What to cook this week?
Sun, 20 November, 2016
Steaks and salads are for fair weather. When it turns crisp and frosty, or wet and blowy, courtesy of Storm Angus currently over the UK, mind and belly turns to slow roast meats served with gutsy veg and a large chunk of fresh bread to mop up the gravy.
Osso buco is one of the best slow-and-lows: a cut you wouldn't look twice at, a slice of shin with a massive bone right in the middle. Ah, but the bone is the best bit of the shin, hiding delicious marrow inside. But it must be veal shin - beef is far too tough and gristly. And if, like me, you are a veal aficionado, try the blanquette de veau - or blanket de veau as I call it, having modified the classic a little.
A couple of weeks ago I suggested lamb in various guises; a shoulder (or half a shoulder if for just the two of you) is a fantastic long leisurely roast: stick it in the oven in the early afternoon and forget about it until dinner time. Seasoned with garlic, rosemary and anchovies, pulled lamb is the ultimate comfort food, fighting for supremacy only with pork belly. Such a hit with gastropubs, the latter is rarely cooked well: but try my Oriental-lite version cooked under a foil tent for most of the time, only to crispen at the end of roasting. Truly melts in the mouth.
What gutsy veg are we going to serve the roasts with? Sprouts have arrived, the underdog of vegetables but redolent of Christmas. See if dressing them with three crumbs will make a difference to the taste - I bet it will. Are gratins gutsy enough? They are, and they scream 'comfort food'. I will recklessly say that anything can be gratinéed (tomatoes? hmm... I should put it to the test); so let's drown those boring winter veg in cream and throw some cheese at them. Parsnips? Tick. Celeriac? Oh yes. Jerusalem artichokes? Will do very nicely.
And if you fancy turning those gutsy veg into a pudding - be my guest. Carrot cake is an all-time favourite and this posh version makes you totally forget it's made with a vegetable.