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In fact who cares? Well a lot of people don’t really, but I have had a few debates over the years as to which is which (yes I know I need to get out more) , so here goes the debate, and I welcome your comments as to which is which. I touched on this subject in an earlier post, using asparagus again, it must be a seasonal debate of mine! And another post about asparagus here. According to Larousse Gastronomique (and that’s a book that should know) a salad is ” a dish of raw or cold cooked foods, usually dressed and seasoned, served as an hors d’oeuvre, side dish etc”. It then takes various forms:  green, plain or mixed.

According to The Oxford Companion to Food the warm salad is a 20th century invention. The original salad or salata is derived from the Latin sal which gave us the term relating to “salted things”. Brilliant, so chips &  bacon is a salad! Oh no, wait a minute, chips are hot. So if they’re served warm does that make them a salad? I mean it’s composed mainly of vegetables isn’t it? Perhaps not, but we can dream. The scary thing is that there are people in this country that think chips are one of their five a day!

And my favourite description is from a Book of Medieval Food (Maggie Black 1985) the salat is described thus: “Take parsel, sawge, garlec, chibollas, oynons, leek, borage, myntes, porrectes, fenel, and ton tressis, rew, rosemarye, purslane, lave, and waisshe hem clene. Pike hem, pluck hem small with thyn hand and mygn hem wel with rawe oile. Lay on vynegar and salt and serve it forth” That seems a little different from opening a bag of salad from the supermarket doesn’t it?

Okay, so my opinion (such as it is) is that a salad is a cold or warm dish, not hot, composed mainly of cooked vegetables, dressed with some form of oil/vinegar/mayonnaise/lemon/lime juice arrangement. A hot salad isn’t a salad and I don’t know what it is.

So on to dinner. The first asparagus of the year is always pretty expensive (it’s never cheap anyway) but it’s everything that’s exciting about seasonal food. I tend to wait a few weeks after the first stems have hit the shops & the price goes down a little. Asparagus is one of those quintessentially english ingredients that needs to be celebrated once a year. Not served up every week of the year, chargrilled from Peru with fancy butters and confused accompaniments.

The great thing about it is that it’s very versatile, has a strong flavour of its own and thus will take some pretty robust flavours with it. Chargrilled is nice, plain boiled with just unsalted butter, freshly-ground black pepper & flaky salt is classic and amazing or mixed with other interesting ingredients as part of a bigger salad. I chose the latter for dinner.

Asparagus, bacon & potato salad with lemon & mustard dressing (and a poached egg):

1 bunch of asparagus, snapped of woody ends.

Bacon lardons, a small handful (I’ll post pictures and recipes of my home-made bacon at some point)

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.

2 medium potatoes, peeled if old & too muddy (mine were!) diced in 2-3cm cubes

2-3 Courgettes, sliced.

2 fresh, free-range eggs

For the dressing:

  • Finely grated zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1-2 tsp grain mustard
  • A pinch of salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil

Put on big pot of water to boil

In a non-stick frying pan, fry the bacon lardons over a medium heat until they’re starting to take some colour, stirring. Add the garlic & continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat &…

Drop the potatoes into the water and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. When they’re done, take them out with a slotted spoon and allow them to steam-dry for a minute or 2.You’re going to use the water again for the asparagus so don’t chuck it out, put it back on to boil.

Place the cooked potato into the bacon pan & put the frying pan back on the heat, medium-hot this time. Stir or toss the bacon, potato & garlic. Ideally the spuds will take on some colour, but don’t worry too much if they don’t. The important thing is that they soak up the bacony-garlic flavour. It may, or may not, look something like this. Eagle-eyed readers will notice my garlic a little browned which you may, or may not enjoy as a flavour, it can be quite strong. Ideally you’ll be doing 2 things at once for efficiency, so..

Needs a bit of colour

For flavour the potatoes need a little browning

When the water has come back to a rolling boil drop in the asparagus for 4 minutes, 5 at a push. Then take them out & drop them in to cold water to stop them cooking & going soft. If you want you can put some ice in, but I find running the cold tap is usually enough.

Put the sliced courgettes in to the bacon/potato pan and stir gently over a medium heat. You can turn up the heat a bit & give the courgettes some more flavour if you like, just remember to keep it moving so they don’t catch on the pan. Probably about another 5 minutes or so. I like my courgettes just cooked with a little bite.

