Slow cooked goulash

goulash

It’s the last Sunday of winter here in Australia so I’m making some slow cooked goulash.

A meat stew originally from Hungary, goulash is a staple all over central Europe with differing recipes according to the region. The core ingredient is generally a tough cut of meat slowed with plenty of Hungarian paprika until it’s delicious and tender.

On ski slopes around the world, goulash is a common appearance on restaurant menus (even here in Australia) providing a tasty and hearty refuel in the cold weather.

My recipe is a simple and easy variation that takes around 20 minutes to prepare then slowly bubbles away in the slow cooker in time for dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kilo/ 2.6 lb of chuck steak or other cut of been suitable for slow cooking
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic/3 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 2 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 cup of good quality beef stock or bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to season

 Method

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes then cut into pieces roughly 2.5cm/1 inch square and place in the bottom of the slow cooker/crock pot
  2. Chop the onion up into relatively small pieces and if using whole garlic cubes finely chop these too
  3. Chop the meat into pieces roughly 5cm/2 inch each in side in size
  4. Bring a frying pan to a medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil, then cook the meat in batches until golden brown (I generally find I have to do two batches). Place the meat on top of the potatoes in the slow cooker
  5. Wash the frying pan or use a fresh one and bring it to a medium-high heat again then add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the onion and garlic until translucent (a few minutes), then add the paprika and stir through for around 30 seconds
  6. Add the stock/broth and tomato paste to the pan and mix through for 15 seconds or so and season with salt and pepper
  7. Place the mixture on top of the meat in the slow cooker and then add the bay leaves
  8. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Note that if you are using blade steak, it’s more tender than chuck so you’ll need less cooking time – either 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low

Goulash is served with lots of different compliments around the world. I actually enjoy it on its own and sometimes add a little water so that it’s more soup like. It’s also great with cauliflower rice.

My partner likes his with polenta, mash potato or rice. It’s also delicious with some crusty bread.

Serves 6

 

Braised Beef Casserole

braised-beef-casserole
You can’t go past a good beef casserole in winter.

Slow cook it at the weekend with your favourite root vegetables and a glass of red wine – it makes delicious guilt free comfort food. Or if you prefer, substitute the red wine with some good quality stock or bone broth.

The slow cooking process renders tough cuts of meat mouth-wateringly tender so you can choose a non-premium cut of organic meat (such as chuck) and it works out considerably cheaper.

This dish will feed the whole family or you can eat half and freeze half for later. We do this often to save cooking during the week.

Ingredients

  • 1kg/2 ¼ pounds of chuck steak or other cut of beef suitable for slow cooking (ask your butcher if you’re not sure)
  • 2 brown onions
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 medium sized parsnips/turnips/swede or other root vegetable of your choice (in my opinion parsnips taste best)
  • 2 cloves garlic/teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine/good quality beef stock/bone broth

Method

  1. Peel the carrots and root vegetables, and chop all the vegetables into even sized chunks, around 2.5cm or 1 inch in size. If using whole garlic cloves, finely chop them
  2. Cut the beef into cubes roughly 4cm/1.5 inches each side. Bring a large frying pan to a medium to high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil then cook in batches until browned on each side (this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes). Unless you have a very big frying pan, you will likely need to cook in 2 batches to avoid overcrowding
  3. Place the sealed beef in the slow cooker/crock pot
  4. Bring a frying pan to a medium heat this time, then add the olive oil and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they start to turn translucent, then add the other vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes more
  5. Place the vegetables on top of the meat in the slow cooker
  6. Add the wine/stock/bone broth (I prefer to use red wine as it imparts a delicious flavour) and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper
  7. If using chuck beef, cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. If using gravy beef, it will cook faster – 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low
  8. When the slow cooking is complete, transfer to a large frying pan or pot and reduce over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so until the liquid has evaporated and the casserole is a nice thick consistency

Serving suggestion

If you are paleo, this dish is delicious with cauliflour rice.

For traditionalists enjoy with mashed potato. This dish also goes well with polenta or rice.

