Braised Pig’s Cheeks

Pigs’ cheeks had become quite popular in Spain before we got locked out due to Covid-19. I don’t see them very often in the UK but we did find some in a butcher located inside a local garden centre, so here’s how we tried them.

This began life as a Spanish recipe imported by Nigel Slater but I’ve naturally had a slight fiddle with it. The original served four using eight cheeks cooked in a whole bottle of robust red wine as the liquid. Personally I prefer to reduce the heftiness of the red wine so my approach lightens the red wine with chicken stock. The choice is, of course, yours. Since our pack contained only four cheeks, the liquid is also reduced.

Mainly because I don’t care for cooked-to-death carrots, I also chose to blitz the sauce, which lends itself very well to being mopped up with mashed potato.


serves: 2
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 3 hrs


  • olive oil
  • 4 pigs’ cheeks
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly diced
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 6cm strip orange rind
  • 250ml red wine
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 6-ish sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.

Heat a tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole (one that has a lid) over medium heat. Season the cheeks then brown them on both sides in the oil. Transfer the cheeks to a plate while you deal with the vegetables.

In the same pan, adding a little more oil if necessary, sweat together the carrots, onions, celery, garlic and orange rind. Once the onions begin to colour just a little, return the reserved cheeks to the pan. Stir in the tablespoon of flour, then pour in the wine. Continue stirring as you bring it to a simmer to drive off the alcohol. Now add the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves and stir well again.

Cover with the lid and pop it in the oven to simmer gently for 2½hrs.

You can serve it now or, as I did, put the cheeks onto your serving plates, then remove the herbs and orange rind before blitzing the vegetables and braising liquid together.

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Posted in Meat Tagged with:

Wild Boar Ragù

A classic Italian ragù recipe using delicious wild boar, essentially from Michel Roux Jr. except I’m using dried marjoram instead of his fresh oregano.

This is good served over a fresh ribbon pasta such as papardelle and topped with fried, thickly sliced (large) mushrooms. Grated fresh parmesan to sprinkle is a must.


serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs


  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • flour (for dusting)
  • 900g wild boar, cut into 1½cm cubes
  • 100g pancetta lardons
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5cm strip orange rind
  • 375ml red wine
  • 2 tbs tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, lightly coat the boar pieces in seasoned flour (shaking everything together in a large plastic food bag works well). Brown the boar cubes all over, doing it in batches to avoid crowding the pan. As the boar browns, transfer it to a plate using a slotted spoon. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and bubble off the alcohol.

In an ovenproof casserole (one with a lid), heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over low-medium heat. To the hot oil, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally, then add the pancetta lardons and orange rind. Cook for five minutes or so until the pancetta fat renders and the veggies are tinged at the edges.

Now add the browned boar meat. Add the tomato purée and stir to combine. Cook for two minutes, stirring to avoid burning.

From the sauté pan, pour over the warm red wine along with 200ml water. Sprinkle in the marjoram and bring to a simmer.

Cover the casserole with its lid and cook in the oven for 90 minutes, when the boar should be meltingly tender and the liquid reduced slightly. If the ragù still seems to be quite wet, remove the pan’s lid and simmer on the hob to reduce and thicken the liquid a little. Finally, adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve the ragù over some freshly boiled ribbon pasta (or gnocchi works well, too).

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Posted in Meat Tagged with:

Paella con Cerdo y Acelga Arcoiris

… or Paella with Pork and Rainbow Chard, to you.

This is developed from a pork, chorizo and spinach recipe in Moro. What, chorizo in a Paella? Yes, just don’t claim it to be a Paella Valenciana or you’ll get lynched.

Much as I love spinach, I also love chard, particularly rainbow chard. The thing about chard is that the leafy greenery and the stems benefit from cooking separately and this recipe lends itself to doing just that. Another adaptation from the original is to treat the pork differently, cutting it very thinly and cooking it well to tenderize it as opposed to leaving it just barely cooked, which we found a bit resilient.


serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 40 mins


  • 500g rainbow chard
  • olive oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 120g chorizo
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g paella rice (bomba or Calasparra)
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 800ml chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper

First prepare the chard. Cut the leaves from the thicker leaf ribs, then cut the ribs into 4cm lengths. Now cut the leafy bits crosswise into 2-3cm slices. Wash it all but keep the leaves and stems separate.

Next prepare the meats. Cut the chorizo (you can use dulce or picante, whichever) into roughly 1cm cubes. Now split the tenderloin in half down its narrower length. Cut each half across the grain into fine slices, about 3mm thick.

