A Look into the Vietnam Food Culture and Experiences

A Look into the Vietnam Food Culture and Experiences

A Look into the Vietnam Food Culture and Experiences

When it comes to food variations you aren’t going to find many places that come close to Vietnamese food, let alone beat it. From the more modern day dishes to the traditional native flavours from the past, the food in this part of the world really does provide an insight into the climate, and trade that has helped to inspire and guide Vietnamese cuisines.

Rice itself plays a main staple to the diet of Vietnamese people but because of the seacoast and routes inland, there is also a rich tradition of fresh fish that has helped influence stir fries and noodle dishes in the area.

In today’s post we wanted to look a little more closely at the main types of food you can experience in Vietnam, but foods that you can also try your hand at even if you don’t live in the country. Just like we make fresh pizzas in the UK or US, which are Italian based dishes, we can also experiment with Vietnamese cuisines right from our kitchens.

The Oriental Duck Salad

The Oriental Duck Salad

Duck is known as an expensive meat but you would be surprised at just how cheap it can be when sourced properly. In this recipe, we use duck, noodles and other inspirational Vietnamese ingredients to whip up a tasty and colourful lunchtime snack that can be prepared anywhere in the World.

The first thing you need to do is set your ovens to about 220C, so it is nicely preheated ready for the duck leg. Grab some five-spice and rub this all over the duck leg to season it and then place that onto a baking tray ready to roast in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Once the duck leg is in we can prepare the salad part of the dish. To do this take about 150g of rice noodles, and cook them in a boiling saucepan for a few minutes, drain them and then let the cool down. Sometimes running them under cold water does the trick, as you don’t want to be adding cold carrot and celery to hot rice noodles.

Once cooled down thrown in your celery, carrot, spring onions and cucumber to the noodles.

At this point your duck leg should be cooked so you will need to remove the duck meat from the bone and shred it. Place the salad onto a plate and then add the duck meat to the top of the salad.

No Vietnamese dish is complete without a nice dressing for the top and one of the most authentic dressings consist of hoisin sauce and soy sauce, mixed with roughly 2 tablespoons of water. That is all you need for a great dressing, and this can be drizzled evenly over the top of the duck meat and salad, ready to be served.

The Hot and Sour Fish Soup

The Hot and Sour Fish Soup

Our next dish to get your taste buds tingling is a soup that combines chillies, ginger, limes and mint into an exquisite recipe.

If you are looking for a quick lunchtime snack then this is your best bet. Take some coriander seeds and ginger and add them to a saucepan. Pour in some stock and bring the ingredients to a boil, and then let them simmer for 5 minutes before you take it off the heat and leave it to stand.

While this is left to stand cook some rice noodles in a separate saucepan for a few minutes, then drain them, but make sure you keep them warm.

Add some fish sauce, chilli and garlic to the stock saucepan and put that back onto the heat so it starts to boil. Once it hits boiling point reduce the heat and again let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Now you can add the fish to the saucepan, so place some prawns and salmon to the saucepan and let these cook until they are firm (usually takes around another 5 minutes on a gentle cook).

The final step to the soup is to add the spring onions, herbs and lime juice to the mixture which will give it that sour taste, that will combine so well with the hot chillies and garlic that we added to the saucepan earlier on.

The Oriental Duck Salad

Take the warm noodles and put them into a bowl, at the bottom, and then use a slotted spoon (with holes or slats in) to take out the prawns and salmon which you can lay across the top of the thin rice noodles. Pour the rest of the stock over the top of the bowl and then you will have these ready to serve up to your guests, or for you to eat.

If you want to add a little something else to the dish then spring rolls are the perfect accompaniment to the hot and sour soup.

What Do I Need to Cook Dumplings?

How to Cook Dumplings for Your Winter Stew

How to Cook Dumplings for Your Winter Stew

With the Winter weather starting to set in, and those dark cold nights creeping up on us, we all enjoy comfort foods to make us feel good inside. There is no better Wintery comfort food than a hot dumping stew with the meat of your choice either, and for today’s article we wanted to share our top secret beef and dumpling stew focusing on how to get the perfect dumplings.

For beginners, dumplings never really come out as expected they are either too big, too small, or they just end up crumbling into pieces as soon as they hit the moisture of the stew. There are however a few tips that we can share with you today in order to impress your dinner guests and even yourself when you come to sculpting a dumpling stew.

So get your pans at the ready and let’s get cooking!

What Do I Need to Cook Dumplings?

