Your vinegar creations
Marinating, tenderising, pickling, preserving – there’s no end to its versatility
This week’s recipes made for a really satisfying day in the kitchen, from pickling and roasting to slow cooking and marinating. For me, the theme highlighted the sheer versatility of vinegar. It can do everything from adding a fresh piquancy to summer dishes to preserving autumn’s harvest and intensifying big, bold ingredients.
I started with a French classic, chicken cooked in wine and vinegar, from LeftoverLiz; it matched gentle sharpness with aromatic saffron and a touch of luxe from the cream. Next was ElleZumbido’s earthy dip. Beetroot and balsamic are such a brilliant pairing. DeezCulinary’s Japanese cucumber salad added a zing to grilled meat, fish and rice, as did Sophie James’s pickled pears. Spiced with mace, allspice and bay, they were as delicious with roast duck as they were with a cheeseboard, and, even better, can be stored in a cool dark place for several months.
This week’s winner, though, packed a sweet, sour and savoury punch that’s bound to impress pretty much anyone. MarmadukeScarlet used beef rib, which was beautifully softened by the copious sherry vinegar, but a cheaper cut would work too.
Vinegar can add fresh piquancy to summer dishes and intensify autumn’s flavours
THE WINNING RECIPE BEEF ADOBO
Filipino cuisine has evolved through settlement, trader and conquest. Malay, Chinese and Spanish influences have shaped this adobo, a rich, slowcooked stew that melts in your mouth. MarmadukeScarlet, via GuardianWitness
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil 4-6 beef short ribs 250ml chicken stock 250ml coconut milk 180ml sherry vinegar 180ml dark soy sauce 2 tsp light brown sugar (optional) 1 star anise 1 head of garlic, peeled (roughly 20 cloves) 2-3 bay leaves 3 bird’s eye chillies Salt and black pepper Spring onion tops, shredded, to serve Steamed rice, to serve
1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Fry the ribs for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned all over, then set aside.
2 Tip out any excess oil. Add the stock and scrape up any of the caramelised sticky bits. Add the coconut milk, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar (if using), star anise, garlic, bay leaves and chillies.
3 Return the ribs to pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for about 2-3 hours, until the meat is tender. Skim any fat off the surface, if necessary. Season to taste.
4 You can serve the ribs on the bone, but I prefer to strip the meat off. Return the rib meat to the stew and heat through before serving with steamed white rice, topped with a little shredded spring onion.
BALSAMIC, BEETROOT AND WALNUT DIP
Use this as a spread, dip or condiment. It pairs just as well with rye bread as it does with simple greens and rice. ElleZumbido, via GuardianWitness
500g raw beetroot, peeled, cut into 3cm dice 3 small red onions (about 250g), halved 1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted 50g walnuts, toasted, plus extra to serve 3 sprigs of dill, roughly chopped 70g pickled ewe’s milk cheese (or feta), plus extra to garnish
For the marinade
1 tbsp runny honey 100ml olive oil, plus extra to serve 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus extra to serve Juice and zest of 1 lemon A pinch of smoked sea salt A pinch of black pepper
1 First, make the marinade. Mix the honey, oil and balsamic with the juice and zest of the lemon. Season with the salt and pepper (but go easy on the salt as the cheese is salty).
2 Put the beetroot and onions in a bowl with 6 tbsp of marinade. Mix well using your hands. Leave for at least 2 hours.
3 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Roast the beetroot on a baking tray for 10 minutes, add the onion and roast for a further 25-35 minutes, until both are soft, but not crispy.
4 Crush the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar. Add them along with the walnuts, dill, cheese and remaining marinade to the beetroot and onion mixture. Blend into a smooth paste with a stick blender or food processor.
5 Top with cheese, a handful of walnuts and a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
POULET AU VINAIGRE
Claude Chabrol named his 1985 Cannes film festival entry after this simple Lyonnais dish – chicken cooked with vinegar and aligoté white wine. LeftoverLiz, via GuardianWitness
4-6 chicken thighs, skinless and/or boneless 1 onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed 2 tbsp white wine vinegar 300ml dry white wine (such as aligoté) Pinch of saffron and/or 1 tbsp tomato puree 250ml chicken or vegetable stock 1 bay leaf A small handful of parsley, chopped, plus the stalks Salt and black pepper 1 tsp Dijon mustard 100ml single cream (optional)
1 Brown the chicken thighs in a frying pan over a medium heat for around 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, fry the onion and garlic until softened and golden – around 10 minutes. Set aside with the chicken.
2 Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then pour in the wine and bubble fiercely for 5 minutes.
3 Dissolve the saffron or tomato puree in the stock, then add to the pan. Add the bay leaf, parsley stalks, fried onion and chicken pieces. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4 When the stock has reduced by about half, take out the chicken. Pass the sauce through a sieve, then put it back in the pan.
5 Reheat, adding the salt and pepper and mustard to season. Thicken with a little cream if you want to, then place the chicken pieces back in and serve garnished with chopped parsley.
JAPANESE CUCUMBER SALAD
This refreshing salad has Japanese flavours that go well with other Asian cuisines too. Simple and quick.
DeezCulinary, via GuardianWitness
Serves 2-4 as a side
1 medium cucumber, alternate strips of peel removed, deseeded then cut into strips A pinch of salt 1 tbsp sesame oil 2 tbsp sesame seeds 2 tbsp vinegar 2 tbsp soy sauce 1 tsp sugar
1 Toss the cucumber and salt together in a bowl to draw out excess water.
2 Toast the sesame seeds in the oil in a small frying pan. Set aside to cool.
3 Add the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar to the pan. Mix it well, then pour over the cucumber. Marinate the cucumber for around 10 minutes, then drain any excess liquid. Serve.
Vinegar syrup is perfect for pears and a host of other fruit, such as crab apples, plums, peaches and melons. You can add whatever spices take your fancy. Here I used bay leaves, blades of mace, allspice berries and mustard seeds. Keep the pickled fruit in the fridge for about 1 month, if possible, before eating to improve the flavour. Phenomenal with stilton or cheddar. Lovely with lamb, ham and duck. Sophie James, via GuardianWitness
Makes 1 large jar
6 large firm pears, peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces 350–450g light muscovado sugar, or to taste 250ml white or red wine vinegar 1 tsp whole allspice berries 5 blades of mace or small chunk of nutmeg, or both 3 bay leaves 1 tsp mustard seeds
1 In a large saucepan, cover the pears with about 750ml of water, then boil for 5 minutes. Strain off and measure the liquid, then put 600ml back into the pan with the sugar, vinegar and spices. Put the pears back in and simmer for about 20 minutes, depending on the ripeness of your fruit, until cooked and translucent.
2 Pour everything into a bowl and leave overnight. The next morning, drain the liquid into a pan and boil for 5 minutes to reduce it slightly. Pack the pears into warm-from-the-oven, sterilised jars along with the spices – unless you’re leaving them out. Pour over the boiling syrup and seal while still warm.