Tag Archives: chilli

Carnitas

s-DSC01688This is ace. I used:

  • 1 kg diced pork shoulder from the posh supermarket (a whole five pounds)
  • 10g sea salt
  • 3 whole dried chipotles, roughly chopped, seeds and all
  • four cloves garlic, peeled and squished
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds

Mix the pork and salt and leave for an hour two, or overnight in the fridge.

Put everything into a roasting tin, where it will fit in a single layer, and pour over boiling water to almost, but not quite cover the meat. Place in the oven for two hours at Gas 4 (thermometer reckoned 160°C) – uncovered – stir once or twice as the top starts to brown. It may dry out a little fast in a fan oven, so you may want to top up the liquid level. After two hours, start poking and prodding: the meat should more or less collapse given a squeeze, the fat should have rendered, and there will be a scant quarter inch of dark gooey juices at the bottom of the tin, into which the chilli and garlic will have collapsed and dissolved.

Extract the meat with a slotted spoon and shred with a pair of forks, but leave the roasting tin on the bench, and under no circumstances discard the liquid.

carnitas

Return the shredded meat to the roasting tin, and combine with the liquid: the extra surface area will probably absorb most, if not all of it.

Return to the oven for another half an hour to crisp up, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.


Weeknight Dhal

Supper for two, or starter for four.

Wash 200g of split red lentils, and pop into a small saucepan with 500mL water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice a small onion, and place in another slightly larger saucepan with 10mL vegetable oil, on a medium heat. Stir regularly until the onion has gone translucent and soft, and then reduce the heat as low as you can, so it’s barely sizzling. The onion needs to be browned, but not burnt, which will take about half an hour.

Coincidentally, after half an hour, the lentils will have gone a pleasing shade of yellow, and all but collapsed. You may need to add a splash of water from time to time if they threaten to solidify. The cooking liquid will become creamy as the starch oozes out.

Into the other saucepan, add a pinch of chilli flakes, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, and two whole cloves, roughly crushed. Stir these as they fry for a minute, and then add the entire contents of the other saucepan, stirring to combine.  Add a teaspoon of turmeric, and allow the whole lot to simmer for a few more minutes before dishing up.


Slow Lamb 2

Let’s take slow lamb over to the other side of the Mediterranean. This isn’t quite perfected, but it’s jolly good nonetheless. Line a roasting tin with a piece of foil large enough to wrap up over and seal, and into it place the following:

  • 1kg lamb neck fillet, chopped up into one inch lengths, try and get this into a single layer
  • the juice of 2 lemons
  • a whole head of garlic, peeled and bashed up a bit, but no need to separate
  • 1 tbsp of dried chilli flakes
  • 6 whole dried chillies
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp of sea salt (sea salt crystals are quite large, so much less if you’re using table salt)
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • a cinnamon stick broken into 2 or 3 pieces

Pack the head of garlic in with the lamb, tuck in the cinnamon sticks, and just sprinkle everything else over the top evenly. Wrap up foil, and crimp, so it’s properly sealed.

Three hours in the oven at 150°C should do. Serve with couscous.

Despite the relatively heavy use of spices, it’s mild and aromatic, rather than viciously hot, as the whole spices seem to preserve more aroma. If you need to use ground spices, then halve the quantities. You could also add a pinch of ground spices if you want to add kick. Don’t bully your guests with too much chilli, instead, just serve with harissa on the side.

(Serves six.)


Sweet Chilli Salmon

Barely a recipe at all, this just shows off one of my favourite condiments of all time.

Put some salmon fillets or steaks into a bowl, with one tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce per piece of fish. Let them sit at room temperature for about an hour, turning if you can remember. A teensy splodge of neutral vegetable oil in the frypan, and then fry. (I do flesh side down for 2-3 mins, then skin side until a bit of white salmon fat starts to ooze out the sides and the middle is still looking very slightly translucent.)

Job done.

(Don’t serve with anything more complex than a green salad.)


Onion Marmalade

It’s fashionable to refer to this stuff as “onion marmalade” or “onion jam”. “Relish”, “chutney”, or “goop” might be closer. This is great for serving with pâté, cheese or sausages.

In a decent sized frypan, melt 25g butter, and add 1 tbsp mustard seeds. You can also add a pinch of chilli flakes, and/or a whole clove of garlic, peeled and squished but not chopped, which you remove after five mins. Fry gently for about a minute, and then add 500g brown onions, peeled, halved and sliced, well, not finely, but not roughly either. Red onions are good for this as well. Oh, and a pinch of salt.

Fry on a medium heat, moving the onion around until it’s soft and starting to colour. This will take around five minutes. Easier to manipulate the onion with a pair of barbecue tongs.

