Pork and lentils

This is adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe (from Real Food). Great to eat on a cold day. Enough for 2 people:

  • 3 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon (cut into short, thin strips)NS_Pork&Sausage
  • 250g pork belly (cut into 2 cm cubes)
  • 3 spicy pork sausages
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 300ml chicken stock (made with a 1/2 stock cube)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 100g green lentils
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Chopped parsley

Gently cook the bacon in a large saucepan or cast iron casserole. When the fat begins to run, increase the heat and add the pork, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Remove the meat, leaving any fat behind (you may need to cook the pork in batches).

Add the sausages to the pan, brown them lightly and remove.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook very gently for about 10 or more minutes, until they are soft and golden.

Add the sausages, bacon and pork to the pan, together with the stock, the (whole) sprigs of thyme and the bayleaf. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the lentils and simmer for a further 40 minutes, or until both the lentils and pork are cooked.

Season with black pepper and lemon juice and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.



Jambalaya is a fairly quick one-pot Cajun rice dish. This version is based on a recipe from the Hairy Bikers. Enough for 3:

  • Chicken thighs (boned and cut into smallish chunks
  • 40g cooking chorizo (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 celery sticks (sliced 1cm thick)
  • 1 green pepper (cored, deseeded and cut into rough 2cm chunks)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed/finely chopped)
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 90g brown rice
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1 courgette (cut into chunks), so other equivalent green vegetable(s)
  • 40g peeled uncooked king prawns (defrosted)
  • 2 spring onions (sliced)
  • Lemon juice & black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Fry the chicken over a medium heat until it starts to brown. Add the chorizo and stir-fry for another minute. Remove the chicken and chorizo from the pan.

Stir in the onion, celery and green pepper, and cook very gently for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes, cut into quarters and remove the seeds (save the liquid from the tomatoes by rubbing the seeds though a sieve, and reserve together with any other accumulated tomato liquid on the chopping board). Roughly chop the tomatoes flesh.

Stir the garlic, paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano, and bay leaf into the onion, celery and green pepper mixture. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the reserved liquid and cook over a moderate heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened.

Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan, stir in the rice, and cook gently for 1 minute. Pour over the stock and cook for about 20 minutes (stir occasionally, and if the rice is drying out add more water or stock) until the rice is just cooked.

Stir in the prawns and spring onions and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until the prawns are cooked. Serve.

Tomato and celery soup


I had some chicken stock which I’d made after boning and skinning some chicken thighs, and the end of a head of celery, so I made this soup. Enough for 3:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • About 1/3rd of a head celery (washed and sliced)
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 750ml chicken stock (the real thing, or a cube etc)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • Lemon juice and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the celery and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer (covered) for 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the cream and blend using a hand blender. Reheat until just boiling. Remove from the heat and season with lemon juice and black pepper to taste.

Serve with croutons (see final paragraph sweet potato and red pepper soup).



For 2 generous portions:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast cut into approx 1.5cm cubes
  • 1 onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 medium red pepper (cored, deseeded and finely sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 3 cooking chorizos (sliced) – or equivalent of dried chorizo
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron (or you could use a small amount of turmeric – but it won’t taste the same (or leave it out altogether))
  • 120g of arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 chicken stock cube (crumbled)
  • Hot water
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 10 large raw frozen prawns
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large, thick bottomed saucepan, metal casserole dish or paella pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir until brown. Remove the chicken.

Add 1 tbsp of oil and gently heat the pan. Add the onion and pepper. Stir and cover, leaving to cook very gently for 10 minutes (stirring occasionally). Stir in the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the chorizo and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil together with the saffron and rice. Stir to ensure the rice is coated with oil, and cook gently until the rice starts to go transparent.

Crumble in the stock cube and add enough hot water to cover the rice. Bring to the boil. Stir, turn down the heat, and cook very gently (covered) for about 25 minutes (or until the rice is almost cooked), stirring frequently and adding more hot water as necessary.

Mix in the frozen peas and ‘bury’ the prawns (it’s fine if they are still frozen) in the paella. Turn up the heat (to moderate) and continue cooking until the prawns have turned pink.

Season with lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Serve.

Try these when you’ve got a cold!

I’ve no idea whether these two suggestions really do any good, but they always make me feel better:

  1. Lemon juice, honey and ginger ‘tea’ – juice of half a large lemon, dessert spoon of honey (I use manuka honey) and a piece of root ginger (approx. 2cm x 4cm) grated. Mix the lemon juice and the honey in a cup, put the grated ginger in another container and add sufficient water to cover the ginger (put a lid on top and leave for 5 mins). Strain the ginger ‘tea’ into the lemon juice and honey and top up with hot water;
  2. Garlic soup – 5 peeled garlic cloves (chopped), 4 small potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced), about 10g of butter, a litre of chicken stock, a little chopped parsley. Gently sauté the garlic and potatoes in a pan with the melted butter, add the stock. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Blend the contents of the pan and add the chopped parsley to finish.
  3. I’d try this as well from Jack Monroe: Ultimate Feisty Soup

In praise of fat

The 2 March 2013 Guardian ‘Cook’ supplement ran an article featuring the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm.

This contained a recipe for ‘happy chicken with loads of garlic cloves’ and, I quote “Chicken with 40 cloves never fails to please”. Personally I tend to agree with this statement, but not in the case of ‘happy chicken with loads of garlic cloves’; or to put it another way: I was not happy with the result (even after making some adjustments to the recipe).

With the exception of the two bacon rashers and the chicken’s own fat, there was no other oil or fat in the recipe. I did amend this by sautéing the diced vegetables (to which I added celery) and bacon, in about a tablespoon of oil (thinking that a basic risotto approach would work). I suspect that this improved the result, but it was still far from never failing to please.

I also reduced the amount of brown rice by 150g to 350g, but still had enough to feed a platoon. The remains were used for:
• Chicken and rice soup (with stock made from the carcass with the usual veg etc); adding some of the remaining rice and veg mixture and some frozen petit pois to improve the colour/appearance/taste;
• Lunch – a bento box salad ingredient (with the addition of spring onions, more petit pois and French dressing);
• Arancini (risotto cakes) – these suffered from breaking up when frying (probably because I had used ordinary brown rice, and maybe I should have added a beaten egg to bind the mixture together), but were quite tasty;

Additionally, the remaining chicken meat was made into Coronation Chicken (one of my all-time favourite sandwich fillings). This will give you a good idea of what to do http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/apr/28/cook-perfect-coronation-chicken-royal-wedding

Anyway, I must get back to my chicken and garlic recipe, which never fails to please me or anyone else who consumes it. This is composed of potato wedges (‘old’ potatoes washed (unpeeled)), parboiled (placed in cold water which is brought to boiling point, drained and returned to the pan over a low heat to dry out a little); a free range chicken (jointed – the remaining carcass being used to make stock); olive oil; butter; chopped garlic; black pepper; lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Set the oven at around 180°C. Put a generous slug of olive oil in a roasting tin or large oven proof dish. Tip in the potato wedges and toss them in the oil and sprinkle some of the garlic on them. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes. Take the tin/dish from the oven, toss the potatoes again and arrange the chicken joints on top (generously dabbing them with butter, sprinkling with more garlic and putting back in the oven). The chicken should cook in between 50 to 60 minutes (turning over halfway). But always check to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked.

Finish by seasoning with black pepper, lemon juice and chopped parsley.
To me it is the fat (apart from the garlic) that makes this dish, particularly the combination of garlic and butter (demonstrated by that other favourite: garlic bread (not the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm version – to me cheese is an unnecessary addition). In the case of my chicken and garlic meal there were no leftovers!