Christmas Carrots

Tom Kerridge has, in my opinion, one of the best carrot recipes for Christmas: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_carrots_90489

I saw this on TV, and what isn’t mentioned on the BBC food website is that Tom made some comment to the effect of “this isn’t exactly what we do in the restaurant, it’s simplified”.  I’ve often wondered what he might do differently in his pub.

Here’s my take on how his recipe might be enhanced – use Carotene Butter instead of normal butter.

For what it’s worth, I also can’t be bothered using a scourer, but I do think using whole baby carrots makes for a nice looking dish, but this is optional.  You might also consider chopping the carrots up into batons and removing the cores as they’re slightly more bitter than the rest of the carrot, and this recipe lends itself to a sweeter carrot.

Ingredients

– 9 medium carrots, may be peeled, scoured, topped and tailed, cut into batons etc

– 250g unsalted butter (ChefSteps.com suggest using clarified butter, but I find it works ok without if I’m being lazy)

– 250g Carrot juice

– Sugar to taste (The original recipe calls for 150g, which I find quite a lot)

– Salt

– 2 or 3 star anise

– 400ml water (I’ve also tried 400ml veg stock, but it doesn’t seem to improve things much)

Method

– Heat half the carrot juice with the butter until melted.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

– Remove from the heat and add the other half of the carrot juice (this accelerates cooling of the liquid).  Refrigerate a few hours until the butter rises to the top.

– Skim the butter off the top of the liquid.  (You can use the remaining carrot juice for things like soup – I’ve thought about using a small quantity of it to make up part of my 400ml liquid, but not yet tried this)

– Cook the butter with all the other ingredients in a pan for 45 minutes until the carrots are soft.

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Haggis Sandwiches

Possibly the best toasted sandwich ever?

Ingredients

– Bread

– Small amount of haggis (chop one up, the rest will freeze if needed)

– Sliced cheese, suitable for melting

– Bacon

Method

– Grill the bacon until crispy

– Pre-cook the haggis in the microwave.  Note: I find microwave to be the best way to cook haggis.  It gets the fat nice and hot to cook through, and dehydrates it very slightly – traditional boiling in the skin retains more moisture, and I prefer it slightly drier, especially for sandwiches.

– Toast some bread

– Butter the bread on the outside of the sandwich, and fill with the other ingredients before finishing in a sandwich toaster.

The “Chef” and the Butcher

Once when we were talking to the local butcher, my wife joked that I was her personal chef.  I said I wasn’t a chef, but I think somehow it’s stuck, and now every time we go in he wants my opinion on how I’d cook various unusual pieces of meat.  I once cooked something reasonably complicated and took it back for him to try (at his request), and I can’t help but think this cemented his idea of me working as a chef.

Ox Cheek, Mushroom and Onion Pie

This is a recipe for quite a rich beef pie.  I based this on a jus recipe in Modernist Cuisine, but with adjusted quantities and some added ingredients to make it more suitable for use in a pie.  With the quantities here, I think the gravy is about the right water content, but doesn’t cling to the beef as well as I’d like – in future experiments I might see if I can use some sort of thickening agent to fix this, but in this version I’ve avoided use of corn flour or similar to keep the flavours strong

Ingredients

– Ox Cheek 500g, chopped into stewing size pieces.  I’ve also used beef shin for this, but it ended up quite fatty.  If you can’t get the right cut, use another cut with good flavour (tough cuts work well)

– 1 large onion, finely chopped

– 300g closed cup white mushrooms, sliced

– 12 rashers thin sliced smoked bacon (optional)

– 50g unsalted butter

– 4 carrots, peeled and cubed

– 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

– Brown rice miso, 2 tbsp

– Chardonnay 100ml

– Sherry 100ml

– Water 100ml

– Sherry vinegar

– Soy Sauce

Method

1. Sous vide cook the beef for 12 hours at 80 degrees C (refer to sous vide cooking instructions)

2. In a pressure cooker, sauté onion and mushrooms and bacon in the butter until softened, about 10 minutes

3. Add water, sherry, chardonnay to onions and mushrooms then pressure cook for 25 minutes

4. In a separate pan, boil potatoes and carrots for about 10 minutes to soften, then drain

5. Rapidly depressurise the pressure cooker (use a damp towel or follow instructions for the pressure cooker)

6. Add potatoes, carrots, beef, miso, sherry vinegar, soy sauce to the pressure cooker

7. Cook on low temperature for 20 minutes – add water if the mixture is too thick, reduce if too thin

8. Add salt to taste

9. Bake in oven with pastry lid (I’m lazy enough to use shop bought)