April 22, 2024


Free For All Food

5 of the most comforting recipes to make in lockdown, from fish pie to stout-braised sausages

Chicken and leek pie

Serves 2

1 large leek

2tbsp light olive oil or sunflower oil, for frying

300g diced chicken leg

1tsp dried thyme

1tsp dried sage

75ml white wine

1tbsp plain flour

200ml chicken stock

1 egg

½ pack puff pastry

¼ cabbage

2 large or more smaller carrots

25g butter

Salt and pepper

Trim the top and bottom of the leek. Chop lengthways in half, then into ½cm pieces.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When hot, add the chicken and fry to brown it on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Add the leek to the pan, with a splash more oil if needed. Lower the heat and fry gently, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the thyme, sage and wine. Let the wine bubble away until just absorbed. Add the flour and stir for two minutes to cook it out.

Gradually add the stock, stirring until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the chicken. Season. Transfer to a 25cm x 15cm baking dish. Leave the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 6.

Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Once the chicken mix has cooled, take the pastry out of the fridge and unroll it.

Wet the edge of the dish with a little water. Cut thin strips of pastry and press around the edge of the dish to cover the rim. Cut a large piece of pastry, using the dish as a template, to cover the top and rim, crimping it with the edge strips to seal it. Brush with the egg.

Make a small slit in the middle of the pastry for the steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown.

While the pie cooks, wash and shred the cabbage, removing any tough core. Wash, peel and finely slice the carrots.

Ten minutes before the pie is ready, put the carrots in a frying pan with the butter and just enough water to cover them. Cook over a low boil for five minutes.

Add the cabbage, turn up the heat slightly and stir-fry for five minutes, until tender. The liquid should evaporate away.

Season the veg to taste and serve with the pie.

Recipe courtesy of riverford.co.uk

Stout-braised sausages and root veg mash

Stout-braised sausages and root veg mash (Recipe courtesy of Waitrose)

Serves 3

1½tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, cut into wedges

3 thyme sprigs

6 pork sausages

600g mixed root vegetables (parsnip, sweet potato, swede), peeled, roughly chopped

½tsp plain flour

200ml Guinness Draught

100ml chicken stock

1½tbsp clear honey

1tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Heat half a tablespoon of oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan or casserole dish over a medium heat and add the onions, thyme and sausages. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sausages are golden.

Meanwhile, put the root veg in a steamer and steam for 20 minutes (or boil in water for 20 minutes, then drain and leave to steam-dry for a couple of minutes).

Sprinkle the flour into the pan with the sausages and fry, stirring, for one minute more. Pour in the Guinness and simmer for two minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the stock, honey and mustard and stir until combined. Bring to a simmer, then put in the oven for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and the sausages are cooked through.

Check the vegetables are tender by piercing with a knife; it should slip in easily. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining oil, season and mash with a potato masher. Serve with the sausages, onions and gravy.

Recipe courtesy of waitrose.com

Macaroni cauliflower cheese with mustard and braised chard

Macaroni Cauliflower cheese (Image courtesy of Riverford)

Serves 2

500ml milk

1 bay leaf

1 cauliflower

1 tomato

150g macaroni pasta

25g butter

30g flour

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

100g cheddar, grated

1 nutmeg

40g breadcrumbs

2tbsp light olive oil

1 head chard

Salt and pepper

Fill one saucepan with the milk, bay and 100ml of water. Fill another with well-salted water. Put both on the heat (don’t let the milk boil over).

Remove the outer leaves and stalk from the cauliflower then break the florets into 2cm pieces. Slice the tomato into five thin slices.

When the milk is at a simmer, add the cauliflower. Simmer for six minutes, until the cauliflower is just cooked.

Get the salted water to a rolling boil and cook the macaroni for 11 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and keep the warm milk in the pan (remove the bay leaf).

Drain the macaroni and keep to one side. Give the pan a quick wipe.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.

Put the butter in the empty pan and place on a medium heat to melt. Add the flour and beat to make a smooth paste. Cook over a gentle heat for four minutes, until it has a faint biscuity smell.

On a low heat, add half the warm milk. Using a whisk, beat out any lumps and wait for it to start to thicken. Add the rest of the milk and bring to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly, until you have a smooth sauce.

Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the mustard and cheddar. Whisk until the cheese melts. Finely grate in a little nutmeg (no more than quarter teaspoon). Season to taste. Add the macaroni and cauliflower to the sauce and mix it together. Transfer to a baking or gratin dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs with a tablespoon of oil. Lay the tomato on top of the macaroni. Cover with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the chard: Wash it well and strip the leaves from the stalks. Finely dice the stalks and roughly shred the leaves. Clean a pan and heat a tablespoon of oil in it. Add the diced stalks and cook gently for 10 minutes until tender.

Now add the shredded chard leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for a further five minutes until the leaves wilt. Serve your mac’n’cauli cheese with the chard on the side.

Recipe courtesy of riverford.co.uk

Fish pie with spinach

Fish pie with chive mash topping (Image courtesy of Riverford)

Serves 4

250g whole piece salmon

250g whole piece

white fish

700ml milk

½ onion, cut into rings

6-8 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

A few fresh parsley stalks

250g prawns

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped

2tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

50g butter

50g plain flour

Juice of ½ lemon

250g bag of spinach, washed, stalks removed and discarded

4tbsp double cream

A little grated nutmeg

1 kg potatoes, peeled and diced

Knob of butter and splash of milk

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.

