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Cheap Pork with Posh Rice

Blimey, seems like just yesterday I was writing my last blog… but seems I’ve left it too my partner-in-crime for far too long.

So, just a quickie for you that packs a full flavour punch without a great deal of chef’ing to do.

Firstly, the ‘posh rice’. Well, truth be told, not rice at all, but grass, apparently. But it is the stuff that is boxed up and sold at silly prices as ‘wild rice’. Lovely, but at something like a fiver for a box… no thanks! Until I found a local supermarket selling of half a dozen boxes (still in date) for a quid each! BOOM! I’ll have some of that all day, every day!

Not much to be said about the cooking of it except to say I followed the instructions on the back of the packet… and yes, it really does take that long, and yes, do add that wedge of butter at the end, calories be damned… you WILL NOT regret it!

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As for the pork, it seems that the world… or at least the world dictated to us by the bucket-heads who run corporations, can only eat lean pork loin chops. They are everywhere, and they are the least intersting piece of pig on a pig – I bet even the pig knows that. Unless you brine them (we’ve done that here), they are tasteless, dry and massively underwhelming.

For this dish, I used pork shoulder steaks. These are cheaper and infinitely better to cook with. They are slightly fattier, but that is part of what makes the both tastier and better to cook with. If you’re worried about the size of your belly, serve less… or drink less… or skip on some chocolate… or, well, just lie with the fact that your meal will be nicer when cooked with better ingredients – and that’s why we’re doing this thing here.

So, brown off the pork steaks in a deep skillet/frying pan that hopefully has a lid. (If you haven’t got one… get one (only joking) – but brown them and finish the dish in a large saucepan will do fine).

Once the meat is browned, add a litre of vegetable stock (a cube is fine) and simmer with the lid on before you start prepping the extras. For me, this was just what was knocking around the kitchen at the time… a couple of carrots and a large onion, all coarsely chopped and chucked in the pan and stirred around.

At this point I also amped up the flavour profile. I added a dried mixed herb blend (Greek, I do believe, but any will do), a bit of sweet paprika, a small handful of caraway seeds, some black pepper and some dried garlic powder. I didn’t add salt because the stock cube should have that covered.

Simmer for half an hour and then stir everything, turning the chops at the same time.

All in all, the cooking process for this dish is about an hour, with not a lot of maintenance, so it times well with the wild rice.

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Ten minutes before the end, take the lid off. It will probably still be very ‘wet’, so turn up the heat and get it going to a rolling boil to reduce the liquid. After five minutes or so it should be getting a bit stickier and at this point add a small pot (about 250ml) of sour cream and stir through thoroughly. Once it simmers, turn the heat off and serve with the wild rice.

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As you will see from the picture, this dish is never going to win any beauty contests, but what it lacks in elegance, it makes up for in flavour… seriously! Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!

But, as a nod to the fact that it does look a bit like the dog’s dinner… here’s a picture of a big dog too.

big dog

apologies to photographer – will publish credits if we can find you

Sell By Dates? My Arse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHello there. It’s been quite a while hasn’t it. Well I’m back, I’ve found my mojo again for now and started cooking interesting stuff. I hadn’t stopped but I seem to do less adventurous stuff in the summer months and also I tend to rely on old favourites or things I’ve already posted.

So Mugsie, what’s the headline all about. Well, at the start of the summer I bought a block of feta cheese from lidl well that’s a slight untruth, it was a block of “Greek Style Salad Cheese”. Not authentic Feta but damn near as spot on as far as I’m concerned. Well a couple of weeks ago I got it out and had a look at the sell by date.          25/06/14.       That’ll be alright I thought. It was still in it’s sealed packet, hadn’t turned to mush or the packet was still intact and not inflated like a balloon. “I’ll use that sometime” I said to myself. So back into my cheese dept in my fridge it went. I don’t know about you but I always seem to have at least five various types of cheese on the go and why not. If you know a really good chutney maker as I do then you need the ammunition to go with the chutneys.

So last week I peeped in the reduced section of the meat fridges at Lidl and saw a packet of free range chicken breasts I can’t resist them so I bought it and told myself to cook it rather than freeze it along with the other five packets I already have. So there it sat in my fridge easily passing it’s sell by date by a whole 6 days till I took it out last night. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever. You can tell how meat is doing in a packet by looking at it and looking for the packet ballooning with bacteria farts. Even if the packet has “blown” a bit, it’s still ok, just give it a slight wash in cold water, after all, you’re not going to eat it raw are you?

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Chicken and cheese. It’s a match made in heaven and even sung about at the start of Gong’s “Allez Ali Baba Bullshit…” on the Live Floating Anarchy album. Well chicken and cheese and bacon. That’s just awesome in my mind so that’s what I did. I made a pocket in the chicken and stuffed it with the feta and then wrapped the chicken in 2 slices of smoked bacon. I didn’t have Parma ham and I rarely do anyway. Lidl do a really good Serrano and even cheaper a Black Forest ham that’s just as good. I didn’t have them either so bacon it was.

To go with the chicken I decided on a mushroom risotto. I part made this first by frying mushrooms and then garlic and the rice adding a glug of white wine and then slowly adding chicken stock. I only added a small amount as I had to pick up Carol from work so I left it there. When we were ready to eat I fried the chicken breasts in butter all over and then put them in a hot oven for 15 minutes. I then started on the risotto again just slowly adding more stock till the rice was ready and creamy. I took the chicken out and let it rest and then served with some mange tout. I still can’t think of mange tout without thinking of an old fella I used to work with a nice country farmhand kind of guy who used to call it quite innocently Mangy Towt. I never had the heart to correct him.

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The chicken was as moist as anything and the combination of chicken, bacon, feta and mushroom was really nice. I was told to make this again (clearly praise) for when we had guests. I would say I had a nice Merlot with this but Carol pointed out that I leave my wine till I’ve finished the food only to glug it in large mouthfuls by itself. Well I like it that way.

Good to be back folks if you’re still out there. I may be talking to thin air but I had fun cooking and eating this.

Mugsie