Dinner With The Omnivore

Posts Tagged ‘meat

Kitchen essential. Possibly without 'Smeg' written on it though.

Had you ever had the temerity to suggest to your granny that you couldn’t possibly manage your culinary affairs without the benefit of a freezer, she would probably have hooted with laughter, told you you didn’t know you were born and regaled you with tales of such antiquated habits as daily shopping and having all your milk delivered.

Undoubtedly it’s possible to live without a freezer, but when you live next door to a supermarket which knocks its meat down to half price just before it goes out of date (and manages its stock badly) and a load of chalet staff whose stock control likewise leaves things to be desired, the initial investment pays dividends in cheap food.

On the other hand, this sort of blatant pikey scrounging does backfire and leave you with random gluts, which is why I am currently suffering from a surfeit of sausage.

Now, I like a nice length of sausage as much as the next woman, but you can get bored with the same old thing all the time. Bangers and mash is always a good bet, though I favour an English style sausage for this one. Sausage and bean casserole goes down well, and the ever-reliable one-pot sausage pasta is a welcome winter staple. But new sausage suggestions are required.

Which brings me once again to the BBC’s Good Food website, a culinary treasure trove despite its celebrity chef obsession and rather annoying habit of telling you to buy things which you could much better make for yourself.

A brief trawl turns up several meatball suggestions. I believe these used to be called faggots, back in the day, but no doubt you get arrested for using that sort of language in these modern times, which is probably why the BBC calls them meatballs.

Easy meatballs

You will need: a kilo each of beef mince and sausagemeat; an onion, finely chopped; a load of chopped parsley: 100g breadcrumbs; two eggs.

Get all the ingredients together in a big bowl, stick your hands in there and squish it around until it’s thoroughly mixed together (I love a picky precise recipe, me). Roll it into bits about the size of golf balls, then roast them in olive oil for about half an hour at 200°C.

Auntie’s website suggests several possible meatball sauces, which means you can knock up a whole load of these and then use them for a series of different meals. And/or just whack them straight back into the freezer, obviously.

Italian ...

Italian style: fry off some garlic, then add a can of tomatoes, splosh of red wine, teaspoon of sugar, meatballs . Simmer until the sauce is reduced, add some shredded basil leaves, serve with spaghetti and parmesan.

Spanish style: as above, but add chopped chorizo along with the garlic, leave out the basil and add paprika. Serve with roast potatoes.

Moroccan style: heat the oil and add chopped apricots, a diced onion, a cinnamon stick, a can of tomatoes, bit of liquid and the meatballs. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Serve with couscous and garnish with fresh coriander and flaked almonds.

.... and Moroccan

Eagle-eyed readers of the Beeb’s website will spot that their recipe is not precisely the same as mine – this is because I wanted a generic meatball, so I missed out the parmesan on the grounds that it was too Italian. I also did 50:50 beef to sausagemeat, because I have no idea how much meat there is in ‘eight good-quality pork sausages’. And I suspect Auntie hasn’t a clue either.

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If you won't eat the fish, I'm going home to mother.

 

Once again I find myself having to live with the consequences of rushing blindly into marriage with someone who turns his nose up at perfectly acceptable run-of-the-mill foodstuffs. And while refusing to eat anchovies isn’t too restricting – what with them being very small and quite expensive – rejecting cheap and tasty dinner on the flimsy grounds that you didn’t like what your mother did with liver when you were five is just ridiculous.

Admittedly, mothers do have an odd habit of buying ox liver and then frying the living shit out of it for some reason. I know it’s possible to eat shoe leather, but you’d usually wait until you were very much in extremis before you tried it. But succulent and delicious chicken liver cooked in brandy with a dash of cream is hardly comparable, is it?

Anyway, liver remains firmly off the menu, which is annoying when it costs pennies and tastes like something you’d pay 6€ a tub for.

But having seen him eat paté on several occasions, I formulate a cunning plan …

Chicken Liver Paté

You will need: 225g chicken livers; 150g butter; 2 tblsp brandy; spot of mustard; 2 cloves garlic; thyme.

Fry off the livers in a bit of the butter, then put them in a blender. Melt the rest of the butter and pour that into the blender as well. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and pour that in as well. Add all the rest of the ingredients and whizz the whole lot to a smooth paste. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before eating.

Result! Not only does he pig the lot, he asks when we can have it again. You can use this as some kind of fancy starter with salad stuff or you can just plaster it all over buttered toast and scoff it (we went for option 2, needless to say). It gets more alarmingly garlicky the longer it sits in the fridge.

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Autumn. Very picturesque and all that, but it's still bloody June.

Well, summer came and went in the space of about four days sometime last week, and we find ourselves to all intents and purposes somewhere in the throes of late October. Were it actually autumn, I could be sitting at home in my slippers all day with my feet up drinking tea, which would compensate in some small measure for the Baltic temperatures and incessant rain.

However, since the calendar is under the impression that it is still sometime in June, I have spent the past several days standing at the bottom of a ski lift in rather fewer clothes than everyone else seems to have been issued with, for some reason. Clearly some kind of xenophobic plot if you ask me.

Even the most avid people-watcher would have to admit that there is a limit to the entertainment value to be derived from an endless procession of mud-encrusted mountain bikers, particularly when you’re expending all of your available energy on merely maintaining a viable body temperature. Top tip: if you wish to wring any sort of response out of the frozen cashier-cum-liftie at the bottom of the chairlift, forget the Francophone banter muffled by full face helmet and feed it a cheese sandwich.

Mud - cold and wet. Sorry, but you can keep it, frankly.

The result of all this unseasonally Arctic weather (global warming, innit) is that I have a fridge full of squishy salad ingredients because I absolutely refuse to eat all that healthy fruit and veg rubbish when my core temperature is hovering somewhere around absolute zero. I want lard. FEED ME LARD!!

Fortunately for the waistline, tartiflette takes rather more faff (and expense) than I was prepared for after working all day and then going shopping, so I went for the pasta with sausagemeat and carrot concoction. This is one of our standard winter staples, and is the ultimate cheap ‘n’ easy cold weather comfort food. It comes from a Sainsbury’s pasta cookbook by Patricia Lousada, which I assume is long out of print but is allegedly still available via Amazon marketplace at the thoroughly outrageous price of £8.40. I’d probably recommend biting the bullet and buying it even at that price, because it’s packed with all manner of tasty stuff, from basic student fare through to DIY stuffed fresh pasta, if you can be arsed. Which I really can’t, but it looks good.

Maccheroni con la salsiccia e le carote (Which I take to mean macaroni with sausagemeat and carrots – ever noticed how things sound much tastier in foreign?)

You will need: 225g sausagemeat; 3 grated carrots; 1 onion; can of tomatoes; chicken stock; bay leaf; oregano.

Fry off the onion then add the meat and brown it lightly, breaking it up with a fork. Add the carrot, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and oregano, then simmer for 20 minutes. Top up with water so that there is enough to cook a load of pasta. Add said pasta (of whatever sort – I usually use penne, farfalle or macaroni) and cook until a) al dente and b) the sauce isn’t watery.

Patricia, being a proper cook, has you doing the pasta separately and measuring things properly, but I like a meal which fits into one pan, particularly when I’ve been freezing my tits off at the bottom of a ski lift all day and can’t be bothered with washing up.

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Food for thought

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

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