Pheasant pie:

Pheasant pie:

This serves between 6 and 8 people, with veg, etc.

One thing I like to do is beating for a local shoot.  It takes no great skill, as such, all you need to be able to do is follow instructions and make a noise when told to.  Common sense, really.  In the months before and just after Christmas there are shoots all over the UK needing people to beat for them (See the NOBS website).  You get very little pay for your physical efforts – but the birds are worth the walk.  Some (tight-arsed) shoots will just give you a brace (a pair; one cock bird and one hen) and some will permit you to take more.  One shoot that I have regularly beaten for hands me 3 brace occasionally as well as the meagre pay.  This makes the day well worth the effort.  Of course, the birds do come with their coats on and their innards in place, but a quiet word with another of the beaters may get them to help you ‘process’ the birds quite quickly after being hung to let the meat mature for about 5-8 days. 

Of course, you could learn how to do it and DIY. 

I don’t fart about with plucking; I simply skin ‘em and gut ‘em.  It’s quicker, easier and makes less mess.  Anyway, as I normally harvest the breasts and casserole the rest, the skin is redundant. 

Serving pheasant pie to your guests could be quite prestigious, so will really impress everyone with your abilities to survive and succeed.   Of course, you mustn’t accidentally serve it to any extreme animal-rights/anti-hunt people, ‘cos that’s the way to get your sweetmeats squashed (look it up on the net).

Prep:       50-ish mins, but needs to be done the day before.

Cooking: 60 + 40 mins.

Course:   Main (smallish)

Serves:    6

Rating:    3:  Moderate – it takes a long time to get everything ready,

but each stage is moderately easy.

Find:-

  • 1 brace pheasants
  • 2 cans Campbell’s Chicken & White Wine condensed soup
  • Frozen sweetcorn
  • 1 pack puff pastry
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Mushrooms if you have them
  • Provencal mixed herbs
  • Seasonings
  • milk or eggwash for pastry top (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Covered casserole dish
  • Oven dish/pie dish bigger than you think you’ll need

Method:

  • Take the two birds – skinned & gutted – and wash them under a running cold tap for a moment. Cut any great amounts of fat off and discard.
  • Using heavy duty scissors cut the carcasses at their weak points to allow them to fit into a casserole dish or covered oven dish with lid and put some water/white wine in with them. Pop this into a medium oven (gas 4) for about an hour or so to cook.  You will be taking the meat off the carcass later so it does need to cook through.
  • After that time, take the meat out and place onto a plate to cool to a temperature at which you can separate the meat from the bones without burning your fingers (see Tricks’n’Tips for taking meat off a poultry carcass).
  • Whatever you do, don’t allow any bones to end up in the meat. The lead shot by which the birds met their fate will normally not be a problem, but the bones and/or the end of bone cartilage will be.
  • Pour the cooking liquid into a bowl to cool and then place it in the fridge to let the fat solidify properly on the top. The following day, just take the fat from the top of the stock, putting it into cling film/foil or a yoghurt pot to discard it, putting the jellified stock by for now.  You’ll need it later.
  • To assemble the pie, just roughly slice and fry the onions and garlic until translucent and line the bottom of the pie dish with them. Pop a few sliced/quartered mushrooms in as well.
  • Scatter the herbs and frozen sweetcorn on the onions and then lay on the pheasant meat in large chunks.
  • Heat the contents of the two cans of soup, together with some white wine or water and the stock from below the fat in the bowl and pour over the contents of the pie dish, taking the fluid level to just below the edge of the dish. Season as necessary.
  • Roll out the puff pastry (or buy it ready-rolled, like I do) and lay it on top of the dish (see Tricks’n’Tips), crimping the edges against the dish to make a tight seal.
  • Pierce a few vent holes in the lid, cut out and lay on some fancy pastry shapes for decoration (if you are artistic) and give it an eggwash or a milkwash ( see Tricks’n’Tips) to make it brown attractively.
  • Place it in the oven at about gas 5 for 40 mins, or until the pastry is golden brown and risen a treat.
  • Serve with whatever veg you have. This pie goes well with rustic accompaniments, so forget about serving poncy baby sweetcorn or mange tout.  For this we need chunky carrots, sautéed leeks (or roast veg) and jacket potatoes.

Greek Souvlaki: In other words, meat on a stick, or kebabs.

Greek Souvlaki:   In other words, meat on a stick, or kebabs. 

