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Lamb Sausage Ragu with Conchiglie


(serves 3)
This is a speedy (relatively) and convenient method of making a Lamb Ragu Pasta that makes no compromises on taste. I avoid the arduous task of slow-cooking mutton by using the minced meat from lamb sausages. In fact I find the starch, fat, herbs and spices of the sausage actually make for a better pasta sauce. The result is a delicious wholesome and flavourful meat sauce that can’t be beat.
 
Ingredients Lamb Conchiglie 1200
  1. Lamg Sausage (350g)
  2. Brown or White Mushrooms (100g)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Garlic(1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Conchiglie (3 cups)
  6. Oxo Stock Cube (2)
  7. Red Wine (1 cup)
  8. Turmeric
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Oregano

Preparation

  1. Peel and then cut your onion into 6 wedges. Then slice them coarsely and pan fry in a large pan with some oil on low heat.
  2. In the meanwhile, slice your lamb sausages lengthwise on one side and peel off the skin. Place all the minced lamb in a bowl with half a cup of water. Mix well to loosen up the meat.
  3. Remove the onion from the pan, turn up the heat, add some oil and throw in the meat. Break up the clumps of meat as the water boils away. When the meat begins to brown, return the onion plus any drippings to the pan and continue stir-frying for another minute.
  4. Next add 1 cup of wine. Then add 2 oxo stock cubes (I normally use beef but you can also use lamb) dissolved in 2 cups of hot water.
  5. Peel your garlic bulb and throw the individual cloves into the pan. Quarter each mushroom into and add them to the pan as well.
  6. Add 1t sugar, 1t turmeric, 1t coriander seed powder and 1T oregano. Turn down the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes to1 hour – until the sour taste of the wine is gone. Add water as needed such that you end up with a light sauce. You can make the sauce ahead of time, just keep it in the fridge til its needed.
  7. Boil your pasta in a pot of water with a dash of olive oil until it is about 2/3 cooked. Strain and then add your pasta to the pan and stir fry until the pasta is al dente. Add water as required such that you end up with a thick sauce just as the pasta is done. Splash on 4T of olive oil after turning the fire off.
  8. Sprinkle on some black pepper and perhaps some parsley after plating.

Notes

  • You can use 3/4 cup red wine plus 1/4 cup Marsala wine for a more authentic Italian taste – remember to skip the 1t of sugar in step 6.
  • Conchiglie a.k.a. seashell pasta is the best choice of pasta for this kind of sauce as it can hold the bits of meat better. Another type of paste suitable for this dish is farfalle, a.k.a. butterfuly pasta.
  • The picture would look nicer if I had just cooked the pasta separately and then poured the sauce over it, but then it wouldn’t taste nearly as good. Sometimes you have to sacrifice looks for taste.
  • Ragu and Ragout are both a dish made from gamey meat and chopped vegetables. Ragu is Italian and is usually cooked as a sauce. Ragout is French and is usually a stew.
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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Coq au Vin with Chicken Breasts


(serves 3)
Coq au Vin is a wholesome simmered dish which hails from France. Traditional Coq au Vin recipes typically get you to boil your chicken to death as the flavour of the red wine matures and seeps into the meat. This method doesn’t work too well with chicken breasts which become dry and hard. To keep your chicken breasts tender, you’ll see from the recipe that I’ve taken a different approach. Since the aim is to cook a (more) healthy dish with white meat here, I’ve also factored in a way to bypass the need for chicken skin or lardons to react with the tannin in the wine
 
Ingredients Chicken Breast - Coq au Vin
  1. Chicken Breasts (600g)
  2. Luncheon Meat (200g)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Shallots (8)
  5. Mushrooms (100g)
  6. Carrot (1)
  7. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  8. Red Wine (1 cup)
  9. Port (1/4 cup)
  10. Brandy (1/4 cup)
  11. White Rice (1T)
  12. Butter
  13. Chicken stock cube (1/2)
  14. Sage
  15. Thyme
  16. Oregano
  17. Paprika