Now we can cook. Using your chosen paella pan [yes, I know, a paella IS a pan], over moderate heat, quickly fry together the pork slices and chorizo in olive oil until the pork is beginning to brown on both sides. Rescue the pork and chorizo to a plate using a slotted spoon, leaving the flavoured oil for the next stage.

Over medium heat, sweat the onion and green pepper together until the onion is nicely softened. Toss in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Now sprinkle over the pimenton with about half a teaspoon of black pepper and a teaspoon of salt (assuming you are using unseasoned stock and NOT a stock cube – adjust if you are). Stir in the rice to coat with oil and cook gently for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and stir. Add the rainbow chard rib pieces, together with the reserved pork and chorizo and stir again to mix well. Bring the whole to a moderate simmer and let it cook, uncovered, stirring maybe once or twice, for 20 minutes.

There should still be some liquid left, if not add a splash of water. Place the chard leaves on top of the paella and cover, either with a lid (if your pan has one) or foil if not. Keep the heat where it was and the steam generated will wilt the chard leaves.

Uncover the pan and drive off the remaining liquid. If you’re feeling adventurous, bump up the heat and toast the rice lightly on the bottom of the pan, which the Spanish love.

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Posted in Starters

Thai Green Curry Paste

In Thailand, I kept trying other meals but I kept returning to their well known green curry. The term curry is something of a misnomer being borrowed from Indian cuisine by the British. The Thai name refers to a spice paste made from green chillis.

This recipe is a development of a spice mix for a green curry by Nigel Slater. It makes sufficient for two 4-person curries. Main ingredients spiced with this paste can vary according to preference, normally including a meat or fish component plus a vegetable.


preparation time: 20 mins
cooking time:


  • 4 fresh lemongrass stalks
  • 8 medium-hot green chillies
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbs fresh coriander stalks, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbs Thai fish sauce
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Remove any outer leaves of the lemongrass that are too coarse before slicing it quite finely. According to taste you can remove some of the seeds from the chillies (seeds and pith are the hot parts) prior to chopping them coarsely. Place the lemongrass and chillies, together with the other ingredients into a blender/food processor. Blitz this lot together, scraping down the sides regularly, until you have a thick paste. (You can add a little water to help slacken it if necessary.)

Cover and refrigerate this until you need it. It will keep for about a week in the fridge.

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Posted in Basics Tagged with:

Clafoutis aux Fruits

A classic French batter dessert with embedded fruit, often cherries but you can use many alternatives such as apricots, apples, blackberries …


serves: 4-6
preparation time: 20 mins
cooking time: 30 mins


  • 500g black cherries (or …)
  • 100ml milk
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • 2 drops vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 20g plain flour
  • a pinch salt
  • butter for greasing
  • sugar to sprinkle

Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas 6.

Place the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl [ crack the eggs first, of course 😀 ] and whisk until creamy. Add the flour and salt and whisk until smooth. Now add the milk and cream with two drops of vanilla essence, beating to mix well.

Butter a flan dish (about 25cm/10in) and sprinkle with caster sugar. Add your fruit, distributing reasonably evenly, before pouring the batter over and around the fruit.

Cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until set and lightly golden on top. Remove and allow to cool down to warm before sprinkling over some caster sugar and serving.

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Posted in Desserts Tagged with:

Pollo en Pepitoria

Here is one of those delightful Spanish recipes using an Almond sauce. This one, though, is given a lift by being lightly spiced – fragrantly spiced rather than hotly spiced.

The ingredients list may look a bit daunting but please don’t let that put you off. The method looks a little more involved, too, but – and you must trust me on this – it’s worth it. I loved it.


serves: 4
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 60 mins


  • 2 large eggs, hard boiled & peeled
  • 1 chicken, 1.5kg-ish
  • 10 green cardamom pods, seeds of
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp loosely packed saffron strands
  • 2 cloves
  • 1cm cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
  • 20g slice white bread, crust removed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 200ml dry white wine/sherry
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 40g blanched almonds
  • 40g pine nuts
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Prepare the chicken. Cut the legs off the chicken and skin them, then divide each leg at the joint. Cut the last wing joints off the chicken and save for stock. Remove the breasts with the wings from the chicken carcass and skin them, taking as much skin off the wing joints as you can, too. Cut the wings off the breasts and divide into two. Halve each breast.

Add the seeds of the cardammoms to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar (if you like exercise), together with the saffron, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and peppercorns, and grind to a fine powder. (OK, better stick with the spice grinder.)

Over medium heat, heat 4 tbs olive oil in a casserole or deep skillet. Add the peeled garlic cloves and bread slice and fry, turning once, until golden on both sides. Transfer to the small bowl of a food processor.