Use bamboo skewers – and get them as long as possible.  You will need maximum length to maximise on ‘impact’.   Allow between one and two skewers per person.  If you are having a starter, main course and a pud, you might get away with one each… perhaps.  It’s all according to how delicious they are.

You must soak the skewers in water for a good couple of hours if you intend to cook these on a barbecue or on a gas grill.  If there is a flame likely to come in contact with the wood, they’ll burn.  At least if they have been soaked the burn will be reduced.  Some people soak them in wine.  I prefer to soak them in water and DRINK the wine….

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Snack, starter or main

Serves:         2

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find for two people:

  • 2 cheap (value) pork chops
  • Red, orange & yellow peppers (see method)
  • Red onion
  • Other things I haven’t thought of yet
  • Wooden kebab skewers
  • Oven (roasting) tin

Method:

  • You can use the supermarket ‘Value’ pork chops as they are probably the cheapest source of quick-cooking pork you’ll get. However, if you have a friendly (tame) butcher who can give you good quality pork at reduced rates, go for whatever is advised – they know more than you and I combined.  However, it shouldn’t really be all completely lean pork as a fat content is needed to allow it to remain succulent.  Remember that it is being cooked quickly and so doesn’t have sufficient time to become tender in the cooking process.
  • Remove the bone from the pork chops and then cut the meat into 2cm cubes. You can cheat by cutting it 2 by 1cm and then folding it in two.  This just makes the meat content look a bit more than it really is.    Perhaps this is a bit of a cheat, but hell, when money is a problem, what’s a bit of fair cheating between friends?
  • You’ll need about a red, an orange and a yellow pepper for 5 or 6 people sitting down to dinner – so about a half a pepper + per person – and a couple of large, round, hard red onions.
  • Peel the red onion by topping and tailing (removing the top and the bottom), cutting in half vertically and then just removing the dried outer layer of the onion.
  • Now take off each layer, one by one, keeping it ‘onion shaped’, in a dome sort of thing.
  • Put these onto a plate or into a bowl or dish to work from. The peppers should be cut in half vertically, the stalk and seeds removed and then each half cut again horizontally, then each quarter cut into two or three bits.  Try to retain the curved nature of each piece.
  • As the meal is ‘on sticks’ it is important to get the presentation right, so start with the pepper.
  • Stick the bamboo skewer through the pepper, skin side first, this will allow the curved nature of the pepper to encompass the pork (the next component) and provide a little moisture for it. Steam cooks meat nicely, especially when it’s flavoured steam, as the pepper will provide.  Pepper, pork, onion, pork, pepper, pork, onion, pork, pepper, pork… you can see the methodology behind it all.
  • Of course, if you want to, you can use mushrooms as well, peeled chestnuts (yummy – but a bugger to put onto skewers without breaking up) and all sorts of other things. As well as, instead of… well, you ring the changes as it’s your meal.  Don’t be slavish and just follow a recipe, use the method and then do as you please – and then, when people ask for the recipe you can say “Well, I didn’t really follow a recipe as such; it was something I just cooked up”  That’ll certainly get you points with the partner.
  • So what do you do with these skewers of stuff that you have in a great mountain on a plate? Well, if you can lay them on a large plate or a wide, shallow oven tin, that’s great.  If you do not have such a thing, use oven foil with the edges just turned up a bit.  Put some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar into a mug to make it about a quarter full, mix it up thoroughly and brush it liberally all over the kebabs.  More rather than less, and make sure that it does not separate before being brushed on.
  • Leave them there for as long as possible.
  • You then have a choice. If you have only enough for two people, do them in your big frying pan.  Perhaps you’ll use the grill, or even a slow barbecue (when the coals are not too hot and likely to start flaming).  You might have a griddle on your cooker, so use that.  If not, bung them into a HOT oven in the oven tin you used for the marinating.  No oven tin?  Use the foil on something ovenproof… just a baking try is fine if the foil is being used.
  • So how long do I need to cook them for? Ah, now, that’s a good question.  With direct heat (frying pan, grill, griddle) you’ll need to look at the meat as it’s cooking and see that it’s not red at all, perhaps 10 – 15 minutes, but with chicken you’ll really need to ENSURE that the meat is cooked.  With the oven you’ll manage to cook well in about 25 minutes if the kebabs went into a pre-heated oven.  If you turned on an oven as you put them in, allow at least another 5 minutes.  If it’s crisping at the corners, it should be fine.  What you don’t want to do is serve cubes of ‘biblical burnt offering’, as they say.  With oven-cooked kebabs it might just be nice to pop them into a frying pan/onto a griddle for a couple of minutes just to crisp the outsides, for good looks.
  • You have a choice of sauces to serve with them, but the Greeks don’t seem to serve them with a sauce at all in my experience.