Preparation

  1. Before proceeding with the rest of the recipe, brine your chicken breasts overnight or for at least 8 hours according to the recipe in this earlier post.
  2. Dry the brined chicken breasts with kitchen towels and rub on a dusting of paprika.
  3. Peel the garlic, shallots and onion. Cut the onion into 8 ‘quarters’ and slice the carrot into 1/3 inch pieces.
  4. Slice the luncheon meat (a.k.a. spam) block into 5 slices. Place this into a pot with half a mashed chicken stock cube, 1 cup of red wine, 1/4 cup port and 3 cups of water. Turn on the heat and bring to a low simmer.
  5. Add the garlic cloves, onion, shallots and carrot pieces. Sprinkle in 1 heaped T of raw rice  that has been rinsed (2T if cooked, without the rinse).
  6. Add 1t each of chopped sage, thyme and oregano. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour, uncovered. Top up with a bit of water as and when needed.
  7. OK, its one hour later. Melt 20g of butter in a second pot which is just big enough to fit the chicken breasts flat and without overlapping. When the butter begins to darken, sear the chicken breasts briefly in the butter to seal them and then quickly add the wine stew minus the luncheon meat.
  8. Top off with 1/4 cup brandy and the mushrooms (cut into halves). Make sure all the chicken is completely submerged.
  9. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until you notice that the meat is just beginning to shrink. Turn off the fire and leave covered for half an hour while the chicken continues to slow cook. You can serve your Coq au Vin anytime thereafter, but its best to leave the pot to sit for a few hours as more wine flavour will be infused into the chicken.
  10. Briefly bring to a second boil before serving. If you need to thicken the stew further, boil it down but with the chicken breasts temporarily taken out – return the chicken to the pot for a final quick reheat. Taste and add salt if needed at the very end.

Notes

  • As you’ve noticed, we do the cooking in two stages. Making the wine vegetable stew first without the chicken is the ticket to getting the wine to mature without overcooking the chicken breast. This is followed up by a short cooking time and long soaking time for the chicken to get tender flavourful chicken, a technique they use in making Hainanese Chicken Rice.
  • Normally chunks of salted pork fat called lardons and chicken skin are needed to neutralize the tannin of red wine. This is where the luncheon meat comes in. In fact since luncheon meat contains ground up connective tissue, it works even better to mature the red wine. The other good thing about using luncheon meat is that it can be removed easily.
  • The rice is a convenient way to thicken the stew without the trouble of making a roux with flour.
  • Burgundy, which is light, is normally the wine of choice for Coq au Vin while a heavier wine like Bordeaux is used for braising collagen rich beef cheek and oxtail. With all the collagen in luncheon meat, you can afford to use a heavier wine for a more robust stew.  
 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in French, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Oxtail Braised in Red Wine


(serves 4)
Oxtail is loaded with gelatinous cartilage and tendon, making it the ideal cut of beef to interact with the tannin in red wine. It’s a pairing made in heaven. When braised sufficiently, the meat neutralizes the astringent bitterness of the wine, the wine at the same time tenderizes and flavours the meat. Add some common vegetables into the mix and what you get is the tenderest, tastiest morsels of beef you have ever eaten.
 
Ingredients
  1. Oxtail (1kg)
  2. Large Carrots (2)
  3. Onions (2)
  4. Red Shallots (12)
  5. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves) 
  6. Brown Mushrooms (150g)
  7. Red Wine(1-1/4 cups)
  8. Cloves (6)
  9. Bay Leaves (5)
  10. Oxo Beef Cubes (2)
  11. Campbell’s Oxtail Soup (1 can)
  12. Woustershire Sauce
  13. Mustard 

Preparation

  1. If there is connective tissue (white stuff) left on the outside of your oxtail, cut some slits parallel to the bone in these areas to expose the meat beneath. Place the oxtail in a deep pot which has 2 times as much internal volume as the meat. Top off the pot with boiling water until the meat is just covered, add 1-1/4 cups of red wine and bring to a boil. Use a fuller wine, i.e. preferably not Pinot Noir / Burgundy.
  2. Add the can of oxtail soup, 6 bay leaves, 6 cloves, 2 Oxo cubes and 2T woustershire sauce. Keep on a low simmer for about 3 hours. You don’t have to have the fire on the entire time if you don’t want to. I usually just simmer for 15 minutes and leave the pot covered for 45 minutes, three times.
  3. Slice your carrots into thick discs, each onion into 8 wedges, and each mushroom into 4 (or 2 if they are small). Peel the garlic and shallots but leave them whole.
  4. Fish out the oxtail into a deep casserole with a quarter of the liquid. Discard the bay leaves and cloves. Throw all the vegetables into the remaining oxtail soup in the pot and keep on a low simmer for 1 hour.
  5. In the meanwhile, microwave the meat on high, covered for 3×3 = 9 minutes. Before you start and every 3 minutes thereafter, roll the oxtail around to keep them moist.
  6. After the oxtail pieces have cooled, strip the meat from the bone. It should come off easily without any cutting. If not, send it back to the microwave. Keep the meat morsels drenched in the drippings to prevent them from drying out. With 10 minutes to go on the vegetable simmer, return the meat (and drippings) to the pot.
  7. For taste, add 1T sugar, 1t mustard and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. Finally add salt incrementally until the sweet taste from the sugar is masked. This varies with each person’s tastes so I won’t suggest an exact amount. 