What Do I Need to Cook Dumplings?

You will need 5 main ingredients for the mixture and they are:

  • Water (this will help build the mixture into a dough for you)
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 60g of suet
  • 125g of plain flour

That really is all you need to make the perfect dumplings, it’s the process of creating them that tends to fool people, so before we begin talking about the rest of the stew let’s talk you through the dumpling stage first.

How to Make The Perfect Dumplings

How to Make The Perfect Dumplings

Take the 125g of plain flour, and then grab yourself a sieve as you will want to sift the flour through this into a bowl so the flour doesn’t contain any unnecessary bumps or lumps. Once you have done this at a pinch salt to the flour, along with that teaspoon of baking powder.

Take 60g of suet and add this to the mixture and just bring all those ingredients together before you add the final ingredient of water. Add the water to the mixture slowly, you don’t want to overdo it or you will ruin it. What you are looking for at this stage is enough water to make a thick dough, that’s all.

Once you are happy with the dough it’s now time to separate that big dough ball into separate small balls that will form our dumplings for the stew. To do this you need a little extra plain flour, making sure that you flour up your hands as well. Roll spoonful’s of the dough into about 8 smaller sized dough balls (or 10-12 if you want smaller dough balls).

How to Cook The Dumplings

How to Cook The Dumplings

Usually at this stage of proceedings your beef stew has been cooking for a few hours so that the meat becomes tender to the taste.  You will have taken a large saucepan and added beef, garlic, vegetables, wine, stock and herbs into the mix, along with some salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce for a nice kick.

The next stage is to simply take each of the prepared dough balls from the above step and simply lay them on top of the stew. It’s important not to just dunk them under the broth here, you want to rest them lightly across the top and around the edges of the bowl, leaving enough space to cover the stew with a lid.

There is a tip we can offer here though, if you like golden bronzed tops to your dumplings with a slight crunch, then don’t put a lid on the stew, just return it to the oven as it is.

At this point it takes a further 20 minutes for the dumplings to cook and what you need to look out for is a few things. A cooked dumpling will firstly be tender but you will also notice that the size of the dumplings have expanded during that 20 minute cooking phase. This is why when you come to rolling out your dough balls you need to make sure that you roll them smaller because they will swell to a larger size as they cook.

How to Serve Your Dumplings

How to Serve Your Dumplings

The stew and dumplings have now been cooked and the best way to serve this Wintery dish is one of two ways, you can either serve the stew and the dumplings together for your guests or you can add a side dish of light and creamy mash potato. Usually mash potato and stew dishes go hand in hand with each other, and your guests will love eating these three foods together.

To add the final touches to dish, and to really polish off the presentation of each plate you can sprinkle some finely chopped parsley across the top of the stew on each person’s plate.

There you have it, you have just cooked the perfect dumplings and you now know what they can be served with to make the perfect dinner for your guests.

Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks

How to Cook the Tastiest Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken

Chicken drumsticks are one of the nation’s go-to foods when looking for a quick snack because they are cheap to buy and can be used as part of many different dishes. You wouldn’t believe the amount of different ways that you can cook them and our advice is to try some of these methods out and experience new tastes that will tingle your taste buds.

One area that people struggle with is cooking times, and more often than not you will find that people overcook chicken through worry that they haven’t cooked it thoroughly. There are a few little tips to knowing when chicken has been cooked enough, and we will show you exactly what to look out for further down this article.

Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks

Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks

If you like spicy foods then you will love the Buffalo chicken drumstick recipe which adds some hot sauce and oil to the mix before you place them into a preheated oven.

To make these drumsticks all you need to do is add some hot sauce and oil to a small dish and then brush the mixture onto each chicken drumstick adding some black pepper over the top for that final touch.

To cook them is simple, all you need to do is add them to a wire rack and cook them on each side for about 15 minutes. As the sauce can be quite messy and sticky we suggest that you use foil underneath the rack to keep the grill area clean.

Cuban Chicken Drumsticks with Vegetables

Cuban Chicken Drumsticks with Vegetables

The second recipe on our menu is a slight twist to your traditional chicken drumsticks whereby we use a Cuban touch.  To cook these you will want to put together your drumsticks with some chopped cilantro, olive oil, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt and some butternut squash into a pan to begin cooking.

Once they have begun cooking pour over ¼ cup of orange juice and then mix this in well so everything is covered nicely.

Put the pan into the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the ingredients after 15 minutes, and then with any leftover cilantro mixture, drizzle over before you serve.

