Saturday, 28 August 2010

Roast topside of Water Buffalo

This was something of a surprise find in the freezer section at Sunnyfields - Water Buffalo meat!  The Water Buffalo are reared here in the UK, at Broughton Farm in Hampshire (more info here).  They had buffalo mince and topside joints available, so I though it would be good to do a version of the British classic, roast beef.  But with buffalo.

  To start with, defrost the meat.  It is best taken out of the freezer in the morning of the day you plan to cook it, assuming you'll be having it as an evening meal.  When it's defrosted completely, pre-heat the oven to 220C.  Liberally season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The piece I bought had some string tied around it to keep it all together, I left this on until it was cooked.  Next, roughly chop four or five carrots and three small onions and place in the bottom of a roasting tray.  Drizzle the vegetables with a little oil (I used rape seed oil) and place the seasoned meat on top.

  Now, place this onto the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 180C and leave for around 2 hours.  Baste the meat with the juices which will collect in the roasting tray about every half an hour or so.  After 2 hours (the exact cooking will depend on the size of the piece of meat, so you'll have to use your own judgement a bit here), turn the temperature down to 160C for a final half-an-hour.  Then, remove the meat from the oven.

  Take the meat out of the roasting tray and put to one side, strain the vegetables and juices into a suitable container (this makes very good gravy!).  Now, put the meat back into the roasting tray and cover with kitchen foil.  Now leave it for 10 - 15 minutes to rest before serving.
  To test if it's cooked properly, before removing from the oven completely, use a metal skewer to make a hole right through the thickest part of the meat, from the top.  Remove the skewer and watch the juices that come out, if they are clear and not cloudy, the meat should be cooked.  Repeat the test in several areas to make sure.  There are fancier ways of doing this, a meat thermometer is probably the best way, especially if you want you meat anything other than well done, but I don't have one of those.

 Anyway, that's it!  Serve with whatever vegetables you like.

  It has a really excellent flavour, kind of like beef, but also quite different.  The fat, in particular, tastes very different.  Buffalo meat apparently contains less than half the fat of beef, so it can't be bad!  I would recommend trying it.  I intend to have a go at making burgers from buffalo mince at some point, so I shall certainly blog about that when I do.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sunnyfields chicken, ham and leak pie

 I was back at Sunnyfields farm a little while ago, actually my first visit this summer!  I have often wished that it was easier to get British made 'ready meal' things like pizza and pies, made with British (and preferably local) ingredients.  Much to my delight, I found that you can!  Although, if I hadn't been at Sunnyfields anyway, it would have been a bit out of my way just for a pie.  But still, I could hardly resist giving one of these a try!

 It was an excellent pie!  It had nice, big pieces of chicken and good sized cubes of ham.  The pastry was good too.  All in all, a thoroughly good pie.  More info on Sunnyfields Organic farm here.

 While I was there, I also picked up some locally grown corn-on-the-cob, which was very nice.  I had some of it done on the barbecue and it was really sweet and delicious.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Welsh lamb burgers with fresh mint and rosemary

Judging by my last shopping trip, Welsh lamb seems to be very much back on the shelves, at least at my local supermarket.  So, I couldn't resist picking up some minced lamb, which is great made into burgers.  Minced lamb has a fairly high fat content (around 20%) compared to minced beef, but this really helps to keep things like burgers moist when they cook.  Beef burgers can end up being a bit dry much more easily than lamb burgers.  Like nearly all of my recipes, this is really easy to do.  Simply place 500g of minced lamb into a large bowl:

 This was also a good excuse to use some of the herbs of been growing on my patio, so I picked a reasonable handful of mint leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary.  I then washed these and chopped them fairly finely before adding them to the meat in the bowl.  I also added a generous measure of freshly ground black pepper, a good pinch of salt, a finely chopped small onion and one egg.  The easiest way to mix this all together is by hand, so get stuck in!

 Now, heat some oil in a pan, to a fairly high heat, but not smoking.  Take small handfuls of the mixture and kneed them in your hands to a suitable 'burger' shape, making sure that they are not too thick.  Place these in the hot pan and fry for something in the region of 7 to 8 minutes per side.  The exact time will depend on how thick you make them, thinner ones will be quicker and fatter ones will take longer.  You can always cut one open when you think they are done, just to check.

 Serve!  Of course, burgers go well when in buns, but I didn't have any, so I had mine with potatoes and British corn on the cob.
Very tasty it was to!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Honey glazed pork chop with British corn on the cob

I picked up this jar of honey at my local butcher shop today, so thought I should use it.  Pork chops can be good, but a honey glazed pork chop is just better!  It's very easy to do, simply season the pork chop with some freshly ground black pepper and some course sea salt on both sides.

 Heat some oil in a frying pan to a reasonably high heat and cook the pork chop on one side until it is cooked about half way through.

 Now, turn the heat down and gently pour a generous teaspoon of honey onto the uncooked side of the pork chop.  Allow the honey to run over the top and then turn the chop over, placing the honey side down in the pan.  The honey will quickly caramelise and you should see the caramel creeping out from under the pork chop.  It's important that the heat isn't too high at this stage because we don't want to burn the sugar.

 Let it cook until it's cooked through, which will probably take another 10 minutes or so, but this will depend on the size of the chop.  It should turn a lovely, golden colour on the honey side.  You can turn it over again for a few minutes if you want the golden caramel colour on both sides.

 I was keen to find a way to use some of the British sweetcorn I bought the other day, so I cooked the cob in lightly salted, boiling water for about 10 minutes, until tender.  Served this way with a knob of butter, it's absolutely delicious.

British Sweetcorn

 I was very surprised to come across British sweetcorn in the supermarket!  I have seen this before, but only once and that was a few years ago.  As you can see, this is part of the Waitrose South of England range, so presumably it has just come into season.  I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them yet, I know of boiling or grilling the cob and having it with butter (very nice), but I shall investigate if there are some other good ideas out there.

 My attempts at growing various vegetables in pots on my patio has not been very successful.  The biggest problem has been with slugs and snails which just come along and consume any young plants, particularly things like spinach or lettuce.  I have been using pellets, which seems to be working.  I found some excellent 'organic approved' pellets, which are apparently completely safe to pets and other wildlife such as birds which might eat the slugs or snails.  Also, they are safe to use around edible plants, which is good.  Despite the attacks, the tomatoes are doing well and one is just beginning to turn red:

 I'm only growing two plants this year, of different variates, so I probably wont get enough fruit for making chutney again.  Unbelievably, I still have chutney left over from last year and, more importantly, it still seems to be edible!

 A friend has also been teaching me about Thai cooking just recently, which is exciting.  I have to be careful though, as the recipes are closely guarded secrets and I had to promise not to reveal them.  However, I might be able to come up with some variants that I can post here, so look out for British / Thai fusion cooking some time soon!