Notes

  • I bet you’re thinking…hmmm if I want to complicate things and put the veggies in before I take out the meat, I can save quite some time. Yes that’s true. 
  • The microwaving helps melt the remaining fat and connective tissue. If you don’t have a microwave, then you’ll have to roast the oxtail in the oven – before putting them to boil in the pot. This is the traditional way of doing it but I prefer the microwave method as it is more convenient.
  • This is not oxtail in a red wine reduction, but it is similar. If you want to cook a wine reduction version, follow the above recipe but…
    • skip the can of soup
    • skip the onions
    • skip the mustard 
    • reduce the Oxo cubes to 1
    • at the end, fish out the veggies (to be served on the side) and reduce the liquid to concentrate it.
  • Other cuts of meat suitable for this recipe are beef ribs, brisket and cheek.
  • If you like love oxtail but not the taste of wine, try my Scottish Oxtail Stew recipe instead. 
 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in French, Main Courses, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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Foie Gras in Apple and Red Wine Reduction


(serves 3)
In my opinion, pan seared foie gras is the pièce de résistance of French Cuisine. When cooked in this method, you’ll find your foie gras smooth and creamy on the inside while wrapped in a thin crispy shell. It is probably the only instance where liver can actually taste delicious. For this particular version, I have chosen to use a combination of red wine, apple and marmalade to balance out the slightly oily taste of hot foie gras. 

Ingredients 

  1. Fresh Goose Foie Gras (200g)
  2. Apple (1)
  3. Onion (1/2)
  4. Pork Stock Cube
  5. Coarse Cut Marmalade 
  6. Fennel Seeds
  7. Red Wine (1/2 cup)
  8. Woustershire Sauce
  9. Butter
  10. Nutmeg
  11. Corn Flour    

Preparation 

  1. For this recipe you need half a cup of pork stock(salted), which is really an inconveniently small amount of stock. What I usually do is place half a pork stock cube, 1t of fennel seeds and 3/4 cup of boiling water in the microwave for 2 minutes. I then leave it covered for an hour for the seeds to release their flavour. If you can’t get pork stock cubes, you’ll just need to make the stock the old fashioned way, with pork bones.
  2. Your foie gras should be fresh, the type that is sealed in a chilled vacuum pack. Give some thought as to how its best to divide it equally into 3 while maintaining 1/2 inch thick pieces. You’ll normally need to slice diagonally. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper on both sides and then dust the pieces of foie gras thoroughly with corn flour. The foie gras is delicate and I find its best to do the cutting/seasoning/dusting on a cutting board. Leave to dry in the fridge.
  3. Peel and cut one (red) apple into 1/4 inch cubes and do the same with half an onion. Pan fry these with a knob of butter for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  4. Next, add half a cup of red wine, the half cup of stock (minus the fennel seeds), a dash of woustershire sauce and 3t (heaping) of coarse cut marmalade. Continue to simmer. When the liquid begins to bubble on the pan surface, adjust heat to the minimum and occasionally lift the pan off the heat to avoid getting a burnt taste. Stop when you have reduced the liquid to a thin syrup-like consistency.
  5. When the wine reduction is done, preheat a second pan with a light drizzle of olive oil. When this pan is searing hot, place your foie gras in straight from the fridge. Fry for one minute on each side and then thirty seconds on each side (i.e. 3 minutes in total). Remove immediately onto your serving plate, but leave the drippings in the pan.
  6. While the pan is still very hot, pour the apple wine reduction into the pan and mix well. Sprinkle in some black pepper and nutmeg, then check for taste. If your stock wasn’t salty enough, you might need to add some salt. Spoon the finished apple and wine reduction on and around your plated foie gras and you’re ready to impress.

Notes

  • You fry the foie gras straight from the fridge for two reasons. Firstly, this is the best way to get the outside crispy without overcooking the inside. Secondly, when left at room temperature, raw fois gras wil lose its shape.
  • If you like the inside to be soft and juicy, make your foie gras pieces 3/4 inch thick instead.
  • As you are reducing red wine without meat, do not use high tannin wines like cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
  • For this recipe, it doesn’t matter whether you use Corn Flour or Corn Starch. The idea is to give an attractive sheen and a nice crisp exterior to the foie gras. The only time you need to worry is if you use corn flour as a thickening agent, in which case if there is some flour mixed into the starch, it will leave an after taste.
  • If you like foie gras, check out my Foie Gras Creme Brulee. 
 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Appetizers, French, Poultry, Recipe

 

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