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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pork Hock Ragoût with Cabbage

This is a favorite cut of pork for me. It is also one of the cheapest and tastiest pork cuts. The bone and gristle and skin break down during slow cooking to make a rich succulent broth. I call it a  Ragoût because I had some Fench  influence when I was researching it. It also meets my "Health Food" requirements because the Skin and fat is skimmed off before serving, leaving very little fat.
Here you see it half way through cooking...
And here it is for the final 30 minute after removing the fat and adding the cabbage and baby peas...

1 large pork hock or 2 or three pigs trotters (with hoofy bits removed please!)
1 large carrot peeled and cut into rounds.
2 medium onions chopped coarsely
1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas.
3 cups chopped cabbage.
6 or 7 fresh green curry leaves. (this is a bit of a secret ingredient for a unique flavour and is rather special, however 7 or 8 bay leaves can be used instead)
5 garlic segments chopped
1 heaped tablespoon fresh grated ginger.
1 chopped green chilly. I would use 3 but my wife does not like spicy food.
1 glass sweet or semi sweet wine.

It very simple really and is a dish that can be left to "Get On With Itself"
Cook the onions in a little oil until lightly browned. Add the Hock, the carrots, and cover with water and the glass of sweet wine. Sprinkle the herbs and garlic on top and arrange the curry leaves so that they are easy to remove during cooking. Now bring to simmer for 3 hours. Let the liquid reduce as much as possible without burning the meat. Half way through remove the curry leaves or leave in longer according to taste. Halfway though is about right though. Let it cool slightly and then break up all the meat. Remove the bones and skin and any floating fat. Leave a few globules floating though because a lot of the aromatic oils found in the herbs are trapped in the fat. Add the chopped cabbage and baby peas and bring back to simmer for a further 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Carefully turn the vegetables into the meat broth during this final cooking. Season to taste and serve.
I served this last week as a savory relish with Firm Polenta. We call it Sadza or Nshima in our region.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Lasagna a la Roger

I am happy to say that all three of my boys have followed my love of cuisine and producing special meals. Roger is a talented Wild Life Artist and his artistic streak has affected his cooking too! Visit his blog , Roger Brown Art of The Wild. It is in my links on the right hand side of this page.
There are many cultural influences that have caused the slow evolution of uniquely Southern African food, and Italian is one of them. There are many Italians in Southern Africa. However in the early years many of the real Italian ingredients were not always found very easily. Things like Roma tomatoes, the proper pungent purple garlic, fresh pesto ingredients and even the right flour to make Pasta.
South African cooks improvised. Here is Rogers version of Lasagna. His addition of pork sausage meat makes this particularly tasty. He has used easily available dried herbs and canned tomatoes.

Meat sauce
500 g lean beef mince
500g pork sausages
800g tin chopped tomatoes
2 onions
Heaped tespoon dried Origanum (half cup chopped fresh if available)
Sweet basil (half cup chopped fresh if available)
3 cloves garlic
Salt black
250g Lasagne sheets
White sauce
1 litre milk
2 large table spoons butter
2 table spoons cake flour
Black pepper heaped teaspoon.
Half cup grated mozarella and cheddar mixed.

Start off frying the onions in a little olive oil
Add chopped up pork sausages and then the mince ,brown them well.

Add garlic, origanum and sweet basil and the salt and a tablespoon of sugar
Once all brown  add the tinned tomatoes, tomatoe paste and tomatoe sauce
Let it simmer for about 30 min or more.

While that is simmering make the white sauce..
I do this by making a roux. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter on low heat ,then add 2 table spoons cake flour. Add the milk very slowly, adding more only when all lumps have been mixed out. Keep stirring continuously until thick then add salt and pepper and the grated cheese.

Put 3 cm layer of meat sauce in the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish. Then layer the lasagne sheets (Soak them in warm water for 5 min beforehand to soften)
Next layer white sauce then meat sauce then sheets and continue as many times possible. I normally get two layers of each. Finish layer should be white sauce with cheese on top. Grind fresh parmesan cheese over the top if you can get it. Bake in oven for 30 min or until top is well browned at 250C (480F)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

School Lunch Healthy Chicken and Chips with Peas

Chicken Chips and Peas is a very old favorite of mine. It was born by my English Grandma who used to give us this meal for lunch once a week after school!

I modified this recipe a bit to conform to my new health regime and yet I have to say it was still very similar to Grandmas lunch.
Serves two hungry schoolboys.
two large leg and thighs.
Cup of fresh or frozen green baby peas
About three medium potatoes peeled, chipped and parboiled till almost soft. (Yes par-boiled!)
minced or chopped garlic.
fresh ground black pepper.
Mild extra virgin olive oil. (Here's the healthy deep frying!!) Olive oil is actually GOOD for you.
If using frozen chicken, first of all defrost thoroughly your chicken leg and thighs. It is best to do this overnight in the fridge.
Start the meal by getting the meat going.
Dash a little of the olive oil into a large pan which has a lid. Season with the ground pepper and rub the minced or chopped garlic over the meat. Start turning the heat up until the meat is just sizzling. It will probably be at about 25% of your dial. This is grandmas secret method. Very slow frying. Expect this to take an hour. 30 min on each side. Don't turn more than necessary. A certain amount of liquid will form, but leave the lid off long enough for it to steam off then resume with the lid on. This combination of frying/simmering in liquid is the key to truculently tender meat after about an hour.
Whilst this is going on, lay your parboiled chips out in an oven dish and drizzle a little olive oil over them. Shake and coat as best you can. Put into the oven at 200C (390F) Once its sizzling gently toss again and turn individual chips carefully to coat with the olive oil. Let them brown lightly, tossing as required.
AT THE SAME TIME!!! O' harassed cook, put your peas into a small saucepan with a lid and a teaspoon of REAL butter. Yup. our one exception to strictly healthy food. Baby peas without butter are just not worth eating in my opin! Again gentle heat until the butter melts and the peas steam cook for about 10 minutes.

Serve with ice cold coke in the bottle with a straw!