Jacobs Ladder – Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs In a Fragrant Sauce

As you will notice, many of my recipes are a bit time consuming, mostly due to the complex flavours I like to experience on my palate, but also the cuts of meat I like to experiment with.

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Earlier in the week I had been thumbing through some cookery books trying to find something to make at the weekend and came across a couple of recipes, further bolstered by a trawl on the internet I headed out to our favourite meat supplier, who has never disappointed with unusual and different cuts of meat.

These bad boys (to use a Tom Kerridge phrase!), are Beef Short Ribs and are extremely good value if you can find a supplier. In this case £4.89 yes, that cheap for 1.25 KG’s of taste sensation. They are also known as Jacobs Ladder, which is a reference in the book of Genesis, and in my case, one of my favourite rock songs by the group RUSH, a Canadian rock band.

The dish I am about to describe will take a couple of days to complete, as the preparation and cooking is done in several stages, most of the time is spent cooking/resting, the hands on prep is about 30-40 minutes max. I started on the Saturday afternoon for a Sunday evening tea. You will need the following for two hungry people:

  • 1.25KG’s Beef Short Ribs
  • 1 Tbs Coriander Seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Lampung Black Peppercorns (available from Steenbergs), or whatever is in your cupboard
  • 1/2 Tsp Muntok White Peppercorns (available from Steenbergs), or whatever is in your cupboard
  • 1 Black Cardamom
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 3-4 Shallots roughly chopped
  • 4cm piece Lemongrass (bash with a rolling pin or knife to break apart)
  • 4cm piece Galangal roughly sliced
  • 4cm piece Fresh Ginger roughly sliced
  • 6 Red Chillis
  • 1 Head Garlic sliced in half
  • 2 Litres Chicken Stock (preferable Low Salt & Organic, Kallo is great and readily available)
  • 1 Tbs Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Light Soy
  • 1 Tbs dark Soy
  • 2 Tbs Shaoxing Rice wine
  • 1 Tbs Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 4 Tbs Tamarind
  • 2 Tbs Palm Sugar
  • 4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • 1 Tsp Shrimp Paste
  • 1 Bunch Coriander
  • 1/2 Lime Juiced

Stage 1

Take all the dry spices and roast them gently in a frying pan without any oil until you can smell the evocative aromas filling the kitchen. This process causes the oils in the spices to develop, if you look at the Cloves, you will notice they will have expanded considerably.

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Now that the spices are toasty the next stage is to season the ribs with Salt & Pepper and seal in some flavourless oil such as Ground Nut or whatever you have available. We are trying to get some colour on the meat and also release some of the sugars which turns the meat brown. You can click HERE for a really geeky explanation of the Maillard reaction which is what we are trying to achieve.

WP_20131130_008Mine looked like this after this stage and took 10-15 minutes making sure you turn the meat and cook each side.

Stage 2

We now need to put some oil in a dutch oven or decent size saucepan, the Ribs’s are going to braise for 4 1/2 hours at 125 Deg (fan), 145 Deg (Convection) and the meat needs to be covered so use this as you guide as to the size of pan to use.

Firstly, fry the shallots until the develop some colour, about 5 – 10 minutes. Then, add the toasted dry spices and continue to fry gently, you will start to smell the heady aromas fill the air. Then add the sliced Galangal, Ginger and Lemongrass, continuing to cook gently, then the two halved Garlic heads, and Chilli’s.

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At this stage it should look something like the picture above. You want to cook the spice mix gently so nothing burns but hard enough to extract the flavour oils from the ingredients. Now set your oven to 125 deg/145deg to warm up.

After 10 – 15 minutes start to add the wet ingredients, starting with the Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Rice Wine etc. Then a bunch of coriander, finish with the sugar, then the Chicken Stock at the end and put the Ribs in, ensuring the are covered completely. Finally add the Lime juice.

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You now need to get a piece of Tin Foil, doubled in half, that covers, and overlaps your pan. This is going to be used to seal the pan with the lid firmly pressed on top. Then place in the oven, set the timer for 4 /12 hours and go and put your feet up!!

