Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Beef & Onion Hotpot

Inspired by a flavour-filled french onion soup that I enjoyed at Ballymaloe last weekend (Food Writing Course with Hugo Arnold), I wanted to cook something where the onion was the hero of the piece.
Onions & Shallots
Onions are both prolific and cheap along with being tremendously under-celebrated.  Yet how many dishes start with a gently sauteed or lightly browned onion?  There are countless.  Writing this has me reminding myself to buy a jar of pickled onions soon, an oft forgotten standby that will jazz up many a dull sandwich.  A great tip to fool the masses is this – if you hear the key turning in the door or the screech of ‘What’s for Dinner Mom?’ and dinner is far from started quickly chop and begin to fry an onion and you’ll give the illusion that great things are happening in the kitchen.  In this dish the onion is firstly sweated then fried and then stewed to maximise flavour.
Beef & Onion HotpotBeef & Onion Hotpot with thyme sprig
Beef & Onion Hotpot
Serves 6
You will need:
4 medium onions
4 shallots (I used banana shallots, they come in all shapes, sizes & varieties)
50g butter
2 to 3 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
1kg stewing beef pieces
A little plain flour to sprinkle on beef
250ml vegetable stock – from stockcube is fine
500ml beef stock – from stockcube is fine
4 or 5 thyme sprigs plus extra to garnish (use 1 tsp dried thyme if can’t get sprigs)
8-10 medium sized potatoes
50-75g cheddar cheese
Method:
Preheat the fan oven to 160C / Gas Mark 4.
Peel and slice the onions and shallots, keeping them in rings.
Melt the butter in  a large saucepan over a low heat.
Add 1 tbsp of oil and the onions/shallots.  Put a lid on and leave the onions to sweat for 10 minutes while you prepare the meat.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and heat to medium/high.
Brown the meat pieces sprinkled lightly with a little flour  in batches – don’t overcrowd the pan.
You may need to add more oil in between browning batches of meat.
Once browned remove the meat pieces to a large casserole dish – you may need to use two depending on size.
By now the onions should be well softened so add them to the frying pan that the meat was cooked in and stir well to mop up any remaining meat juices.
Continue to cook the onions on a high heat until they begin to change colour and are turning golden.
Add the onion in with the beef in the casserole dish and mix well.
Deglaze any remaining juices and sticky bits in the frying pan by adding some of the stock and scraping up with a wooden spoon.
Add all the stock to the meat and onion in the casserole dish and then push in a few thyme sprigs.
Cook in the covered casserole dish in the oven for at least 1.5 hours and up to 2.5 if you have time which will result in more tender meat.
Around 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time scrub the potatoes but leave the skins on.
Thinly slice them and boil in a saucepan of water until just turning tender – around 5 to 8 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and arrange slices on top of the beef & onion stew and then grate the cheddar cheese on top.
Return to the oven turning up the temperature a little and cook (lid-off) for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown and the potatoes are cooked through.
Serve with a garnish of thyme sprig.
Enjoy.
Til next time, Sheila

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Irish Pork Chops with Chickpea Salad

Irish pork chops are lean, economical, super-tasty and above all versatile.  Take them in whatever direction you choose – warming comfort food in a mustard and honey cream sauce or in this case light and zingy in a zesty marinade served with a crunchy salad.
rish Pork Chops
At this time of year with busy schedules you can have the chops marinating overnight and all you’ll have to do is cook them and assemble the salad for a super quick and easy supper.  This recipe is from a ‘Food for Family and Friends’ brochure that Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) has out at the moment, you can also check out this and other delicious Irish Pork recipes over on the Bord Bia Website.
Feel free to make any substitutions you want to in the marinade – dried herbs if you don’t have fresh etc.  This would work equally well with Irish Lamb chops too.
Rosemary, Olive OIl, Garlic, Lemon MarinadeGarlic, Lemon, Rosemary marinade
Chickpea Salad
Serves 4
Marinade & Chops
You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic
half a lemon – zest and juice
4 Irish pork chops – boneless
Method:
Finely chop the fresh rosemary and mix with the olive oil and crushed garlic cloves along with the lemon juice and zest to make a marinade.
Pour the marinade over the chops and turn them over to cover both sides.  Leave to take on the flavours overnight in the fridge or for at least 15 minutes before using.
Heat a strong, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and cook the chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side – check that they are cooked through to the middle.
Chickpea Salad
You will need:
1 red onion
1 red pepper
225g tin chickpeas
mixed salad leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
Method:
Finely slice the red onion and red pepper and combine in a bowl with the salad leaves.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the salad
Mix the olive oil and vinegar together and pour over the salad, mixing it through the leaves.
Enjoy.
Irish Pork ChopChickpea Salad 2
Til next time, Sheila

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Jambalaya Chicken

Jambalaya Chicken pot
I have to admit that I was very surprised when this experimental dish got the thumbs up in my house.  Complaints were anticipated from the ‘it’s too spicy’ & the ‘where’s the gravy’ brigade but none were forthcoming. Served up in bowls and eaten with a fork, a major bonus for this dish is the minimal washing-up.  It’s a true one-pot dish with no accompaniments required and including plenty of vegetables and minimum fat it’s healthy to boot.
Jambalaya Chicken forkfulServes 5-6.
Jambalaya Chicken
You will need:
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
4 breasts of chicken
3cm thumb-width piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp ras el hanout  OR
(This has up to 18 spices! If you don’t have it mix some of these: ground cinnamon, cumin, paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, pink peppercorns, cloves – use your judgement and sense of smell carefully)
1 large red onion
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 green chillies
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
500ml chicken stock
350g basmati rice
Method:
Using a large hob-proof casserole dish or pan heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.
Place the chicken breasts on the hot oil and cook for two minutes on each side, then cut the semi-cooked chicken into chunks in the pan.
Grate the ginger and crush the garlic cloves and add to the pan, cook for 1 minute.
Add the 2 tbsp ras el hanout (or alternative), mix well and cook for 1 minute.
Cut the red onion into large wedges and add to the pan along with 1 tbsp brown sugar.
Mix everything together and cook for 1 minute.
Meanwhile deseed and finely chop the green chillies and add to the pan along with deseeded and sliced green and red pepper.
Add the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Pour in 500ml of hot chicken stock and scatter the basmati rice on top, pressing it down into the liquid.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for a further 10 minutes until the rice is cooked.  You may wish to add a little more water as the rice cooks if you feel it is getting too dried out.
Jambalaya Chicken Close-upJambalaya Chicken Dig-inEnjoy.
Til next time, Sheila