Friday, 22 January 2016

A year of GOOD EATING

Nigel Slater brings his love of food to the table with delectable main dishes and tantalising desserts

Written by Nigel Slater

Steak, Stilton and thyme pie (pictured above)

Serves 4

A little groundnut oil
1kg beef, cubed
10 small shallots
300g carrots
A rib of celery
2 tbsp plain flour
200ml Marsala
1 litre beef stock
8 sprigs thyme

For the shortbread crust
250g plain flour
75g butter
large handful parsley
80g Stilton
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 egg yolks
water, to mix

Warm a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep casserole dish over a moderately high heat, add a third of the beef and brown on all sides, then remove and continue with the rest of the meat. By doing it in two or three batches you avoid crowding the pan, allowing the meat to brown more effectively.

Peel and halve the shallots, roughly chop the carrots, then add both to the pan, with a little more oil if needed, browning gently and evenly. Slice the celery into thin pieces and add to the pan, but don’t let it brown.

Return the beef to the pan, together with any juices that may have escaped. Scatter over the flour, continue cooking for a minute or two, then pour in the Marsala and the beef stock and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper, tuck in the thyme sprigs, then lower the heat and simmer, very gently, for almost 2 hours, until the beef is tender. Leave to cool a little while you make the crust.

For the crust: put the flour into a bowl, add the butter, then rub together until you have the texture of coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. Chop the parsley roughly. Add the crumbled Stilton, the chopped parsley and thyme leaves to the flour and butter and rub gently to fine crumbs. Mix in the egg yolks and enough water to make a soft but rollable dough. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6.

Cut the dough in half. Roll one half to the diameter of the casserole dish, then place on top of the beef. Cut a hole or small slit in the centre to let the steam out. Shape the other half into a 20cm disc, place on a baking sheet, prick the surface with a fork, then score into six segments, as if you were slicing a cake.

Bake the pie and separate crust for 25 to 30 minutes, till golden brown. (Keep an eye on the disc of crust – you may need to remove it before the pie is ready.) Serve the pie with wedges of the extra crust for those who want it.

Roast shoulder of lamb with young greens

Serves 4-5

food-590-2

2kg shoulder of lamb 
Olive oil
8 anchovy fillets
3 bushy sprigs rosemary
8-10 sprigs thyme

For the vegetables
250g mixed greens (purple sprouting broccoli, young beetroot leaves, red chard, etc)
200ml vegetable stock or water
250g shelled peas

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Place the lamb in a roasting tin, rub all over with olive oil and season lightly with sea salt. Pierce the fat in 15 or so places with the point of a knife, cutting 3cm or 4cm down into the flesh.
Stuff the slits in the meat alternately with anchovy fillets and tufts of rosemary. Scatter with the thyme sprigs, tucking a few underneath the meat.

Roast the lamb for 1½ hours, until the fat has turned translucent and pale-honey coloured and the meat is light rose-pink. Remove the roasting tin from the oven, lift out the meat and place somewhere warm, covering lightly with foil. Leave to rest for 15 minutes or so.

Trim the broccoli and the beetroot and chard stems, removing the leaves and setting them aside. Place the roasting tin over a low to moderate heat, then pour in the stock or water and bring to the boil. When the liquid starts to bubble, stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to dislodge the roasted meat juices and herbs, then add the peas, broccoli and the chard and beetroot stems and cover with foil. Leave the vegetables to steam in the roasting juices for 3 or 4 minutes, turning them from time to time.

Add the leaves of the chard and beetroot, turn them once or twice in the hot liquid until they have wilted, then lift all the vegetables out into a warm serving dish. Turn the heat up under the roasting tin and reduce the liquid to a thin, deeply flavoured dressing.

Carve the lamb onto a warm serving dish or directly onto plates, and serve with the roasting juices and vegetables.

Meringues with lime curd and pistachios

Makes 8
food-450-1

For the meringues
250g caster sugar
6 egg whites
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp white wine vinegar

For the filling
2 limes
2 lemons
100g butter
4 egg yolks
100g (50g shelled weight) salted pistachios

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Scatter the sugar in a fine layer over a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 5 minutes or so to warm.

Put the egg whites into a deep mixing bowl, preferably the bowl of a food mixer, and beat fairly slowly till white and fluffy. I find the process works best with a food mixer and whisk attachment, but a hand whisk will do the trick too.

Tip the warm sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, into the egg whites, beating all the time at a moderate to high speed. The sugar added, continue beating for a good 5 minutes, until the egg whites and sugar are stiff and glossy. They should be able to stand in stiff, shiny peaks. Mix in the cornflour and the vinegar.

Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment, or use a very lightly oiled baking sheet dusted with a very fine layer of flour. Using a large serving spoon, place eight piles of the mixture, each about the size of a goose egg, on the sheet. Place in the preheated oven and immediately lower the heat, door closed, to 140C/gas mark 1.

Bake the meringues for 35 to 40 minutes, till crisp outside. They should be soft and marshmallowlike within. Allow the meringues to cool on the tray before moving, with the help of a palette knife, to a cooling rack.

To make the filling: finely grate the zest of the limes and lemons into a heatproof bowl that will fit comfortably in the top of a small saucepan. Squeeze the lemon and lime juice into the bowl, then place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Cut the butter into small pieces, then drop them into the juice and zest and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. Beat the egg yolks lightly to mix, then pour into the juice and zest, a little at a time, stirring regularly.

Warm the mixture and leave to thicken, over the hot water, for roughly 20 minutes, beating regularly with a wooden spoon. The curd won’t actually set till it has cooled. Remove from the heat and let it cool, then refrigerate.

To serve, place the meringues on individual plates or a serving dish, lightly crush the top of each with a spoon, then place a spoonful of curd in each hollow. Roughly chop the pistachios and scatter over the top.

A Year Of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III, by Nigel Slater, with photography by Jonathan Lovekin, is published by Fourth Estate, priced £30.


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