Tagged: butter

Pimping your Food – Onion Stylee!

This is going to be a pretty short post because it’s not really about a whole plate of food. It’s about how to take a simple family classic and give it a simple tweak that will elevate it to a whole new level.

So, the simple dish of the day is… SAUSAGES & MASH!

Doesn’t get much easier than that. You can start with the basics and mess around to your hearts content, but everyone who has even basic kitchen skills should be able to put together some sausages and mashed potato so I won’t be telling you how to do either of them…

Well, all right, I will make a few suggestions…

I always roast my sausages in the oven, turning a couple of times… it takes about 30 mins and gives a nice all round ‘cook’.

As for mash, I rarely have it plain. There are just to many ways to sex it up. You’ll see from the pictures that I actually threw a few carrots into mine, cooked at the same time as the potatoes and mashed together too. Easy and more colourful… and, of course more tasty.

You can throw a handful of peeled garlic cloves into the potatoes as they cook and mash them all up together to get a really subtle flavour. Alternatively, at the mashing stage add mustard, or creamed horseradish, or harissa paste, or smoked paprika, or marmalade, or … well you get the idea.

But to get to the real point of this blog I want to introduce you to a little bit of classical French cooking. If you were a ‘saucier’, this gem would be a key piece of your arsenal. Surprisingly though, it is a rarely heard of sauce. I should point out too that I am going to be showing you a bit of a cheats version rather than the full hit ‘Masterchef’ one.

The sauce you are going to be making replaces the key missing element from the S&M which, as we all know, would normally be ONION GRAVY! (And fear not, I still love gravy and will continue you to use it as part of my S&M routine in years to come)

“Get on with it!” I hear you clamouring.

You are going to now discover how to make a SAUCE SOUBISE.

Already, it sounds a bit posh… perfect for dinner party oneupmanship etc.

A Sauce Soubise is basically where you combine a classic bechamel sauce with a fine onion puree… and that would be the proper way to do it… but most of us don’t have the time to be passing ingredients through fine sieves etc which is what you have to do if you are going down the ‘Masterchef’ route.

This is how you make a simplified version… but you can now call it “Sauce Soubise au Paysanne” and still keep ahead of your poncey mates!

Get three large onions and chop them coarsely.

Add them to a pan with a large knob of butter ( and I do mean large… 1/3 of a standard 250g block).

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Now all you are going to do is sweat them down for 30 mins on a low heat. Stir them regularly so they don’t brown up… you want to try and keep them pale in colour.

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Next, add a heaped tablespoon of flour and stir it around in the pan until it soaks up all the butter and onion juices.

Then add about a pint of vegetable stock and stir well so that it combines thoroughly with the onions and flour mix. Raise the heat slightly and get the pan going on a rolling simmer. This will let the liquid reduce slightly and start to thicken.

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Add some salt and white pepper (if you have it – black is fine too).

After about ten mins, get your electric hand blender (C’mon… you HAVE to have one of these in the kitchen!) and blitz the mixture until the you have made it into as fine a puree as you can.

Finally, add about 300ml of single cream and stir thoroughly until everything has warmed through.

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And that’s it… it really is a simple few steps and creates a marvellously rich and more’ish sauce. All the elements of an onion gravy with enough sophistication to satisfy the most pretentious of guests and… it really is bloody gorgeous. I first had this in a swanky restaurant and was in awe of how lovely it was… and then when I found out that it was so simple to make this basic version at home… HALLELUJAH!!

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Anyway, hope you enjoy… and if you want to go full out for cheffy marks, try the true classical version… but this one will do me just fine for the moment.

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Duck Breast with Blackcurrant Sauce and Mashed Potatoes

Well we’re moving away from water here, only slightly, leaving two legs in. Legs with webbed feet on though.
It’s one of those frozen duck breasts from Lidl. Yes, those massive ones, so one breast is enough for two people.

First of all, I made a mash. This one was a bit different as I steeped the potato skins in the milk I was going to use for the mash itself.

This was to get more of the potato flavour into the mash. Normally I leave some of the skin on for the mash but as Archie was having some with his sausage and beans, I had peeled the spuds. I usually also add butter to the mash but this time I added an olive oil margarine instead with the milk and a little salt. You know what? It was just as nice without the butter.

Next I started on the blackcurrant sauce. Are blackcurrants in season yet? Well yes, but who cares when you’ve got a good quality blackcurrant jam to hand. After all, you need to add sugar to the blackcurrants in a sauce anyway and those good people at Mirabel do it for you.

So, in a small saucepan I put 4 tablespoons of jam, a good glug of red wine and about the same amount of chicken stock. I then reduced the liquid down till it was a nice saucy consistency, I added a bit more stock to taste and set it aside till I needed it.

In a frying pan I placed the duck skin side down which I had seasoned with a lot of black pepper and I had also scored the fat. There’s no need to add any oil as loads comes out of the duck as you can see from the picture.

I fried it for 7 minutes on the skin side and then for 4 minutes on the other side and then let it rest for a few minutes while I did the rest of the meal.

While the duck was frying I boiled some fine beans in salted water. I got a large bag of these from Lidl for just £1.29. I will blanch and freeze the rest. After the beans were cooked, I drained them and then tossed them in a frying pan with garlic, Serrano ham and butter. I heated up the sauce again and then sliced the duck breast. It was just right, very pink in the middle. I then plated the lot up.

As you can probably now tell, I love a sauce. I may in the future just add recipes like “Some meat with insert weird ingredient Sauce

This was eaten with great delight along with a nice glass of shiraz.

It set me up nicely to thrash Archie on 18 holes at Sawgrass on Tiger Woods for the Wii.

Mugsie.