Stage 3

After 4 1/2 hours, remove the pan from the oven and take out the ribs and place in a container and stick in the fridge, covered with foil or a Plastic container with lid. Drain the remaining sauce through a strainer and also place in the fridge overnight.

You will have noticed in the 1st picture, there is a decent amount of fat on the ribs, the slow braising will have rendered the fat into the sauce and in the morning you will have a ‘fat lid’, sitting on the sauce. The following morning, take the meat and sauce out of the fridge,  gently remove the fat and strain the sauce to remove as much of the fat as possible.

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This is what mine looked like before sieving the sauce to remove the remaining bits of fat which you can see floating on the surface. The colour has changed significantly into a deep rich brown colour, partly as a result of the browning stage (Monsr Maillard again!).

Once this is done, the meat on the left needs to go into the sauce, to marinade for a few more hours to further develop the flavours. Cover the pot with cling film or foil and pop it back into the fridge until you are ready to complete the final stage. It will take about 45 – 60 minutes at 160 deg/180deg before the ribs are ready to eat, so you can plan when dinner is served and when you need to be back in the kitchen.

Stage 4

Almost done! Set the oven to 160deg/180deg and remove the meat/sauce from the fridge about an hour before you are ready to cook to bring it up to room temperature. To go with the beef I was going to do some equally fragrant Rice and Bok Choi.

Take a saucepan, and put some water on to boil, you will need a Jasmine Tea bag, 1 star anise, kaffir lime leaves (2) and a couple of slices of Galangal. I left the tea bag in the water for a couple of minutes before removing, the remainder of the spices had a good 30 minutes in the pan. Thats the infusion completed, just follow the instructions on the rice packet, mine needed about 10 minutes.

The Bok Choi was quartered lengthways, and put in a pan with a glug of hot oil, followed by a splash of water to create a steam. I chucked in a couple of cloves of garlic that had been bashed, a splash of Shaoxing Rice Wine, similar of light Soy sauce and a little sugar to counterbalance the salty Soy.

WP_20131201_008Finish the Bok Choy with a twist of fresh cracked pepper and you are done. The beef can be removed from the pot, and set aside in a covered dish and left in a warm oven whilst you finish off the sauce. You may find its still a bit thin so you can reduce it on a hob, and use a little Cornflour or Arrowroot and water to thicken. Drain the rice and you are ready to serve.

WP_20131201_005 To add some further texture elements I dry fried some Cashew nuts and Red Chilli for a bit of punch, and fried some prawn crackers and dusted with 5 spice powder to accompany the ribs. All you need to do now is serve the meat/rice/sauce and vegetable on a warm plate and experience a tasty, sumptuous exotic meal, all prepared by your own hands and not breaking the bank!WP_20131201_010

So there you have it, Beef Short Ribs, with  a fragrant sauce and assorted accompaniments, delicious.

Go on, have a go yourself.

แกงมัสมั่น – Kaeng Matsaman or Thai Massaman Curry ‘via Djerba’!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a blog, illness, and holiday eating up time like a ‘Hungry Monk’! Holiday took the family to the island of Djerba, nestling off the coast of Tunisia it was truly awesome. I’ve been to Tunisia 3 times, my 21st birthday (many years ago), a tour with the boss a few years back where we visited many historic sites from the roman occupation and a couple of Star Wars sets too, now was the time to take our son for a weeks all-inclusive winter sun. We were not let down, the weather was +30 degs every day and the food was truly awesome.

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Traditional food such as the Couscous Royale was on offer, you can see the spicy Merguez sausages and Chicken pieces sitting atop the Couscous, truly delicious. There were several different local dishes available each day for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner so if you wanted a truly Tunisian experience, you could immerse yourself completely.

Tunisia 4From previous trips to Tunisia, and to be honest Egypt and Morocco, the bread is always freshly baked daily with lots of variety on offer, again we were not disappointed with a large selection always available.

One of the many benefits of a climate that encourages plants to grow, is the array of salads available, especially the tomatoes. The hotel restaurant seemed to always have at least 3 massive coolers, full of different salads, vitamin heaven especially with winter coming.

