A great quick mid-week stir fry using the duck leftovers from the previous Sunday's lunch.  

  • Leftover duck meat, shredded (about 500g-ish)
  • Veg of your choice for stir frying and chopped into stir-fry sizes (big enough to pick up with a chop stick!), in this case we used: carrots, celery, onions, broccoli
  • A handful of cashew nuts
  • Garlic infused olive oil

Sweet and sour sauce:
  • Juice of an orange
  • 1tbs honey
  • 1tbs tamarind paste
  • 2tbs soy sauce
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oil in the wok, stir fry the carrots for a minute or so then add the rest of the veg and cook fro two to three minutes.  While this is cooking mix together in a jug the sauce ingredients Add the cashew nuts, stir fry for another minute and then throw in the meat.  After about another minute pour in the sauce and stir fry for another minute.  Serve immediately.

This weekend I tried a smoked duck recipe on my Big Green Egg.  I have owned it since July and really love it.  I truly haven't cooked a single roast dinner in my oven since I bought it, along with low n' slow cooks, pizzas, and an inordinate number of kebabs, burgers etc. 

My main sources of inspiration is any of the other BGE sites on the web, or a Weber bbq book or the Pitt Cue book from the eponymous London restaurant.  This place also serves much real life inspiration as they are not far from my office.

Brining isn't something I have much experience of but it helps moisten meat.  I followed a recipe in the Pitt Cue book, which was a brine made with Chinese flavourings such as ginger, star anise, garlic, soy sauce and tea.  I placed the duck and the brine in a vegetable compartment of a fridge as it seemed like as good a place as any and brined it for about 16 hours.  The colour of the duck was a beautiful dark colour.  Pitt Cue called for cooking it at 170 degrees centigrade for only 45-50 minutes.  This seemed like a very short time and indeed I ended up cooking it for about the same time as other ducks I've roasted, about two hours.  

it was beautifully moist, but the skin wasn't as crispy as other ducks I've cooked on the BGE, and the fatty meat was accompanied by a spring salad of leaves from the garden, with rashishes and fennel.

I will experiment with brining a duck and play around with the cooking to make a more smoky, crispy skin affair.  If anyone has any suggestions for the perfect brined and smoked duck reciple on the BGE do get in touch!
These are very tasty, and with a bread-maker no hassle at all.  

For the dough:
1/2tsp yeast
250g Strong white flour
1tsp sugar
25g butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
100ml water

For the fruit mixture:
15g butter
200g dried fruit, such as 100g prunes, 50g raisins, 50g glacé cherries
2tsp cinnamon
50ml Armagnac
40g sugar

Add all the dough ingredients and set a basic dough setting. It should take about 2hrs 20mins and knead a do the first proving.  Meanwhile macerate the fruit in the Armagnac.  If possible, you could do this the night before. The longer the better to get the booze absorbed into the fruit.  

When the dough is ready, tip out onto a floured surface and lightly knead, and then roll out into an oblong shape about 26cm x 20cm.   Brush with melted butter.  Mix together the fruit mixture ingredients and then spread this on top of the dough. Roll up lengthways and then  cut into 8-10 pieces.  Place cut-side up into a greased 23cm sandwich tin and leave to prove somewhere warm (40 degrees C) until it is doubled in size.  It should now have filled the sandwich tin.

Bake in an oven for 15 mins at 200 degrees.  Brush with some melted honey when it is ready and enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

Roasted a leg of lamb on the Big Green Egg on Sunday.  It was a recipe from the July issue of Delicious magazine.  I also made the Jewelled bulgur wheat from the same article to go with  it.  The recipe was for a shoulder, but I couldn't find a good enough lamb shoulder, so I went for a leg.  The photo that accompanied the article also suspiciously looked more like a leg than a shoulder, anyway it worked out fine. 

Anyway, with four of us for lunch we had loads of lamb left for the week, which is great for leftovers.  You need to be imaginative otherwise all you'll do is make a somewhat expensive shepherd's pie.

Lamb curry is a good option.  It needs to be a simple recipe as it will no doubt be a mid-week dinner from a leftover weekend joint.  So voila:

Lamb Curry

Lamb joint left-overs, at least 500g, if not more
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of coconut water
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 medium-sized onions
400g green beans (eg: dwarf beans, runner, fine etc)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1tbs coriander seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/2 tsp asafoteda
1/2-1 tsp mild chilli powder (depending on your love of chilli heat)

Grind all the whole spices in either a coffee grinder or pestle & mortar.  Roughly chop the onions, garlic and grate the ginger.  Add all three ingredients into a food processor / chopper as well as all the spices and the tin of tomatoes.  Puree to a runny paste.

