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Mango, Partridge and Pasta

 

2017-06-10 bannerAnother game dish that gets in this ‘cooking-on-a-budget blog’ on a technicality – a kind person generously donated the partridge for me to experiment with. The following recipe could also be called ‘101 things to do with a dead peasant, no.6’, as the flavour and texture of the meat of the respective species is similar.

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The bird after cooking – as with chicken and duck, was simply dropped straight in the slow cooker and cooked in its own juices. Nothing else added.

Greedients:

  • 1 partridge.
  • 2 beef tomatoes.
  • 3 fresh medium-heat chile peppers (or a generous pinch of crushed chile).
  • Juice of ½ a lemon.
  • Flesh of ½ a mango.
  • 1 desert spoon of orange marmalade.
  • Schwartz ‘Season-All’ or any all-purpose seasoning (I like the Schwartz version because it is less salty than most).
  • Oil for cooking.
  • Pasta shells or twists ideally (or whatever there is – I used spaghetti on this occasion).

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Cooked the bird in my ‘slow cooker’ on high for two-and-a-half hours. Picked off the meat, examining it carefully for any dodgy-looking bits. There was enough for two or three servings. I did find it a bit of a pongy bird while cooking – needed the windows well-open

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Surprising quantity of meat considering the small size of the bird.

Fine-diced the tomatoes and mango (discarding the tomato seeds because I don’t like the texture of them). Finely chopped the chile peppers after removing the seeds.

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Broke the partridge meat up well and lightly fried it in extra virgin olive oil and with a generous sprinkle of the seasoning  I know food buffs say olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, but I like the flavour. Fried it well on a high heat so that some of the pieces of meat were going crispy at the ends.

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Threw in the rest of the ingredients, the lemon juice and – the secret ingredient – a desert spoon of orange marmalade. Heated for a couple of minutes more to soften the tomato and mango a bit.

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Served with quality pasta – any kind, although shells or twists would probably be better. I used wholemeal organic spaghetti on this occasion. Can be served hot or cold, and is easily reheated in the microwave. I prefer it as a chilled pasta salad straight from the fridge.

 

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I like it cold best, with a glass of fresh orange juice.

My own creation, this one, aiming for juiciness and tanginess with the ingredients to counteract the dryness and ‘seedy’ flavour of the meat. Could be done with chicken of course, or various off-cuts of meat, and makes a small amount go a longer way.

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Pheasant in a Creamy-cheesy Greek Sauce with Greek Salad

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This is no. 5 in my ‘101 Things To Do With a Dead Pheasant‘ quest. The sauce recipe was inspired by Patra Martios at faghta-giagias.blogspot.com. (Google couldn’t translate the page very clearly, so the sauce is very much a ‘based on’ creation, plus my own version of Greek salad.)

Not one of my budget recipes. Even if made with chicken or some other bird, still pricey, although the sauce goes a long way and eeks out the limited meat yield when cooking a pheasant.

Clipboard02Pheasants were, incidentally, known by the Greeks from ancient times. Originally an Asian species, they were traditionally said to have been introduced by traders via the Black Sea city of Phasis, hence ‘Pheasant’, but they probably arrived in Europe in prehistoric times by a variety of routes.

They were imported and bred in Britain in large numbers only from about 1100 AD (although visiting Romans a millennium earlier must have been familiar with the bird and may have brought the odd one over). Today, pheasants breeds very happily in the British countryside, although the majority one sees while out are captive-bred and released for shoots – there are, amazingly, tens-of-millions released each year.

INGREDIENTS

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THE MEAT

  • Pheasant (or chicken / duck / goose / guinea fowl / quail / ostrich / pterodactyl / whatever), cooked, broken into small pieces and well-fried in a small amount of olive oil with a sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning.

THE SALAD

  • Tomato – any well-flavoured ones, like home-grown, cherry or beef tomatoes.
  • ½ a red onion.
  • ½ a cucumber, peeled.
  • A pepper (any colour).
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • ½ a lemon.
  • 75 g feta cheese.
  • Dried oregano.
  • Rocket.