Tunisia 2We were truly spoilt with food, many of the hot items were freshly prepared in front of you and there was enough variety for even the fussiest of eaters not to ever go hungry. At Breakfast, even the Head Chef was mucking in with his team, frying eggs and chatting with everyone, rather than hiding away in the background.

Tunisia 3Oh, I forgot to mention the Desserts! There were 3 of the above chilled tables absolutely covered with a variety of desserts as well as a freezer cabinet with Ice Cream, Fruit and……… The Desserts were seriously awesome, and changed for each service so there was always something different to finish off lunch and dinner.

Way back in August I had probably the best curry I have eaten, at Chaophraya in Manchester. Thai Massaman Curry is a complex heady beast, with a list of ingredients as long as your arm. I wanted the boss to experience this fantastic dish, and as a trip to Manchester is out of the question at the moment why not recreate it at home!

In doing the research for this particular delight there are a significant number of recipes on the Internet and in my cook books, my version is based on what was described on the menu at Chaophraya, and a combination of several other recipes and cooking processes including in no particular order Rick Stein (Far Eastern Odyssey)Pim Techamuanvivit (Massaman Nuea Beef Massaman Curry) and Bee Yinn Low (Beef Massaman Curry).

Spice Paste Ingredients

The first job is to prepare the spice paste and your going to need a few ingredients! Please note that other ingredients are also needed to finish the dish so please read the whole blog before starting anything 😉 The quantities are enough for 4-6 people (or two hungry ones)!

    • 10 Red Chillies
    • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
    • 1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
    • 6 Cardamom Pods
    • 8 Cloves
    • 5cm Piece Cinnamon
    • 2 Pieces Mace
    • 7 Garlic Cloves
    • 8 Shallots
    • Thumbnail Piece Galangal Chopped
    • 4 c.m. Lemongrass chopped
    • 2 Star Anise
    • 2 kaffir Lime Leaves vein removed
    • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
    • 15 Black Peppercorns
    • 15 White Peppercorns
    • Tbsp Coriander Stalks chopped
    • 1 Tsp Shrimp Paste (roasted in a frying pan)
    • 1 Tsp Salt
    • 5 Tbsp Coconut Milk

We are fortunate to have an oriental grocery not far from us, so were able to get fresh Coriander, Lemongrass, Galangal and Thai Sweet Bail which is used later on in the recipe. Barts do both Galangal and Lemongrass and is available at most supermarkets if you can’t get fresh, along with Palm Sugar and Tamarind, although you will pay more compared to an oriental shop where prices are considerably cheaper.

This is where I decided to use some different techniques, rather than just frying the Garlic, Chilli’s and Shallots, they were wrapped in tin foil and baked in a hot oven for 20 minutes (200 deg fan oven, 220 convection). Leave them to cool and then you can remove the skin on the Shallots and Garlic, remove the stalks from the Chilli’s, and using the back of a knife, by sliding from short end to long, you can ease out the seeds and membrane really easily and then roughly chop.

All the dry ‘hard’ spices are roasted in a frying pan, the other ‘wet’ ingredients such as the Galangal, Lemongrass and Coriander Stalk are chopped  roughly. The Kaffir Lime Leaves need their hard centre stalk removed.

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You can see the dry spices ready for a pounding, the smells in the kitchen were fragrant and intoxicating to say the least! Once you have sorted out the dry spices, do the same with the wet spices, Nutmeg and Shrimp Paste and them combine and bash like crazy, this breaks up the fibres in the Lemongrass and Galangal, you can finish off in a food processor or spice blender (I did!).WP_20131116_015

Once your spices are blended you can cover and stick in the fridge whilst we start the next stage. For the Massaman Curry you will need the following further ingredients (for 2 hungry people) .