In a large pan heat two tablespoons of oil and then add the paste and cook for a couple of minutes stirring occasionally.  Chop the lamb into chunks and add to the curry paste, bring to a simmer and add the coconut water.  Once simmering again, add the chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes.  Top and tail the beans and slice in half and add to the pot.  Simmer gently until the beans are tender.  Serve with rice or naan breads.

This was Clarissa's Pheasant and pickled walnut terrine. Very tasty, but I doubled the cooking time as it didn't seem cooked. A quick look online at other recipes for pheasant terrine indicated it should be cooked or 1 1/2 to 2 hours, a lot more than Clarissa suggested!

Anyway, the next attempt I will try HFW's recipe on the BBC Food site, and I will hope I make it as neatly as the picture of his.

I love Nigella's "My Mother's Praised Chicken" http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/my-mothers-praised-chicken-5155.  I cooked a Greek Lemon Chicken from a Clarissa Dicskon Wright recipe from her Sunday Roast book (highly recommended).

This recipe is my next Sunday lunch, a amalgamation of two great Chicken pot roasts.
  • A large free-range chicken, about 1.7kg
  • 2 lemons
  • about 100ml of white wine
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 2-3 carrots, dpending on their size, sliced
  • a small bulb of fennel
  • 2 sitcks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp of red peppercorns
  • 1 leek, cut into batons
  • 2 table spoons of olive oil, or garlic infused olive oil if you have it

Get a large casserole dish ready, it needs to be wide and deep, my le Crueset is xx x xx.  Put it on a medium flame and add the oil.
Prepare the chicken, push down hard on the top of the chicken so that you hear the breastbone crack.  You want the chicken to flatten slightly so that it fits in the pot and is covered by the all the water.
Throw the chicken into the casserole dish, breast-side down and let it brown for a few minutes.
Turn up the heat and turn the chicken over so that it is breast-side up.  Cut off the eds of the drumsticks with kitchen scissors and throw them in the pot.  Add the wine and let it come to the boil, then add all the sliced vegetables.
With a very sharp vegetable peeler, peel off all the lemon rind off the lemons, carefully so that you don't get any of the pith.  Slice all the peel lengthways as thin as you can, so you have lots of very thin strips of lemon peel.  Add this to the pot with the juice of the lemons.
Pour in about 500ml of water, it should come nearly to the top of the pot.  It doesn't need to cover the bird completely.
Bring slowly to the boil, and then put on the lowest heat with about 2 hours.  Make sure the lid is on as tightly as possible. For the last 30 minutes you can switch off the heat and just leave to stand for 30 minutes while you put together the accompaniments.  
I like to serve this with a huge dish of freshly steamed green vegeta

This recipe is my amalgamation to two great recipes from Rick Bayliss and Thomasina Myers.  It combines the two into a simpler and quicker affair.  The two originals are wonderful if you have more time in the kitchen than I did today!

Mexican Meatballs

For the meatballs:
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 800g minced pork
  • 4 slices of streaky bacon
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1tbs chopped parsley
  • 1tbs chopped mint
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp ground allspice
  • 2tsp tomato puree
  • 1tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the sauce:
  • 1-2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1 clove of garlic

In a food processor, blitz the onion with the garlic, bacon, eggs and breadcrumbs. If you have a large processor you can add the mince also, although I just tip everything into a big mixing bowl at this stage.  The add all the other meatballs ingredients.  Mix together thoroughly, and then divide the mixture into four, and then make 8 meatballs of each quarter, so that you eventually will have 32 balls.

Put in an oven at 180 degrees (or 160 degrees for a fan oven) for fifteen minutes.  Meanwhile, blend together the sauce ingredients in a food processor and when the fifteen minutes is up, take the meatballs out of the oven and pour the sauce over.  Return to the oven and cook for 30 minutes.  If you want the meatballs to have a lot of sauce, cover the dish with foil half-way through the second cooking time.

Serve with lashings of guacamole, finely shredded iceberg lettuce and grated cheese and enjoy!

Breton Chicken

I’d been looking for a recipe for this for some time.  We occasionally get a Charlie Bingham ready meal from Waitrose that’s quite nice, but every time I have it I think it can’t really be hard to make.  There doesn’t seem to be many recipes for this in English, but I found this one on an expat blog.  They suggested using three breasts, so my adaptation calls for two.  I don’t come across many three-legged chickens, and it means you can buy a whole chicken and use the other half for something else.

