Thursday, 28 November 2013

And a partridge in a... roasting pot.

I have a confession. I've shot partridge many times, but never really got into eating them. A surplus of pheasant is the usual happy situation and so, when faced with a freezer full of partridge, I was keen to do the pretty little birds proud. Each bird feeds one person perfectly, and makes a great alternative to a roast chicken on a Sunday evening. This recipe is super simple and surprisingly quick, a one pot wonder (apart from veg) which is perfect when cooking dinner having had a few sharpeners down the local before hand.

Feeds two. Pre-heat the oven to 200c. In an oven proof casserole or deep baking tray, heat a glug of olive oil and brown two oven-ready partridge all over, seasoning as you go. Take the birds out and add two large hand-fulls of baby potatoes, or diced normal ones, along with a  couple of bashed garlic cloves. Move them around in the oil and give them a blast in the oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, stuff each partridge with a big knob of butter, a few sprigs of thyme and sage (or rosemary if you'd rather). Return them to the pot/tray, nestling them in with the potatoes and roast for 15-20 minutes, basting occasionally and give the potatoes a bit of a roll around. Prepare whatever veg you want with it and get stuck in. I kind of forgot to make gravy from the pan but the meat was so moist it didn't really matter.

You might need to go a bit caveman on the partridge, especially to get the meat off the legs, but it should be juicy and delicious. Pick it up with your hands and just go for it.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Beige Food Isn't Always Awful - Cauliflower & Parmesan Soup

Everyone loves a comedy tea cup right?
Yes, yes, it's November and it's getting chilly and oh how lovely is all that kale in the shops, and isn't slow cooking amazing blah blah blah. Anyone with the slightest interest in food and cooking knows this, yet every year it's rammed down our throats with almost as much enthusiasm as January diets. It's true though, we do need something to warm us up, a fresh zingy salad just isn't what we need or want, and though a big fat stew might be a bit much for lunch, soup provides us with endless opportunities to eat cheaply, use up bits from the fridge, saving room for 6 hour ox cheek for dinner. Don't get stuck in a soup rut though; so many times I dismiss soup as being mundane (although I when I was a child it was the only thing I'd order in a restaurant) but then I give it a go and don't regret it. Branch out and try something new, leek and potato is great and all that but 'meh'. 

Feeds 2 with a bit leftover for another day, so 3 really. In a large saucepan gently fry a chopped onion in a generous knob of butter until completely soft. Add a chopped clove of garlic and a head of cauliflower broken into little florets. Give it a good stir to slick it with the melted butter and add approximately one litre of chicken stock (just add some water if you don't have enough). Pop the lid on, bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 7 minutes, until the cauliflower is of school dinner worthy texture. Season very generously, it will take a lot of salt, and grate in some nutmeg*, maybe half a reaspoon, again, you can be quite generous. Once cooled a little, blitz with a stick blender until mostly smooth (I have no problem with a lump or two, but you might), stir in a good handful of grated Parmesan and check for seasoning. Pour into bowls or over-sized mugs and add some garlicky croutons, or go all out and make mini cheese on toasts to float on top. Do sprinkle with extra Parmesan though. 

It might not knock your socks off but it will make you feel good and sometimes that is more important. 

*Whatever you do make sure you grate the nutmeg fresh, don't buy powdered stuff. Nutmeg lasts for ages and the fresh stuff is sooo potent and lovely. And you need it for rum punch. Oh is it not normal for rum punch to be a staple requirement?