  • 500 Grams Lamb or Beef
  • 1 Can (400Ml) Coconut Milk
  • Thumbnail piece of Galangal grated
  • 8 whole Shallots
  • Good handful of Unsalted Peanuts or Cashew Nuts (My preference)
  • 5-6 Green Cardamom pods
  • 3 Black Cardamom pods
  • 2 c.m. Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) + extra to taste at end
  • 3-5 Tbsp Tamarind Water + extra to taste at end
  • 1 Tbsp Palm Sugar + extra to taste at end
  • Flavourless oil such as Ground Nut
  • 3-4 Waxy potatoes cut into chunks
  • Handful of green beens (optional)
  • Handful of Pea Aubergines (optional)
  • Thai Sweet Basil to finish (chiffonade, cut into very thin strips)

First, trim the meat of any excess fat and put into a bowl with the Coconut Milk, Grated Galangal and 2 Tbsp of fish sauce and set aside for at least 30 minutes, or preferable a couple of hours in the fridge.

Take a decent saucepan or dutch oven and place on a medium heat, put in a couple of tablespoons of oil and add half the spice mix, stirring as it cooks until the mixture and oil start to split. It will look something like this.

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Then add about a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of the Coconut milk from the marinating mix and cook through exactly the same, until the mixture splits, then add the meat and the rest of the Coconut milk, the Cinnamon, Cardamom, your chosen Nuts, Palm Sugar, 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce, Tamarind and bring up to a gentle simmer. The mixture needs to cook gently for a couple of hours, I stuck mine in the oven at 130 deg fan for the 1st hour, with the lid off, then gave it a stir, put the lid on, and back into the oven for the second hour, it looked like this. The smell was MMMmmmmmmmmmmm!

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After the 2 hours have passed, add the Potatoes, Green Beans and Pea Aubergines (if used), and cook for a further 30 minutes until the vegetable are cooked through.

The taste should be spicy (not too hot, but very spicy), salty, sweet, with an ever so slightly sour aftertaste, in this order. You can adjust the balance by adding Tamarind for sour, Fish Sauce for salty and Palm Sugar for sweet

I finished mine off with a sprinkling of toasted Cashew Nuts, some chiffonade of fresh red Chilli and Sweet Thai Basil, another wowzer dish it tasted fantastic and looked like thisWP_20131116_021To go with the Massaman Curry I served some plain Rice, with chopped fresh Coriander to help temper the gutsy flavours of the dish.

A word of caution though, most of the recipes I looked at called for many more chillies than I used, so check the strength of yours first by slicing the tiniest piece and give it the taste test before committing as once they are in, you cannot take them out.

I hope you give this one a go, its worth the effort if you love food that has bags of flavour.

Till next time, alla ysalmak from Tunisia or laaeo phohp gan mai from Thailand.

Tutts Clump Ribs & Asian Slaw – Heaven on a plate!

Another manic week over and things are looking good for the remainder of the year, a holiday in Djerba is on the cards and work is going really well.

With a change in the weather and some fantastic looking pork ribs on sale at the fave farm shop, thoughts turned to America and Jamie Oliver’s book of the same title, which features a plethora of great recipes. This is my slightly modified version of 5* Pork Ribs with Epic BBQ Sauce.

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Tutts Clump is both a small village near Reading and the name of a fantastic Cider Producer. Tim Wale the genius behind the Cider was born in the village and started commercial production around 2008. The Cider replaces the apple juice used in the Rib cooking process, more about that later.

Its takes 24 hours to make this menu but the results are absolutely worth it, the result are the best ribs I have ever tasted, the boss also commented in a similar vein, please give them a try.

MARINADE – For this you need Fennel Seeds, Smoked Paprika, Orange Zest, Garlic, Dried Thyme, Brown Sugar Sea Salt & Pepper.

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All the ingredients for the marinade need pounding in a pestle and mortar to make a smoothish paste. Steenbergs herbs and spices feature in most of my cooking these days, fresh, vibrant and from known sources which are at minimum Organic and many Fairtrade, they are difficult to beat.

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Once the marinade is ready rub it well into the Ribs, you should find the marinade starts to soften after a time, this is exactly what should happen as it reacts with the meat. Cover with cling film and stick in the fridge for 24 hours.

