Oxtail Braised in Red Wine

Oxtail Braised in Red Wine

It couldn’t get simpler than this. This dish all it basically needs is time.

Don’t confuse fat with gelatin. Oxtail contains a lot of the latter. You’ll be rewarded with tender and unctuous meat that asks for yet another glass of wine.

  • Oxtail, cut in pieces
  • a chopped medium onion
  • two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • bay leave
  • a bottle of good red wine
  • butter or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper.
  1. Brown onion and garlic in some butter or oil.
  2. Add meat and enough wine to cover it.
  3. Let it simmer for 2-3 hours over very low heat until meat is done, dark and bright.

Best eaten with rich mashed potatoes or parsnips.

Spanish Green Beans with Chorizo

Galician Green Beans with Chourizo

I spent several summers as a kid in the farm where my grandparents sourced chourizos for their deli. Food was simple, but it will always be among the most delicious I’ve ever tried.

Green beans were at their peak and we would start every meal, day in, day out, with large platters of boiled potatoes and beans, plates with pieces of fried pork belly and a bottle with a strong homemade vinegar to dress the vegetables. This is the dish, but using chourizos (chouriços, in Portuguese; chorizos, in Spanish) instead of pork belly.

Don’t skip this recipe because it seems simple and dull. If you use good produce, you’ll repeat more than once.

  • A bunch of green beans
  • Two medium-large potatoes
  • Chourizo sausage, on the uncured side.
  • Olive oil
  • Wine vinegar
  • Salt
  1. Cut potatoes in big cubes and gently boil in salted water for 7 minutes.
  2. Cut green beans in medium pieces and add to the pot with the courizo. Boil for another 10 minutes.
  3. Drain.
  4. Serve and dress with olive oil and vinegar.

You can add a boiled egg to each plate. It goes very well with this dish.

Tip&Tricks: Because I don’t think you can find Galician chourizo, use either Portuguese or Spanish, as less cured as you can get. They will have a much nicer texture than the dry ones and will give potatoes and nice reddish hue.

long beans and pumpkin in coconut milk

Pumpkin and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

This recipe comes from Wendy Hutton’s book “Singapore Food”, which I bought when stopping for a week in this city-state on my way to a wedding in Adelaide. I gained 4 kilos because the food was so good.

  • 6 shallots
  • 2 large red chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (or 4 salted anchovies)
  • 1 tablespoon soaked dried prawns (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 400 g pumpkin, cut into small cubes
  • 200 g long beans, cut up in medium pieces
  • Oil and salt
  1. Finely chop shallots and chillies.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and fry shallots, chillies and shrimp paste over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the prawns, stir-fry for another couple of minutes and then add the coconut milk.
  4. Add long beans and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add pumpkin and cut for another five.
  6. Season with salt, make sure the vegetables are cooked to your liking and serve with steamed rice.

It doesn’t freeze very well.

Salted cod with chickpeas

Salted Cod with Chickpeas

I know salted cod is an acquired taste, but it’s well worth the effort of learning to love it. When, as a kid, I was asked what foods I didn’t like I would answer “everything but salted cod”. Not anymore.

If you cannot find good salted cod, do it yourself.

  • 500g chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • A small onion, chopped
  • 500g  salted cod, soaked overnight
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  1. Gently sauté the onions with some olive oil.
  2. Add drained chickpeas and gently boil until tender. Do not use much water and add a bit more if necessary. You can either make a soup or a stew, depending on the amount of water you use. I like it on the soup side because salted cod skin has so much gelatin you’ll end up with a silky broth to die for.
  3. Add paprika and a good splash of olive oil.
  4. Add cod, cover the pot and turn off the heat.
  5. Serve.

I’ve just had three serving of this soupy stew today for lunch. My wife, two. I was going to freeze some, but I guess I will have to start over…

Kind of a minestrone

Beans and Vegetables Soup

Use seasonal vegetables and you’ll be making this over and over. The list I suggest is based on what I used last time, but it can vary.

  • 2 carrots
  • Half a stack of celery
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cups of sliced cabbage
  • 1 small can of chopped tomatoes
  • Kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • A chunk of prosciutto (optional)
  • A piece of salted pork belly, soaked overnight (overnight)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. Use the same pot to soak the salted pork belly, prosciutto and kidney beans.
  2. The next day, drained them, add again water and boil until beans are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the vegetable in pieces (I like mine cut up quite small so I get a bit of everything with each spoonful).
  4. Finish the soup cutting the meat in small pieces and returning to the pan, adding vegetables, tomato, a good splash of olive oil and pepper. Add salt, if needed. Cook until vegetables are tender.
  5. Serve with croutons.