For the dressing combine the lemon zest, juice & mustard in a screw top jar with the salt & pepper. Give it good shake and add double the volume of olive oil (extra virgin for preference) to lemon/mustard. Give it really, really good shake and add 1/2 as much oil again. Taste, it may need more oil, it may not. You can obviuosly adjust the mustard to your taste as well. Sorry to be a bit imprecise with my measurements, but lemons are all different sizes. I find it much easier (and more efficient) to use 1/2 a lemon rather than just squeeze some out & you’re left with a squashed lemon. A good ratio of oil to lemon is 4:1.

Nearly cooked & without dressing

Slice the asparagus on the angle, throw in the pan with the other ingredients & warm through with as much dressing as you like. Probably about 2-3 tablespoons.

Serve with a softly poached egg on top. The egg should ooze on to the salad in a luxurious manner. Mine didn’t, I overcooked them so there’s no photo! Hey, nobody’s perfect.


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There’s something in the air. I almost feel as though spring has passed & we’ve moved into summer with the weather we’ve been having.

We had the first bbq of the year last night, so maybe that’s what it is. I get very excited at the changing of the seasons, particularly when it comes to food. We’ve eaten so many roots, stews & winter greens, which I love, but I know spring is really springing & summer’s just around the corner when the wild garlic comes out. Lettuce, beans & tomatoes et al aren’t far behind.

We went to Devon 2 weekends ago, beautiful sunshine and magnolias in full bloom. This is the piece I wrote then.

27th March 2011 Devon.

I’m always filled with (probably a blind) romanticism when I come down here. So much so that I think the simplest meals become something special. Maybe it’s because so many meals in our lives are more that the sum of the ingredients. And by ingredients, I don’t just mean the food.

One of the most memorable meals of my life was in Morocco, sat beside the road with a stranger I’d hitched a ride with. We ate bread, meat, cheese, fruit, and drank some water sitting between the fields worked by local people. It was hot, dry and dusty, and we sat in the shade of the trees that lined the dirt track we’d turned on to, making broken conversation with my poor French & his poor English. We shared the food we’d bought at a local market. The food was good & quite ordinary really. The table, cutlery and plates were non-existent and the conversation hardly sparkling. So in many ways all the classic ingredients for a good meal weren’t in place. Yet I remember it so vividly as being a very special time, place and meal.

Last night’s dinner was very simple, but very delicious, and, it seemed to me, a bit special. The hedgerows here are alive with wild garlic.

I find it a bit like owning a red car. As soon as you see one, you see them everywhere. The same is true of the garlic. Masses and masses of it. Not just banks, but great swathes of it up and down the lanes.

Last year I started compiling a list of places around Bristol where you could find wild garlic. This year I wasn’t that bothered about cooking or using wild garlic until we drove home with some mussels from the shop and I spotted the garlic in the hedges.

This recipe is one of the best ways of using it I feel, almost like a green vegetable in its own right. The addition of greens like spinach or wild garlic make the mussel dish a little more substantial.

Be careful not to cook all the pungency out of it, it’s much milder than cultivated garlic bulbs anyway, but it’s nice to have a bit of zip to it.

Mussels with leeks, cream, white wine and wild garlic:

For 2 as a main course with bread.

2 kg of mussels, bearded & cleaned

1 small onion, finely diced

2 small leeks, thinly sliced & washed

1-2 glasses white wine

2 fresh bay leaves

125ml or so of single cream

As much wild garlic as you like, washed & thinly shredded, say 2 big fistfuls, washed carefully.

  • Use a pot with a lid, big enough to hold all the mussels as they open. They’ll take up more room as they cook.
  • Soften the onion in a little olive oil over a medium heat.
  • Add the leeks & continue to sauté until soft.
  • Chuck in the mussels, wine & bay leaves, turn up the heat, cover & simmer until the mussels open, stirring from time to time, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the wild garlic, stir, a lot, & cook for a further 3 minutes until the garlic has wilted.
  • Finish with the cream, allowing it to heat through but not boil.
  • Serve in bowls with bread to mop up the juices.
    So, a simple meal, in a special time & place, which, as I say seemed much more than the sum of the ingredients.

    When I wrote this there wasn’t much garlic around Bristol, but plenty in Devon. Now it’s all over the place! Get it while you can, but only take as much as you need & leave some for others, please.

    For any help you might need finding & identifying it have a look at the link here. Even if you don’t find any, you’ll have a nice walk in the woods!