EPIC BBQ Sauce – For this you need Onions, Chilli’s (I changed from the recipe here as I had Chipotle Chilli’s which add a depth and smokiness to the sauce), Garlic (lots), fresh Thyme, fresh Rosemary, fresh Coriander, Bay leaves, Cumin seed, Fennel seed, Paprika and Cloves, Oranges (zest & juice), brown Sugar, Balsamic Vinegar, English Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, Apple Juice, Salt & Pepper…………Phew!  Believe me, its worth making this with or without the Ribs, its outstanding.

With a food processor, mince the Onion Garlic & Chilli’s to a smooth paste and fry gently (if you are using dried Chilli’s like me, they need soaking in warm water for at least 20 minutes to soften).

The Herbs & Spices get the processor treatment next, along with the peel of the Orange, and add to the Onion mixture along with the Brown Sugar.

Lastly, Water, the Apple Juice and Orange juice and other ‘wet’ ingredients and simmer gently for 10 mins or so.

Once the sauce is cooked you pass it through a sieve, it should look something like this.

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Glossy, silky and delish.  If you sterilise a jar, you can keep the sauce for several months but once you taste it, my bet is it won’t last that long.

Next stage is for the following day so put your feet up and enjoy the evening………………………..

The Ribs go though 3 stages of cooking, all ‘low ‘n slow’. Firstly set the oven to 130 deg, the Ribs are cooked for 1 hour 30 mins with the frown face down, so the meat side is facing the baking tray and the bone, sinew side is in the air. When done, you need to create foil parcels (I lined mine with greaseproof to make sure the foil was not pierced by the bone edges), this time the ribs are turned over and smiley side is up. At this stage I used the Tutts Clump Cider instead of the apple juice, it brings something more to the dish and you need about 1/4 bottle for each rack. The foil is then sealed, and back in the oven for another 1 hour 30 mins, they will look something like this.

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The next stage is to put the Ribs back in the oven having drained off the liquid to dry them a little bit, the final stage is to coat the Ribs in the sticky unctuous sauce and give them another 30 mins before they are ready to devour.

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Asian Slaw With a Touch of Levant

To accompany the Ribs I planned both texture and further layers of flavour. Simple SweetCorn smothered in Red pepper Butter, Potato wedges, marinated and cooked in Ras Al Hanut and a touch of Cayenne Pepper, and the other star is Asian Slaw with a touch of Levant.

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 The Asian Slaw is a taste as you go experience, you can see the Ingredients I used in the picture above. The extra flavours were provided by Pomegranate Molasses, Sumach, Yuzu Juice, Lemon Zest, Rice Wine Vinegar, Jaggery (Indian Sugar you can even get in the well known supermarket that I don’t like going too!), Ground Persian Black Lime and Rapeseed Oil.

Just finely chop equal quantities of Apple, Carrot, Onion, Cabbage and Cucumber (cut in half and remove the centre with a spoon). The dressing should follow a 3:1 ratio of Oil to Vinegar, remember that the Lemon and Yuzu Juice is also acidic so an allowance should be made for this.

Aim for a slightly sweet, slightly sharp flavour, everyones taste buds are slightly different so just experiment and see what happens, remembering its easier to add than remove.

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So after another mammoth event, and quite a few ingredients a really delicious (and quite healthy) meal.  The Ribs really are awesome and work well with the slightly tart slaw.  I added some slide baby plum tomatoes to go with the corn and wedges and the main even was great.

It may seem a lot to do but in reality its a few simple stage spread over  a couple of days, try them and you won’t be disappointed.

Till next time bon appetit.

Dont’ be so cheeky, Evuna & Sapporo

Another manic week has flown by and went something like; Drive to London, get replacement laptop, drive to Manchester, eat in nice restaurant, next day all day team meeting (made them my chocolate and raspberry special, went down very well!), fly to Glasgow, attend breakfast meeting, have update session with colleagues, fly back to Manchester, eat in another nice restaurant, next day present to decision makers with colleague, drive back home……..!

I had a clean out in the herb/spice cupboard a couple of weeks back and placed an order on my favourite specialist supplier Steenbergs, luckily they arrived in time for last weekends cookery experiment and I was looking forward to trying something a little different.

