CROWN OF WOOD PIGEON WITH PRUNES

PRUNES! I can here you all screaming already! But it actually works really well, Cooking the pigeon on the crown will help to keep the meat juicy, the worst thing to do with pigeon is over cook it, pink is good, pigeon is generally at its best spring to autumn, but of course you can get them all year long,

My first taste of pigeon 

 I maybe shouldn’t tell this story, but as it’s an extremely long time ago I don’t think it’ll really matter, my grandma and granddad lived in the same village as me when I was growing up, a small village, one where everyone knew everyone else, that kind of place, my granddad was a fantastic gardener, I don’t remember ever buying any fruit or vegetables when I was a kid, potatoes, leeks, peas, beans etc, there was an orchard with apples, pears , damsons, plums, he grew raspberries, first time I was stung by a wasp was picking raspberries from his garden,  so I was a very lucky boy when it came to fresh fruit and vegetables, but the one thing that he was plagued by were pigeons, they’d sit in an enormous oak tree, and I mean enormous, that over looked the garden, and at every opportunity would do their best to eat everything in sight, on this one day , I’d just gotten off the school bus which was 20 yards from my grandparents house, when all I heard was the loudest bang I’d ever heard, we lived in a village remember, no shop, very little traffic, so this bang was loud, unbeknownst to me my granddad owned a shotgun, a single barrelled 10 bore which he’d owned for years apparently, (which incidentally my dad now has albeit it’s been disarmed) and on this day had decided enough was enough, the pigeon was going to get it! He’d taken a potshot at one, hit it cleanly and it fell to earth, I arrived on scene to find him wearing his cap, smoking a hamlet cigar with a huge grin, shotgun under one arm and carrying the pigeon with pride “ do you want this Jib?” ( Jib was my nickname, we’ve no idea where it came from but I’m still called Jib by my family today “ My first taste of wood pigeon, God bless you Granddad Bob

This recipe will serve 4 people 

Shopping list 

4 wood pigeon crowns

300ml of Sherry 

A splash of rapeseed oil 

A good handful of dried prunes 

4 good handfuls of peppery rocket or watercress 

3 tablespoons of caster sugar 

A splash of water 

4 tablespoons of good quality sherry vinegar 


Method 

1. Pour 200 ml of sherry over the pigeon and marinate overnight if possible 

2. Pour the rest of the sherry over the prunes and leave overnight 

3. Pre heat your oven to 200c

4. Take the pigeon from the sherry and dry with kitchen towel

5. Season the pigeon well and heat a heavy oven proof pan and add a splash of oil 

6. Put your pigeon in the pan skin side down and brown for 2 minutes 

7. Brown on all sides and then roast in the oven for 5 minutes 

8. Remove from the oven and leave to rest

9. Put the sugar and water in a pan and cook until you have a caramel, add the vinegar and the drained prunes and allow to cool

10. Remove the pigeon breasts from the crown and slice, dress the rocket with some of the dressing and place onto warm plates, place the pigeon on top and scatter the prunes around and drizzle with more dressing and serve 

Happy cooking 


Jon




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SPICY BEEF SHORT RIBS 

I love my spices, I don’t claim to know a great deal about them! But I do know when something tastes great, This recipe is one of those, something to nibble on when you’re sitting down watching the football, kinda foods I think, I’m using beef short ribs, but you could easily use pork if you want 

This recipe will serve 4 people 

Shopping list 

20 short ribs of beef

A good splash of vegetable oil 

2 tins of coconut milk 

A bunch of fresh coriander 

4 green chilli 

2 shallots peeled and chopped 

2 garlic clove 

4 sticks of lemongrass 

A piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped 

A piece of fresh galangal chopped 

A couple of teaspoons of palm sugar 


Method 

1. Pre heat your oven to 140c

2. Put 3 sticks of lemongrass, garlic, shallots, coriander stalks, 2 chilli and ginger into a food processor and blitz to a paste

3. Open the coconut milk, keep the cream and milk separate, add the cream to a saucepan with the spicy paste and cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes 

4. Add the coconut milk and continue to cook for 2 minutes 

5. In a pan brown the ribs in batches on all sides until nicely coloured 

6. Cover in the spicy sauce mixture and place the ribs into the oven 

7. Cook for 2-2 1/2 hours, the meat will come easily away from the bones

8. Lift the ribs from the sauce, keep to one side, put the pan onto a heat, add the galangal, extra chilli, palm sugar and bring to a boil for 1 minute 

