Meal planning 04/04/16

A day later than normal as I have only sat down to write a plan this morning. Last week did not go to plan as we only managed three dishes from the list but we also had more leftovers than we expected so lamb curry lasted two days. As this week is a little quieter I hope we will be a little better.

Monday – Mini Chicken Schnitzel with oven roasted chips
Tuesday – Nigel Slater’s Braised Pig Cheek
Wednesday – I’m out so the other Half will be catering for him and Small Person
Thursday – a Pinterest inspired Mojo Pork Tenderloin
Friday – a good friend of mine has threatened to forage some wild garlic which I have never cooked with, the intention currently is to make a chicken and wild garlic risotto
Saturday – Chilli, either made with beef like here or with Chorizo

As always, thoughts and comments welcome below!

Spicy pork strips and risotto

At this time of year, a warming bowl of risotto comes pretty high up in my favourite meals. To make it a fairly quick meal,  I coat pork strips in flour and fajita spice.


2 pork chops, sliced into strips
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp fajita spice
1 onion
25 g butter
1 tbsp oil
400g arborio rice
1 glass of white wine
1 litre of vegetable stock
Handful of sliced mushrooms
Another knob of butter
Grated parmesan

First of all melt the butter and add the oil in a large pan. Dice the onion and add to the pan on a low heat. Stir and cover, allowing them to sweat and soften for about 10 minutes. Whilst the onion is cooking, put the pork strips in a zip lock bag (or a bowl with cling film on the top), add the flour and spice and shake well until coated. Stir fry until browned. Transfer to an oven proof dish and place in a low oven to keep warm. The trick is to slice about finger width so they have cooked by the time the outside is brown.

Make sure the stock is in a pan on a low heat to keep warm. You need to add hot liquid to the risotto to make sure the temperature remains fairly even so it keeps cooking.

Back to the onion, turn the heat up slightly and add the rice. Stir until all the rice is coated in the oil and starts to turn from white to opaque. Add the wine and continue stirring until all the liquid is absorbed. Add two ladlefuls of stock and keep stirring. Every time the liquid is nearly absorbed add another ladleful of stock. You need to stir often but not constantly. Keeping one eye on the risotto, cook off the sliced mushrooms in butter or oil until fairly well done. If you want you can add pancetta or artichoke hearts to the mushrooms for extra flavour. Don’t forget to keep stirring the risotto.

Once you’ve used up the stock (about 15-20 minutes) your rice should be cooked. Add the knob of butter, parmesan and mushrooms and make sure it’s mixed well. Turn out the heat, put a lid on the pan and leave for one minute. You shouldn’t really need extra salt with the stock and parmesan but taste and season if necessary. Dish up with the pork.

Posh pork and rice

I’ve posted a posh chicken and rice recipe before. This time it is pork smothered in pate, wrapped in streaky bacon with a red wine and mushroom risotto. Or posh pork and rice.

I first found a red wine risotto on the agirlcalledjack blog and tried it a few times. I’ve amended, added and played with it a bit plus I’ve found it goes well with the pork used here.


Pork tenderloin
Tub of pate
Streaky bacon or pancetta
Onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves
Sliced mushrooms, roughly 150g
Thyme, leaves only
Arborio rice
Half a glass (ish) red wine
1l Vegetable stock

Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 5.

Lay out your pancetta or streaky bacon side to side on top of cling film until it is roughly the same length as the tenderloin, in this case the bacon was far too thick so I put it another layer of cling film on top and rolled it out slightly thinner. I would normally use pancetta but the Other Half failed to buy any so streaky bacon it was!


To get an even covering of the pate (I used a tub of supermarket pate but if you can afford a better quality coarse Ardennes or similar that would work really well) dollop it over the bacon and again cover with cling film and attack it with a rolling pin!

Remove top layer of cling film and place pork tenderloin along the bacon and pate, use the bottom layer of cling film to help you get this nice and tightly rolled. In an ideal world I would now fry this until browned but time was short so I hurled this straight in the oven for roughly 40 minutes, plenty of time to make a risotto.


Here I used my mandoline to finely slice the onion and gently fried that off in a knob of butter. After 5 or so minutes add the garlic, stir well and continue to fry for a few more minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves and cook until the mushroom have softened.

Make sure you have stock made up and keeping warm in another saucepan on a gentle heat.

I never measure out the rice any more, well I don’t measure most things to be fair, so work out (by eye) what looks like enough to serve three of us, I would guess its about 250g. Add the rice to the dish and stir well until the rice is coated in any oil and starting to turn translucent.