I wrote this a few week’s ago, so asparagus probably isn’t around any more (in fact it’s all gone from our shops, unless you want Peruvian) But I think it’s pretty adaptable to most firm vegetables (beans, peas, artichokes, fennel, cauliflower even)

While I’m at it I’ll start  the debate. Is it a true salad? Some would say no, I think so, even if it is warm:

A quick and easy dinner, a variation on a theme really. There’s a fair bit of asparagus about still (though not for long I think) I’m eating it when I can! I tend to forget how lucky I am living in the UK with this fantastic range of food, and how exciting the ingredients are as they change with the seasons. Late spring/early summer is one of my favourite times. New potatoes, asparagus, the first of the broad beans and peas, fantastic!

This is a salad that dresses itself.  The oil and tomatoes, as you stir them together, break up a bit & coat the warm potatoes. So you don’t need to make a salad dressing, maybe a squirt of lemon juice if you like, to add a bit of tartness.  You get this lovely, earthy, slightly burnt, bbq flavour from the tomatoes that complements the asparagus and potatoes. You don’t need hundreds of ingredients for this dish either. Simple food, making the best of the season. Serves well on its own, or would go well with some grilled fish or chicken, and obviously to make it vegetarian just leave out the bacon.

For 2 :

1 Bunch of asparagus

A couple of handfuls of new potatoes, scrubbed (ideally Jersey’s or local)

3-4 tbsp bacon lardons

4 Large, ripe tomatoes

A small handful of parsley, chives or any nice fresh soft herb, roughly chopped.

Good olive oil

Salt & pepper

  • Turn your grill to “hotter-than-the-sun” setting
  • If the spuds are large cut them in 1/2 and then drop them into a pan of cold water with a little salt. Bring to the boil & simmer until just tender. Drain, & keep to one side.
  • While they are cooking, put a pan of lightly salted water on to boil.
  • In a small frying pan gently fry the bacon lardons until browned. Leave to one side.
  • While the bacon’s cooking, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. Drop them into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain & run cold water over them to stop them cooking & to keep the colour vibrant.
  • Cut the tomatoes in 1/2, lay on a baking tray, dribble with olive oil, salt & pepper & put them under your (hopefully) incredibly hot grill. Roast them like crazy until they start to blacken a little. If the grill’s not hot enough they’ll just turn soft & mushy before they colour, and it’s the colour that really adds the flavour. Take them out before they turn to charcoal, but you want them nicely browned, a little blackened in places.
  • Pop all the ingredients in a suitable salad bowl & stir gently.
  • Check the seasoning & adjust if necessary (now’s the time for your optional lemon juice) serve & enjoy.

I like it when my wife goes to the shops. She comes home with things I might not have bought myself.

Last night it was asparagus and fresh peas. Both English, both very in season. Pleasingly, as the asparagus season is getting later, its prices are mercifully coming down. The peas are the first we’ve had this year, very lovely and exciting. The psb (purple sprouting broccoli) is coming to the end of its season (sadly). This year I decided I was going to try to make myself sick of it. It’s one of our wonderful seasonal treats, and one I don’t eat enough of. We had some that needed using up, and it felt right to put them all together as a salad enjoyed in the warmth of our early evening garden.

The barbeque was lit and (for me at least) there was much anticipation. But then that’s often the case with me and BBQs generally. Sausages (of course) and a chicken breast (spiced with cumin, coriander & garlic)  that needed using up from the freezer, went on the literally smoking-hot grill.

A fresh, (and simple) early summer salad:

1 Bunch of asparagus

3 big handfuls of fresh peas, shelled

Purple sprouting broccoli, a small handful

Fresh herbs, 1-2 tbsp, chopped. Whatever you have to hand, but soft for preference. I used mint, lemon balm, marjoram & parsley.

Sherry vinegar (or balsamic if you don’t have it) a splash

Extra virgin olive oil, a big lug

  • Put a large pan of lightly salted water on to boil.
  • Snap the asparagus where it wants to, of its woody ends.
  • One by one, blanch each of the vegetables for 3 minutes in the boiling water. Let the water come back to the boil before you put the next in. Refresh them as you take them out, in cold water.
  • Drain and dress with the oil, salt & pepper.
  • If you happen to have a BBQ lit now’s the time to grill the asparagus. It gives a lovely colour and smoky flavour, that lends itself very well to the pointy green spears.
  • Cut the asparagus into 1-2 inch lengths, on the angle looks good.
  • Mix everything together with remaining ingredients & serve.