Lightly season the chicken pieces before adding them to the garlic/bread pan to brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate, add another splash of oil to the pan and sweat the onion for 10 minutes until soft but not brown. Stir in the ground spices and cook for another minute. Stir in the sherry/wine and bubble off the alcohol, then add the stock. Return the chicken to the pan with the bay leaves, add, say, ¼ tsp salt and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 40 minutes, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, until tender.

Dry-roast the pine nuts in a hot, dry frying pan for a minute – just colour them a little. Set aside to cool. In the same way, toast the almonds (about 2 minutes) and set aside to cool.

Once the nuts are cool, add them to the processor containing the toasted garlic and bread. Pop in the yolks of the hard boiled eggs. Add 10 or so tablespoons of the chicken cooking liquid and blitz to a smooth(ish) paste.

Lift the chicken pieces onto a warmed serving dish and cover to keep warm. Add the blitzed paste to the cooking sauce, set back over a low heat and stir for a couple of minutes until thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, adjust the seasoning and pour back over the chicken. Serve scattered with the chopped parsley.

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Posted in Poultry Tagged with:

Croquetas de Morcilla

Based on a concept from a good friend and gourmet in Spain, this is a little development using my favourite Spanish morcilla, morcilla de Burgos. Croquetas [Croquettes] feature strongly on Spanish tapas menus so, if I can get over fretting about deep frying [what on earth does one do with the old oil?] I’ll give this a go.

I do love the Spanish morcilla; morcilla de Burgos in particular is noticeably less stodgy than any English equivalent, largely because it contains rice. The Scots, however, have a much finer offering in Stornoway Black Pudding, which seems moister, perhaps because it contains onion. In addition, Haggis contains pearl barley, not dissimilar to rice, which should lighten the whole affair.

So, here’s an idea: how about some Scottish Croquettes made by substituting the morcilla de Burgos for, say, a 50/50 mixture of Stornoway Black Pudding and Haggis? To keep the Saltire flying, you’d probably need to use a Scottish cheese such as Dunlop instead of Manchego, too.


serves: 4
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 30 mins


  • 400g cooked and cooled crushed potato
  • 200g crumbled morcilla de Burgos
  • 100g grated firm cheese (e.g. Manchego?)
  • 80g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • Large pinch salt
  • salt & pepper
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Place the potato, morcilla, cheese, half the flour (40g), one egg, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Combine the ingredients by hand until you have a firm mixture. Divide the mixture into 18-20 pieces and form into small rolls about 3ins/7cms long and 1in/2.5cms wide.

Take three bowls. Fill one with the remaining 40g of flour, a second with the remaining egg (lightly beaten), and the third with the breadcrumbs. Pass the croquettes through each of the coatings in turn, flour, egg, breadcrumbs coating thoroughly in each and then placing to one side for frying.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan or deep fat fryer to 180°C. For preference, use a cooking thermometer, otherwise check the temperatire with a cube of bread, which should turn golden brown. Cook the croquetas in small batches, to avoid overcrowding the fryer and once they turn golden, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

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Posted in Starters, Tapas Tagged with:

Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto

This is one of our favourite risottos. Teamed up with some undyed smoked haddock, the leeks replace the onions in a more normal risotto. Traditionally, the Italians do not add parmesan to fish/seafood risottos but if you feel the need, please go ahead.

I prefer Carnaroli rice over Arborio, or Vialone Nano if you can find it.


serves: 2
preparation time: 10 mins
cooking time: 35 mins


  • 75g butter
  • 2 leeks, trimmed with some green
  • small wineglass dry vermouth
  • 400g undyed smoked haddock fillet
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 500ml hot fish stock
  • 10g fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Get ready. Quarter the leeks lengthwise and slice them crosswise about 0.5 cm thick. Skin the haddock fillet and cut it into 2 cm chunks.

Now follow standard risotto procedure. Melt the butter over medium heat and sweat the chopped leeks for about 5 mins, stirring frequently, without letting them colour. When nicely softened, toss in the rice and, stirring constantly, cook the rice for about 3 mins to absorb some flavour and let the grains begin to turn translucent around the edges.

Now dump in the glass of vermouth and let the alcohol evaporate. Stirring constantly, allow the vermouth to be absorbed before adding your first quarter of the fish stock. Lower the heat so that the liquid simmers very gently. Assuming your homemade fish stock is unseasoned, add a little salt and pepper with each addition of stock, though be careful with the salt because of the smoked fish. Sir occasionally to extract some starch. As the liquid nears absorbtion, add a further quarter of the stock, with a little more seasoning, and repeat until you need the final quarter.

