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The Best Hearty Food
Sausage and mash with red onion gravy
I used gorgeous hickory smoked pork sausages from the butcher. They have a distinct sweet flavour that’s just delicious! Cook them in the oven in a bit of foil for half an hour or so then fry them until done in the oil that comes out. The mash is good maris piper potatoes with lots of butter, pepper and a swirl of pesto because it’s a scrumptious way to make mash.
The onion gravy is caramelised red onion (in butter for about 20 minutes) with some beef stock and cooked gently in a sauté pan for about half an hour. I’ve also got some cranberries on the side because it’s just after Christmas and I’ve got some left. They’re scrumptious too! Petit pois are a really good addition to this dish, as vegetables go, you really can’t beat the little pea! All in all good hearty food that takes about forty five minutes to make!
One of the greatest foods in the world, this amazing dish is actually quite easy to make albeit a little time consuming sometimes. I tend to do the ragu (tomato and minced meat with some onion, celery and carrot, seasoned with pepper, oregano and basil), first. Then when this has simmered down a bit, I grate the cheese (mozzarella and mild cheddar) and slice a bunch of mushrooms. Then I make the béchamel sauce (Butter, flour, milk) and add about three table spoons of mascarpone and a handful of the grated cheddar.
The mascarpone is really good as it adds bit of bulk to the béchamel and really gives it a rich, thick texture as well as tasting awesome! Then I compile it in the dish, layering ragu, mushroom, cheese and béchamel sauce followed by a layer of lasagne sheets, and finally top off the top sheets with remaining béchamel, some mozzarella and lots of grated parmesan.
I cover the dish for the first 50 minutes of cooking time (big lasagne, about 6 large portions, feeds many with some left over for lunch the next day!). This stops the parmesan on top burning but the foil or cover shouldn’t touch the cheese or it will stick to it and you’ll have no cheese on top. The last 10 to 20 minutes (depending on fluid content when you made the lasagne) I cook with the top of to turn the top golden and crisp. Keep an eye on it though or it’ll burn!!
One little trick, especially if you used cheaper mince beef that contains a fair amount of fat, is to remove a portion from one corner, about an hour into the cooking, and prop up the opposite corner with a bit of tin foil. The grease from the cheeses and the mince can then run into the open corner and you lean out the lasagne a little, much healthier!
With four different cheeses counting mascarpone, and a whole heap of butter (mmm!!), I suppose it would be possible to calorie count but you might not be happy with the outcome so I’d just eat it and do five minutes skipping the next day. Much healthier.
Roast chicken with new potatoes, carrots and sweet potato.
Obviously one of those must eats, roast meat is truly amazing. Funnily enough a lot of people who don’t really eat meat will eat chicken as well so if you’re cooking for a few this may be safer than rare beef! Chicken is one of those things I’ll splash out on a bit, not because I’m overly concerned with the chickens welfare (although I am a little), but more because free range genuinely tastes better than cooped up ones. I cook mine on a racked pan but with plenty of water in the bottom and a cover on for most of the cooking.
The potatoes cook with the chicken, either under the rack if I can or next to the chicken if they don’t fit. When preparing the chicken rub the salt in by hand and don’t be afraid to use it! Salt in large amounts obviously isn’t good for you but it helps the flavour and across the chicken it’s really not a lot. the addition of some garlic and sage with a good grind of pepper are all thats needed.
My grandma used to just put olive oil on the chicken and no water, I tried that and got a rather dried out piece of leather and have never tried it again. Clearly there was something else to that one as her chicken was great! Check it about half an hour before its done, if you can, do the last half hour with the top off, (the chicken, not you!) as this crisps the skin and gives it a wonderful golden colour (ok the tops of the legs are black but that doesn’t matter!!).