9. Strain the sauce over your ribs , scatter freshly chopped coriander over and serve and enjoy

Happy cooking 

Jon 


CUMBRIAN CHRISTMAS PIE 

Now, this hasn’t anything to do with Cumbria, nor Christmas, and in the grand scheme of things, isn’t even a pie! Albeit that the ingredients are baked in pastry, but the pastry isn’t meant to be eaten! But! I couldn’t think of anything else to call this recipe, and as Christmas is just rearing it’s ugly head, I thought why not? You can of course make this at any time of the year if you so wish, and it also has the added benefit of eating great hot as a main course, or, cold for lunch with pickles, I’ll let you guys be the judge,  this really is a great show piece if you’re having a dinner party or something special 

You’ll see a theme running through this recipe, so if you’re not to savvy at boning out birds! I’d ask your butcher to do this for you 

Shopping list 

1 pigeon boned 

1 partridge boned 

1 pheasant boned 

1 goose boned 

1kg of Cumberland sausage meat 

1kg of hot water crust or puff pastry 

100g of melted butter 

A good handful of fresh chopped herbs, sage,rosemary,thyme and parsley 

Seasoning 

You’ll also need an ovenproof dish large enough to hold all of this! Because this is going to be rather large 


Method 

1. Pre heat your oven to 150c 

2. Grease and line your pie dish with grease proof paper and a layer of pastry

3. Put a thin layer of sausage meat onto the pastry 

4. Stuff the pigeon with a little of the sausage meat and then place the pigeon inside the partridge, partridge inside the pheasant and then the pheasant inside the goose! Season well as you go 

5. Now lay the birds inside the pie dish

6. Now fill in any gaps with the remaining sausage meat, make sure it’s well packed and pour over the melted butter

7. Top with a layer of the remaining pastry and brush with egg wash

8. Cover well with buttered grease proof paper and place in the oven and bake for 4 hours 

9. When you’re ready to serve crack open the pastry at the table in front of your eagerly waiting guests and slice the pie (remember that the pastry isn’t meant to be eaten)

Happy cooking 

Jon


ROAST GROUSE 

I’ve got a love hate thing going on with grouse, I’ve eaten it many times in my life, once it was fantastic, a couple of times okay, but usually, absolutely awful! 

Grouse has a rather herb/ heathery kind of flavour I think, some people love it, others wouldn’t thank you for using it to clean the doorstep!! I guessing the latter is because grouse can be very dry if not cooked correctly, being of the “ classic “ brigade, I like mine with the Bread sauce, game chips, liver on toast and a good red currant gravy, kinda thing 

Shopping list 

1 grouse per person 

A couple of tablespoons of goose fat 

4 rashers of streaky bacon for each grouse 

Salt and pepper 


To make your gravy 

Wings, giblets and neck of the grouse 

2 carrot roughly chopped 

2 small onions roughly chopped 

A few bay leaves 

200 ml of red wine 

A couple of tablespoons of plain flour 

A good dollop of red currant jelly 


Method 

It’s a good idea to make your gravy first 

1. Fry your grouse bits with the onion and carrot in a small amount of goose fat until nicely browned 

2. Add the bay leaves, wine, and enough water to just cover

3. Bring gently to the simmer, don’t boil! 

4. Simmer for an hour 

5. Strain through a fine sieve

6. Return the stock to the heat and reduce by half, you’ll have a fantastic tasting gravy 

Heat your oven to 230c


Now for the grouse

1. Rub the goose fat over the grouse, season well with salt and pepper, cover with the rashers of bacon

2. Place your grouse on a roasting tin and put into the oven

3. After 10 minutes remove the bacon 

4. Baste quickly and return to the oven

5. Cook for another 15 minutes, the meat should be pink

6. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes 

7. Place the grouse on warm plates and set aside

8. Add a tablespoon of flour to the roasting tray and scrape all of the bits with a wooden spoon 

9. Add the wine and the reduced stock, pour into a saucepan band ring to the simmer, add the red currant jelly and season to taste

10.serve your grouse with some game chips, bread sauce, buttered greens and the gravy


Happy cooking 

Jon 


AROMATIC SLOW COOKED PORK BELLY 

Of all the cuts of Pork available to us, in my humble opinion, the belly is without doubt the best,  I’m going to add some oriental flavour to this dish, but it’s by no means authentic, so please don’t be contacting me asking me what on earth do I think I’m playing at again? I just like the flavours

Shopping list

A 1.5kg piece of belly Pork with skin on, cut into chunks 

1.5 litres of chicken stock 

2 bunches of spring onions 

100 ml of light soy sauce 

100 ml of Chinese rice wine 

50 ml of rice wine vinegar 

About 2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar 

4 star anise 

A piece of fresh ginger peeled and cut into thin slices 

A good pinch of dried chilli flakes 


Method 

1. Put the belly Pork into a pan and cover with boiling water, simmer for 5 minutes skimming off any scum from the surface 