Once that’s done, add 75mL water and 50g muscovado sugar. This will start boiling almost immediately – reduce the heat so it’s gently burbling to itself, and cover. Leave for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Be vigilant – if all the water evaporates the sugar will burn.

Now, add 150ml red wine, and 75ml wine or cider vinegar. Bring this  back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. It’ll probably take twenty minutes for the liquid to reduce by half. To test whether it’s done, stick a wooden spoon or spatula into the pan, and drag it along the bottom, to create a trench. Does the liquid immediately rush in to fill the gap? Not done. Does the liquid hesitate slightly, before rushing in? Better. Is the liquid a little reluctant? Done!

Pop this into a clean jar, seal, and leave in the cupboard for about 24 hours before serving. This gives it chance to mellow and mature, as it doesn’t taste very nice the second it has been made. If your jar has been vigorously sterilised, as per jam making, then it will keep for months.


Korma Chameleon

A quintessentially English dish, which comes from some hastily scribbled notes made in the mid nineties. Make this with skinless chicken breasts, or pork fillets. You could also use some diced lamb leg. If you’re doing a vegetable version, some hacked up butternut squash and broccoli would be good.

This isn’t a quick fix meal, as you need to make the marinade, do the marinating, and then bake the results, but, with a bit of planning this can be really handy, as you can make the marinade in advance, marinate during the day when you’re at work, and then simply bung it in the oven in the evening.

I liquidise the marinade by shoving the hand blender into the saucepan, which is a lot less washing up than transferring everything to the food processor. If that doesn’t appeal, then just make sure you chop everything finely.

You’ll need:

  • 25g butter (or ghee, or vegetable oil, but not olive oil as it would taste really, really wrong here)
  • 200mL natural (“Greek”) yoghurt – the important thing here is that it needs to be live
  • 150mL cream, either cow or coconut (vary the ratio of yoghurt to cream depending on your tastes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, more if you fancy
  • enough chilli to add excitement (maybe a level teaspoon chilli flakes, one small vicious chilli, or a couple of larger mild ones)
  • 1 large onion
  • 50g ground almonds (or cashews or both)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
  • a bunch of coriander (both leaves and stalks)
    …oh, and…
  • 500g meat with the fat removed, and chopped up into 1 inch pieces, or about 500g of vegetables

Using a small saucepan, fry the (peeled, chopped) onion in the butter for about 10 minutes. You’re looking for a deep golden colour, so don’t be timid. Don’t be so bold you burn them.

Add the (peeled, sliced) garlic and chilli, frying until the garlic is translucent. Add the turmeric, ginger and cardamom. Fry for another half a minute, then add the coriander stalks, and almonds. Turn off the heat and add the cream and yoghurt. It will smell quite disgusting, but don’t lose heart, it just needs to cook.

You could refrigerate or freeze this mixture. Or even make it in bulk.

Place meat/veg and the sauce in an oven proof dish, and cover with enough marinade to coat everything, but not drown it. Any leftover marinade can go in the freezer for another time. Marinate for one, preferably two, hours at room temperature or all day in the fridge.

Assuming you’re using chicken, about 30 minutes in the oven at 180ºC should do. Veg might need a little longer to soften up, and I think lamb would benefit from longer at a lower temperature. Anyway, check periodically after 20 minutes just to make sure.

Once it’s done, stir in as much of the chopped up coriander leaves as you feel necessary, and maybe garnish with some toasted almonds, and a squirt of lemon juice. Rice or naan.

And cold, cold beer, of course.


You could also thread the pieces of meat onto skewers and barbecue them instead.


As I said, quite an English dish. For some proper kormas, and many other wonderful things, take a look at 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi, which is an intelligent and accessible overview of Indian cuisine. (The second edition apparently corrects some of the woeful typos in the first.)


Puttanesca II

This is highly offensive and will render you unfit for civilised company.

Peel, finely slice, and fry four cloves of garlic in two tablespoons olive oil. Add a generous pinch of chilli flakes and wait for the garlic to get slightly translucent and golden about the edges. Tip in a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, and four anchovy fillets. Simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce by half. Check the seasoning: will probably need a good grind of pepper; but no extra salt.

Serve with linguine and plenty of parmesan.

Makes enough to serve a single misanthrope.


Chilli

Back in the day, when grander households than ours referred to this as “chilly con carny”, it was simply known by my parents as mince ‘n’ beans. Of course, this is simply an excuse to then eat vast amounts of cheese, sour cream and guacamole. (Which we certainly didn’t have when I was a kid.)

I’m fairly sure this is neither Mexican, nor even Texmexican, but it’s tasty.

Key ingredients, for this flavour, are the dried oregano and cumin. Go easy on the chilli, as you can always splash a bit of Tabasco over it later on.