Oven-Fried Drumsticks

Oven-Fried Drumsticks

This one happens to be the ideal party food for guests who want to treat themselves to some irresistible fried drumsticks, cooked in the oven rather than deep-fried. Just make sure your freezer is stocked up with chips to serve with these, as they are the ultimate compliment food.

To create the dish you will need to beat two large egg whites together in a dish, and add some mustard as you go. Usually honey-Dijon mustard is the preferred type to use for the best results. Mix some plain panko crumbs, ginger and garlic powder together in another separate bowl.

You should now have your egg white and mustard dish one side and the bread crumb bowl on the other side. Take each drumstick and roll them through the egg-white mixture, let the excess mixture drip off before you take the drumstick over to the crumb bowl and then coat the chicken drumstick thoroughly in this mixture to prepare it for cooking.

In a preheated oven of 475F lay the chicken drumsticks down and cook them for around 25 – 30 minutes until the crumb coating has turned a golden brown. There you have it, oven-fried chicken drumstick. Delicious!

Creamy Dijon Drumsticks

These are a favorite whatever season you are in because of the way they are cooked. You will need to get your hands on a pound and half of red potatoes that you can place into a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Add some sea salt and then boil them up on a medium-low heat and let them simmer away for about 10-15 minutes.

Take your chicken drumsticks and brush them with 3 tablespoons of Dijonnaise, and then roll them in some bread crumbs (Panko is usually ideal if you have it).

Bake these in a preheated oven set at 450F, for half an hour, until the juices of the chicken run clear (this is when you know chicken is cooked). The breadcrumbs should have also changed to a nice crispy golden bronze colouring.

By now your potatoes will be ready so drain these and put them into a serving bowl. Add some celery, black pepper and some Dijonnaise to coat your vegetables, and go ahead and make some potato salad.  The chicken can then be dipped into the potato salad mixture for a real lunchtime snack, or they are perfect for summer treats for your dinner guests.

How to Cook the Tastiest Chicken Drumsticks

Oven baked chicken drumsticks are usually the ideal cooking method but feel free to experiment for deep frying and even boiling as they will all provide different taste experiences that you may want to consider in the future.

Simple Ways on How You Can Cook Lobster Tails

Simple Ways on How You Can Cook Lobster Tails

Simple Ways on How You Can Cook Lobster Tails

Lobster has always been referred to as a luxury delicacy across many parts of the world, and cooking them requires plenty of knowledge and skill. However, you would be surprised at just how easy cooking a lobster tail actually is, and the best part is that your guests don’t need to know any differently!

So instead of throwing away your lobster tail just take note of the following tips and ways of cooking them.

Getting Your Lobster TailsGetting Your Lobster Tails Prepared

Like any type of food it’s important to prepare what your about to cook in order to get the very best results. If your lobster is still frozen then you will want to let them thaw out before you cook them. There is nothing wrong with cooking them frozen but because they are in a solid state you won’t benefit from a tender taste when they are finally cooked.

If you need to thaw them then the best method is to just transfer them from freezer to fridge and let them naturally thaw over the course of half a day to get the best results.

Now, depending on your chosen cooking method it will vary in the way that you remove the meat from the shell. For example, grilling the tails, you wjust need to cut the tail in half or you can leave it as whole. This is done because the shell will take the full intense heat protecting the meat. However for pan searing you are best to remove the meat completely from its shell casing and cook the meat on its own.

How to Grill a Lobster Tail

How to Grill a Lobster Tail

You will firstly need to preheat the grill to a medium heat, and while this starts to heat up you can prepare your lobster tails by cutting them each in half, right down the middle with a clean snap. Now you should visibly see the white meat, you now want to dress the meat with some butter (or oil it’s up to you), and then some seasoning such as pepper, salt or lemon.

Grilling lobster tails is usually very quick to do, and you only need to cook them for about 5 minutes on each side, with slightly more time spent on the shell side as it will need to penetrate through the shell to cook the meat.

You will know the tails are cooked by just looking at the meat itself, it should have changed in consistency from translucent to opaque. You can now take them off the grill and away from the heat.

Serve them up with a dressing or salad for the perfect appetiser.

How to Boil Your Lobster Tails

How to Boil Your Lobster Tails

The second step is to boil your lobster which is usually the more popular option out of the ones that we are going to talk you through today. For boiling, you can leave the tails intact as they will cook better, and then you can scrape the meat out after they have cooked through. The shell is also said to maximise the flavour of the meat.