Sliced up the tomatoes, finely chop the onion, chop up the pepper and cucumber, break the feta into rough cubes. Mix together (not too violently, or you’ll pulverize the feta) in a bowl with a fistful of rocket leaves, a splash of the olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and good pinch or oregano.

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Put this in the fridge while you’re making the sauce.

THE SAUCE

  • 150 g of unsmoked bacon, finely chopped.
  • ½ a punnet of mushrooms.
  • 100 ml double cream.
  • 100 ml milk.
  • Good splash of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 50 g grated parmesan cheese (or the strongest hard Cheddar you can get). This costs a bit, but it is worth it for the flavour. Don’t buy cheap or powdered Parmesan, it tastes horrible.
  • Ground black pepper.
  • Cornflour.

Finely chop and fry the bacon.

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Thin-slice and cook the mushrooms on a moderate heat until all the moisture has bubble off – no oil needed, just let them bubble away in a non-stick frying pan until (almost) all the water has boiled/steamed off. They’ll reduce down to about ¼ of their original volume and have a rich flavour.

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Put the bacon, mushrooms and everything else together in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring slowly, to melt the cheese in. Add a heaped desert spoon of cornflour until it is a moderately thick sauce consistency. If it goes too thick, stir in some more milk.

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Fry a small handful of the meat with a dollop of the sauce.

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On one side of the plate make a bed of rocket leaves, putting the meat/sauce mix on top, with the Greek salad on the other side.

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Happy to say the whole thing turned out well. Most delicious. The sauce, if thick enough, can also be used as a toast topping.

Pheasant Burgerwich and Sweet Potato Fries

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Not a budget recipe. I was generously given a couple of pheasants to experiment with and this is the result, no. 3 in my list of 101 things to do with a dead pheasantpheasant burgerwiches.

The issue with pheasant is that it is a dry, dense meat with a sort of meaty, slightly liver-like flavour, so needs something to capitalise on these qualities. A burgerwich with home-made ketchup and sweet potato fries seemed to fit the bill.

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The two birds happened to weigh 1 kg together. After cooking there was 300 g of meat, i.e. a yield of 30% meat per uncooked weight.

Cooked the pheasant and picked off the meat. Could have roasted it (expensively) in the oven, but I used the magical slow cooker – it cooks using no more energy than a light bulb, costing pennies rather than pounds – on ‘low’ for six hours overnight.

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Broke the meat into small pieces (not too small or it turns into crumbs) and fried it in light olive oil with a good shake of all-purpose seasoning, just long enough for the meat to start browning a bit.

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For the fries, I peeled a sweet potato (if they’re really smooth, you can just scrub them to get the dirt off) and cut it into thin fries – need a good-sized, heavy knife for this.

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Tossed them in a bowl with a bit of oil and more all-purpose seasoning (just salt and pepper will do if you haven’t got that) and roasted them for 30 minutes at 175°C – different ovens will need different times – just long enough for some of them to start browning or singeing at the ends.

For the burgerwich I used lightly toasted buttered bread, with a layers of salad, home-made tomato and onion relish, meat, more relish and salad.

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The result was fine, athough having consumed a kilo of sweet potato fries while testing cooking times, the novelty was wearing off and I was craving normal fries again.

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Have different plans for the second pheasant … watch this space.

Experimental Tomato & Onion Relish

In preparation for something to spice up burgers, had a go at some home-made relish/ketchup, but it is very much a work in progress – would welcome any suggestions.

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  • A tin of chopped tomatoes.
  • 1 finely-chopped onion
  • 100 g chopped up pickled gherkins.
  • 1 garlic clove fine-chopped.
  • 75 ml spirit vinegar. (White wine vinegar probably better, but I’m allergic to the sulphite preservative in it.)
  • Teaspoon of sugar.
  • Flat teaspoon each of coriander, mace and paprika
  • Half a level teaspoon of Tabasco sauce

Soft-fried the onion with the garlic, put everything in a pot and simmered it for half-an-hour, then whizzed it smooth with a hand blender. Smelled pretty pungent during the simmering, but the final product was not unpleasant. Going to use it in my next recipe: pheasant burgerwiches.

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These ingredients made enough to fill a 400 ml jar.

