These ham hock and pea croquettes are made from a stiff béchamel, rather than mashed potato that so many versions of croquettes seem to be bulked out with. They need to be eaten hot – so hot you burn your fingers on the crisp breadcrumb exterior as you rush to bite into the oozing, cheesy, molten centre. The smoky ham and tangy mustard make the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer or cider.
Makes about 40
75g plain flour
500ml whole milk
100g mature cheddar, grated
1 tbsp mustard
Salt and white pepper
200g cooked smoked ham hock, shredded into chunks
100g frozen peas, defrosted
flat-leaf parsley a handful, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
150g panko breadcrumbs
groundnut oil for deep frying
Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add the cheese and mustard and stir until melted, then add the ham, peas and parsley and season. The mixture should be quite thick and paste-like. It will thicken a little more once chilled too.
Scoop into a tray or dish, cool, then chill completely in the fridge. (This can take 2-3 hours, or you could make it the day before.) Scoop out large tablespoons of the mix and roll each into small logs, around 5cm long and 2cm thick. Flouring your hands slightly will help prevent the mix from sticking to everything.
Put the beaten egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another. Roll the croquettes in the egg then the crumbs. Repeat so you have two layers of egg and breadcrumbs.
Fill a pan no more than 1/3 full with oil and heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread browns in around 30 seconds), then deep fry the croquettes in batches for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper (you can keep the cooked croquettes warm in a very low oven). Serve with English mustard and cold beer.
These delicious joints of chicken are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. They are my idea of perfect sharing food, especially if men and TV are involved. The flavours are clean and simple and the cooking process is easy. I like to serve these fresh from the oven but they are also amazing cold the next day. The green chilli is hot but it is the flavour that is really important here, so scrape out the seeds and cut off the membranes, if you wish, to minimise the heat. You can leave the chilli out altogether if you want and you will still have a fantastic subtly spiced and crispy, succulent treat.
800g chicken joints, skinned and pricked all over
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
4 slices white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
10g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
25g garlic, peeled
24 green chillies, seeds and membranes removed, if wanted
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Blend all the marinade ingredients into a paste and place in a non-metallic bowl. Add the chicken and coat well in the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 225°C. Pour the oil into a foil lined roasting tin large enough to accommodate the chicken in one open layer. Place the pan on a high shelf in the oven to heat up for 15 minutes.
Mix the salt, black pepper and cumin powder into the breadcrumbs. Take the chicken out of the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the spicy crumbs, ensuring an even coating on all sides. Dip into the egg and add a second coating of crumbs.
Place the chicken in the oiled roasting tin and cook for 20 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 200°C, turn the chicken over and cook for another 15–25 minutes (depending on the size of the joints) or until cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges and salad.
These are actually pretty easy to make, and although they may not be the most fancy to look at, the taste is an absolute TOUR DE FORCE. Try them and see!
For the base:
200g plain flour
50g soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
50g vegetable shortening (I used Trex)
1 tbsp lemon juice (reserve the zest of the whole lemon for the topping – and zest it BEFORE you cut it)
2 tbsp iced water
For the topping:
1 x 454g tin golden syrup
25g soft unsalted butter
approx 150g fresh breadcrumbs, or around 550ml in a measuring jug
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan. Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tin with foil and grease, or grease a foil tray.
Put the flour, butter and vegetable shortening for the base into a food processor and blitz until you have a ‘crumbly rubble’.
Combine the lemon juice and iced water, and pour down the funnel whilst the processor is running until the mix clumps together making a dough.
4. Press this out into your tray.
5. When evenly spread to a satisfactory level, bake this in the oven for 20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, melt the golden syrup and the 25g of butter in a saucepan on a low heat. When combined, stir in the breadcrumbs, and then remove from the heat.
Allow to cool a little, and then mix in the lemon zest and egg.
When the pastry base is ready, pour this crumby mixture over it (no need to let the base cool or anything first, just go for it), smooth over, and pop back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
When it’s ready, the filling should be slightly risen and look dry around the edges, but still a bit squidgy in the middle.
I think this is best served slightly warm so if (and I emphasise ‘if’ there are any left), warm them slightly before eating and serve with ice cream for a proper tasty pud’!
I recently had a trip to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire and for those of you who know it, you’ll also know that no trip there is complete without a trip to the pork pie shop and the Dickinson Morris sausage shop next door. Like a kid in a candy store, I bought way more sausages than anyone could ever eat and currently have a glut taking up a large portion of my freezer. These scotch eggs are a great alternative to usual sausage recipes (not that there’s anything wrong with any meal with sausage in) and you could also try it with any of your other favourite sausage flavours. Chorizo is particularly tasty.
6 whole medium eggs in their shells, plus 1, lightly beaten
250g Toulouse pork sausage meat
250g Pork mince
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. English mustard
2 tsp. cornstarch
4-5 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
Sunflower oil, for frying
¼ cup milk
½ cup seasoned flour
2 cups seasoned, dried bread crumbs
Place 6 eggs in a saucepan of boiling water. Boil for 6-7 minutes. Drain eggs, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain eggs, peel and discard the shells then set aside. This will give you just set egg yolks with a slight bit of run in the middle but if you’re not sure about runny yolks then boil for 9 minutes.
2. Combine sausage meat, pork mince, Worcestershire, mustard, cornstarch and thyme in a bowl. Season with salt and lots of pepper and mix until evenly combined. Cover in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions and form each portion into a flat disc with your hands then shape these around each cooked egg to cover completely. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Pour oil to a depth of 2″ in a large heavy pan and heat over medium-high heat until a digital thermometer reads 170°C. Combine remaining beaten egg with milk in a bowl and place flour and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Season the flour and breadcrumb bowls with more salt and pepper and thyme. Working in batches, coat each meat-covered egg in flour, shaking off excess then dip in milk mixture to coat and dredge in bread crumbs using your hands to press the breadcrumbs in.
Fry, two at a time so the temperature of the oil does not drop, until deep golden brown and the meat is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
These eggs are seriously good however you eat them; with pickles, salad, chips or on their own with a brew. I had a couple left over that I stored in the fridge and I reckon the sausage meat was even more flavoursome the day after.
I used half sausage meat and half ground pork mince for a slightly lower fat content and my favourite Toulouse sausages that are flavoured with garlic and herbs.