Get yourself a large saucepan and then bring some water to the boil, but add some salt first (you can add between 1 and 2 tablespoons).  When the  water is boiling just add the tails to the pan and then reduce the boil to a gentle simmer, and take into account that 1 ounce of tail minute equates to 1 minute of cooking time.

Many people tend to overcook lobster tails, and then the meat becomes dry and tough to eat. We are looking for tender here.

As soon as they have cooked take them out and let them cool down before you begin to crack the shells open. Just be sure you don’t break apart the lobster meat at this stage.

How to Pan Sear Your Lobster Tails

How to Pan Sear Your Lobster Tails

Pan searing is quick and adds a lot of flavour to your lobster tails, but first you need to gently remove the meat from the shell to begin cooking the meat, you can do this by cutting the tail down the middle lengthwise but make sure you don’t cut the meat in half at the same time.

Once you have done this add some butter to a pan and bring it up to a medium heat, then add the meat to the pan cooking each side for a minimum of around 3 minutes. You can add some seasoning such as coarse salt, pepper and lemon juice as it cooks away in the pan, or you can add these at the end.

Once the meat has turned opaque and it no longer in a translucent state you know that your meat is well cooked and then is ready to be served up to your dinner guests.

The Best Ways to Cook the Perfect Beef Brisket

The Best Ways to Cook the Perfect Beef Brisket

The Best Ways to Cook the Perfect Beef Brisket

As we approach the cold months of winter there is no better comfort food on the menu than a slow-cooked beef brisket, and even for the amateur chefs amongst us this specific recipe is one of the easiest to do. Once you have finished you will also have a mouth-watering meal that even Gordon Ramsay would be proud of, so we are about to take you through the best way to cook yourself the perfect brisket to impress your dinner guests, family, or partners.

First of all you will need to have a slow cooker handy and if you don’t have one of these then I suggest you invest in one, not just for this recipe but for many others that you can do in a slow cooker. Besides, these days slow cookers are relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Getting Your Ingredients Together

The Best Ways to Cook the Perfect Beef Brisket

The very first steps in creating this mouth-watering dish is getting your ingredients together. So start rooting through your cupboards now and look for the following:

  • 6 cloves of garlic, which will be finely sliced up
  • Some black pepper and coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 large onions, which can either be red or yellow
  • 3 pounds or just over of fresh beef brisket

Once you have these all together on your kitchen side you need to start preparing your work station, and then get a deep sauté pan on the heat. Place the heat to about a medium level and add a tablespoon of olive oil to it.

Begin the Cooking Process

Begin the Cooking Process

Add the onions to the pan after a few minutes of letting the oil heat up, but keep stirring the onions around until you see them caramelise. It usually takes about 20 minutes on a medium heat for onion to adopt this stage of the process.

Once done take the brisket and just pat it dry of any excess moisture on the outside of it, this will help the seasoning stick to it. Add the salt and pepper and rub it all over the brisket covering every angle of it.  We aren’t going to add it to the slow cooker just yet, we want to make the crust golden brown on the outside of the meat so grab another sauté pan and set that on a medium-to-high heat and just sear the brisket until you see that golden brown colour.

Now its time to add that into the slow-cooker, so place it inside of the cooker and then add those 6 chopped up garlic cloves to the cooker as well. The onions are now ready to also join the brisket so just pour the over the top of the brisket, then begin adding the other ingredients (the sauces, and the broth).

That is literally all the hard part done now, the rest of the cooking process is left with the slow cooker, so what you will need to do now is set the heat setting on the slow cooker to low, or its lowest setting if its numbered. Let the brisket cook for around 7 hours by which time it will be tender, turn the heat off and just let it sit for 20 minutes so that the juices all redistribute around the meat making it tender to eat and moist.

The great thing about a slow-cooker is that you can also leave it on a warm setting which is ideal if you want to cook up some potatoes and veg to add to the dish before you take the brisket out and serve it up.

Serving the Brisket

Serving the Brisket

As the brisket is whole you will need to either slice it up or shred it, whichever method is going to work best for you. As the brisket is tender it will be much easier to cut, you can then add these slices to individual plates and then pour across the juices and the onions as a garnishing to the beef brisket.