To be honest I would have liked more mint & parsley in the salad,as they work so well with the peas. And I meant to put some chive flowers in there too, but I forgot.

Other good things to BBQ;

  • Potatoes, cut very thick, boiled until just tender in their skins, drained & dressed with oil, salt & pepper.
  • Onions, red or white, treated the same way as the spuds.

Yum

Aah, the humble savoy cabbage.

Is it that humble, really? Simply steamed until just tender & dressed with salt, pepper & butter, maybe some caraway seeds it’s surely one of the best of the green leaves. It’s dark earthy flavour works with many different dishes. And the cup shape of the leaves is natural for stuffing.

But finely shredded I think it’s also a much under-used salad leaf. It can be a little bitter, but that’s part of the pleasure, and the middle, paler leaves tend to be much milder and slightly nutty. The other day, it was the best-looking thing in the fruit and veg shop. Absolutely spanking fresh, firm, very green, waiting to be eaten.

One of my favourite savoy salads is made with coarsley grated parmesan, anchovies, lemon juice & capers. A bold and gutsy dish. And easily made vegetarian by leaving out the anchovies.

The original inspiration comes from the River Cafe, who have a fantastic knack for making  ingredients quite exciting, and putting them together in truly creative ways. Food with the greatest simplicity where attention to quality is paramount. Rose Gray, one of the founders of this seminal restaurant sadly passed away early this year after a long battle with cancer. Their food and their influential style has done much,  if not more for the way we cook and eat than Elizabeth David in the 60s. Unique, distinctive books with writing and a restaurant that has influenced & started the careers of many fine cooks.

For 2:

1/2 a Medium Savoy Cabbage

50-100g Parmesan in the piece

2 Tbsp Capers, salted, in vinegar or brine

5-7 Anchovies

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Good Balsamic vinegar

Decent Olive oil

Freshly-ground black pepper

Remove any leaves you don’t like the look of and the tough outer ribs of the cabbage. Shred as finely as you can and wash. A really sharp knife’s pretty necessary here. Leave to dry in a colander or sieve.

Depending on which capers you have, rinse or soak them. If in vinegar/brine a quick wash is usually sufficient. If salted they may need to soak for a few hours. I like the big salted ones. Roughly chop them if they’re big, a bit of texture’s good. The tiny one’s pop pleasingly, so leave them whole.

Roughly chop the anchovies.

Transfer the cabbage to a serving bowl, chuck in the capers, anchovies, lemon juice and a good lug of Olive oil. Give it a good stir.

The original dish was made with Bresaola, delicious cured beef. I haven’t included it because I don’t have any usually! It also had shaved parmesan. But you can coarsely grate it too. The choice is yours, I like it both ways. The shavings adding a layer of savouriness that you can take or leave, and coarsely grated is a bit punchier.

Taste and adjust. More capers, anchovies, oil or lemon as you please. Because of the saltiness of the capers, parmesan and the anchovies it probably won’t need any salt, it will want much black pepper though. Dribble over a little balsamic and serve. If your balsamic vinegar is aged and a little sweet it’ll balance itself quite nicely in the dish.

We ate it with braised lentils and bacon. A warm and soft complement to the crunchy, punchy salad.

Not so eagle-eyed readers will spot a small peppery addition I quite liked.

A dinner with my cousins in London, not quite sure how I ended up cooking! (probably because I offered, I can’t help myself) A little impromptu, but then some of life’s most pleasant experiences happen that way.

Not a true Coq Au Vin, for my money the chicken needs an overnight marinade in fresh herbs, wine & garlic & then to be finished with croutons. The overnight marinade makes the meat insanely richly flavoured & a pleasing dark red. And Elizabeth David & Keith Floyd (I know, neither of them French) will tell you to thicken the sauce with Beurre Manié or reduce it to achieve the correct consistency. If you’ve got time, you can strain & reduce the sauce, I didn’t. You can just add as much stock as you need to get the result you want, but reducing it obviously intensifies the flavour.

Serves 9, or at least that was the plan! Actually served a hungry 7 easily

Pancetta, 2 of those little square packets, (these were a bit bigger and I was reliably informed you can’t have too much)

2 Free-range Chickens, jointed, breasts & legs cut into 2

15-20 round Shallots, or as many as you can get someone else to peel!