Mushroon Chasseur Risotto (72p)

Just found a couple more old. Here’s the first, to be followed shortly by Jack’s signature Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burger. That will be the last for now, I promise.


Facebook post 12 Oct 2016.

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Based on the Cooking on a Bootstrap recipe.

Chasseur, I learned from Wikipedia, is a thick sauce, typically made of mushrooms, onions and tomatoes, with a sprinkle of mixed herbs, served in generous amounts with meat dishes (‘hunters’ meats, like rabbit, pheasant, venison, etc.), or these days with rice, mashed potatoes or cous cous – what a bunch of wimps we’ve become!

I began with:half a punnet of mushrooms, 2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, a chicken stock cube and a big pinch of mixed herbs.

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The onion, garlic cloves and mushrooms went in put into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of oil, at first on a high heat for 5 minutes to soften the onion. Then in went the tomatoes, herbs and crumbled stock cube. (Also 100ml red wine theoretically, but I’m allergic to the sulphites in wine so I added just water – I wanted to taste the dish without the wine anyway.)

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Jack’s recipe left it at that, but this looked more like lumpy soup than solid food, so after 40 minutes I threw in 100g long-grain rice to turn it into a risotto – it needed constant stirring for 20 minutes and quite a bit of extra hot water from the kettle to stop it going solid as the rice absorbed the juices. Served with one of my plus-sized slices of bread with butter, it was VERY filling.

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A real ‘winter warmer’. There was enough for four servings. The costing is a little complicated – adding for electricity, including re-heating for future meals, washing up, bread, butter and a cup of Earl Grey, something like 72 pence a meal..

The Slow Cooker (AKA Crock Pot)

Facebook post 19 Oct 2016.

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Someone has kindly gave me a ‘slow cooker’, although I don’t really have any idea what it is or how to use it. Did some internet digging …

Originally a 1950s invention (inspired by a Jewish custom) intended for cooking beans and called a ‘Simmer Crock’ or ‘Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker’, the modern slow-cooker appeared in 1971 under the brand name ‘Crock-Pot‘. A bit like ‘hoover’, originally a brand name with a capital letter, the term ‘crock-pot’ is has become a noun for these things in general regardless of the actual brand.

They work by cooking at a low temperature over a long period. No boiling or simmering, but just hot enough to cook the food – slowly. It is the second cheapest way of cooking after a microwave. If something costs 5p to cook in a microwave, it’ll cost 10p in a slow cooker, 25p on the hob and 50p-£1 in the oven.

Definitely the most economical way of cooking ‘cheap’ meats – the long time at a low temperature tenderising them well – and poultry (thanks to my virtual brother-in-law for this information). Just drop the whole bird in, no need to add water or anything, and it cooks in its own juices. When taken out the meat almost literally falls off the bone.

I have used my slow cooker many times since then and love it. The simplest way to cook a raw chicken – 7 hours overnight does it. Reputedly not the best way to cook vegetables because the long cooking time reduces flavour and nutrient value, but as I prefer my vegetables raw or only lightly cooked, I’ve yet to put that to the test.

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He’s fine, by the way, purely used for modelling purposes.

How (not) to dry mushrooms

Facebook post 15 Oct 2016.

My Polish ex-mother-in-law spent much of the autumn drying the mushrooms she’d collected in the forest in her kitchen. This was done by a humming electric device which blew warm air over them day and night. The electricity cost of such a device prohibitive for me, so tried to find another way, thinking how convenient it would be to have a supply of dried mushrooms.

Tried drying them on a tray on a storage heater, but they were still surprisingly soggy after 24 hours, so put them in the oven, but couldn’t get them to dry evenly – some still soft, some as dry and thin as onion skin – and the oven time was costing me money.

These remains spent another night on the storage heater, but they simply refused to dry out and the whole flat was beginning to smell mushroomy, plus I kept finding bits of mushroom stuck to various surfaces and objects.

I gave up at this point and lot went in the bin, the whole experiment having cost about £2.50 in lost mushrooms and electricity. If I used dried mushrooms frequently they perhaps I’d persevere. However, I’ll stick to fresh.

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