In praise of Nigella

Saturday lunch – pitta bread pockets with soy and honey coated sausages and grated carrot

Saturday supper – steaks with salt and vinegar potatoes

Sunday supper – aromatic slow roast pork shoulder

I’m a sucker for new cookery books.  I love the books themselves and I love the feeling that this book will be the one to turn me into the creative genius I’d love to be in the kitchen.  One of my recent purchases is Nigella’s ‘At my Table’ and maybe at some stage I’ll review it however, the point of this post is that over the years I’ve collected all sorts of recipes and often do them to death and then forget about them for several years until one of my children will say “Why don’t you ever cook xxxxx anymore, that used to be my favourite!”.  So it was that I made Nigella’s cocktail sausages for lunch on Saturday.  This recipe is originally from ‘Nigella Express’ and was a big favourite for parties.  They travel well so I also often made a big batch and took them to buffets, or bring your own food evenings at social events.  Anyway, for lunch I made the delicious soy and honey coated sausages, grated some carrot and toasted some pitta breads and the girls spent a happy lunch reminiscing.

 

Honey and Soy Sausages

Ingredients: 

Cocktail sausages – 500g – separated if linked

Sesame oil – 1 x 15ml tablespoon

Honey – 75g

Soy sauce – 1 x 15ml

 

1. Preheat oven to 220 deg C/gas mark 7

2. Mix together the oil, honey and soy sauce in a bowl (I usually use a whisk)

3. Tip the sausages into the bowl and mix around well so that all the sausages are well covered with the glossy sticky mixture

4. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning them part way through if you remember

 

I always cook these in a foil tin, which I then throw away afterwards – so no horrible washing up of a very sticky pan.

Having refound Nigella for lunch I sought out her older books and spent a happy hour browsing Nigella recipes and being inspired for cooking for the rest of the weekend.  I’d already bought steaks for Saturday supper but thought I’d give her Salt and Vinegar Potatoes a try instead of the usual, slightly too greasy, chips that I make.  The recipe for these is from Nigella’s new book ‘At My Table’ and was a massive success – I’m thinking of using this recipe for my Christmas roasties.

 

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

Ingredients:

Potatoes – 500g (Nigella says baby new potatoes but I used Maris Pipers and peeled them)

Olive oil – 3 x 15 ml tablespoons

Apple cider vinegar (raw unfiltered)  – 2 1/2 teaspoons

Sea salt flakes – 1 1/2 teaspoons

 

1. Steam the potatoes for 25-30 minutes until tender.  When cooked, turn off the heat and pour away the water, then sit the potatoes back on top the pan to dry.  This step can be done up to 2 hours in advance, just leave them on the side to dry, do not put them in the fridge

2. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C/200 deg fan and pour the oil into a roasting tin and heat in the oven for 5 minutes

3. Tip the potatoes onto a plate or chopping board and crush roughly with a fork. Ideally you will then have a mixture of larger pieces, say half the size of the original potatoes, together with some smaller pieces that will crisp and brown in the oven

4.  Take the hot tin out of the oven and carefully tip in the potatoes, carefully turning them in the oil and then roast for 20 minutes.  After this 20 minutes, turn the potatoes and cook for a further 10-20 minutes until they are a deep golden brown, with crisp edges.  The smaller pieces will be dark and crunchy

5. Tip the hot, roasted potatoes into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the vinegar and salt, then taste one of the potatoes to see if you need more of either

 

That leads me onto our third Nigella recipe of the weekend.  I knew we were going to be all home for Sunday.  My eldest daughter has her mock GCSEs coming up so was going to be revising all weekend and we’d all had a busy week, nothing in the diary for Sunday and wet and cold outside.  The perfect day to have something slow cook in the oven, filling the house with delicious smells and easy for me, so I could help out with revision, homework and finish some chores.

I chose to give Nigella’s slow roast pork shoulder, with caramelised garlic and ginger a go.  This is also a recipe from her new book.  I loved in particular how the recipe talks you through the timings.  Incidentally, you need to do step 1 the day before you want to cook the pork.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Ingredients:

Garlic – 2 bulbs

Pork shoulder – 2.5kg boneless, skin on, scored

Ginger – fresh, 1 x 15ml tablespoon finely grated

Soy sauce – 2 x 15 ml tablespoons

Apple cider vinegar – raw, unfiltered, 1 x 15ml tablespoon

1. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C/200 deg C fan.  Cut the tops off the 2 bulbs of garlic, so that you can just see the cloves peeking through, and sit each of these heads of garlic, cut side up, on a piece of foil large enough for you to be able to pull up the ends and scrunch them together to form a foil parcel.  Put both of these parcels in the hot oven and roast for 45 minutes, by which time the cloves will be soft and caramelised.  Then remove from the oven and leave to cool, still wrapped in their foil parcels.  This can take several hours.  Best to do it the day before 

2. 7.5 hours before you want to eat, take the pork out of the fridge, so that it can sit at room temperature for an hour or so

3. Towards the end of that hour, preheat the oven to 150 deg C/130 deg C fan.  Whilst the oven is heating up, unwrap the garlic parcels and squeeze the bulbs, pushing the sticky caramelised cloves into a bowl.  Add the ginger, soy and vinegar and mix together to form a runny paste

4.  Sit the pork, skin side up, in a roasting tin in which it will fit snugly and spread the garlic and ginger paste into the pocket where the bone was.  If there is any paste left over, smear it gently on the sides of the meat, but take care not to get any on the skin.  Pour some freshly boiled water into the bottom of the tin, just to cover the base by about 1/2 cm.  Roast in the oven for 5 hours

5. After these 5 hours, gently baste the sides of the pork with the juices that have collected in the pan, then leave to roast for another hour

6. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 220 deg C/200 deg C fan.  Spoon the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan to a heatproof jug and return the pork in the roasting tin to the hot oven for 30 minutes, to allow the skin to turn into top rate crackling

7. Transfer the pork to a board and leave to stand for 10 minutes or so, while you spoon off the fat from the top of the meaty juices in the jug.  The juices may need reheating – this can be done either in the microwave or in a saucepan

8. Remove the crackling, break into pieces, then carve, shred or pull apart the meat and serve with the delicious juices

 

I served with steamed potatoes (I was going to do mash but changed my mind at the last minute – I think I decided that the meat flavours and juice just needed pure potatoes, without the added richness of the butter and milk that I always put on my mash) and a plate of steamed mixed green veg – peas, beans and broccoli.

It was completely delicious, the crackling worked perfectly (which I wasn’t originally convinced about) and the flavour so much more subtle than I thought when I originally prepared the pork.  I also made a separate gravy as I thought the girls might turn their noses up at the juice, which was still quite watery, however I wouldn’t do this next time, the juices were perfect in every way.

I now have to find something to do with left over pulled pork for supper on Monday – I’m currently thinking of frying it with cooked rice and chopped veg and a bit of soy or hoisin sauce to make a kind of special fried rice.  Any other suggestions?

 

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