5 amazing dishes and how to cook them!
At Caviar & Chips, we love the finer things in life; a perfectly chilled bottle of Dom Perignon, a beautifully cooked fillet steak, a delicious pot of caviar – caviar is in our name after all. One of the joys of being a chef and running a catering business is having great produce to cook with every day.
Having the chance to experiment, be creative and sample life’s little luxuries, so that every plate of food we serve is its own little taste of heaven, gives me great satisfaction.
That doesn’t mean that to enjoy something delicious it has to cost the earth– in fact some of my favourite foods are some of the less expensive things around, here are five of my favourites:
1 – Beef Cheek and Creamy Mashed Potato
When you go for a nice walk in the countryside, I’m sure you’ve walked past a herd of cows before, and I’m sure you’ve only ever seen them doing one thing… eating grass. Cows do very little else! Because of this, a cow’s cheek is one their most worked muscles and this means there’s absolutely loads of connective tissue that can be transformed into melt in the mouth, rich, meaty goodness, all it needs is some patience.
How to cook
To prepare, heat some butter in a pan and seal the cheeks all over until dark, then remove the cheek and put into a stock pot or braising dish. Into the butter add some colour to shallots, carrots, celery and add some garlic and herbs that pack a punch – thyme, rosemary & bay leaves. Then splash a generous glug of red wine into the pan, and cook out for a minute or two before pouring it all into the braising dish, topping up with beef stock and if you’re feeling experimental some chocolate, or even marmite.
Cook at as low a temperature as possible for as long as possible, 140 degrees celsius for six hours would be great. You can check it when you like and when it’s done it will fall apart without you even needing a knife. Serve with some creamy mash, and reduce the remaining stock down to make a perfect sauce.
2 – Onglet Steak – The Butcher’s Cut
Onglet steak might be a cut you haven’t heard of before, but I’m sure your butcher will have. It was called the butcher’s cut as it was thought that only the butcher recognised its amazing flavour and texture and so didn’t sell it to any of their customers, but kept it just for them.
After you’ve had a try, I’m sure you’ll agree that the butchers back in the day had the right idea keeping it to themselves. Onglet is the traditional French name, but here in the UK it is more commonly known as Hanger Steak. It’s cut from the belly and is close to the liver and kidneys and so has a delicate but pronounced hint of offal.
How to cook
Because it’s a delicate steak, it needs care and attention to be at its best, so cook on a high heat in the pan for two to three minutes on each side, until rare – no longer, then leave it to rest for as long as you can before tucking in.
Ten minutes might seem a long time to have it sitting in a warm place teasing you, but as it starts to relax its just getting better. Season as its resting and serve with a rich dark sauce sliced across the grain – absolutely delicious!
3 – Bavette Steak with Garlic Butter and Fries
We’re going for another steak here, I hope you don’t mind indulging me. There’s no fillet or sirloin here though, it’s time to enjoy a different one and that’s Bavette. This is also a French cut, more usually called a flank steak this side of the Channel.
It’s actually similar to the Onglet, in that its best cooked rare, over a high heat, and left to rest for a generous amount of time. It takes a marinade really well, whether that’s just herbs, wine, or something more experimental, it doesn’t quite have the depth of flavour of the Onglet for me, so if you find the Onglet too full or iron, this is the one for you.
How to cook
If I’m going to have steak and chips this is my go to cut, with lashings of garlic butter and salty fries this is a perfect lunchtime treat.
4 – Osso Buco with Saffron Risotto
We’re going to travel to Milan, Italy for our next dish, the long forgotten Osso Buco. This is another dish that requires a bit of time, but is well worth waiting for. You’ll probably need to order these from your butcher if you want to try this dish – some five centimetre pieces of veal shin kept on the bone.
How to cook
To prepare, simply brown in oil in a hot pan after covering with flour, then remove and add onion, celery and carrot into the pan with a few bulbs of garlic.
White wine is the key to this traditional dish, so add a generous glass or two and add chicken stock to cover the meat which you’ll have popped back in and cook on a low heat on the hob for an hour or two, turning the meat every 30 minutes. If you’re going to go down the traditional route, whilst its cooking you can whip up a little saffron risotto and some gremolata to finish and you’ve got a dish that a Milanese mother would be proud of!
5 – Lancashire Hot Pot with Pickled Red Cabbage
As a proud Lancashire lad this last dish takes me back to my roots, let’s talk about neck of lamb and the good old Lancashire hot pot. There’s a bit of a debate as to whether the name has its origins in the pot in which it’s cooked, or that fact that is was most likely a collection of whatever bits and pieces that tired mill workers could get their hands on.
Like most things with this dish, you can do whatever you want, or believe whichever story you like best – it really is a dish you can make your own. Back in the day there were all sorts that went into this; neck fillets, shin, mutton, kidneys, even oysters, then onions, potatoes and gravy, so you can really do what you want, but here’s some of my northern advice. Slice loads of potatoes, a nice floury Maris Piper works well, then layer a generously on the bottom of your dish and season well.
How to cook
Layer up a generous handful of sliced onions, then season again before adding a layer of lightly floured meat. I like to use neck, and it cooks down deliciously, and lamb chops, the bones add a nice depth to the sauce and the gravy keeps then nice and moist. Then repeat, as often as the depth of your dish will allow.
Make sure your top layer is some well-seasoned potatoes and pour in lamb stock until just below the top layer of potatoes, which need a generous brush of butter to ensure they crisp up nicely. In the spirit of one pot cooking, cover with foil and pop in at about 170 degrees celsius for a couple of hours, then take the foil off for 30 minutes to ensure you’ve got a nice crisp top layer of potatoes.
The rest is easy, take a big spoons and dive in, serve with some sharp pickled red cabbage and pretend you’re a tired mill worker after a tough days work, you’ll finish every last drop!
All this talk of food has got me hungry, so I’m off to see my butcher to ask for a steak, I hope you do too, happy experimenting – enjoy !