You can also easily reheat this kind of meat up without the worry of getting ill, to do this you just need to preheat the oven to 300F and then put the brisket along with juices into a baking dish that has a lid. Keep this in the oven for about an hour and you will have brisket that is ready to serve up again. This method is usually ideal if you have a large brisket that cannot be eaten in one-sitting, you just need to make sure that the left over brisket is stored in the refrigerator before you reheat it so that the meat doesn’t start to turn off.

There you go folks! Your perfect beef brisket!

How to Cook a Chicken Breast The Easy Way

How to Cook a Chicken Breast The Easy Way

We have spoken about the ways to cook a whole roast chicken recently, and now we wanted to expand that article and look at the different ways that you can cook a chicken breast. There are a lot of parts to a whole chicken that can be eaten but the tastiest area and the tenderest is always going to be the breast of a chicken.

The chicken breast can either be cut up and chucked into rice dishes, salad dishes, pasta dishes or left un-cut and used as a part of a healthy dinner with potatoes and vegetables. It all comes down to personal preferences and tastes at the end of the day.

However, there are also many marinades and seasonings that can be used with chicken breasts. From Jamaican marinades, breadcrumb coatings and general herbs such as Sage or Thyme all can make for a great, but different type of tasting chicken.

In today’s piece we are going to look closer at some of the more popular ways of cooking a chicken breast, and all breasts should be cooked from fresh if you are going to benefit from the wonderful tastes and textures of the chicken.

Frying Your Chicken Breast

Frying Your Chicken Breast

There are two ways to go about this method the first is to use a heavy-based griddle pan, usually the cast-iron ones are ideal for this job but other lighter versions should give a near-enough similar result to the chicken. The second way is to simply use your standard frying pan, which will also cook the chicken for you.

The only thing you need to keep an eye on when it comes to cooking chicken in this manner is that you make sure it is thoroughly cooked right the way through. If you happen to have a thick chicken breast then our advice is to use one of the other methods we are going to list below, or you will need to cut it down in size to fillets.

Start with preparing your chicken, so get your herbs and oil at the ready. Pour into the griddle a few teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and then turn the heat up until the oil starts to separate (this is the key to the oil being hot enough to cook in). Now cover your chicken with the herbs of your choice, whether that’s finely chopped garlic, salt and pepper or herbs, lemon juice or chilli flakes. Lower these into the griddle pan and then cook on a medium heat making sure that each side is thoroughly cooked.

By using a griddle pan you will also notice that you get those nice chargrilled lines on the chicken which provides good presentation if you are cooking for guests.

Oven Cooking Your Chicken

Oven Cooking Your Chicken

Most people tend to use this option as a way to cook chicken purely because most are worried about the food poisoning that you can get off undercooked chicken. Therefore, if your chicken is too thick or you have doubts on cooking in a pan then the next step is to simply place the chicken in a preheated oven.

The preparation is exactly the same as it was if you were to griddle the chicken so you just need to add your herbs, seasonings, or flavourings to the chicken, the extra addition to oven cooking is that you can also marinade the chicken in a roasting dish which you can’t do on a griddle.

Usually a chicken cooked from fresh will take around 30 minutes, again depending on the overall size of the breast. Once cooked take the chicken out and leave it on the side for roughly 10 minutes to allow the juices to be absorbed making the chicken breast tender and moist.

Boiling Your Chicken Breast

Boiling Your Chicken Breast

Finally there is another way we can cook a chicken breast and that is simply to boil it. Fill up a large pan with boiling water and turn the heat up until you get a rolling boil on the go, don’t forget to add some salt to the water. Next crush in a chicken stock cube to give the water some flavour and to help with the taste of the boiled chicken once it has been cooking in the mix.

Add your chicken breasts into the pan and let them cook for a good 30-40 minutes until the juices run clear when you penetrate the chicken with a knife. If you need more time simply add the chicken breasts back into the pan for a further 5 minutes and just keep checking until they are cooked.

Take out the chicken once you are happy that it is thoroughly cooked and leave it to rest on the side. What you will find from this particular cooking method is that the chicken is very tender and moist as it has been cooked using boiling water rather than heat.

3 Simple but Effective Ways to Cook Sweet Potatoes

3 Simple but Effective Ways to Cook Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a vegetable that not a lot of us tend to eat but if you don’t like your normal potatoes then it’s worth giving these a go as they taste different. Even if you don’t like normal potatoes it’s still very much worth trying these out as they are actually healthier and sweeter tasting than you normal potatoes. Because of this, they can also be added to many different dishes and cooked in a variety of different ways which we are going to look at today.