6-8 Carrots, peeled & thickly sliced

Garlic, a whole head, peeled & chopped

1 Bottle of red wine

Mushrooms, 100g punnet, sliced

Dried Thyme, 1 tsp

Joint the chickens, ideally taking the breast meat off the bone and drop the carcass remains into a saucepan.

Cover the bones with water, add a couple of squashed garlic cloves, a bay leaf or 2, a carrot halved and a peeled & halved onion. Set over a medium heat & bring to a simmer, not a boil.

Once the stock is cooking, brown the pancetta in a large pan (big enough to hold everything, with a lid. Or 2 pans as I did) over a medium heat. It may need a touch of oil to get it started. Stir often & when it’s nicely brown, remove to a plate or bowl. The stock can just be left to it’s own devices until you need it, or even overnight in a very low oven.

Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper & brown them in batches in the baconny fat. Too many chicken pieces in the pan and they won’t brown, the same goes for not enough heat, but I’m sure you know that already right? You may need to add more oil to the pan, but try not to, there’s probably plenty in the chicken & bacon.

Once all the chicken is nicely browned, remove them to a plate or bowl. Add a big splash of red wine to the pan & scrape off the sticky bits (deglaze). Pour out the wine and all the chicken/bacon flavours into the bacon or chicken bowl, wipe the pan with paper towel, put in a little fresh oil and a knob of butter & continue.

Turn down the heat a little & add the peeled onions. What you’re looking to do is lightly brown them and soften a little.

Now add all the remaining ingredients & the chicken & bacon to the pan. Cover & bring to a gently bubbling simmer. If it looks at though you haven’t enough liquid add some of the chicken stock, the chicken wants to be almost covered.

Cook for 20-30 minutes in a medium oven, check the chicken for doneness by cutting into one of the legs, to the bone.  Taste the sauce for seasoning & reduce or not as you wish. Serve with some sort of potato & green combo, we had jacket spuds & broccoli. So long as you’ve got something to mop up the sauce!

A really simple light supper. The dressing is so versatile you could serve it with almost any salad, but it really works with peppery rocket.

As with any cheese on toast I like thick bread, toasted on only one side. That way it’s not too dry, it doesn’t burn so easily, but you still get the crunch.

Serves 2 as a starter:

1 Red Pepper

1-2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

2-4 tbsp good Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Bread, ideally sourdough, 2 slices

Goats’s cheese, 2-4 thick slices

A handful of rocket leaves

Preheat the grill to really hot.

Brush or smear your pepper with oil & put it under the grill. What you’re looking for is a pepper black in places, really well roasted & soft. So keep an eye on it & turn from time to time.

When the pepper’s soft, transfer it to a bowl & cover for 20 mins or so (use a plate or clingfilm). This generates a bit of steam, allows the pepper to cool & loosens the skin.

When the pepper’s cool enough to handle, peel it, throw away the skin & seeds & drop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. A few bits of black skin won’t hurt, but don’t be tempted to run it under the tap, cos you’ll wash off all the lovely flavour.

Blitz with the balsamic vinegar & olive oil. Taste. Season with salt & pepper & taste again. Adjust the vinegar & oil as you wish, but remember it’s being served with cheese so you don’t want it too oily, but a good kick of vinegar works a treat.

Toast the bread on one side, flip over & lay the cheese on the bread. Grill, ideally until the cheese is golden, but before the toast is too burnt! I quite like the little burnt corners of toast with my cheese though.

Serve on the rocket leaves, dribbled with the dressing.

Ah yes, the leftovers.

This recipe works really well as a salad in it’s own right, clean & refreshing with or without the chicken. Just the thing after December’s excesses & antidote to the winter stews. You could serve this with some salad leaves (rocket, frisee or radichio) and make it into a more substantial dish. Or even stir in some cooked puy lentils. It’s a versatile dish.

Ridiculously simple, like the best food, and quick too! One of my favourite salads.

Untrimmed, but if you get it like this, shred the feathery leaves & use them too!

Serves 2 as a starter, or light lunch

1 bulb fennel, very thinly sliced, as thin as you can (I used the slicing blade on a box grater, but you can use a very sharp knife or a mandolin if you have one)

1 Orange, peeled, with the worst of the pith removed & segmented or sliced

Juice of 1/4 lemon

A handful of black olives (Moroccan for preference), stones removed

Extra Virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

Rip as much of the chicken as you want or need into strips & season with the lemon juice, salt & pepper

Mix with the sliced fennel, olives, orange segments & dress with olive oil, salt & pepper.