Serves 4

Harira soup with lamb shanks

lamb-shank-harira

I was at a Moroccan restaurant recently during Ramadan and was served a delicious harira soup at Iftar – the evening meal that breaks the day’s fast.

I started to play with recipes and decided to improvise by using lamb shanks as I’m a big fan of cooking meat on the bone. The prolonged cooking time allows the bone nutrients to be leached into the soup, resulting in a hearty meal that nourishes the digestive track and boosts the immune system.

This dish does take some time to cook but the flavour is sensational and it’s easy enough to prepare. The ingredients are reasonably inexpensive and it goes a long way so great if you’re feeding a family.

Ingredients

  •  Approx 1.2 kg or around 2.5lb lamb shanks (two to three depending on the size) – the weight doesn’t have to be exact, it can be over or under depending on what you have available
  • 1 litre/ 2 pints bone broth or good quality stock
  • 1 cup dried brown/green lentils* OR 2 x 400g tins/14oz cans
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas* OR 2 x 400g tins/ 14 oz cans
  • If using dried lentils and chickpeas – juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 x 800g tin/24 oz can chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic or 3 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander/cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

 Method

Preparation of dried lentils and chickpeas

If using dried lentils, soak them overnight in plenty of water (preferably filtered) and either a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or the juice of a quarter lemon. Aim to soak for at least 8 hours and not longer than 18 hours. There’s no need to cook them before adding to this dish.

If using dried chickpeas, aim to soak them for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours, again preferably using filtered water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or the juice of a quarter lemon. You’ll then need to cook them for about 1.5 hours. Obviously this is a time consuming process so I like to cook big batches and freeze them in 1 cup measurements.

If you simply don’t have time for this process, opt for tinned lentils and chickpeas.

 Harira

Bring a frying pan to a medium to high heat and cook the lamb shanks for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown. Lamb is generally fatty enough that you don’t need to add oil to the pan to cook, however if you’re using lean lamb shanks you may wish to add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan first. Once the shanks are cooked, set them aside.

Heat a large, heavy based saucepan to a medium heat and once hot add the olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic until golden brown then add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.

Add the bone broth, chopped/crushed tomatoes, cumin, coriander, paprika, bay leaves and lamb and bring to the boil them simmer for an hour and a half. Next, add the chickpeas and lentils and cook for a further hour and a half. The lamb should be falling off the bone by this stage. If not, cook for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then remove the lamb shanks. Discard the bones and any excess fat, then break up the meat, return it to the saucepan and stir through. Serve with some thick natural yoghurt and some fresh coriander/cilantro if available.

This dish freezes well.

Serves 6

Osso Bucco

osso-bucco

Osso Bucco (meaning bone with a hole) is a dish from Northern Italy traditionally made from a particular cut of veal shank.

It’s a tough cut of meat tenderised through slow cooking which leaches the minerals and nutrients from the bone to create a casserole that’s wonderful for the immune system. Bone broth is recommended for those with poor gut health and similarly this dish renders the same healing properties making it ideal for people who are coeliac, have IBS or leaky gut syndrome. Bone marrow contains collagen which is beneficial for the skin and wound healing. If the sound of bone marrow is off-putting, rest assured that in this dish it blends beautifully with the meat, wine and vegetables to create a delicious casserole that is truly a remarkable all-rounder.

I’ve tried many variations of tomato based Osso Bucco recipes and have found that there’s no need to coat the meat in flour, it tastes just as good if you skip this process (thumbs up for coeliacs). I’ve also tried omitting wine and replacing it with stock, however I really do find that the inclusion of just one cup of wine makes makes a world of difference to the flavour.

Finally, I prefer to use beef osso bucco over veal but either works in this dish.

Ingredients

  • Approx 6 medium size osso bucco (around 1.5kg/2.5 lbs) – choose beef or veal
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 5 cloves garlic/3 heaped teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup good quality stock or bone broth (beef is ideal but chicken also works well)
  • 1 cup white wine (I prefer white but red also works well)
  • 400g tin /12 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (choose cold pressed extra virgin)
  • 3 bay leaves

Method

Dice the onions, finely chop the garlic and cut the carrots and celery into small pieces.