Pork’n’Peppers:

Pork’n’Peppers:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        As many as…..

Rating:         2:  Easy

Inexpensive – and it looks impressive too.

Find:

  • Pork – one chunk (see Tesco Value pork) per person, as cheap as you like.
  • Peppers – as many whatever colour old wrinkly ones as you have.
  • Mushrooms – ditto.
  • Rice – see start of this section or Tricks’n’Tips.
  • Variations – see Variations (unsurprisingly).
  • Oven (roasting) tin
  • Frying pan (preferably with a lid)
  • Ceramic oven/serving dishes

Method:

  • If you have a glut of soft, wrinkly red, yellow or orange peppers (even including green, at a push) – or can get hold of a few at a very cheap price (final hours of the local market can be most productive) and some cheap pork in the freezer from the local supermarket’s reduced cabinet, you have the basics. One piece of pork per person will be required (You know the size of pork that is normally regarded as one serving…….. a chunk, a pork chop-sized bit…….. no, I do not mean one great big joint per person!). 
  • Put the pork in the tin, pour just a little olive oil on top and a good splash of water in the tin, then put the pork into the oven at about 190°C for around 45 minutes to roast in its open tin.
  • Chop a couple of medium or one good sized onion (or you could use an old & wrinkled leek instead….I have) & sauté (slowly fry without browning, keeping it moving in the pan) on a low heat in a largish, oiled open frying pan (one with a lid is good, but you can’t stir it whilst the lid is on….).
  • Randomly chop up your old, wrinkled peppers to throw in after about ten minutes, when the onions have just started to colour (you can, if you wish, remove the skin, but certainly remember to discard the seeds).
  • Slice as many mushrooms as you have (again, wrinkled ones are fine for this) and throw them in as well.
  • Put half a cup of water, or so, into the pan & pop on the lid, bring to the boil then turn the heat to the lowest setting possible and leave it for 20 minutes.
  • Check occasionally to make sure that they are just steaming and not burning.
  • Do not use your smoke alarm as a timer.
  • Prepare your rice – see Delia’s perfect rice. Saint Delia has the best rice recipe in the world.  Time your rice to finish just as the pork finishes.
  • When the pork is done, put the pepper mixture and the remaining liquid into a warmed dish and place the pork pieces on top. Serve the rice in another warmed dish with a chunk of parsley on top or sprinkle with dried parsley (it’ll hydrate with the water vapour coming off).

Hey presto  Pork’n’Peppers.

Variations:  

You could really push the boat out and put a Campbell’s/Bachelors cream of mushroom soup into the pepper mixture; alternatively throw in a cheap can of chopped tomatoes and a little tomato purée just to ring the changes.

Got any soft cheese or Stilton that might be a little past its best (and probably quite smelly) left over?  If you have, just pare off the rind and discard it, retaining as much of the body of the cheese as possible and chop it up.  Stir that into the meat mixture so that it melts and disperses and it will just flavour of the meat that little bit for it to become a touch more robust.  It doesn’t matter which base you use (canned tomatoes or Campbell’s condensed soup) as it blends in beautifully with both.

Bean’n’bacon bung-in:

Bean’n’bacon bung-in:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         2: Easy

Find:

  • 2 cans of different beans
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Pack of cheap bacon bits from the supermarket or town market
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Seasonings
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Cut up the bacon bits, discarding the fatty bits and rind. Throw into a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Slice the onions rustically (great big bits) and throw that in as well.
  • Fry for about 10 minutes, to get the bacon crispy.
  • Rinse both cans of beans under the cold tap (especially if one of the bean types is red kidney…. rinse really well).
  • Pour off the fat into a cup (see Tricks’n’Tips for what to do with it afterwards) and put the beans in the frying pan. Add the can of chopped tomatoes.  Get to be all bubbling and nice.
  • Season to taste – you might want to put some sweet chilli sauce in it…… serve and eat.
  • Lovely with a few good pints and a few good mates.

Bacon-wrapped Pork & Apple Pattie Rounds:

Bacon-wrapped Pork & Apple Pattie Rounds:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

  • You guessed it – as steak pattie rounds but use pork & apple instead of the steak.
  • Of course, you could use turkey, chicken, lamb, pheasant, taxman, parking attendant, politician (no, that would surely taste too bitter…..)