I’m trying to get into the habit of cooking too much. There’s much talk these days of using up leftovers. My trouble is I never have any, and I always know what to do with them!

A roast chicken however is a wonderful thing. Firstly, who doesn’t like it hot from the oven? Crispy brown skin, and soft juicy meat, white and brown (which keeps everybody happy, I’m a leg man myself) And then, you’ve got the wonders of cold leftover chicken, useful for 100’s of great recipes (or just picked off the carcass straight from the fridge & dunked in mayonnaise) and bones for a fine stock.

I once used the upside-down method for cooking a bird, I’ve never looked back and it works a treat.

On this occasion I didn’t serve it with any potatoes. Roasted squash, onions with cream & parmesan (Nigel Slater, recipe here) and some greens.

Served 2 for a couple of days! (or 4ish, depending on how hungry you are)

1 Large Free-Range Chicken (preferably Organic, but Free-Range at the very minimum)

Butter, soft-ish, a thick slice

Thyme, 1-2 sprigs

Salt & pepper

1 Lemon

1 Head of Garlic

Rosemary, 1-2 sprigs

1 Glass of Red Wine (you’ll need to find a home for the rest of the bottle!)

Preheat your oven to 180°c

Remove the giblets (if it has any) & drop them into a pan with 1/2 an onion, a chopped carrot, a squashed clove of garlic, a stick of celery chopped, a bay leaf & a sprig of rosemary. Cover it all with water, bring to a gentle boil & turn down to a simmer until you need it later. Yes I know I didn’t mention all these ingredients, but that’s because they’re optional. If you’ve got some of them, or none, it’s not the end of the world. They do help to add some flavour to the stock though. (And if you wanted, you could fry up the liver instead of putting it in the stockpot as a chef’s snack)

Rub the bird all over with salt & pepper, butter, the thyme leaves & squeeze 1/2 the lemon over. Put the other half & the squeezed bit inside the bird along with the bulb of garlic, sliced in 1/2 horizontally and some of the herbs.

Roast on a tray in the oven upside down (that’s breast side down) for 45 minutes.

Whilst it’s roasting you can get on with whatever veg you’re serving with it.

After 45 minutes, turn the bird right side up (unless you’re a chicken, then it’s upside down) and roast for another 30-45 minutes. If the skin’s looking a little pale after 20 mins or so, turn up the heat a bit (200°c ought to do it depending on your oven)

Take the bird out,  remove the garlic from inside, cover it with foil and rest (the chicken)

Squeeze the garlic bulbs out of their skins into a small pan with the wine. Purée with a stick blender or mash them with a fork. (If you can be bothered put the garlic through a sieve, for a really smooth result.)  Add some of the giblet stock (about a mug-full) bring the mixture to a boil and reduce by about 1/2. Taste and season with salt and pepper as you see fit.

Carve and serve with the accompaniments at the top of this blog (recipes to follow), and the sauce. Or just some fresh, crusty bread and a green salad. Whatever takes your fancy. I really do recommend this way of cooking the bird though. The very best way I know of roasting a chicken is a rotisserie, this method is a close second!

After posting my pork, apple sauce & mash I forgot to put up a recipe for celeriac mash. But you hardly need one really. It’s like making normal potato mash, but withceleriac. A tastier mash really, that’s all.

The humble spud is an overlooked and occasionally underrated vegetable. It’s easy to forget about potatoes because they do so much. And I forget sometimes how tasty a plain, boiled potato can be.

But this is about mash.  Potatoes do make great mash of course & so does the “ugly” celeriac. They both make a great side-dish in their own right, but when combined make something altogether. A “posh” mash if you will.

Knobbly, rooty

The celeriac is soft, aromatic & almost as versatile as the spud. It’s gentle celery flavour works really well with pork, in fact with almost any meat or fish. Peel it (can be tough-ish) slice it, grate it, serve it raw mixed with mustardy mayonnaise to make remoulade, chip it, roast it and puree it, it’s good stuff.

The only thing to be wary of is cooking or using it quickly, because it turns brown quite quickly after peeling. To prevent this, drop it into water with lemon juice (acidulated) and then use when you’re ready.

For mash I tend to use equal quantities of celeriac & potato. Peel, dice, & boil them together. Mash or put through a potato ricer or food mill. Season with butter, salt & pepper & serve. You may or may not want to add a little milk, celeriac is a bit wetter than potato so add a little to begin with.

Enjoy!

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