Heat a frying pan  to a medium-high heat then add a tablespoon of oil and allow to heat. Cook half the meat (cooking in batches to avoid overcrowding) for a couple of minutes on each side until it has turned golden brown. Place the meat in the slow cooker/crock pot or a large casserole dish then repeat with the remaining meat.

If you’re using an oven rather than a slow cooker, heat it to 130 degrees Celsius or 270 degrees Fahrenheit at this point.

Next, heat the frying pan again but this time to a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic for around a minute, then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the tomato paste and mix through the vegetables, then add the stock/bone broth, wine, crushed tomatoes and bay leaves and cook for another minute.

Add the vegetable mixture to the meat ensuring all the meat is covered by some liquid. If cooking in a slow cooker/crock pot, you can either cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hour (I prefer low but either works).

If cooking in the oven, it’s especially important to make sure the meat is completely covered by liquid. Place the lid on the casserole dish and cook for 3.5 hours. Remove from the oven and place a fork into the meat, it should fall away from the bone. If not, place in the oven for an another hour until the meat is tender.

Whichever method you choose, once the cooking time is complete allow the dish to cool for at least 15 minutes then remove the bones and any excess fat.

For a paleo option, serve with cauliflower rice. Traditionalists can enjoy with polenta, mashed potato or steamed rice.

Serves ~ 6.

This dish freezes well so if you’re not feeding a group, freeze what you don’t use.

Roast Lemon Chicken

roast-lemon-chicken

There’s a great chicken shop near my apartment in Bondi that sells delicious free range roast chickens, fresh steamed vegetables and tasty salads. For years, I never understood why people went to the trouble to roast their own chickens when it’s so easy and affordable to buy them. Last year, I had this dish at a friend’s place and loved it so much that I borrowed the recipe. I’ve since adapted it and it’s now one of my Sunday roast favourites, which often takes us through to Monday nights if there are just two of us.

Ingredients

  • 1 organic/free range chicken – I’ve tried with varying sizes, anywhere from 1.2 – 1.8kg (2.6 – 4lbs) works well
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 fresh lemons
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 large potatoes: washed, peeled and cut into chunks (around 2-3cm/1 inch in size)
  • 2 brown/spanish onions – cut into wedges (around 8-10 per onion)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Method

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the lemons in half and juice them by hand using a citrus juicer, then add the juice, olive oil, oregano and mustard to a jar with a lid. Keep the skin of one of the lemons and place it in the cavity of the chicken along with 3 garlic cloves, then season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place in a roasting dish.

roast-lemon-chicken2

The number of potatoes you’ll need will depend on how much room you have remaining in the roasting dish once you’ve placed the chicken in it (in the photograph above I’ve used 2 large potatoes). Assemble the potatoes, onion and remaining garlic cloves around the chicken so that everything is nestled in well.

Shake the lemon juice and olive oil mixture well and pour over the chicken and potatoes so that you’ve coated everything well, then add a cup of water to the roasting dish – trying not to wash away the marinade from the chicken and potatoes.

Roast for 1 hour until golden brown then turn the chicken and roast for another hour.

Serve with steamed green vegetables which are absolutely delicious drizzled with the liquid from the roasting pan.

Serves 4

 

Vegan Chilli

vegan-chilli

As a vegetarian uni student, I used to make this dish weekly. It’s cheap, tasty, nutritious and filling, and best of all it’s extremely easy to make.

The kidney and white beans are an excellent source of molybdenum – a trace mineral that helps the body detoxify sulphites, plus they’re full of protein and fibre and are also a good source of magnesium. The capsicums/bell peppers are rich in vitamin C (more so even than oranges), contain high levels of carotenoids and research suggests that they have cancer fighting properties.

This dish is one that can be enjoyed straight away, but definitely tastes better the next day and even the following day (it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge). It will feed a family or freezes well if you’re only cooking for one or two.