I like to add a little red wine to my bowl of soup. You should try it at least once in your life.

Kashimiri Lamb Curry

Kashimiri Lamb Curry

This recipe comes from a book I bought many years ago, before the internet was mainstream and Yahoo! was still a young exciting company. I still use it because it’s filled with simple recipes that seem quite authentic.

  • 1kg lamb, cut in bit sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of strained yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of dry ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint
  1. Mix meat with dry ginger, yogurt and salt and cook uncovered until the sauces starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, stiring ocasionally.
  2. Add paprika and grated ginger, stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add water and simmer uncovered until the sauces thickens and the meat is very tender. You can achieve a better result doing this in four steps, adding half a cup of water at a time.
  4. Add garam masala and chopped cilantro, stir well and serve with white race and a onion sambal.

The sauce has a nice sandy texture and it’s full of flavor. A small serving goes a long way with steamed rice.

It freezes very well.

 

Spanish Garlic Chicken

Spanish Garlic Chicken

Called “pollo al ajillo” in Spanish, is a dish for garlic lovers who will nibble on the golden bits of garlic with pleasure. Add a green salad on the side and a slice of good bread.

It’s important to use thighs because chicken breast is too dry. Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic because a long sautéing mellows its pungency.

  • 3 chicken thighs cut in 6 pieces each
  • 9 cloves of garlic
  • Bay leaf and clove (optional)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. Brown the chicken over medium-low heat. Stir often for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the garlic cloves.
  3. Add to pot once and stir until the garlic browns too. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon once in a while.
  4. Add a generous splash of dry white wine or water. If you want to add bay leave, do it know. Scrape. Reduce. Serve.

Cook’s reward: once the dish is done, the spoon used for scraping will have a mixture of garlic and crispy chicken bits of flesh and skin. Use a small piece of bread to grab as much as you can and enjoy.

Tips&Tricks:

  • In step 1, if you sauté for just 20 minutes, chicken will be very tender and juicy but the skin will be kind of gross. If you keep cooking for another 20-30 minutes, the skin will fall off, crisp up and be a thing to die for.
  • Use a free range animal.
Ribs, sausages and fideos

Pork ribs, sausages and noodles

If we judged a region’s cuisine by what we see on restaurant menus, people meals would be horrible monotonous. There is always a family cooking style rarely by the ocasional visitor. This recipe belongs to this type of cooking.

It comes from Spain, in case you were wondering.

  • 0.250-0.500 kg of pork ribs cut in pieces
  • 0.250-0.500 kg pork sausages (chipolata or a similar type), cut in pieces
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 chopped cloves of garlic
  • A generous splash of white wine
  • 1 chopped tomato (use the canned ones when out of season)
  • 3/4 cup of fideos (or broken thin spaghetti) or short-grain rice.
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • Chopped parsely (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Brown ribs and sausages.
  2. Add onions and garlic and stir for 5 minutes scrapping the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add tomate and cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add wine and reduce it.
  5. Add pasta (or rice) and stir until it is shiny and well covered with the juices from the pan.
  6. Add parsley and broth (or water) and let it cook uncovered for 10 minutes over medium heat. Cover, let it rest for another 5-10 minutes and serve.

Try varying the amount of broth until you achieve the consistency you like. I enjoy it on the saucy side so I tend to add more broth, but be careful as it’ll be easier to overcook pasta or rice.

You can freeze the base for this dish (up to step 4) to have a quick meal in minutes just adding the frozen block to the pot, heating it up and then following steps 5 and 6.

Tomato and yogurt chicken curry

Tomato and Yogurt Chicken Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 choped cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • A generous handful of chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons of garam masala (or the curry powder of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 chopped tomatoes (I use canned ones)
  • 2 large chicken things, cut in 4 or 5 pieces each.
  • Gee, butter or vegetable oil
  • Salt
  1.  Gently fry the onions, garlic, ginger and mint in a ghee for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garam masala and turmeric and stir a little bit.
  3. Add yogurt and tomatoes and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken and cook until it’s tender. If the sauce is too watery (not all tomatoes and yogurt have the same water content), let it simmer uncovered until it thickens.
  5. Serve with rice, chapatis or dinner rolls.

This recipe tastes much better the day after.