How to Oven Bake The Potatoes

How to Oven Bake The Potatoes

Firstly you will need to gather a few ingredients together to get the best from these oven baked sweet potatoes. The first thing you will need is the sweet potatoes themselves and you get these for a decent price at any local supermarket or fruit and vegetable store.

For this we are going to take 8 sweet potatoes which covers around 2 servings.

Then you will need to grab some seasonings, usually just pepper and salt are needed here, along with 8 tablespoons of butter to give some taste to them.

Before you begin to cook the potatoes you will want to set the oven to 400F and preheat it before adding the potatoes. Line a baking tray with baking paper, foil or butter/oil so the sweet potatoes don’t stick to the tray.

Now wash the potatoes under cold water and remove any dirt or grit from the skin as we are going to be leaving the skin on them for nutritional benefits. You can either use your hand or a vegetable brush to do this.

Alternative Cooking Methods

Once you have finished with that step make several piercings into the sides of each potato you about to cook, like you would with a jacket potato. Take a fork and just make several puncture marks to allow the heat to cook them quicker.

Place them into the oven and leave the temperature at 400F, cook them for around 45 minutes or until they are tender. Once cooked take them from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes before you cut them in half and then add your seasonings and butter to the top of them. This will make for a delicious snack for two people.

Alternative Cooking Methods

Alternative Cooking Methods

The second way of cooking them is a faster way that the oven but the process for preparation is just the same. You will need exactly the same ingredients so keep hold of your pepper and salt, and have 8 tablespoons of butter ready to add to the tops of the sweet potatoes once they have cooked. The butter will melt into the sweet potato and blend with the salt and pepper giving a mouth-watering taste.

Wash your potatoes in cold water to remove the dirt and grit, and use a wire brush or vegetable brush to get to the tricky parts. Pierce them in the same way as the oven method, but this time instead of preparing a baking tray and foil we are going to use the microwave.

Its important top place the sweet potatoes into a microwave safe dish, and only put them in two at a time.

The real benefit to microwave cooking is simply that it takes much less time compared to oven cooking but you want necessarily get the same quality of taste. Usually two sweet potatoes will take roughly 10 minutes to cook through, and once cooked you can add your seasoning and serve up the potatoes.

Alternative Cooking Methods

The final method in our selection of three ways to cook sweet potatoes is to mash them up, to do this you will need to peel the potatoes first and add some extra ingredients to your collection. You will need the usual salt and pepper, but you will also need 60ml of milk, 80ml of sour cream and slightly more butter (around 80ml).

The best way to make mash sweet potato is to boil them, and the quickest way to do this is to peel all 8 potatoes and then chop them into cubes to reduce cooking time. Add them to a large saucepan of boiling water and cook them until tender (10 minutes).

Once cooked you need to drain the water from the sweet potatoes using a colander and then begin adding the butter, milk and sour cream to the mix. Now use a fork or potato masher to start breaking down the potatoes until the mixture becomes smooth and takes on that mashed form.

Finally you can add the pepper and salt and blend it all together thoroughly so the mixture becomes creamy. As an optional extra you can return the pot to the oven and cook them for a further ten minutes to return that lost heat that would have disappeared when you added the butter and cream.

The Best Ways to Cook a Ham Joint for Dinner Guests

The Best Ways to Cook a Ham Joint for Dinner Guests

Ham is a great tasting meat and there is so much that you can do with a ham joint once you have cooked it. Whether you are looking to add it to pasta dishes, rice dishes, throwing it in a salad, adding chips and peas to it or having it as part of a nice Sunday roast dinner, the possibilities really are endless.

What most people tend to make mistakes on when it comes to a big ham joint is overcooking it, and what generally happens then is the meat becomes tough, dry and very chewy. What you want to do is cook it to a level where the meat is juicy and tender. Our rule of thumb is that is it makes your mouth water when you take a bite, then you have done it right!

You are probably thinking now isn’t a cooked ham, essentially just gammon? But you would be wrong as gammon is what we refer to as the raw meat, where ham is when the meat has been cooked.

How to Prepare You Ham

How to Prepare You Ham

Firstly we want to do a few basic things before we begin seasoning the gammon and cooking it, the first is to soak the gammon in water to remove any impurities such as salts. Once you have done this you will need to know the weight of the gammon so that you know just how long to cook it for and when to take it out of the oven.

Now set your oven to the 450F mark so you can preheat it while you prepare the meat for cooking. During the preparation stage the oven will heat up to a level that is right to introduce the gammon to the heat.

