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.

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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.

Jack’s Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burger (20p)

Facebook post 16 Mar 2016.

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This is arguably the recipe that brought Jack Monroe into the limelight and the first one that I tried.

1202340The original 2013 blog (superseded by www.cookingonabootstrap.com in late 2015) where this and other recipes were originally posted are archived here, and a BBC Business article featuring Jack a couple of weeks later here. I discovered the recipes in 2015 and their simplicity and low cost got me interested in cooking for myself.

I did a bit of basic cheffing many years ago, and it was these articles that promoted me to ‘take up the knife’ again.

Astonishingly, discovered a single ‘web ghost‘ showing the place I used to work, although the date stamped on the photograph (2003) is impossible – the business was dissolved in 1997 (I was there a few years earlier) and has changed hands and names several times since. Mixed memories, but mostly great fun and window into a world I could never have imagined.

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For my version of the CCK burgers I finely chopped an onion, grated three smallish carrots, and then located the dustpan and brush and swept up all the bits of onion, peel and carrot chippings which had appeared on the kitchen floor and elsewhere.

Drove to Tesco to buy a proper can opener because the budget one I got from there didn’t work and was grinding bits of metal into the tin of kidney beans I was trying to open. Spent a few pounds on a decent one, and successfully opened the tin.

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Rinsed the goo off the beans, covered them with water in a saucepan, brought to boil then simmered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile soft fried the veg.

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Mashed everything together with a heaped teaspoon of flour and teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder, then with floury hands made burger shapes and browned them off in the frying pan.

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Toasted some brown bread and made a burgerwich. With a dash of tabasco it was excellent.. There was enough mix left to make 4 more. Cost as a meal (inc. bread, butter, tea and electricity, but not petrol to get to Tesco and get the new can opener), 20p.

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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..

Messy Gnocci (50p)

This is the last of my transfers of recipes from Facebook to Cooking For Nothing. The posts will now go back to their normal frequency.

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Facebook post 2 Nov 2016.

polish-flagHad these not infrequently in Poland – how I miss that country – but they were not a particular favourite, being rather squidgy and tasteless. Not a criticism of the chef, just something my palate is not used to or keen on. Had a go at the recipe in A Girl Called Jack, with modifications.

The ingredients:

  • 1 egg.
  • 500 g tinned pots.
  • Big pinch of dried parsley.
  • 100 g flour

Jack said boil the pots, mash them with the other ingredients, roll the mixture out like dough, cut into shapes – drop them in boiling water and when they float, they’re done. Not quite so …

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The mixture was ridiculously sticky, so I kept added more flour, 100g or more, until it was manageable. The ‘cooked’ gnochettes tasted half-raw (I’d made them too big), so had to boil them for another 10 minutes. And messy! A lot of clearing up afterwards, flour and gnocchi dough all over the place.

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Gnocchi are bland things on their own, so made a sauce with what was to hand – a fine chopped onion, tin chopped toms, good pinches of oregano, thyme and paprika, spoon of horseradish, crushed garlic clove, all fried and mashed together.

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It worked. With the mandatory mug of tea and including electricity, tasty and 50p a meal.

Lamb and Chili Bean Casserole (80p)

Facebook post 23 Oct 2016.

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I was very kindly donated a lamb breast joint to experiment with. After meticulously removing as much fat and connective tissue as possible from the raw joint, was left with ½ kilo of meat. Wore surgeon’s gloves to dissect the meat. Took 45 minutes with a very sharp knife, but it’s really worth it for the quality. Browned it off in a pan.

2016-10-23-lamb3Soft-fried two onions. This went into the slow cooker, plus a tin each of chopped toms, kidney beans and garden peas, ½ teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, mint and parsley and a mug of chicken stock. On ‘high’ for 4 hours.

My slow cooker simmers at that setting, different makes vary so may need shorter or longer – just make sure the meat is cooked. (Thanks, Anna, who gave me the thing. I’m a convert already.)

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It worked! The lamb was tender, not chewy. I’d accidentally used ‘beans in chile sauce’ (not the usual red kidney beans that have to be rinsed) and they worked really well.

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I boiled the potatoes separately to preserve their flavour and visual appeal. Pleasantly surprised that this came in at under £1 – at equivalent Tesco price for the meat and including electricity, four servings at something like 80p each.

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.