Adapted from http://seasonalfrenchlife.blog.co.uk/2009/01/25/breton-chicken-5442504/

Serves 4

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into approx. 2-3cm / 1inch chunks
  • 2-3 leeks, depending on their size
  • 250g pancetta / lardons
  • 250ml single cream
  • 175g cheddar cheese, or cantal, gruyere etc
  • Big bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbs of Dijon mustard
  • Juice of a lemon

In a large bowl, mix together the chicken pieces, lardons, parsley and leeks.  Squeeze over the lemon juice and olive oil and grind some black pepper over it and leave to marinate for an hour or two.

In a wok, or big frying pan stir fry the chicken mixture for 5-6 minutes.  In a mixer, blend together the cream, grated cheese and Dijon mustard. Pour over the sauce onto the mixture and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 4-5 minutes.  Check that the chicken pieces are cooked through and then serve with some steamed French beans and carrots.

I adapted this James Martin recipe that I found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chicken_and_lemon_tagine_75608

Serves 4

  • 4 chicken joints (ideally from one chicken, ie: two drumsticks and two thighs)
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2-3 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 whole preserved lemon, roughly chopped
  • 1 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 2 sticks of cinammon
  • 1tsp cinammon
  • 2 tsp ras-el hanout
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Bunch of parsley roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs lightly flavoured runny honey (such as acacia)
  • 150g dates, stoned and halved

In a tagine or large casserole dish, heat some butter or oil and gently brown the chicken joints all over,  then remove the chicken from the tagine with a slotted spoon leaving as much of the fat as possible in the pot.

Add the sliced onions and stir for a minute, then add garlic and ginger.  Fry gently for a few minutes until the onions has softened and the mixture has turned a lovely golden colour.

Add all the spices and cook for a minute or two, stirring well.  Add the chicken back to the pan and make sure the meat is evenly covered with the spice and onion mixture, then add the stock and slowly bring to the boil.  You now either cook the tagine on a low heat on the hob or as I prefer you can cook this in the oven at 160 degrees Celsius (or 180 for a non-fan over).  Either way cook with the lid on for 45 minutes. After this time, remove the lid, add the dates and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened and the chicken pieces are tender.  

It is a good idea to stir occasionally through both cooking times and keep an eye on the the chicken pieces so that they don't overcook.   Serve with buttered couscous, or as I love to serve with a tagine, steamed dwarf beans dressed in melted butter, ground cumin and lemon juice.


I’d been thinking about making a cassoulet for some time.  Anywhere I looked on the internet for a suitable recipe wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  I wanted it to be fairly authentic in as much as wanted it to contain duck, lovely best-quality sausages, a mirepoix-style base cooked in duck fat and white beans such as haricot and all cooked in a thick, well-flavoured sauce of stock and tomatoes.  From hereon the need to authenticity ended.  Reading Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking I realised that it isn’t essential to use confit de canard, but to par-roast some duck legs instead.  The great French regions where cassoulet hails from use ingredients that for them are in great cheap abundance.  In the UK confit de canard is a luxury.  Inspired by the outline of a recipe in French Country Cooking I devised my own version of a cassoulet.  Being somewhat lazy (as far as batch-cooking three meals on one day can be called lazy!) I used whatever tins of beans I had in my larder.  Luckily for me I had a tin of Mexican baked beans that had been lingering in the back of the cupboard for a very long time, crying out to be used in a a nice big stew.  They gave a very subtly background smoky flavour to the dish, not very Languedoc I know, but the outcome was everything I wanted, hearty, rib-sticking and the duck fat gave a lovely rich flavour.

Serves 4 for dinner with 2-3 left-over portions.  If you wanted to serve this for a dinner party of 6-8 I would add extra duck legs.

  • 2 Gressingham duck legs (drumstick and thigh)
  • 6-8 very good quality sausages
  • 2 onions, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 ribs of celery, very finely chopped
  • 1 head of fennel, very finely chopped
  • 1 faggot of herbs (parsley, thyme, bay etc, tied together in a bundle)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2-3 400g tins of haricot or cannellini beans
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml good stock
  • Glass of red wine

Prick the skin of the duck legs and rub with salt and then roast on a rack in a roasting tin in an oven preheated to 160 degrees C for 45 minutes.  A couple of times baste and pour off and reserve the duck fat

Meanwhile brown the sausages all over and set aside.

Rub garlic well into a casserole dish, and then heat a couple of tablespoons of the duck fat in it, then add the onion, garlic, celery and fennel.  Sweat the vegetables on a gentle flame for 20 minutes.

Add the sausages and duck to the casserole and gently mix with the vegetables.  Add the beans, tomatoes, stock, wine and herbs and gently mix everything together and bring slowly to the boil.

Put the casserole, covered in an oven for 1 hour at 160 degrees C.

Serve with lots of buttered steamed greens.