Place the salmon and white fish in a large pan (a large frying pan will be fine) and pour over the milk. Add the onion rings, peppercorns, bay leaf and parsley stalks. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Strain the fish, reserving the cooking liquor. Leave to cool slightly, then pick out the onion, herbs and spices, and discard. Flake the fish into a large bowl. Add the prawns, eggs and chopped parsley. Stir gently to combine.

Make a white sauce: melt a knob of butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook gently for two minutes. Add the reserved milk from cooking the fish, a squeeze of lemon juice and whisk to combine. Heat until thickened, then leave to cool. Pour over the fish and gently stir to combine.

Steam or blanch the spinach in a pan of boiling water for three minutes, until wilted. Drain and plunge into a bowl of cold water, then drain again. Squeeze into a ball and gently squeeze out as much water as you can, then finely chop.

Place the spinach in the bottom of a baking dish. Pour over the cream and grate over a little fresh nutmeg before pouring over the fish mixture.

To make the mash, boil a pan of salted water, add the potatoes and cook for about eight minutes, until just soft. Drain and return to the pan.

Add a knob of butter and a splash of milk, season well with salt and white pepper and mash until smooth.
Spread the mash over the fish mixture then use a fork to rough up the top a little.

Dot some butter over the top, then bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is starting to go brown and crispy.

Recipe courtesy of riverford.co.uk

Beef, Stilton and onion pie

Beef, Stilton and onion pie (Photo courtesy of The Pie Room by Calum Franklin)

Serves 4-6

300g rough puff pastry (or shop-bought puff pastry)

1 egg yolk beaten with 1tsp water, for brushing

600g beef chuck steak, cut into 4cm dice

100g plain flour

40ml vegetable oil

4 Spanish onions, peeled and halved but with the roots left on

400g chestnut mushrooms, halved

1tsp table salt

300ml red wine

2 bay leaves

3 thyme sprigs

2 litres beef stock

100g Stilton cheese, broken into 2cm nuggets

½tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/240°C/gas mark 9.

To prepare the filling, put the beef in a roasting tray, dust with the flour and toss the beef until all the flour has been absorbed by the meat. Add 20ml of the vegetable oil to the tray and toss well to ensure the meat is evenly coated.

Put the tray in to the preheated oven and roast the beef for 20 minutes until browned and any juices released during cooking have evaporated.

While the beef is roasting, cut each onion half into six wedges through the root to leave petals. Put a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the remaining 20ml of vegetable oil and warm for one minute. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the onions have started to brown.

Add the mushrooms to the pan with half the salt and continue to cook for a further three minutes until the mushrooms have just softened. Next, add the red wine, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer.

After 20 minutes, remove the beef from the oven and check it is nicely browned. If not, return it to the oven for a further five minutes. When the beef is ready, tip the onions, mushrooms, herbs and red wine into the roasting tray over the top of the meat. Put the frying pan back on the heat, pour in the beef stock and bring to a simmer.

Add to the tray with all the other pie filling ingredients.

At this stage, make sure the beef is not stuck to the bottom of the roasting tray: using a wooden spoon, dislodge any caramelised chunks of meat. Working carefully, tightly cover the top of the tray with aluminium foil.

Return the tray to the oven and continue to cook at 220°C fan/240°C/gas mark 9 for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160°C fan/180°C/gas mark 4 and set a timer for 1¾ hours.

While the filling is braising, prepare the pastry. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 5mm thick circle large enough to cover the pie dish.

Slide the rolled-out pastry onto the lined tray and chill in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes. Set aside
any pastry trimmings for decoration later.

After the beef has been braising for 1¾ hours, remove the tray from the oven and, using a dish towel to protect your hands, peel back a corner of the foil. Spoon out one chunk of beef and check to make sure it is tender. It should not be chewy. If necessary, pop the tray back in the oven for a further 15 minutes.

When the beef is ready, carefully remove all the foil from the tray. Place a colander over a large bowl and tip in the filling. Let the mixture strain for a couple of minutes, then place the contents of the colander back into the tray to cool down.

Transfer the strained liquid from the bowl to a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with the pepper and the remaining salt, stirring and tasting regularly.

Pour the reduced liquid over the mixture in the tray and set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is cool, transfer the filling to the pie dish and level the surface. Nudge the nuggets of Stilton into the filling, distributing them evenly but avoiding the sides.

Increase the oven temperature to 200°C fan/220°C/gas mark 7.

Brush the rim of the pie dish with the egg wash, brushing about 2.5cm down the sides of the dish. Lay the pastry circle centrally across the top of the dish, allowing it to rest lightly on top of the filling. Press firmly down on the pastry against the egg-brushed rim of the dish to seal all the way round. Lightly brush the pie lid with more egg wash and decorate using the reserved pastry trimming, brushing that with egg wash. Return the pie to the refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.

Place the dish on a rack in the centre of the oven and bake the pie for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the core temperature of the filling has reached at least 70°C on a digital probe thermometer. Alternatively, poke the tip of a knife into the middle of the filling for a few seconds – it should be hot to the touch. Halfway through the cooking time, turn the dish around to ensure an even bake.

Serve the pie with boiled new potatoes and slow-roasted carrots.

Recipe from The Pie Room by Calum Franklin, £26, Bloomsbury Absolute