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What I love about Steenbergs is that you know where the contents originate from, unlike the anonymous brands in the supermarkets. Amongst the regular well known products I also ordered some more unusual spices, you may notice Kala Namak (Black Salt)Ajwain (Bishops Weed) and Blue Mallow (Creeping Charlie) this is in readiness for a cookery course I am attending in November run by Sumayya Jamil, known as the Pukka Paki if you are on twitter.

I have recently become a ‘cheek’ fan, after being blown away by one of the Tapas dishes I cooked for our Silver Wedding Anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  I remember having an Ox Cheek in the freezer that I bought a couple of months back, it was ideal for a slow cooking experiment I wanted to have a go at.

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This is an asian inspired dish, with a hint of mexico thrown in for good measure and embraced by the french love of red wine!

Cooking Ox cheeks is a Long, Slow process. It took about 7 hours to complete this particular culinary delight but blimey, it was really worth it, and with new spices to add depth and flavour, lets get started.

You will need; Onions, Carrot, Celery, Tomatoes, Chipotle Chilli’s, Red Wine, Beef Stock, Red Wine Vinegar, Tomato Puree,  Star Anise (I ending up using 2), Black Peppercorns (I used 10 Lampung Indonesian), Clove (about 2-3) Cinnamon Stick (a quarter of a stick), Parsley and Thyme and some Maldon Sea Salt. You will also need some seasoned plain flour to dredge the Ox Cheek in prior to cooking.

Before starting, put the kettle so you can soak the Chipotle Chillis (2) for 20 minutes, and get the Beef Stock ready, fresh is fab but I used a Low Salt Organic Kallo stock cube which you can get in most supermarkets, you need 1/2 pint. Also, set you oven to 125 degrees (fan).

First, cut the cheek into approximately 1 inch cubes and dredge with the seasoned salt. Take a large casserole or dutch oven and fry the cheeks in butter and olive oil until browned, and remove from the pan.

Chop the Onion, Carrot and Celery into small chunks and add to the pan, cooking on a lowish heat for 5 -10 minutes until soft. Add the peppercorns (crushed), 2 Star Anise, 2 – 3 Cloves, a quarter length of Cinnamon stick and cook for  a couple of minutes, the aroma’s will delight your senses.  Add the Thyme and Parsley next, and a tablespoon of Tomato Puree cooking for a further 2 – 3 minutes.

Now put the cheeks back into the pan, chop the chipotle chilli’s in half and add them too,  half a bottle of Red Wine goes in and simmer, reducing by half, then add the Beef Stock and about 2 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar.

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At this stage it should look something like the picture above, and be filling the kitchen with fantastic aroma’s. You now need to make a ‘Cartouche’ out of greaseproof or baking parchment. Take a square of paper larger than the pan and scrumple it up, then un-scrumple and put into the pan so the paper is touching the total surface of the liquid, and it should also come up the sides, a bit like a lid. The cartouche prevents a skin forming on the surface of the liquid. Finally,  put the lid on the pan and place in the oven for 5 – 6 hours, I checked mine at the 3 hour level to see how the sauce was reducing.

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To accompany this very rich dish I decided on Saffron and Garlic Infused Mash Potato, and French Beans wrapped in Panchetta. Take a quarter cup of Full Cream Milk, and add a pinch of Saffron and a couple of lightly crushed Garlic Cloves, I prepared mine when the Ox Cheeks went into the Oven, and stuck the jug in the fridge to infuse for several hours.

After 5 – 6 hours, take the Cheeks out of the oven, put back on the hob on a low heat and remove the lid and cartouche. Its now a judgement on how thick you want your sauce to be, I cooked slowly whilst the potatoes were boiling so approximately 30 minutes.

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I like James Martin’s approach to Mash Potato, adding loads of butter not forgetting the infused Milk from the fridge, passing through a tea strainer to remove the Garlic and Saffron Stems. Served with a decent bottle of Red Wine this dish is outstanding, the boss, who was not keen on the idea of eating Ox Cheeks loved it, as did I.  Its a long slow cook but the results are fantastic, I shall be revisiting this one in the winter months for sure.