2. Drain into a colander 

3. Return the pork to the pan and cover with the chicken stock 

4. Now add the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, sugar, star anise, ginger and the chilli flakes 

5. Bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 3 hours 

6. Remove the pork with a spoon and set aside

7. Skim as much fat from the stock as possible 

8. Reduce the stock to a syrupy consistency, it’ll have a fantastic Aromatic smell 

9. Thinly slice the spring onions, return the pork to the sauce, and warm through 

10. Serve immediately with steamed rice and scatter over the spring onions 

Happy cooking 

Jon 


BEEF BOURGUIGNON, With Wild Craft Brewery, Expery-Mental!

Yet another classic that’s had everything done to it over the years, and it is just that, A Classic, if cooked correctly, and as always, with love and pride, this dish takes some beating,

Now, i’m likely to get Hung, drawn and quartered for this, but i’m using a fantastic strong beer from Wild Craft Brewery called Expery-Mental, The Wild Medlar, the beer uses wild medlars foraged in Norfolk, it works fantastically well in this beef dish.

The recipe does take a little time but is absolutely well worth that effort, I’m serving this with celeriac mash, really good this time of year, but you can serve yours with mashed potatoes if you prefer 

This recipe will serve 4 people well 

 

Shopping list 

600g of shin beef cut into large chunks

100g of smoked streaky bacon cut into slices

350g of pearl onions

250g of chestnut mushroom (or button mushrooms)

2 garlic cloves cut into slices

1 bouquet garni

1 tbsp of tomato purée

2 x 500ml bottles of Wild craft Brewery Wild medlar

For the celeriac mash

1 whole celeriac

A good splash of rapeseed oil

A good handful of fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

4 cardamom pod
Method 
1. Heat a large casserole pan and add 1 tbsp goose fat.

2. Season the beef and fry until golden brown, this will take about 5 minutes,then turn over and fry the other side until the meat is browned all over, adding more goose fat if necessary. You may want to do this in 2-3 batches so not to over crowd the casserole dish,

3. Now transfer the meat to a colander set over a bowl when browned, to catch the fat

4.  Now In the same pan,you can fry the bacon, pearl onions, mushrooms, garlic and bouquet garni until lightly browned.

5. Now Mix in the tomato purée and cook for a few minutes

6. Now add the beef and any drained juices to the pan and stir through.

7. Pour over the beer, this should come 3/4 up the casserole but isn’t completely covering the beef.

8. Bring gently to the boil

9. Heat oven to 150c

10. Cover with a lid or grease proof and tin foil. Then cook for 3 hrs.

For the celeriac mash

1. peel the celeriac and cut into cubes. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Tip in the celeriac and fry for 5 mins until it turns golden. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, bay and cardamom pods, then pour over 200ml water, just enough to nearly cover the celeriac.

3. Turn the pan heat to low, leave to simmer for 25-30 mins.

4. the celeriac should be soft and most of the water will have evaporated.

5. Tip the celerity into a colander and drain away any remaining water, then remove the herb sprigs, bay and cardamom pods.

6. You can lightly crush with a potato masher or fork, then finish with a glug of olive oil and season to taste.

To serve 

Spoon the beef bourguignon into serving bowls and place a large spoonful of the celeriac mash on top. And of course a glass of Wild Craft Brewery Wild Medlar

Happy cooking

Jon

SEA BASS BAKED IN NEWSPAPER 

This is a great fun way of cooking a whole fish out doors on the BBQ or open fire, it’s not particularly BBQ weather, so it’ll work equally as well in the oven, but if you have a chance, try it out doors 

I’m using sea bass, but most fish of this size would work fine, 

This recipe will serve 2 people 

And will take about 20-25 minutes to cook 

Shopping list 

3 sheets of newspaper 

1 whole sea bass, gutted and cleaned 

2 bay leaves 

25g of butter 

1 lemon cut into slices 

1 shallot finely chopped 

1 handful of fresh chopped parsley 

A good splash of white wine 

Method 

1. Firstly dampen the newspaper 

2. Pre heat your oven to 200c

3. Lay the sea bass on the newspaper and stuff the butter, lemon and bay leaves into the cavity 

4. Sprinkle over the shallot, parsley and wine 

5. Season really well with salt and pepper 

6. Wrap up the newspaper neatly around the sea bass and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes 

7. Remove from the oven, peel away the paper carefully, the skin should stick to the paper leaving you with the fantastic delicious sea bass flesh

8. Serve immediately with a green salad and new potatoes 


Happy cooking 


Jon