Ingredients

  • 250g/9 oz soaked and cooked kidney beans OR 1 x 400g tin/14 oz can*
  • 250g/9oz soaked and cooked white beans (cannellini or great northern beans) OR 1 x 400g tin/14 oz can*
  • 1 red capsicum/bell pepper
  • 1 yellow or green capsicum/bell pepper
  • 1 large, brown onion
  • 2 cloves garlic/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 large tin chopped/crushed tomatoes (800g/28 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika (I prefer sweet rather than smoked)
  • 1 teaspoon good quality ground salt (I use Himalayan crystal or Celtic sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon minced chilli/dried chilli flakes/1 small chilli finely chopped – seeds removed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of filtered water

Method

Finely chop the onion and garlic (if you’re using fresh garlic) and cut the capsicum/bell peppers into square chunks of about 2.5cm/1 inch each side.

Heat a large saucepan to a medium heat and add the olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent then add the capsicum/bell pepper and cook for around 5 minutes until they start to soften, stirring every minute or so with a wooden spoon. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper and stir in well then fry for another minute. Finally add the tomatoes, beans and water and simmer for 45 minutes

Serve with fresh coriander and optionally some thick natural or greek yoghurt.

Variation

I recently came across a Jamie Oliver that adds sweet potato to the recipe. I gave this a try and found that it does impart a good flavour. If using sweet potato, you’ll need around 2 medium sized sweet potatoes (around half a kilo or just over a 1 lb). Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and chop the sweet potato into pieces roughly 2.5cm or 1 inch in size. Roast for 40 minutes while your chilli is cooking then add in at the end an stir through.

Serves 4

* If using dried beans, you’ll need to soak them overnight in filtered water – ideally for 12 hours (it’s fine to soak for up to 24 hours). Cook the beans separately for 1.5 hours each. I cook big batches and freeze in lots of 250g/9oz which is roughly equivalent to the contents of a 400g tin/14oz can. Note that the last time I cooked pre-soaked white beans, they were ready in around an hour. I read somewhere that the cooking time required can depend on how fresh the beans are so it’s advisable to check them after an hour to avoid over cooking.

BBQ Chicken, Mexican Style

bbq-mexican-chicken

There are so many reasons why I love this dish. It tastes delicious, requires virtually no preparation, and is completely versatile – making it one of my week night staples.

Serve with fresh lime and salad for a light meal or if you prefer something more substantial enjoy with soft tortillas and your favourite Mexican condiments to make delicious fajitas.

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless organic/free range chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons / 45ml/ 1.5 fl oz olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Quarter of a fresh lime

Method

Heat the BBQ to high (I allow 10 minutes for my BBQ to heat fully). Place the olive oil in a bowl, add the paprika, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs and place them in the olive oil and paprika mix while the BBQ heats (10 minutes).

Cook on the BBQ for 7.5 minutes each side until cooked all the way through. Remove from heat, squeeze the fresh lime over the thighs and serve immediately.

Serves 2-3

Slow Cooked Spanish Chicken

slow-cooked-spanish-chicken

This dish is so full of flavour, it’s a versatile crowd pleaser. Make a big batch and freeze half, it’s just as good the second time around.

Ingredients

  • 6 skinless chicken thigh fillets (choose organic or free range)
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 capsicums/belle peppers (this dish works best with one yellow and one red but two red are fine too)
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ cup/120ml/4 fl oz crushed tinned/canned tomatoes or tomato passata
  • ¼ cup/60ml/2 fl oz of white wine or chicken stock (this dish is delicious with white wine but you can easily substitute for chicken stock)
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, sliced in half
  • 6 artichoke hearts – quartered
  • 3 tablespoons/45ml/1.5 fl oz good quality extra virgin olive oil

Method

Trim any fat from the chicken thighs and cut into pieces (I cut each thigh into around 6 pieces). Heat a frying pan to a medium heat and add half the olive then fry the chicken in batches until the meat turns golden brown. Once cooked, add to the base of the slow cooker.

Whilst you’re cooking the chicken, finely chop the onions and garlic and de-seed and the capsicum/belle peppers and cut into pieces. Bring another frying pan to a medium heat and add the remaining olive oil then cook the onion and garlic for around 3 minutes until softened. Add the paprika and capsicums/belle peppers and cook for another couple of minutes stirring continuously.