Bacon-wrapped Steak Pattie Rounds:

Bacon-wrapped Steak Pattie Rounds:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This is a good way to use up left-over meats.

Find:

  • 500g some sort of steak, raw or cooked (or sausages, or something left over…)
  • 200g streaky bacon in four pieces – they need to be as long as you can possibly get; to be wrapped around the four formed patties. Keep this in mind when sourcing the streaky bacon.
  • 2 slices bread for fresh breadcrumbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Mick’s Terbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • 1 egg
  • Dollop whole grain mustard or horseradish sauce
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan or grill

Method:

  • Make the breadcrumbs (See Tricks’n’Tips). Cut the steak up to allow it to process easier, trimming off any fat or other unwanted bits at the same time.
  • Roughly slice the onion.
  • Put both into the processor and blitz for a time. Add the breadcrumbs, herbs, mustard, egg and seasoning, then blitz again for a while.  You are trying to aim for a mixture that will form fairly stable balls of meat mixture.  If it’s too loose, add breadcrumbs.  If too dry, add a little oil.
  • Form into four round patties of equal diameter and thickness. Wrap the streaky bacon around the circumference of each of the patties, pinning into place with a cocktail stick.
  • They can be fried in a little oil for about 15 minutes, turning several times to avoid burning, or grilled/griddled for the same time, occasionally being turned over and drizzled with a little vegetable oil to keep them moist.
  • Serve with new spuds & veg or a simple salad, rice or whatever you wish.

Gammon & Pineapple:

Gammon & Pineapple:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:      As many as….

Rating:         1:  Very easy

An easy standby.

Find:

  • 1 gammon steak per person
  • Can of sliced pineapple (usually contains about 5 slices – you only need 1 slice per person, unless you’re crazy about pineapple)
  • Grill

Method 1:

  • Heat up the grill and cook the gammon for about 5 minutes each side, plop it onto a plate and put a slice of pineapple on top. There can’t be many things easier.

Method 2:

  • As above, but grill the pineapple at the same time. A very light sprinkling of sugar on the pineapple will help, and will also make it look nice.

Meatloaf:

Meatloaf: 

(That’s Meatloaf the dish, not the performer – I can’t bring myself to call him a singer – ‘no, I won’t do that!’)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Moderately easy

This is a good way to use up left-over meats.

Find:

  • 400g mince (beef/lamb/pork/turkey/donkey/postman/lawyer/estate agent/parking attendant….NOT politician, it would be too bitter)
  • 2 slices bread for fresh breadcrumbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Mick’s Terbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • 1 egg
  • Dollop whole grain mustard
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Food processor
  • Loaf tin

Method:

  • Make the breadcrumbs. Put the mince in the food processor, or cut the steak up to allow it to process easier, trimming off any fat or other unwanted bits at the same time.
  • Roughly slice the onion. Put both into the processor and blitz for a time.
  • Add the breadcrumbs, herbs, mustard, egg and seasoning, then blitz again for a while. You are trying to aim for a mixture that will force nicely into a heavily oiled (or, better still, a greaseproof-paper-lined) loaf tin.
  • Put the loaf tin onto a baking tray and cook at gas mk 5 for 40 minutes.
  • Turn out the loaf and allow to cool a little before cutting, otherwise it will crumble.

Serve with mash and veg – and a good gravy

Pitta Pockets:

Pitta Pockets:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:        See text

Rating:         2:  Easy

Don’t forget the humble pitta bread.   They pull apart down the centre and can be filled with all manner of goodies.

Find:

  • ‘Value’ supermarket pitta bread
  • Leftover sausages or other meat
  • Leftover beans – red kidney, baked, Bernoulli, …..
  • Anything else that might suit a pitta bread – not soup . . . .

Method:

This method is a little bit vague due to the number of possible variation for fillings. 

  • Chuck your leftovers in a pan, whatever they are – probably with half a roughly chopped onion – heat ‘em up and pop them into split pitta breads that have been lightly toasted.
  • Grab hold and eat.

Told you it would be a little bit vague, but you get my meaning.       Pitta bread is very versatile so use your imagination.  Bacon, ham, cheese, beans, tomatoes….. it’ll all go in.

Shepherd’s Skins:

Shepherd’s Skins:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:        AMAR

Rating:         2:  Easy

  • Mince mixture as above for Lamb Mince’n’Onion Thingymebob
  • Potatoes for baking
  • Grated cheese for the topping
  • A splash of milk
  • Seasoning
  • Any extra veg as desirable

Method:

  • As Cottage Skins.