Cook with Jamie: A cut above! You don't have to spend a fortune for bags of flavour, as these delicious meat dishes prove…
22:38 GMT, 9 November 2012
This week I’m focusing on affordable meat. For a long time there’s been a distinction between what is viewed as high- or low-quality meat, often based on whether it’s expensive or cheap.
A lot of chefs, and more customers, think it’s all about fillet steak.
The cuts that aren’t premium are regarded as second-class and this mentality has caused a lot of restaurants to be predictable with their menus. But the prime cuts of meat, which people pay top price for, represent a small proportion of any beast.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fillet steak as much as the next person, but you only have to dive into old cookbooks to find hundreds of reasons to love so-called lesser cuts.
With chicken, breasts are seen as the easy option, so I’ve given you a beautiful recipe to help you take chicken legs to another level. They’re much cheaper than breasts, and you can get the thigh meat deliciously tender, so they’re well worth adding to your repertoire.
I’ve also given you a couple of really solid pork recipes that I hope you’ll make time and again. First up is my take on that old favourite, ham and peas, using slow-cooked ham hocks which are super cheap and add bags of flavour.
Some cuts of pork really benefit from slow cooking, so I’ve also followed that principle in my simple stroganoff. It makes the most of pork shoulder and the flavours that develop during cooking are just incredible.
Finally, a note on shopping – we all use supermarkets; they’re easy and the range of products is growing. But often local butchers can be cheaper. Also, they’ll cut meat how you want, offer cooking advice, and tell you what’s good value. So get out there and try something new – it will save you a few bob too, and that’s never a bad thing.
JAMIE'S TOP TIPS
Making up big batches of your dishes, even if you’re only cooking for yourself, is a great idea – you can keep the rest in the fridge for lunch or dinner the next day, or freeze portions in sandwich bags for those days when you’re short on time.
For a super-simple home-made chicken stock, boil up a chicken carcass with fresh herbs and root veg. Strain it, discarding anything left behind in the sieve and you’ll have a great flavourful base to use in soups, stews and sauces.
PORK SHOULDER STROGANOFF
Pork shoulder stroganoff
1 x 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) pork shoulder, fat removed
300g (10oz) button mushrooms, larger ones halved
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
1-2tsp cayenne pepper
A few thyme sprigs
150ml (5fl oz) single cream
1 garlic clove
1 small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Fat-free natural yoghurt, and rice, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Place the pork shoulder, mushrooms and onions in a snug-fitting casserole pot with a glug of olive oil, the cayenne, thyme, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and 800ml (1pts) water. Cover and roast in the oven for 3 hours, till the meat is falling apart. Remove from the oven, transfer the pork to a board, then shred and pull the meat apart with 2 forks. Remove and discard any fat. Put the dish over a high heat and reduce the liquid by a third, till the sauce is a nice consistency. Lower the heat, stir in the cream and add the pork to the sauce.
Finely chop the garlic, gherkins and parsley, then grate over the lemon zest and toss to combine. Add half to the stroganoff, then squeeze the juice into the remaining gherkin mixture and mix well. Taste, correct the seasoning then scatter it over the stroganoff, along with a pinch of paprika. Serve with rice and yoghurt on the side.
HAM AND PEAS
3 ham hocks (roughly 2kg/4lb 8oz in total)
Ham and peas
2 leeks, trimmed
1 celery stalk, trimmed
2 bay leaves
100g (3oz) pearl barley
1 chicken stock cube
400g (14oz) frozen peas
1 small bunch of fresh curly parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp mint sauce
Bread and English mustard, to serve
The day before you want to cook this recipe, soak the ham hocks in a pot of cold water overnight. The next day, drain the hocks, refill the pot with fresh cold water and bring to the boil. Discard the water, rinse the hocks, and repeat once more.
Finely slice the leeks, celery and carrots in your food processor or using a mandolin. Add the veg to a casserole pan with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the bay leaves. Sweat over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, till the veg are soft but not coloured.
Add the drained ham hocks, pearl barley and stock cube and 2 litres (3pts) of water to the casserole. Bring to the boil then cook, with the lid on, over a medium-low heat for 3 hours or until the ham is very tender. Check on it occasionally, and top up with more water if needed.
Using tongs, transfer the ham hocks to a clean board and carefully remove all the fat and bones. Shred the meat then return it to the broth. Turn the heat up and add the peas. When they’re tender, stir the parsley and mint sauce into the broth, adding a little more water if needed. Serve with bread and English mustard.
SPICY STICKY CHICKEN
Spicy sticky chicken
4 large free-range chicken legs, with the skin on
2tsp garam masala
1tbsp crumbled dried curry leaves
1tbsp mustard seeds
3 red chillies, halved
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 large plum tomatoes, quartered
2tbsp white wine vinegar
1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked
Fat-free natural yoghurt, to serve
Rub the chicken legs with a drizzle of olive oil and the garam masala then transfer to a large nonstick ovenproof pan. Add another drizzle of oil and fry the chicken over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until dark golden. Be brave and let it get really nice and dark – it will make such a difference to the end result if you get it right. Drain off excess fat. At this point, preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Next, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, chillies, sliced onion and garlic to the chicken. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and white wine vinegar and stir.
Transfer the pan to the oven. Cook, uncovered, for 50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone. Pop the pan on the hob and reduce the liquid until sticky. Scatter with coriander leaves and serve with the cooling yoghurt, some rice or couscous, and a crisp, refreshing salad.
SIMPLE SATURDAY NIGHT SUPPER
Creamy mushroom & thyme pasta
A creamy pasta dish
320g (11oz) dried penne
15g (oz) butter
250g (9oz) clean mixed mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2tbsp thyme, leaves only
1tbsp oregano leaves, chopped
4tbsp half-fat crme frache
A squeeze of lemon juice
Grated Parmesan, to serve.
Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. In a frying pan, heat the butter until sizzling. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the crme frache and lemon juice, heat through, season, then toss with the drained pasta, loosening with a splash of cooking water if needed. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING
Winter fruit compote
A healthy breakfast
500g (1lb 2oz) dried fruit, including prunes, figs, apricots, pears, raisins and cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
4 star anise
1 litre (1pt) Earl Grey tea
100ml (3fl oz) brandy or Armagnac.
Soak the dried fruit, cinnamon stick and star anise in the tea overnight.
The following day, put the soaked fruit with the honey into a large pan.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently over a low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat, pour the brandy or Armagnac in, and stir.
Serve the compote warm or cold with natural yoghurt or on top of porridge.
The fruit will keep for several weeks, covered, in the fridge.