Apricot and fig pork stuffing for turkey, duck or game. I like pairing meat with fruit, dried fruit especially, and this stuffing will complement poultry extremely well. If you set out on a challenge of de-boned bird roast this Christmas, it’s a wonderful filling to spread inside the meat, roll and tie it up, roast and serve for the ‘wow’ factor.
Homemade beef burgers in Hokkaido milk buns. Burgers crown the list and I think the secret really is in that slice of gherkin that a burger should be topped with. Joking aside - good minced beef has lots of flavour and sometimes, but sometimes, it can beat an average steak for me.
Beef fillet roulade with porcini mushroom stuffing. The execution could not be easier: if you get a nice middle cut of fillet - but frankly any part will go - all you do is open it up like a book with a sharp knife, spread with the stuffing and roll it up again.
I thought I’d make blanquette de veau with some diced English rose veal from my butcher’s. How haute cuisine and poncey that sounds, eh? Two things have transpired this morning however: one – when I opened my veal vacuumed pack...
Rib-eye steak with green vegetables and blue cheese sauce. Simplicity itself and one of the best dinners you can have. If you’re really shopping for food on the night you eat it then the key thing – bring meat to room temperature – is a bit of a challenge.
Christmas turkey - wonderfully moist, brined for 36 hours, worth every minute of the effort. Some other points worth bearing in mind: don’t cover it. It will steam instead of roasting. But by all means pour some liquid into the tray so it cooks in slightly moist environment.
Bulgogi, Korean marinated grilled beef wrapped in a lettuce leaf. This is the ultimate fast food: wholesome and no-carb and no-salt! And a fusion version: instead of loading the grilled meat into lettuce leaves, pack them into pitas, top with lettuce and sauce and you can have an Asian/Middle Eastern experience.
Tasty Christmas stuffing made with minced pork, chestnuts and porcini mushrooms. ‘Stuffing’ – such a misnomer. You should NOT stuff the turkey. It will cook better and quicker all alone, with perhaps just an onion or an apple in the cavity.
Chicken alla Fiorentina with fresh spinach and creamy sauce. I know - it should all be cooked in separate dishes, the chicken cut in escalopes, spinach just tossed with butter, and the sauce should not mix with it. But isn’t life too short to wash three different pans when you can wash just one?
My take on chicken Caesar salad has chicken fried in breadcrumbs and the best dressing. Purists and critics might comment that it’s a Chicken Nugget Salad, not Caesar. So be it. Damn tasty. Might be a hit with kids if you stick to that name.
Chicken saltimbocca - thin escalopes of chicken fillet layered with sage leaves, parmesan and prosciutto ham. Saltimbocca means ‘jump in the mouth’ and it does. Classically made with veal escalopes hammered down thin.
Côte de bœuf seasoned with dry mustard, seared in a pan and roasted in the oven. Côte de bœuf is basically an enormous rib-eye steak with the bone in.
Creamy chicken with leeks and mushrooms - this is a chicken dish matrix. Chicken template. Chicken archetype. Basically, you can chuck in any vegetables and seasoning you like or think will go with chicken and cream (which is just about EVERYTHING)...
Five spice duck is an excellent dish. The duck is nice and pink (or so it should be to my liking, feel free to cook it a bit longer) and one good size fillet serves two easily.
Roast gammon hock with plum sauce. Soak it, boil, it, roast it - just like gammon. It likes mustard and honey, it will be so tender you won't need a carving knife. There's a bit of fat and rind on the hock.
Lamb neck fillet is excellent and cheap. My favourite method of cooking it is to marinate it well, grill two of them for a short spell and slice and divvy between two people. Why can’t I just apportion one fillet per person? Ah, because...
Lamb cutlets in herby Parmesan crust. The cutlets are dipped in just egg white, not whole egg wash, so that it’s light and only there to keep the crust in place. The herbs and additions to the crumb are free choice but Parmesan is a must.
A rack of lamb, roasted with a herb and parmesan crust. I believe in simple seasoning of this arguably best cut of lamb, but the coating of mainly herbs and parmesan - without too much breadcrumbs - really works.
Lamb shank basted with caper and anchovy butter, served with stir fried cabbage. I had a shank languishing in the freezer for a while, won at a meat auction held in a restaurant a while back, so waste not – want not, I cooked it.
The best meatloaf baked with a maple syrup and mustard glaze. Meatloaf is a gorgeous dish, the mince just needs plenty of fillers. Try making it with pure meat, it won’t work – crumbly to oblivion and not very flavoursome. Whack more Parmesan into it than you think is feasible*. Fry an onion and add in. Pour in some soured cream, crème fraiche or indeed milk and you’re in business. T
Osso buco - shin of veal, slow cooked with porcini and tomato sauce. The shin of veal is a delicious cut, actually much better than a lamb shank, equally cheap, cooks all by itself and is a joy to eat – just leave the marrow to me.
