Dark, sticky & super-tasty
- 2.5 kg oxtail , chopped into 4cm chunks (ask your butcher to do this)
- olive oil
- 2 medium leeks
- 2 sticks of celery
- 4 medium carrots
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
- 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
- 275 ml porter or red wine
- 1 liter organic beef stock , optional
- Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Place a large roasting tray in the oven to preheat.
- Carefully remove the hot tray from the oven, then add the oxtail. Season and drizzle over a lug of olive oil, then toss to coat and place in the hot oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden and caramelized.
- Meanwhile, trim and halve the leeks and celery lengthways, then chop into rough 2cm chunks. Peel and chop the carrots into 2cm pieces, then place into a large ovenproof casserole pan over a medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Pick, roughly chop and add the thyme and rosemary leaves, then add the bay and cook for around 20 minutes, or until soft and sweet, stirring frequently.
- Meanwhile, remove the oxtail from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3.
- Add the cloves and flour to the veg, stirring well to combine, then pour in the tomatoes and porter (or wine, if using). Add the oxtail and any roasting juices, cover with the beef stock or 1 litre of cold water and stir well.
- Turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil, then pop the lid on and place in the hot oven for around 5 hours, or until the meat falls away from the bone, stirring every hour or so and adding a splash of water to loosen, if needed.
- Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Using rubber gloves, strip the meat from the bones and return to the pan, discarding the bones.
- Add a good splash of Worcestershire sauce, season to taste and enjoy with creamy mash and seasonal steamed greens.
Turn this stew into soup by adding a good splash of boiling water and simmering to your desired consistency. I also love this stirred through pappardelle and served with a grating of Parmesan on top – incredible!
Kung Pao chicken
With a fresh, ribbon salad
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 2½ tablespoons cornflour
- 4 skinless higher-welfare chicken thighs , (350g)
- groundnut oil , or vegetable oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 5 cm piece of ginger
- 2 spring onions
- 6 dried red chillies
- 2 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 heaped tablespoon runny honey
- 50 g unsalted peanuts
- 1 punnet of salad cress
- RIBBON SALAD
- ½ a cucumber
- 1 large carrot
- ½ a bunch of fresh coriander
- 1 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- Using a speed-peeler, peel the cucumber and carrot (including the skin), until you have a pile of long, thin ribbons and place in a bowl.
- Pick and roughly chop most of the coriander leaves, discarding the stalks. Place it all into the bowl with the soy and rice wine vinegar. Toss well and set aside.
- Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan until lightly golden. Transfer to a pestle and mortar, grind to a fine powder, then sieve into a large bowl, discarding any large, tough bits.
- Add 2 tablespoons of cornflour and stir to combine. Chop the chicken into bite-sized chunks, then toss in the cornflour mixture to coat.
- Pour 2cm of oil into a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the chicken and fry for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic and ginger, then trim and finely slice the spring onions.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain. Carefully remove and discard most of the oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan, then return to a medium heat.
- Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 2 minutes, or until lightly golden, then stir in the spring onions and whole chillies and fry for 1 further minute.
- Meanwhile, combine ½ tablespoon of cornflour and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix in the soy, vinegar and honey, then pour the mixture into the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Lightly bash and add the peanuts, stir in the chicken, then toss well until warmed through. Snip the cress over the ribbon salad, scatter the reserved coriander leaves over the chicken, then serve.
Smoky dressed aubergines & peppers
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chipotle Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 large red onion
- 2 x 200 g skinless free-range chicken breasts
- 3 mixed-color peppers
- 1 large aubergine
- 2 limes
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander , (30g)
- 1 ripe avocado
- 4 large seeded wholemeal tortillas
- 50 g feta cheese
Blacken the whole peppers and aubergine over a direct flame on the hob, or in a griddle pan on a high heat, until charred and blistered all over. Pop the peppers into a bowl and cover with clingfilm for 10 minutes, then scrape off most of the black skin, discarding the stalks and seeds. Pinch the skin off the aubergine and trim off the ends. Nicely slice it all 2cm thick, dress on a platter with the juice of 1 lime and a few picked coriander leaves, then taste and season to perfection.
Cook the chicken and onions in all that lovely marinade in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway. Peel, destone and finely slice the avocado, and squeeze over the juice of half a lime. Warm the tortillas in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds, then keep warm in a clean tea towel. Take it all to the table, with the feta and the remaining coriander leaves, and let everyone build their own.