Once the last quarter of stock is added, stir in the haddock pieces and continue simmering until most of the liquid is absorbed. The finished risotto should remain quite moist. Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

If you want cheese, grate it and stir it in now. Cover the pan and let the risotto sit for 2 or 3 mins before serving.

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Posted in Starters

Duck Vindaloo

In an anglicized Indian Restaurant (mostly Bangladeshi), Vindaloo seems simply to be up near the top, if not at the top, of the heat scale. The name, however is a corruption of vinha d’alhos, meaning wine and garlic, and is more sweet and sour than outright hot. (The wine has become vinegar.) Though, let’s face it, we do want a curry kick, and there certainly should be some heat content. The trick is gauging just how much of a kick.

One man’s hot is another’s medium, so adjust as you see fit. The recipe specifies either Kashmiri chill powder or paprika, which seemed a bit odd but the great Madhur Jaffrey used paprika, too, so it must be OK. This is where you can adjust your heat content.


serves: 6
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs


  • 1-2 tbs Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika (or a mixture)
  • 8 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick (~ 6cms)
  • 75ml cider vinegar
  • 6 duck legs, skinned & jointed
  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 red onions, finely sliced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 65g fresh ginger, cut into fine matchsticks
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored & coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs tamarind concentrate (optional – another sour component)
  • 3 whole green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbs light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Blitz the spice ingredients, down to and including the cinnamon stick, in an electric grinder. (Masochists can, of course, use a pestle and mortar should they wish.) Stir this spice mix into the vinegar to form a smooth paste and rub the paste into the duck pieces. Leave the duck to marinate at a cool room temperature for 3 hours.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan (one that has a lid for later) and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Fry them until they begin to pop. Now add the onions and fry these gently until soft and beginning to brown a little. Sit in the garlic and ginger and cook for another few minutes. Now add the tomatoes, tamarind (if using), chillies, sugar and salt.

Increase the heat before adding the duck, marinade and 100ml water. Bring back to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 60 mins, sirring occasionally, topping up the water as necessary.

Crack the lid off the pan and cook for a further 30-45 mins until the duck legs are tender and the sauce has thickened nicely.

You can serve it immediately or, as with most curries, the flavour seems to improve and develop if left to cool, refrigerated for a day and reheated.

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Posted in Poultry Tagged with:

Normandy Pear Tart

This is one of few recipes from Supercook that has withstood the test of time. (How styles change.) It’s one of Carol’s standby favourites and has always proved very popular with recipients. What makes it special/unusual is the walnut pastry, so you really have to make your own.

If you are feeling lazy, tinned pears make a very acceptable substitute to the poached fresh originals.


serves: 6-8
preparation time: 60 mins
cooking time: 40 mins


  • 10 oz plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 oz butter, cut into cm cubes
  • 2 oz vegetable fat, cut into cm cubes
  • 4 oz caster sugar (+ 2 tbs)
  • 1½ oz walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbs iced water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 5 fl oz water
  • 4 large pears, peeled, halved & cored
  • 5 fl oz double cream, stiffly whipped
  • 2 tbs chopped walnuts

Make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and vegetable fat cut into small pieces. Rub the fats into the flour with your fingertips to the famed breadcrumb stage. Mix in the 4 ounces sugar and finely chopped walnuts.

Now add the egg yolks together with a spoonful of the water and mix in with a broad-bladed knife. Mix and knead the dough, adding a little more water if the dough is too dry, until it is smooth. Place the dough ball in greasproof/waxed paper and chill for 30 mins.

Meanwhile make the filling. In a medium saucepan, dissolve the 2 oz sugar in the water over low heat, sirring constantly. Once dissolved, increas the heat and boil the syrup for 4 mins. Add the pear halves to the syrup, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 mins until they are tender but remain firm. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

Roll out 2/3rds of the pastry dough into a large circle to line a 9-inch flan ring. Ease the dough into the ring trimming off any excess. Removing the pears from the syrup with a slotted spoon, arrange them cut-side down in the flan case, narrow ends towards the centre.

Roll out the remaining 1/3rd dough large enough to cover the tart. Cut a 3-inch hole in the centre of the dough circle. Dampen the edges of the pastry case and place the doughnut-shaped lid on top, gently pressing the edges together. Trim off any excess dough. Brush the op of the tart with the beaten egg white and dust with the remaining 2 tbs caster sugar.

Bake the tart in the top of the oven for 30-35 mins or until the pastry is firm to the touch. remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Once cool, remove the tart from the flan ring. Spoon the whipped cream into the centre, over the hole in the pastry, and sprinkle over the chopped walnuts.

Get a pdf version of this recipe.

Posted in Desserts Tagged with: