The Cut Food

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Baked pork and saf­fron rice Serves 4

I prob­a­bly make a ver­sion of this ev­ery other week, be­cause it is an ef­fi­cient way of us­ing, not least us­ing up, sea­sonal greens. It is based on a paella but is part-cooked in the oven, the veg­eta­bles steam­ing un­der a tent of grease­proof pa­per. Use the best saf­fron – if you make a tea from a few strands and store it in the fridge, you will get the most of this very ex­pen­sive spice.

— 16 strands Span­ish saf­fron — 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a lit­tle

ex­tra to serve

— 1 pork neck fil­let, about

400-500g, cut into 1cm dice — ½ sweet red pep­per, cut

into very small dice

— 1 small onion, finely chopped — 1 gar­lic clove, crushed to

a paste with salt

— ½ tsp smoked pa­prika

— 5 tbsp paella rice

— 300ml chicken or other meat

stock, or wa­ter, or as needed — 150g greens (spring greens, chard or kale), any tough stalks re­moved, leaves cut into rib­bons

— 200g as­para­gus or pur­ple­sprout­ing broc­coli, woody stems re­moved, then cut into 5cm sticks

— 100g broad beans or

peas, pod­ded

— ½ lemon, to squeeze — rocket, to serve

Steep the saf­fron in 75ml boil­ing wa­ter, leav­ing it to in­fuse for at least 30 min­utes. Pre­heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Heat the oil in a large oven­proof fry­ing pan and fry the pork over a medium heat for five min­utes. Add the sweet pep­per, the onion, gar­lic and pa­prika and stir over the heat for a minute. Then pour in the saf­fron in­fu­sion, fol­lowed by the rice. Cook for a minute or two, stir­ring, then cover with the stock (or wa­ter) so it is 1cm deeper than the level of the rice. Bring to a sim­mer and cook slowly for about eight min­utes.

Add the green veg­eta­bles to the pan, leav­ing them on top of the rice, and sim­mer for two min­utes. Cover with a cir­cle of grease­proof pa­per then put the pan in the oven for a fur­ther 10 min­utes.

To serve, squeeze over some lemon juice and add a few drops of olive oil. Sea­son with salt and pep­per. Give it a quick and gen­tle stir be­fore serv­ing heaped on to plates, with the rocket.

Raw as­para­gus, fen­nel and ri­cotta

Serves 4

A salad that is all about the qual­ity of the in­gre­di­ents: if you can source as­para­gus that has just been picked – from your gar­den, a farmer’s mar­ket or a farm shop – it will be sweet enough to eat raw. With older, starchy as­para­gus, you’ll need to steam or boil the spears first. For the cheese, typ­i­cal ri­cotta is fine, or seek out buf­falo ri­cotta from an Italian spe­cial­ist re­tailer, Bri­tish-made West­combe ri­cotta from Neals’syard Dairy – or, for a richer re­sult, use bur­rata or buf­falo moz­zarella.

— 250g ri­cotta

— 400g as­para­gus spears — 4-6 tbsp ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil — 1 fen­nel bulb, cut in half

length­ways

— juice of 1 lemon — a hand­ful of baby-leaf

salad, chervil or pars­ley — fresh cia­batta or sour­dough bread, or toasted/grilled sour­dough, to serve

At least an hour ahead, take the ri­cotta out of its pack­ag­ing, put it into a sieve placed over a bowl and re­frig­er­ate. This is to dry it a lit­tle so it can be crum­bled

on to the salad. For bur­rata or moz­zarella there is no need.

Snap off the lower part of the as­para­gus stem, which can be too woody to be eaten raw. Shave the outer mem­brane of the as­para­gus stalk, up to about 5cm from the tip, us­ing a potato peeler. Cut each stem in half length­ways, bi­sect­ing it.

Place on a plate and driz­zle over half the olive oil. Turn in the oil and sea­son with salt.

Use a man­dolin to cut wafer­thin slices of the fen­nel, then put it in a bowl with the lemon juice. Toss it, sea­son with salt then add two ta­ble­spoons of the olive oil and turn the pieces to coat well.

Ar­range both veg­eta­bles on a plat­ter or board, then crum­ble the cheese over the sur­face. Scat­ter over some small salad leaves, or herbs – dress with a lit­tle ex­tra oil, sea­son and serve with the bread.

Smoked-had­dock, radish and cel­ery-leaf re­moulade

Serves 4 as a starter

I grew up eat­ing re­moulade, the grated cele­riac salad sold in French trai­teurs, and love the flavour of the dress­ing es­pe­cially – mus­tard, ca­pers and tar­ragon have a spe­cial har­mony. Cele­riac is out of sea­son, but the ten­der leaves in a cel­ery heart lend the same flavours to this pi­quant salad. Ar­ti­san smok­eries are a good source of plump smoked had­dock fil­lets – I buy from the Ch­e­sil Smok­ery in West Dorset, which sells on­line (chesilsmok­ery.com). Eat this with bread, as a starter, or boiled new pota­toes for a main dish.

— 200g smoked had­dock fil­let — 1 tbsp olive oil

— 2 tbsp fat ca­pers, soaked

then squeezed dry

— leaves and soft stalks from

the cen­tre of a cel­ery head — 10 radishes, cut into slices

or quar­ters, length­ways — tar­ragon leaves, to serve

For the dress­ing

— 2 egg yolks

— 1 tbsp Di­jon mus­tard — 125ml ground­nut oil or

grape­seed oil

— a few drops of

white-wine vine­gar

— a small hand­ful of tar­ragon

leaves, chopped

Re­move any pin bones from the flesh of the had­dock with tweez­ers, cut away the skin, then wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for half an hour to 45 min­utes – it is eas­ier to slice when very cold.

To make the dress­ing, put the egg yolks in a mix­ing bowl and whisk in the mus­tard. Slowly add the oil, a few drops at a time to be­gin with, whisk­ing all the time. Con­tinue un­til all the oil has been beaten into the dress­ing – you can add larger quan­ti­ties as you go on – un­til you have a thick emul­sion. Add a few drops of vine­gar to taste (you don’t want the dress­ing to be too sharp) then add a tea­spoon of wa­ter to make the dress­ing looser. It should have the tex­ture of dou­ble cream (add a lit­tle more wa­ter, if nec­es­sary). Sea­son the dress­ing with salt and white pep­per then stir in the chopped tar­ragon.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan then fry the ca­pers. Let them take on a lit­tle colour then drain on kitchen pa­per.

Use a very sharp carv­ing knife to cut the had­dock into thin slices. To assem­ble, first scat­ter the cel­ery leaves on to a flat plat­ter or di­vide among in­di­vid­ual plates. Chop the ten­der stalks and add to the plate(s), fol­lowed by the radishes, had­dock slices and ca­pers. Pour over the dress­ing and throw over some tar­ragon leaves.

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