Turn up to a medium heat and pour in the wine. Stir until it has all absorbed into the rice, then add stock, one ladle at a time, until the stock is all used. Make sure that the stock is well absorbed before adding the next ladle, usually you are looking for the risotto to take a breathe before it flows into the gap your spatula has left.

Once you’ve used all the stock, the rice should be cooked. You are looking for it still to have a little bite, I usually make the Other Half try it to make sure he is happy! I normally turn out the heat, add another knob of butter, stir well, cover and leave it to relax for a minute before serving.

Slice the pork tenderloin and serve with rice. Try to cut all the way through the outer layer of bacon before serving so that the pork and bacon doesn’t fall apart when you are trying to photograph it!! Posh pork and rice is served.
Posh Pork and Rice

Posh rice and chicken

Garlic and herb roule stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with a mushroom and bacon risotto. It is still just chicken and rice. It is, however, quite a nice chicken and rice dish!


3 chicken breasts
6 slices of prosciutto
Garlic and herb roule (you could substitute for any flavored cream cheese)

1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 tbs fresh thyme
2 rashers bacon
Mushrooms (as few or as many as you feel like)
White wine (about a glass for cooking, the remainder for the chef)
1.5-2 litres of vegetable or chicken stock
Butter (lots!)
250g arborio rice

The first thing to do is get all your ingredients cut up and ready. Risotto is a wonderful dish and actually easy to cook, but it is labour intensive and you really don’t want to be trying to stuff chicken, chop mushrooms and stir risotto all at the same time. Trust me on this, I have been there many times. The first thing I usually do is fry off whatever I want to add to my risotto so bacon and mushroom in this case, you can do this whilst the risotto is cooking but I prefer to get it out the way and just heat it up before I’m ready to add it. Get the oven on to pre heat (Gas Mark 7), prepare your chicken and, finally, melt some butter in a nice big saucepan.

Chicken wrapped in proscuitto

Chicken: get rid of any pent up aggression by covering with clingfilm and bashing it with a rolling pin until it is an even width (not too thin so don’t be over exuberant). Take a very sharp knife and slice a pocket in it, put your filling of choice into this pocket – a tablespoon of the roule is just about right for us. Once stuffed, lay out two of your slices of prosciutto and wrap it around a chicken breast. Repeat until all breasts are covered! Get a healthy size knob of butter melting.

There are several alleged ‘secrets’ to good risotto, nicely softened onions, good stock (use the best you can, during the winter I do try to make my own but not with any regularity, I use Bouillon powder as a general rule), frying the rice before adding the stock and so on. I have found that softening the onions (most importantly without browning them) had made a huge difference so once that butter is melted, throw in the onions. I use a mandolin to slice my onions which means they end up sort of absorbed into the risotto rather than a separate texture and/or taste, which I prefer in this case. Let the onion soften over a low heat, boil the kettle and make the stock up in a saucepan you can keep on a low heat too, and once you are ready to put the chicken in that pre-heated oven for 20ish minutes depending on their size, add the garlic to the onions. Give the onions and garlic another minute, turn the heat up slightly and add the rice.


Stir. You’ll be doing a lot of this but that’s what encourages the starch out the rice and gives that nice creamy texture. At this stage though you only have fat and rice, you are lightly toasting the rice until the ends are translucent. I never know if I do this for long enough but it’s generally no more than a couple of minutes, certainly not long enough for it to start sticking. Having poured yourself a glass of wine, pour a small glass into the risotto and stir until nearly all the liquid is absorbed then add two ladlefuls of stock to your pan.

Stir. And again. You don’t have to stir constantly but enough to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan and enough to encourage that starch out. Once you can drag your spatula or wooden spoon over the bottom of the pan and the risotto flows back like a wave at a beach, then add another ladle. Repeat the process of adding a ladleful and stirring in for about 20 minutes, at some point add the thyme leaves. As it’s relatively hardy, I added them at the same time as the first of the stock. For a more delicate herb I’d wait until the end. When the risotto is ready the grains should be soft but firm in the middle. Turn out the heat, add as much parmesan as you fancy (about a tablespoon for me), another healthy knob of butter and the bacon/mushroom mixture. Stir until the butter is melted and then cover and leave for one minute. By now your chicken should be ready. Serve on a warmed plate.


Stuffed chicken with risotto

I had this with an Italian white wine called Fiano and available from Naked Wines. It was a nice enough match but not enough to wow me, I think the flavours of the chicken may have overwhelmed it slightly. It’s a shame as it’s one of my go to wines and I enjoyed it without food as well.