In tonight’s batch I used:

  • 300g beef mince
  • two small onions, diced
  • one red capsicum, diced
  • four cloves garlic, peeled and sliced finely
  • one 450g tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • one 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a teaspoon of…
    • ground cumin
    • dried oregano
  • half a teaspoon of…
    • dried chilli flakes
    • dried thyme (maybe)
  • you can also add some fresh coriander leaves at the end if you fancy

Start by browning the mince in a small amount of oil. If it ain’t brown, it’s grey, and grey ain’t right. A spot of salt and pepper will help it on its way.

Pop the mince in a holding bowl, add a bit more oil and fry the chilli flakes for about a minute, add the garlic, fry for another minute, add the ground cumin and fry for a slow count of ten, before chucking in the onion and capsicum, then stirring like crazy, to incorporate all the brown goo from the bottom of the pan into the dish. (If you’re using cumin seeds, add them at the same time as the garlic, so they get a good minute or so.)

The veg need to soften up, and get brown around the edges, so a good ten minutes of medium heat and the occasional stir are required – there’s nothing worse than crunchy capsicum in a dish like this. Boil the jug whilst you’re doing this. Once that’s done, return the mince, plus the tomatoes, the beans, and enough boiled water from the jug so everything’s almost submerged.

Stir in the herbs, bring to the boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer and leave for an hour to reduce. An hour? That’s enough time to whip up some tortillas and have a couple of beers.

Adult Hot Chocolate

Something to occupy the time if you’re plagued by biphasic sleep and don’t fancy being an author.

The trick here is knowing how much chilli to use, if in doubt, less is more, as it’s only there to add a certain zing to the proceedings. The dried chillis in my cupboard at the moment are medium sized, but very mild.

  1. In a small saucepan, heat 200mL milk (full cream is better than semi skimmed in this case) per person, plus 4 cardamom pods, a quarter of a cinnamon stick and a small dried chilli or a pinch chilli flakes.
  2. When the milk is shuddering, almost at the boil, turn off the heat, stir, and leave to stand.
  3. Meanwhile, break up 80g of dark chocolate per person, and place in a glass jug atop a pan of simmering water, and allow to melt.
  4. When the chocolate has almost melted (after about five minutes) turn the heat back on under the milk, but don’t let it boil.
  5. Once the chocolate has melted, turn the heat up underneath. Pour a splash of the hot milk in, less than the volume of chocolate, and stir until it blends in. The chocolate will become very thick.
  6. Keep adding the milk, in increasing amounts, stirring all the time, until you’ve added about half of it. You’ll need to pour it through a sieve to catch the spices.
  7. You can add the final half in one go, but keep stirring. The water underneath may have come to the boil by this point, but don’t worry. Once it’s all blended, turn the heat off, and serve in warmed cups.

Lamb Curry

There was some rather good lamb in the supermarket today, so it had to be Curry.

I used

  • 400g lamb leg, trimmed and chopped into cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp minced chilli from the jar (wasn’t quite enough for my tastes)
  • 50mL Greek yoghurt (and another 50mL for later)
  • a 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a large onion
  • a fistful of coriander leaves
  • and a supporting cast of cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, and cloves

I do it like this:

  1. Put the cubed lamb in a bowl with the chilli, crushed garlic, a grind of pepper and salt, and the yoghurt. Mix well, and let this sit for at least an hour, or maybe an afternoon. If you’re doing it overnight, maybe in the fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion into wedges – no need to get fancy – and gently fry it in a large pan, with a couple of tablespoons of oil, six cloves, and half a cinnamon stick, broken into two.

    Around about twenty minutes ought to do the trick, which is just enough time to have a beer.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, grind up about a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and the seeds from six cardamom pods until vaguely powdery. Yes, you can get fancy and use some kind of mechanical grinder, but the effort you spend cleaning that bit of machinery afterwards will put your labours with the mortar and pestle to shame.
  4. Back at the pan, fish out the cloves and cinnamon – doesn’t matter if a few bits get left behind – and then turn the heat up high. Add the cumin and cardamom, and stir madly for about half a minute.
  5. Just before the spices start to burn, add the lamb. (You may want to have your extractor fan going at this juncture, or have a window open.) Keep stirring furiously, for about a minute, until the lamb is cooked on the outside.
  6. Turn the heat right down, and hurl in the tomatoes.

    If you hurl them in with the unnecessary esprit and élan with which I hurled them tonight, you will get tomato on your jeans. Consider this possibility.
  7. Now, just let the whole thing simmer, very gently, for about an hour.
  8. Five minutes before the end, stir in the rest of the yoghurt, and the coriander leaves.
  9. Serve with basmati rice. You could reserve some of the coriander, plus a lemon wedge or two, for a garnish, if you’re that way inclined.