For the uninitiated, cacciatore (pronounced catch-chee-ah-tor-ay) refers to a “hunter-style” method of cooking in which the meat, vegetables and herbs slowly simmer in a single pot. This recipe stays true to the Northern Italian tradition of using white wine, but adds passata, because, well, why not? Buon appetito!
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (from about 2 sprigs)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
250g chestnut mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
4oz smoked pancetta, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, roughly chopped
250ml dry white wine
1 chicken stock cube
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine garlic, salt, black pepper, rosemary, and 2 tbsp of the oil; stir to make a paste; rub evenly over chicken pieces. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Heat remaining oil in a heavy cast iron pot over high heat. Working in batches, cook chicken pieces in a single layer, turning to brown all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Add mushrooms, pancetta and onions to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and pancetta is rendered, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine and stir to loosen browned bits from the bottom of pot. Add the stock cube and passata and bring to a boil. Return chicken pieces to pot, reduce heat to medium heat, partially cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Then uncover pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook 15-20 minutes more (depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
After going meat free for so long, I was craving a meat fix. What better way to get it than with sausages?! This recipe uses good quality sausages to create a really simple meatball dish that packs a ton of flavour and satisfaction.
If you can find it, shiitake mushroom powder is so good to use in recipes like this. It delivers a real umami punch to dishes. The savoury flavour is perfect with the creamy mustard sauce but if you can’t find it, the dish will still be really lovely.
For the meatballs:
4 sausages, skins removed (I used Lincolnshire)
2 spring onions, chopped finely
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp dried rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
For the sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp flour
1 beef stock cube
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 heaped tsp mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp Shiitake powder
2 spring onions, chopped
Linguine, or any pasta and fresh herbs to serve
Grind the fennel seeds and rosemary in a pestle and mortar until well ground.
Add the sausage meat to a bowl along with the spring onions, breadcrumbs, seasoning and ground herb mix. Stir really well with a fork to combine.
Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll out into little meatballs.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the meatballs off until browned all over.
Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Next, add the flour and shitake powder and crumble in the stock cube. Stir to coat the meatballs and mushrooms before adding any liquid.
Once this is done, add a splash of water along with the sour cream and mustard. Stir everything together then add the remaining water and let the meatballs bubble away on a medium low heat while you cook the pasta.
Once the pasta is ready, stir the spring onions through the meatball sauce and serve.
The second instalment in the vegan chronicles comes in the form of mushroom and lentil soup with miso. Miso paste is basically made of fermented soy beans. It’s similar to soy sauce in terms of flavour, but more mellow and earthy. It works fantastically well in many dishes, meat included, to add umami depth. When it’s paired with meaty mushrooms and hearty lentils, the result is a thick, rich and filling soup!
1 White Onion
4 cloves garlic
500 g Mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ tsp Fresh Thyme
950ml Vegetable Stock
100g Brown Lentils
1 tbsp Miso Paste
Heat a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Prepare all the ingredients by slicing the mushrooms, dicing the onion, mincing the garlic and finely chopping the thyme.
Start by sautéing the onion in the pan for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes until the mushrooms have reduced and most of the water they release is evaporated.
Next add the thyme and stir through the mixture, letting it cook for a minute or two. Add the vegetable stock and the lentils then simmer for 25 minutes.
Blend the soup thoroughly then stir in the miso paste. If the soup is too thick for you, just add some more vegetable stock until you have the consistency you like!
Serve topped with some extra mushrooms and some fresh parsley.
Take the flavours of the classic comfort food to new heights with this omurice with crab and curry sauce. Omurice is a Japanese favourite consisting of omelette covering a bed of fried rice slathered in sauce. This particular version involves a generous dose of rich and flavourful curry sauce that works perfectly with the fluffy omelette and veg and crab-filled fried rice inside.
½ onion, finely chopped
2 chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
2 crabsticks, chopped
50g cooked, cold jasmine rice
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp mirin
1 cube curry roux
150ml hot water
Fry the onion and mushrooms in a small saucepan over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the rice, crabsticks and soy sauce. Stir until everything is evenly distributed. Remove from the heat.
Make the curry sauce by mixing the roux with hot water in a mug then microwave for 1-2 minutes until thickened to your liking. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs and mirin together in a small bowl.
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. When the pan is hot, pour the eggs into the pan and quickly spread to cover the bottom of the pan.
Lower the heat and put the fried rice on top of the omelette. Fold both sides of the omelette toward the middle of the rice to cover.
When the eggs have cooked, cover the frying pan with a plate and carefully flip over to place the omurice on the plate. Serve the curry sauce over the omurice and sprinkle with chopped chives.
