Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pecan and sage spatchcock with cranberry sauce

A few years ago now, my sister Sue and I joined a Masterclass Cooking School in Newcastle run by Chef Reinhold Forster. The theme was a formal Christmas menu, with the main a Spatchcock with Pecan Nut stuffing and Cranberry Sauce.  I have slightly altered this recipe from the original by adding the sage which I think works well together with the Spatchcock. As the Spatchcock is de-boned, you will need to ask your butcher to do this for you if you cannot do it yourself., you may need to give him some advance notice or even order it in.  As the bird will be completely re-formed it presents better if the wing and leg outer joints are left on.  For this recipe I have allowed 2 Spatchcock, cut in half will serve 4 people.  Ask your butcher for the spatchcock bones as you will need these for the Jus preparation.  Additional to the Spatchcock bones you will need some other bones, eg.bacon bone or veal.

The flavours in this dish are reminiscent of Christmas, however it can be served equally well at any time of the year.  Maybe it could work as a Christmas in July meal ...............

2 de-boned spatchcock
50 g chopped pecan nuts
3 large stale bread rolls 
1 lightly beaten egg
1 finely diced onion
100 g finely diced bacon (keep trimmings)
5 g fresh parsley chopped
10 fresh sage leaves chopped
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
sprinkle of sweet paprika
salt and pepper

spatchcock bones, sinews and trimmings from bacon
bacon bones
mirepoix (1 carrot, 2 sticks celery, 1/2 onion chopped)
1 tsp tomato paste
1 litre of brown stock (extra if needed)

Cranberry sauce
1/2 finely diced onion
20 g butter
5 g sugar
25 g cranberries (can use frozen)
50 ml white wine
25 ml sour cream
250 ml jus

For the Jus, brown the bones in a pan on top of the stove then and add the Mirepoix and place into a low to moderate oven for 30 minutes.  Add the brown stock and stir the sediment from the pan and cook for another 30-40 minutes, adding more stock if necessary.   When you have a strong dark coloured jus, remove bones and strain liquid out returning to the pan and add tomato past and thicken with arrowroot if necessary.  Set aside to reheat when required.

Preheat oven to 175c.
For the Spatchcocks, dry the spatchcocks inside and out with paper towel to reduce moisture.  Lay the Spatchocks opened out on a board with skin side down.  In a frypan saute with the onion and bacon with the butter until onion is transparent and place into a medium sized bowl.  Dice the bread rolls and add to the bowl of onion and bacon, add the egg and mix loosely by hand. Add  the pecan nuts, parsley, sage, nutmeg and good pinch of salt and pepper and mix again. Place half the bread mixture inside the spatchcock and re-mould back into proper shape. Fold the skin over to seal.  Sprinkle with paprika and extra salt and pepper. Place onto a greased baking tray and place into oven and cook at 45 minutes per kg.  I cooked my Spatchcocks for 45 minutes, as they weighed half a kilo each. 

For the Cranberry Sauce, in a medium frypan saute the onion in butter, add the sugar and caramelise a little. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by half.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook till sauce consistency and coats the back of a spoon.  If the sauce is thin, thicken slightly with cornflour.  

To plate this dish, slice the spatchock in half with a serrated knife, serve with roasted pumpkin and green beans, and serve the cranberry sauce and jus to the side.

The flavours in this dish match well served with a good bottle of Pinot Noir, or would go equally well with a Chardonnay.  Photo by Steve Shanahan

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Braised Lamb Shanks with Vino Cotto and Lemon

This hearty dish not only provides great winter comfort, it fills the kitchen with delicious aromas that entices one (well, me) to open a full bodied red wine!  The balance of sweet and sour flavours in this dish is a twist on the traditional braised lamb shank recipes.  I used the classic french technique of frying off a tablespoon of sugar when browning the shanks.

This recipe is in approximate quantities and will provide for 3 servings.  I have allowed one shank for each person.
3 frenched lamb shanks
1/4 cup pl flour
salt and pepper
1 tblsp brown sugar

3 small white onions cut into quarters
3 cloves of garlic chopped
3 tblsp olive oil
400g tin of cherry tomatoes
1 litre of beef stock
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 of whole lemon (washed, with skin on)
tblsp vino cotto
1 parsnip chopped into batons
1 whole sprig of rosemary (approx 10cm length)
10 whole sage leaves
1 stick celery and a handful of leaves
Extra salt and pepper to taste
Parsley chopped.
Zest and juice of 1 extra lemon

Preheat oven to 150C.

