pastry is cooked

 Layer up the potatoes and leek mix leaving a border of about 2cm round the edge. Brush the border with egg.

Roll the other half of the pastry out so it is larger than the base. Drape over the top of the pie then smooth down gently to seal and remove any air pockets. trim off the excess pastry and crimp with a fork. Score the top lightly with a criss-cross pattern, then glaze.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until puffed, crisp and golden. Leave for 15 minutes before cutting