Arancini, named after the little oranges that these fried rice balls are said to resemble, are best known in the UK as a handy way to use up leftover risotto. You can use any risotto you have made, fill it with anything you like and coat it in what you fancy too.
I had leftover mushroom risotto, stuffed it with some chorizo and coated it in a sage and pistachio breadcrumb coating but you can use whatever you have or fancy.
Some ideas could include:
Risotto: Butternut and sage, chicken and bacon, saffron, tomato and basil
Take 1 heaped tsp of leftover risotto and flatten it slightly in the palm of your hand
Place a little of your filling in the centre and gently cup your hand to encase the filling within the risotto mix. Form into a compact ball and repeat until the risotto is used up.
Place the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Coat the risotto balls in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a pan over a high heat until it reaches about 180C or until you drop a few breadcrumbs in and they sizzle and turn golden.
Fry about 4 arancini balls at a time so the temperature of the oil does not drop as this will make the balls soggy. When they are deep golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep in a warm oven while you cook the rest.
Serve with a tomato sauce to dunk them into… and maybe a glass of wine too 😉
Sometimes, I don’t have time and my stomach doesn’t have the patience for me to stand and cook a long, complicated meal. As much as I love getting creative in the kitchen, it doesn’t have to take forever to whip up a tasty offering and this mushroom stroganoff is a case in point. It takes 10 minutes to make. The sauce is made while the pasta is boiling then the pasta is tossed through the sauce to soak up all the earthy, creamy flavours. The paprika lends the smallest hint of spice and the parsley provides a freshness against the luxurious sour cream
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
200g chestnut mushroom, sliced
½ tsp smoked paprika
150ml beef stock
142ml carton soured cream
a handful of chopped parsley
tagliatelle, to serve
Fry the onion in the butter in a large frying pan until soft. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms and fry over high heat until browned. Add the paprika, fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the beef stock and bubble fiercely to reduce by two-thirds.
Take off the heat and stir in the soured cream, parsley and salt and pepper. Serve with tagliatelle.
I’m not really sure what to call these. Whichever way you look at them though, they’re tasty.
You can make them as fancy as you like and add whatever you have. They are great layered up with mushroom, meat and caramelised red onion chutney or even with a layer of stilton or goats cheese crumbled in between the sausage and flaky pastry. You can add different flavours such as bacon, chestnuts, garlic, apples or cranberries too. They are just a really lovely warming and comforting snack that is great to have on hand at this time of year to use up your leftovers and add major kudos to the buffet table.
I have made my own rough puff pastry here as I love getting hands on in the kitchen and making everything from scratch but if you really don’t have time, ready-made puff pastry is absolutely fine. I won’t tell anyone. Either way, you’ll have something that is way better than anything you can buy.
For the shortcut puff pastry:
600g/1lb 5oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
300g/10½oz butter, 100g/3½oz chilled and cut into cubes, 200g/7oz frozen
For the filling:
300g/10½oz chestnut mushrooms
2 tbsp thyme leaves
300g/10½oz good-qualitysausage meat
½ bunch parsley, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
¼ nutmeg, finely grated
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
For the shortcut puff pastry, mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Rub in the chilled butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough water to form a dough (about 4-6 tablespoons of water).
Roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured work surface.
Coarsely grate the frozen butter over the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third and fold up the bottom third as if folding a letter.
Turn the folded dough 90 degrees on the work surface and roll out into a rectangle again.
Fold again in thirds, wrap the dough in cling film and set aside to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding and turning process a further two times, chilling in between each turn. In total you will have done four turns. Rest the pastry in the fridge while you make the filling.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
For the filling, put the mushrooms in a food processor and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the mushrooms are broken down to a rough paste. Add the thyme and give the mix a final pulse.
Put the mushroom mixture into a dry frying pan set over a medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until all the moisture has evaporated from the mushrooms. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
To assemble, roll out the pastry into a 60x45cm/24x18in rectangle, and cut into 12 squares.
Divide the mushroom mixture into 12 portions and spread a portion down the centre of each square of pastry, leaving a 2cm/1in gap at the top and bottom.
In a bowl, mix the sausage meat with the onion, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mould into 12 sausage shapes. Place on top of the mushroom paste.
Make two small diagonal cuts from each corner of the pastry, to remove a small triangle. Then fold the top and bottom ‘wings’ over the ends of the sausage meat. Cut a 1cm/½in fringe all the way down the pastry on each side of the filling. Bring one strip over the filling from one side, then one from the other and so on, crossing the strips over to form a plaited effect. Tuck the ends of the pastry under the plait, trimming off any excess if necessary.
Repeat with the remaining squares of pastry until you have 12 mini sausage plaits. Place the plaits on a baking tray, brush with beaten egg.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack then serve hot or cold.