Add floured and seasoned lamb shanks to a medium hot frying pan with oil to brown off.  Add sugar to lamb shanks and continue to fry off until brown but not burnt. Watch as this can burn easily.

Place the lamb shanks and cooked sugar into a large enough oven proof casserole dish to hold all ingredients.  In a large saucepan bring to a simmer, stock, wine, garlic, onion, tomatoes, 1/4 lemon and extra juice of 1 lemon, parsnip, rosemary and sage, then add to the shanks in the casserole dish.  Add vino cotto.

Place into preheated oven for 1 and 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven and  add celery and leaves, salt and pepper to taste and return to oven cooking for another half hour.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped parsley and lemon zest. Serve with creamy, buttery mashed potato, polenta or quinoa.

This dish works well with a hearty Shiraz.
Photo by Steve Shanahan

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Macarons at last!

Yes, it has been a few weeks since I have added recipes to the blog, however I have not been idle, in fact to the contrary, I think I've managed to perfect my Macaron recipe and will share what I have experienced to overcome some of the pitfalls. 

Now back to Macarons.........mmm biting into the perfect Macaron... chic, sweet and oh so very frenchy little morsels, when matched with tea or coffee.  Although the sweetness is cut perfectly when taken with a short black. This may be due to Macarons having originated in Italy in the mid 1500's before their popularity with French Patisserie's who produced them in infinite colours and flavours.  

The perfect Macaron should have a paper thin shell enclosing a light, soft, slightly chewy centre.  The surface should be smooth and the shells should have "ruffled feet" around the base. 
The Macarons pictured here are Lime flavoured  and sandwiched together with a Lemon and Lime Butter Cream.  I have had greater success in lifting the cooked Macarons from a biscuit tray if you use a silicon baking mat over the tray.  I found when using baking paper they stuck slightly, causing cracking and breakage.  It is also important to ensure you don't overcook them, as they will burn easily. Pure icing sugar is used rather than icing sugar mixture and egg whites should be weighed as ratio of egg whites to sugar is important.  Combine icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor for a few short pulses to combine and reduce lumps. Before cooking the Macarons, you will get a better result if you leave them sitting at room temperature for 2-3 hours to form a slight skin, so when you touch lightly with your finger it comes away dry. This reduces cracking when cooking.   The quantities listed here should make approximately 60

Macaron Shells
225 g pure icing sugar
140 g almond meal
100 g egg whites at room temperature
Lime Zest of 2 limes

1. Line two baking trays with silicone baking mats.
2. Sift the combined and blended icing sugar and almond meal into a large mixing bowl, discarding any large pieces of meal.
3. Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  If colouring, add colour of choice now and whisk in. 
4. Fold combined icing sugar and almond meal into the whipped egg whites, add lime zest and continue to fold until the mixture is glossy resembling slow moving lava when the bowl is tilted.
5. Spoon mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 5mm plain piping nozzle attachment.   Pipe rounds 3cm in diameter onto the baking mats about 2cm apart, as the mixture will spread.  Tap the tray on the bench firmly a couple of times to remove air bubbles.
6. Leave the Macarons to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to form a skin.
7. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
8. Before placing Macaron shells into oven, reduce oven temperature to 130 degrees C.  Bake Macaron shells for 10 - 12 minutes and firm to touch but not coloured.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before removing from the baking tray.

3 egg yolks
90 g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
125 g softened unsalted butter (chopped into cubes)
finely grated zest of 2 limes and 1 lemon

Whisk the egg yolks on high in an electric mixer for approximately 10 minutes until pale and creamy.  Bring sugar and water to the boil, reduce to simmer, inserting sugar thermometer that reaches 121c. 

With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the creamy yolk in a thin stream.  Increase speed to high and whisk for 10 minutes or until cooled.  With the mixer turned to medium add the softened butter a little at the time. Add lime and lemon zest.  Increase to high for 3 minutes.

Spoon or pipe the mixture onto half of the cooled Macaron shells and top with an unfilled shell to sandwich together.