Pan-fried calves' liver with red onions. I don’t get to eat liver and onions too often as I’m the lone offal aficionado in my house. So unless I’m cooking on my own...
Pan-fried wood pigeon breast fillets with orange caramel. I’m sure wood pigeon is much underrated. You look out of the window into your garden, and on seeing those puffed-up, bolshy bullies on the lawn you don’t think ‘FOOD!’
Flipping is the key to a perfect fillet steak. Smoking hot pan still holds, no question, but to ensure the meat is cooked evenly through even with thickish cuts, and even at cuisson bleu, you need to flip the steak...
Slow roasted pork belly glazed with soy sauce, honey and black bean paste. A bit like gammon, it should ideally be boiled first or - like I’ve done - steamed in the oven under a foil tent. Only the last hour or so the proper roasting should take place.
Pork parmigiana, with pork tenderloin cutlets fried in breadcrumbs, then baked in tomato sauce and mozzarella. My reservations were all blown: pork will be tough? Meltingly tender if you mallet it into behaving.
A good schnitzel can take on a steak – I swear. If your thoughts are ‘meh’ it means you’ve only had the sorry dried-out-and-greasy versions that non-Germanic countries dish out. Wiener Schnitzel is the crown prince of course...
Duck rissoles, or croquettes, with apple and Parmesan. Rissoles used to mean school dinner type of food to me - bland, mushy and insipid. Not so, you can easily make them as spiced up as you wish.
Whole roast duck with a spice rub and honey and dark soy glaze. This one is cooked through but not overdone, moist and flavoursome thanks to the honey and the spices, and very tender.
Roast grouse served with game chips. Grouse is a grown-up’s game. For beginners, quail or guinea fowl will be a tame enough start. Intermediate gamers will enjoy partridge and pheasant lest it’s inexpertly dried out in the oven.
Roast leg of lamb flavoured with garlic, rosemary and anchovies. The roast lamb leg is gorgeous, you might want to ask your butcher to butterfly it and remove the bone (it might mean the same thing, I’m not that clued up on butchery lingo).
Roast partridge is the taste of autumn because we don’t get to eat game all year round. That’s the beauty of truly seasonal food – you appreciate it when in season as no partridges can be flown in from Peru in the middle of June. The trick is to cook it just right.
Roast pheasant with best Brussel sprouts and garlic spinach mushrooms. Game birds roasted inevitably evoke the spirit of Christmas, especially when paired with disputably fragrant aroma of cooking Brussels sprouts.
What a glorious thing roast beef is. Perfect invention for a Sunday, to stick a quarter of a cow into the oven and forget about it for the time it takes to get to church and back – or play a stint of World of Warcraft upstairs.
Roast wild mallard duck - simple and full of flavour. The wild mallard is excellent cooked in this way, it’s a shame to cook game to death unless a pot-roast pheasant. Wild duck has great flavour and if you’re lucky you’ll get a more tender female specimen.
Roast chicken rôtisserie style, with potatoes cooking beneath, the best outside a French village market. The ultimate salivating lunchtime temptation. Such a match made in heaven: chickens browning and crisping evenly and the spuds underneath, basting in the glorious fat, shaken about every now and then.
Slow roasted shoulder of lamb - how slow dare I cook it? I got this lamb shoulder and I was very tempted to cook it at gas mark 1 (140C/275F). But had a vision of getting on to 7 in the evening, lamb still not done...
Steak and grilled vegetables - perfect weeknight supper. My favourite beef cookedness is such that will occasionally prompt comments along the lines of ‘this is still mooing!' But I understand that others universally prefer their beef slightly more done.
Boned and rolled guinea fowl with pork and dried fruit stuffing. Poultry, game birds and pork love sweet, fruity and spicy company. Ham cooked in Coca-Cola, chicken in chocolate sauce, duck with prunes or a l’orange to name just a few classics.
Pork chops stuffed with salami and a sage, lemon and garlic paste. Pork chops are pretty boring and I’m not usually that keen on them because the meat gets dry, and you can’t really cook pork medium-rare.
Roast topside of rose veal with oyster sauce and pomegranate syrup glaze. It’s quite dry a roast, arguably better cold. My Austrian ancestor, as I recall, used to roast it only to be served cold, as charcuterie – again, for a reason. I made a simple glaze with salty and sweet stuff but if you’d like more gutsy flavour, be my guest.
Veal T-bone steaks with a dry rub, perfect for a barbecue. The dry rub creates a bit of protective coating for the event of burning, and on the bone is more resilient than off the bone. A nice touch will be a bit of veg kebabbed and barbied alongside the meat and don't you dare burn THOSE.
Venison steaks in red wine sauce. Lean and flavoursome, possibly more than beef. Loin is sureproof but staggeringly expensive, so the best end of haunch might be an equally good cut. I didn’t marinate the steaks but made a pan sauce instead.
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