Lamby Lamb Pie

Pie ‘eck , You’re Gorgeous.

Maybe not strictliest a pie, as this only has a pastry top and no crust. Still, we can kid ourselves that it’s better for us this way as pastry is hardly health food #1. Also, the cut of lamb I’ve used – shoulder – is a fairly fatty cut so I have trimmed as much obvious fat as possible off it, but there is nothing else really to be done. You could, I suppose, use leaner cuts like fillet or leg of lamb but they are more expensive, arguably less flavoursome and not as suited to long slow cooking. Personally, I think shoulder is the perfect cut for this dish.

Recipe will serve 4 generously.

  • 500g lamb shoulder, chopped into large bite sized chunks
  • splosh olive oil
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • glass of red wine
  • 800ml lamb stock
  • splash of Worcester sauce
  • bay leaf and couple of sprigs of thyme
  • onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 300ml of root vegetables – I used carrots but you might like swede, turnip or parsnips or a mixture – chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 250g puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • splash of milk
  • salt and pepper

A good few hours previous to when you plan to assemble the pie, put the onion, garlic, bay and thyme in a heavy based saucepan over a  low heat with a splash of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sweat the onions down, until they are golden and completely soft. Meanwhile, put the chopped lamb and 1 tbsp of the flour into a freezer or ziploc bag and shake until the lamb is dusted with the flour. Brown the cubes of lamb in batches in a hot frying pan, and do not crowd the pan as this will cause the lamb to steam rather than brown.

When the lamb is sealed all over, put it in the saucepan with the onions and add the remainder of the vegetables. Turn the heat up to medium and pour in the glass of wine. Let this bubble away for a few minutes and pour in the stock and shake in a few drops of worcester sauce. Mix another teaspoon of flour with a couple of spoonfuls of the stock until smooth and pour into the saucepan. Bring this to the boil, stirring, and then turn down to a simmer. And then just simmer for a couple of hours until the sauce has reduced down and thickened and the lamb is very soft. Pour this into a large pie tin or lasagne dish and leave to cool.

Roll out your pastry, and cover your pie. Cut a hole in the top to allow the steam to escape and then mix and egg with a couple of tablespoons of milk. Brush this mixture over the pastry and then put into a preheated oven at Gas 7 for approximately 30-40 minutes. Like me, you may wish to cover it with foil towards the end of cooking, in order to stop the pastry burning, as mine has started to do. Serve with mash and veg.

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Comfort Food. Chicken with sage, white wine & cream sauce.

It has not been the weekend I was expecting. I got in at 4am on Saturday morning after a long night of curry and carousing, to find Mr Greedy puffy and hot, coughing in his sleep with red swollen eye sockets. Because I was quite drunk and very tired I simply collapsed into bed and allowed him to deal with Greedyboy when he woke up at 5.30. Yes, I am that considerate. But you can’t look after a kid when you’re still drunk and looking after a kid whilst you’re just ill is perfectly possible. Trufax. I know this because I have had to do it on countless occasions. All the same, poor Mr Greedy.

As a result of this, neither were up to doing much the next day, and neither of us really wanted the birthday dinner that we had booked for the same evening, although I do think, to Mr Greedy’s eternal credit, he still would have taken me had I really wanted to go. No; dinner called for comfort, soothing and demanded to be eaten on the sofa, watching ‘Men Who Stare At Goats’,  followed by a very early night. I feel I was taking a bit of a risk, making a rich sauce to go with the chicken, given our tender states, but it worked well.

To serve 2:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • olive oil
  • 4 large sage leaves
  • small glass white wine
  • small pot of double cream
  • salt and pepper

In a heavy based pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame and put in the chicken thighs, skin side down. Put the sage leaves on top top the chicken pieces. Leave the chicken where it is for at least 5 minutes, until the skin has had a chance to brown and crispen – if you start moving it around before this point, not only will the skin tear and stick, but it is unlikely to brown properly, leaving you with limp greasy skin, and that will not do at all. When you are satisfied the skin is browned and crispy, you turn the chicken pieces over in the pan, the sage leaves should fall to the bottom, and put the lid on. Turn down the heat a smidge and cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until the bottom of the chicken is brown, and when pierced with a knife the juices run clear. If your thighs are big and meaty, bank on at least 20.

Remove the chicken to a warm plate or serving dish and drain off the majority of the fat that will be left in the pan, reserving the sage leaves. Pour in your wine and deglaze the pan with it, scraping up all the chickeny bits with it and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes until it begins to reduce. Now pour in your cream, and stir well. The cream will reduce quickly, so do keep an eye on it. Season with salt and pepper, and when you have a nice thick sauce, put your chicken back in and heat it back through with the sauce for a moment or two. And serve, with a green veg and whatever carb you’ve got to hand.

Creamy, Spicy Sausage Pasta

Comfort food at its best. Not only is this completely delicious, but aside from crumbling a few sausages into a frying pan by hand, there is no work aside from occasional stirring. Within about 15 minutes you have a perfectly lovely heartwarming (and bellywarming) dish and you won’t really even notice you’ve done it. I know it says spicy in the title. Its not hot though, just has a tiny kick to balance the cream. This was inspired by a Nigel Slater dish, once upon a time, but its been so long since I’ve looked at the recipe I can’t honestly say its the same thing anymore. Also, as I don’t weigh or measure anything for this recipe, is fair to say you could tweak a little without anyone really noticing. So, to serve 3 very greedy people:

sausage pasta

  • around 400g good quality pasta – shapes – radioatore, fusilli, or conchiglie. Mine was fusilli.
  • about 500g very best pork sausages. Really the best you can get. This will be rubbish without decent sausages. FREE RANGE pork please.
  • glass of dry white wine
  • small pot of double cream
  • scant tsp of chilli flakes
  • tbsp dijon mustard
  • small handful of basil leaves, torn.

I am assuming that your pasta will be taking 10-12 minutes to cook, so put your pasta on. Put a large frying pan on over a medium heat and just start squeezing the pork out of the sausages into the pan, crumbling it roughly whith your hands as you do. You don’t need to be too precious about this, put be prepared to break up big chunks with a wooden spoon or something. If they’re good sausages, they shouldn’t release too much water, but there likely will be some, so you might want to drain any liquid from the pan as you go if the sausage appears to be steaming rather than browning. When the crumbled sausage is brown in parts, pour in your wine, and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes while you stir the pasta, and probably get yourself another glass of wine, or poke your head round the kitchen door to watch Eastenders. Anyway, after a few minutes of that, stir in your chilli flakes and then your cream. Turn the heat down a touch but not too much and let it bubble away, stirring regularly. Stir in your mustard. I reckon your pasta will be done about now, so, drain it (but don’t drain it until bone dry, a tiny splosh of pasta water is good in any sauce). Chuck the torn basil leaves into the sauce, closely followed by the cooked pasta and give it a very thorough stir. Scoff.