The other method is to boil the gammon in which case you will need a large saucepan. Place the raw meat into the saucepan and then cover it with cold water and then bring that to the boil. At this stage you can begin to add you seasonings, and generally for ham things such as onions, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, or even cinnamon work really well at bringing the best out of the ham.

How to Prepare You Ham

If you are using the oven cooking method then you will want to rub some oil at the bottom of a roasting pan, and then cover the outer part of the gammon with some extra virgin olive oil and the seasonings of your choice. The oil will make the skin of the gammon nice and crispy which some people really do like.

For the oven process you will then want to but the joint of meat into the centre of the oven and then turn down the temperature to 250F and let it cook for 30-50 minutes depending on the weight of the meat.

Once it has finished cooking at this temperature take the gammon out and let it rest on the kitchen counter for a period of 10-15 minutes. All this does is allow the juices to redistribute themselves around the ham joint increasing the tenderness and moistness of the ham inside. Place some foil over the ham joint at this stage to lock in the steam and heat.

How to Prepare You Ham

If you have chosen the boiling option then usually you will cook the meat for around 30 minutes for each 1lb of meat the gammon weighs in at. You can remove the ham from the pan once cooked for that period of time and then glaze the outer part with the flavour of your choice. Maple syrup and mustard is usually a particular favourite when it comes to this kind of meat. You can then place the ham into the oven at 250F for another 20 minutes to give a golden finish to the ham.

Serving the Ham

Once you have finished cooking you can then carve up the ham which can be used in a variety of different dishes. The obvious choice for gammon is to use it on the table at Christmas but you can also create a great Tagliatteli Carbonara with this chunky moist meat, and you can also add chunks of it into a nice summer salad if you wish.

Serving the Ham

The beauty of ham is that it can go with many kinds of different foods and used as part of many types of cultural cooking experiments so use your imagination here to see what it can go with.

If you happen to have any leftover meat than you can store this in the fridge for 3-4 days or you can chop it up and put it in a freezer bag where you can keep for a period of up to 3 months, allowing you to dip in and out of it overtime if you wish.

 

How to Cook a Tender Pork Loin

How to Cook a Tender Pork Loin

The loin part of a pig is located in the middle section towards the top as it said to be the tastiest part of the animal that offers tender and moist meat to dinner guests when cooked properly. Therefore it’s no surprise that pork loin is also referred to as a pork tenderloin. The other fact of this type of meat is that’s its boneless as well because of where it is located on the pig, this alone makes it easy to see why the meat is tender and moist.

The biggest key to getting this cooked right is timing and oven temperatures, as well as knowing the correct weight of the meat so you know how long to cook it for.

How to Cook Pork Loins

How to Cook Pork Loins

Firstly like any type of big meat you want to start by getting the oven set to the correct temperature as you don’t want to be placing your pork loins into the oven has its starts to heat up. So turn up the temperature dial to 450F and leave the oven to heat up to that temperature while you get on with the preparation side of things.

The next step is to take your meat out of the fridge is you haven’t already, and begin to season them. Usually there are a wide selection of herbs that go well with pork so you can either mix a few of these together or you can use a preferred herb. What we advise is that you blend together a tablespoon of mixed herbs by adding the likes or thyme, rosemary, and sage together in a dish, topped off with some sea salt and pepper. Mix these all together and then add about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Why add the olive oil I hear you ask?

How to Cook Pork Loins

Well this is a little trick to help season the pork loins better than just sprinkling the herbs across the top. The oil will help you create a paste out of the herbs which makes it easier for you to rub onto the pork loins, making sure that you cover each one well.

Now you have finished with the seasoning step of cooking this meat, you want to get them ready to place into the oven, and the key part here is that you don’t overcook them as they will be dry to eat which isn’t very nice.

A lot of people get scared when cooking meat and overcook, so don’t fall into this category. By now your oven has heated up nicely and the rule of thumb to cooking times here is cook for 5 minutes and 30 seconds for each pound in weight. Turn off the oven when you put the loins in and leave the pork loins to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour (dependant on weight). However, its important not to open the door and let the heat escape at this stage, and if you have an older oven this process may not work for you if the heat can escape easily.

After the time has passed take out the pork loins and cover them with foil (like a tent) and let them rest on the kitchen counter for a good 10 minutes.

How to Cook Pork Loins

The resting time will allow the pork loins to absorb all those rich juices making them moist and tender when you finally come to taking a bite out of them.

