Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

There is far less shrinkage of meat when it is slow roasted, which means it will serves more and/or last longer. The slow-roasting temperatures for meats are:
for pork: 180C, 350F, gas 4
for beef/lamb: 170C, 325F, gas 3

slow roasting times: per lb/450g for 3 - 6lb joints.
beef on the bone:
sirloin - rare...26 minutes
wing rib - medium...30 minutes
rib roast - well done... 35 mins per pound

leg ... 45 - 50 minutes
neck, best end and loin ...45 minutes
shoulder ...35 minutes
shoulder ...b0ned and rolled, 55 minutes

leg ...45 - 50 minutes
loin ...35 - 40 minutes
shoulder joint ...45 - 50
shoulder, boned and rolled...55

Meat (especially beef and lamb) has always a better flavour when cooked on the bone, but as this is not always so easy to carve, this led to the easier method boning and stuffing a joint of meat for - an old book says - this made carving simple enough for a child to do (although 'elf and safety may have something to say about letting a child loose with a sharp carving knife these days).

Another way to cook meat is not to roast but to simmer in a pot full of liquid. Below are two traditional recipes served during the cold winter months. Like a roast, any remaining meat left to get cold, then sliced.
This first recipe is for pork and split peas and although salt pork can be used, it works particularly well using one of those gammon joints we cook for ham. Depending upon the size of the joint, it might be necessary to start the peas before cooking the meat, and well in advance if it is more convenient. Always read through a recipe such as this from start to finish before you begin, to allow for adjustment of timings.
Pork with Pease Pudding:
4 - 6 lb (2 - 3 kg) salt pork or gammon
2 onions, quartered
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks
4 peppercorns
1 lb (500g) split peas, soaked overnight
1 oz (25g) butter
1 egg
salt and pepper
Place the pork/gammon into a pan and cover with cold water and bring slowly to the boil, skimming off any fat and scum. Add the vegetables and peppercorns, cover and simmer until the meat is partly cooked -allowing 25 minutes per lb (450g) but leaving enough time to cook the peas with it.
Meanwhile, drain the peas and put them into a pan and cover with plenty of water. Simmer until tender (this takes about 90 minutes), adding more boiling water if it reduces too much. Drain and either mash well or blitz in a blender or food processor (this can be done in advance of cooking the meat), then beat in the egg and butter, adding seasoning to taste.
Turn this mixture onto a piece of muslin, tie up, then place the bag in the pan with the meat for the last 35 -45 minutes of cooking time, and remove pudding from the cloth when serving. Serve the meat with the cooked vegetables, or alternatively (or as well) with steamed cabbage.
tip: pre-soaking the pork/gammon before it is cooked will remove some of the salt, drain and place back in the pan with fresh water, then after cooking this liquid can be used to make split-pea soup.

Well remember a song all about this next dish, and believe it is traditional to East London. Could be wrong but think it might have been sung in the musical "My Fair Lady". Silverside is an economical cut (usually salted in Britain, but in France bought and used fresh - both cooked in the same way as below) and eats well when cold.
Boiled Beef and Carrots - with dumplings:
4 lb (2kg) piece of silverside of beef
8 small onions,
4 carrots, quartered
1 small white cabbage, quartered
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
5 oz (150g) chopped suet
half tsp salt
cold water
Place the beef in a large pan and cover completely with water. Bring slowly to the boil and keep skimming away any fat (a dash of cold water helps to bring this scum to the surface). Keep the heat down to a gentle simmer for the aim is to keep the liquid as clear as possible. The beef should be cooked for 30 minutes per lb (450g) so plan the timing.
Cover the pan and simmer for an hour, then add the carrots and onions, then simmer for a further 15 minutes before adding the cabbage. Then continue cooking for the required amount of time, allowing half an hour to cook the dumplings.
To make dumplings, mix together the flour, suet and salt together with enough cold water to make a soft dough. Divide into walnut-sized pieces, roll lightly in a little flour and pop into the pan, spacing well apart, cover and cook for the final half hour.
To serve, place the meat in the centre of a warm serving dish, surround with vegetables and the dumplings. Serve a little of the stock from the pot in a sauce boat.

The last of the savoury recipes for today is 'A Speedy Storecupboard Soup' and certainly could be a useful one for students or anyone wishing to make a quick lunch. Canned shrimps or prawns and canned sweetcorn are used in this particular version, although both frozen cooked prawns and frozen (cooked) sweetcorn could be used instead.
Nova Scotia Chowder: serves 2
1 small can shrimps (or 8 oz/225g frozen)
15 fl oz (450ml) milk
1 onion
1 tblsp dried instant potato powder
half a can of sweetcorn kernels
salt and pepper
2 tblp single cream
chopped chives
Put the peeled but whole onion ina pan with th milk and gently heat to simmering. Removed from heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes (or longer. Remove the onion, stir in the instant potato until smooth. Add the sweetcorn and shrimps (if using prawns chop roughly), and reheat gently. Add seasoning to taste, stir in the cream, reheat but do not boil, and serve immediately.

Another 'retro' dish is upside-down pudding where fruit is first placed in a baking dish then covered with a sponge cake batter to be cooked then turned out upside-down so that the fruit ends up on the top. The following recipe is a good winter version as gingerbread is the cake part and the fruit comes from the storecupboard. If you haven't all the spices, at least use ginger, and hopefully cinnamon.
Upside-down Gingerbread:
4 oz (100g) plain flour
half tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
pinch grated nutmeg or mace
pinch ground cloves
1 egg, beaten
4 oz (100g) soft brown sugar
3 oz (75g) black treacle
4 fl oz (100ml) creme fraiche (see below)
2 oz (50g) butter or margarine, melted
2 oz (50g) butter
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
1 can pear halves (drained)
creme fraiche or whipped cream
First make the topping by melting the butter in a pan, adding the sugar and stirring over a low heat for a couple of minutes to dissolve, then pour into an 8" (20cm) shallowish square baking tin.
Arrange the pears on top with the cut side facing down, and place walnuts in between.
Make the gingerbread by sifting the flour with the bicarb, salt and spices. In a jug, mix together the egg, sugar, black treacle, creme fraiche and cooled fat. Stir this into the flour and beat vigorously for one minute until smooth, then carefully pour on top of the fruit. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 50 minutes.
Turn out onto a serving plate and serve warm with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

home-made creme fraiche:
whip one small carton of double cream until just holding its shape, then fold in one same size carton of plain yogurt.

Plain steamed puddings are very economical to make, and recipes have been posted for these before, but the following sauces made to pour over puds are quick and easy enough to make. They are also good poured over ice-cream.
chocolate sauce:
1 tblsp cocoa
2 tblsp sugar
half a pint (300ml) water
2 drops vanilla extract
Put the cocoa and sugar into a small pan, and slowly mix in the water. Bring gently to the boil, stirring all the time and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then the sauce is ready to serve.

butterscotch sauce:
1 tblsp golden syrup
half ounce (12g) butter
2 tblsp demerara sugar
half pint (300ml) warm water
juice of half a small lemon
1 dessertspoon custard powder
1 tblsp cold water
Put the syrup, butter and sugar into a pan and cook to a rich caramel colour. Remove from heat and carefully add the water and lemon juice (take care as it may spit). Bring back to the boil , then add the custard powder that has been slaked (mixed) with the cold water. Simmer until thickened then cook for one minute longer. Good served with ice-cream.