Evuna – A Little Taste Of Spain

The 1st stop during my manic week was Evuna in Manchester. After a busy day the thought of some light Spanish Tapas was very appealing, so a table reserved for 7:45 was just what the Doctor ordered. Evuna is located in Deansgate, Manchester and was a 15 minute walk from the hotel.  Spanish waiters and waitresses make this place special, they know what they are talking about and provide fantastic service. Evuna is quite unique as they also specialise in importing excellent wines from Spain, which you can purchase to take away, as well as drink with your meal.

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Gallego Merluza (Galacian Style Hake), and Albondigas were delightful. The Hake was coated in a very light batter and served with a delicious Vegetable stew, very very tasty, the Albondigas (Pork & Beef), served in a Wine and Tomato sauce were equally delish. The restaurant style is very homely, with shelves of wine acting as a atmospheric backdrop. Evuna has Wine events throughout the year, and specials on the menu each week, I had a very tasty red to go with my food.

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 To accompany the Hake and Albondigas I had ‘Las mejillas de cerdo’ (guess what, Pork Cheeks), I just had to try them after cooking my own, and the Ox version the previous day. These were downright fantastic, light, soft and jam packed with flavour i had made a good choice. The Patatas (Evuna’s style chips) were served with a mayonnaise which worked very well.

All in all, a fantastic evening with great food. Well recommended and worth a second visit, maybe a third and fourth!

Sapporo – Teppanyaki Done Well

I landed back in Manchester on Wednesday evening, and was looking forward to trying Sapporo, a Teppanyaki Restaurant 10 minutes taxi from the hotel. Teppanyaki is a Japanese style of show cooking that is done on a hot plate like the one below at Sapporo. All the guests sit around the outside whilst the Chef prepares the food in front of you.

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For my starter, it was really difficult to choose as there is so much on offer. Hiyashi Wakame (seaweed in a sesame dressing), Gyoza (Grilled dumplings served with soy dipping sauce), Ebi Tempura (King Prawn in a very light and crispy batter), in the end I opted for Nigiri Sushi (in my case fried Soft Shell Crab, Rice and Nori Seaweed, topped with spicy Tobiko sauce), Tobiko is Flying Fish Roe!

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OMG, It’s impossible to describe how tasty they were just mind blowingly fantastic and the presentation was stunning as you can see in the picture above.

On to the mains and this was where the fun really started. Our Chef had done his ‘mise en place’ whilst we were devouring our starters, and as we finished we were all asked how we liked our food cooked (where needed), and he started to cook the saute potatoes which was part of the show.

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Lightly seasoned, the Chef beckoned us in turn, to open our mouths as he flipped portions of Saute Potato into the air, what a laugh that was, some missed, eventually hit the spot with a couple of people catching with their hands, It was great fun. The Chef served each of us with the Potato’s which we started to eat as he prepared Stir Fried Vegetable.

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We were warned to stand back as he turned the overhead light out and flamed the hot plate, whoosh and the flames licked the ceiling!

We were the served the Vegetable’s which we also started to eat, this is the way they do it Teppanyaki Style, as each element is served you start to eat, like Chinese Cuisine, Meat is a small part of a healthy vegetable ensemble. The Chef then prepared egg fried rice, juggling eggs from a bowl, into his Chef’s hat and then finally onto a cook slide which broke the egg almost in two as he layed yolk onto the hot plate in the shape of a heart…!

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The protein element of my main was Yakitori Chicken dressed with  Tare Sauce (which is generally made up of Mirin, Sake, Soy sauce and Sugar). Again another winner, beautiful tender grilled skewered Chicken, interlaced with Spring Onion delicately dressed with the sweet sharp pungent sauce.

Having never been to a Japanese Restaurant, this experience is one I am definitely going to have again and have already suggested a team night out, at the earliest opportunity. 10/10.

Next time, I will update you on the Ribs & Barbecue Sauce from Scratch….. Have a great week Peeps.