What Can I Serve Them With?

Pork loins are usually served with a dinner that consists of potatoes and vegetables but there are plenty of other dishes that you can add these to. If you want a cold salad then the loins can be cut into strip pieces and left to cool down before throwing them into a nice summer salad, or they can be added to a stir fry or oriental dish with noodles.

The seasoning can also be experimented with and you can try glazing methods on your pork loin, such as a honey glaze or a honey and mustard glaze if you want a bit of a kick to the meat. There are also cheese dressings that can be used to add to the pork loins which are called Caesar pork chops.  This uses a creamy Caesar salad dressing with shredded parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top of the meat.

What Can I Serve Them With?

The choice really is yours when it comes to the dressing and the dishes that you use them in, but the cooking method will always stay the same. This will provide you with a well cooked and tender bit of meat that you or your dinner guests will love to eat. So try it out next time you have guests over, we can guarantee it will be a hit!

How to Cook a Pork Roast With Extra Crispy Crackling

How to Cook a Pork Roast With Extra Crispy Crackling

There is nothing more wonderful than the smell of a slow cooked pork roast to tingle your taste buds in the afternoon. Many people are often wary about cooking large pieces of meat because they worry that somewhere in the middle of that meat isn’t cooked thoroughly enough and could make them bad. However, you shouldn’t be worried about this and it certainly shouldn’t put you off, all you need to know is exactly how to cook that pork roast and it really isn’t difficult to do.

The key to roasting a large pork joint is to slowly cook it, as this will make the meat tender and moist giving that beautiful mouth-watering taste.

How to Cook a Pork Roast From Scratch

How to Cook a Pork Roast From Scratch

The first thing you will need to do with any large piece of meat is to preheat the oven so you are putting the meat into the oven at the optimal temperature. Usually you will want to whack up the oven to the 450F mark and let it heat nicely over the course of the pork preparation period.

With most pork joints you will see a layer of fat on the one side, it’s important to keep this on and not cut it away because it will essentially help to keep the roast moist and will offer that crispy crackling.

What you will need:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rosemary

Sage

Thyme

Oregano

A Roasting Tin

Add a table spoon of the herbs above (so that it equals to one tablespoon, not one tablespoon of each), to a dish. Then pour in about a tablespoon of your olive oiland gently mix the ingredients together. You should get a wet paste where all the herbs are clumped nicely together. Now just add a couple of pinches of salt and bout a pinch of black pepper.

Mix until everything is blended together well.

Take your hands and scoop out the mixtures and be sure to rub it evenly over the pork roast, leaving no area untouched.  So make sure its all over the bottom and the sides of the meat for maximum coverage.

The oven should be now at a good temperature to introduce the pork roast to, so make sure that you place the roast (fat side up) on a rack. Sometimes the grill rack will act just as good, but try and use a rack on top of a roasting tin if you can.
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Keep the oven at 450F for about 10 minutes which will help the roast achieve that golden brown look and then after 10 minutes is up put the temperature down to around 250F which will be the temperature we use for the rest of the cooking process.

Depending on the size of the meat you roast will take a further 50 – 90 minutes of cooking, especially if your roast is short and fat. If you have a thermometer then use this to check the temperature of the meat at its thickest part.

The temperature should read: 145F

After the Roast Has Finished Cooking

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Once the roast has finished cooking you can remove it from the oven and let it rest on the side, preferably with a tent of foil covering it up. What this rest time will do is let the juices be absorbed by the roast which will add to the tenderness and moistness of the meat when you come to eating it. The rest time we advise is about 15 minutes which allows the juices to absorb so you can then cut it.

Again, depending on the size of your meat will depend on how far it can go around the table and this is an important point that you really don’t want to forget about. The general rule of thumb is that you can get 3 servings from a 1.5lbs pork roast, so double the weight to 3lbs and you should comfortably be able to feed 6 people, and so forth.

You can eat the pork with many types of dishes, from oriental noodles, pasta, or more traditional dishes such as a good Sunday roast with vegetables, potatoes and gravy. Although pork isn’t as versatile as chicken it’s still a meat that can be used in a variety of different ways, and above all its one of the most easiest meats to both season and then cook.

After the Roast Has Finished Cooking

Summary

You no longer need to worry about cooking large pork roasts and fearing that a section of it will be uncooked, hopefully our guide here will have helped you gain a better understanding of the times and preparation that is involved when cooking a large sided pork roast in the oven for your dinner guests. Enjoy!

 

 

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