Add the vegetables to the slow cooker (place on top of the chicken), then mix the crushed tomatoes/tomato passata and white wine/vegetable stock and add this over the chicken and vegetable mix. It may seem that there’s not enough liquid but rest assured there will be plenty.

Cook on low for 7 hours.

Just before you’re ready to serve, transfer to a pan (over a low to medium heat), add the olives and artichoke hearts and reduce a little. Serve with steamed green beans and broccoli. This dish is also delicious on a bed of rice if you prefer a more substantial meal.

Serves 4

Note, I’ve tried cooking with chicken on the bone then removing the bones prior to serving but I find the chicken flavour over powers the vegetables. However, there are compelling health benefits associated with eating bone broth (as long as you choose good quality organic/free range meat). So if you don’t mind a strong chicken flavour, choose skinless chicken thighs on the bone and be careful to remove the bones before serving. The dish will end up with more liquid so you will need to reduce it on the stove a little longer prior to serving.

Baked fish with salsa verde

blue-eye-salsa-verde5

This is a light and easy dish that has a delicious Mediterranean flavour. You can use any firm white fish and if you’re not keen on olives you can easily leave these out or substitute with some pine nuts. Make the salsa verde in advance, it will keep in the fridge for at least six weeks.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized fillets of firm white fish around 2.5cm or 1 inch thick (blue eye and barramundi work well)
  • Around a 8 large green olives – pitted and sliced in two (I prefer a milder variety so as not to overpower the fish)

Salsa Verde

  • 1 x bunch parsley
  • Half a bunch of dill
  • 2 medium sized garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
  • ¼ Spanish onion
  • 125ml/half a cup of lemon infused extra virgin olive oil

blue-eye-salsa-verde

Method

For the salsa verde, place all ingredients in a food processor and blend for around 30-60 seconds or until smooth (you can also use a high power blender).

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 340 degrees Fahrenheit (10 minutes is the usual guide). While the oven is heating, cut a sheet of aluminium foil and place on a baking tray. Add the fish and spread with the salsa verde then top with the green olives (if you’re using them).

blue-eye-salsa-verde2

Bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your fish. Serve with a light green salad dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette.

Here are a couple of options if you’re not using olives:

  1. Thinly slice a lemon and place around 6 lemon slices under each fillet of fish. Once baked, drizzle the lemon juice over the fish
  2. If using pine nuts, while the fish is cooking heat a pan to a medium heat and add the pine nuts and toast for around 1 minute, tossing regularly until they turn lightly brown (this happens quickly so be careful not to burn them). When the fish is ready, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the top.

Serves 2

blue-eye-salsa-verde4

 

Crispy Skin Fish

IMG_2510-0.JPG

Steven Hodges at Fish Face restaurant taught me how to make crispy skin fish. This is a simple recipe that’s incredibly tasty and takes less than 15 minutes to make. It works with a variety of different fish fillets so choose your favourite and serve with salad or vegies for a light evening meal. Add some boiled new potatoes, brown rice or quinoa if you need something more substantial.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 x fillets of your preferred fish, skin on – I use snapper, bass grouper, salmon or ocean trout
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Quarter of a lemon

Method

Note: these instructions are for fillets that are around 2.5cm in thickness, cooking time will require longer if you use thicker fillets.

Heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees for a strong fan forced oven – it’s generally recommended to allow 10 minutes for the oven to reach a full, even heat.

A few minutes after you’ve turned your oven on, heat a stainless steel pan on high for 3-5 minutes – until hot.

Add ghee to the pan and allow to heat for around 30 seconds or until sizzling hot. Add your fish, skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. Your fish will cook evenly if you can put a weight on the fillets or if it’s safe use your fingers to push down on the fillets.

Remove from heat and place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes if you like your fish just cooked or 7-8 minutes if you like your fish well done. If you’re not confident putting your pan in the oven, quickly transfer the fillets from the pan to an oven-proof dish and cook skin side down for 6 minute or 8 minutes if you like your fish well done.

Sprinkle the Maldon sea salt over the skin of the fish and serve with a slice of lemon and a salad or vegies on the side, plus something more substantial if you need it.