As we approach the festive holidays our minds are firmly fixed upon cooking arrangements, and if you are the one in the household that has been left in charge of such a task then the pressure is almost certainly on you. Not down to the fact that you have guests coming from all locations across the country, or even the world in some instances, but the whole of Christmas Day dinner lies firmly in your hands.
A well cooked beef brisket can literally be one of the most amazing things you will ever taste in your life, if cooked correctly. One of the main things that separates a n excellent brisket from a poor one if how you go about cooking it, what you add to it in terms of seasoning and how much time you take preparing it.
Food like this should never be rushes, and that is exactly why cooking it in a slow cooker far outweighs the method of oven cooking. So if you haven’t got a slow cooker then we suggest that you go out and buy one as they are very cheap but they offer more cooking opportunities to you, from casseroles, stews and beautifully slow cooked curry mixes.
Firstly, before we even begin getting to work on the piece of beef we need to look closer at the ingredients we are going to be using. As these are all going to be introduced into the slow cooker you will get an idea of the wonderful tastes, flavours and smells that this dish is going to produce and the one thing we can tell you is that anyone in a sniff away is going to be eager to taste this comfort food.
Grab yourself some olive oil, a couple of red and yellow onions, some salt and pepper, 2 cups of beef broth, a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and finally 6 cloves of garlic which we will crush into the mix.
In terms of the beef brisket you ideally want something that weighs about 3 to 3.5lbs, and as beef is one of the more inexpensive meats this shouldn’t break the bank.
The key to most successful dishes is in the preparation work you put in, and to begin the cooking process off you will want to begin cooking some of your ingredients outside of the slow cooker. First we want to fry up the onions with some olive oil until they have caramelised, and while these cook away slowly on a medium-low heat you will want to begin patting the beef brisket dry to get rid of any excess moisture that is visible on the outside.
Once you are happy we can now season the brisket with some salt and pepper, rubbing it into the meat all over the outside.
By now you can remove the onions from the heat and take the brisket to a large skillet to sear it. All we are doing here is making the crust or fatty parts of the meat golden brown in appearance and slightly crunchy. You only need to keep the brisket in the pan for a few minutes and then we can put it into the slow cooker with that fatty side facing upwards.
The fun part to this dish is adding all these wonderful additional ingredients to the slow cooker, so at the moment you should just have that seared brisket in the cooker. Now add some crushed garlic to the top of the brisket and then throw in the onions that we cooked while preparing the beef brisket.
Next, mix those 2 cup fulls of beef broth with the 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Pour this mixture onto and around the beef brisket.
You are now ready to begin the cooking process…
Put the dial down to a LOW temperature setting on the slow cooker and let that beef brisket slowly cook for around 7 hours until the meat becomes very tender, succulent and mouth-watering. Remember once you have cooked it, it’s always advisable to leave it to rest for a good 15 minutes so that the juices can redistribute themselves around the meat which just makes the brisket more tender than it already is and moist to the bite.
When you come to serving up the brisket it should literally shred at the cut because of how tender the meat is, but you can also slice it as well this is your choice. Pour over the liquid mixture and onions and then let your dinner guests tuck in.
Basmati rice, or any rice for that matter should be served tender, and each rice grain should be separate from the other rice grains. If your rice comes out in clumps, mushy, or still hard to the bite then you are doing it completely wrong. Don’t despair though as we are going to talk you through the ways that you should be cooking basmati rice, and believe us, it may sound easy cooking rice but it can take its toll on even the most experienced chefs in our world.
Generally, rice shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to cook and by using the right measure of rice to water ratio, along with the right heat you can have the perfect bowl of rice as a result of it.
As we mentioned above you shouldn’t be serving up a bowl of rice that is in clumps, mushed up or soggy looking. The perfect bowl of basmati rice, put simply, should be soft and fluffy with each grain being noticeably separate from each other grain. Unfortunately for most people achieving this end result can be much harder than initially expected.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I love to give to cooks, that to be honest with you is overlooked regularly is that before you even start cooking the rice you should prepare it.
Preparing rice? What do you mean?
All you need to do is grab a strainer or sieve, put the rice you wish to cook into it and then run that under some cold water for a few minutes to rinse the rice out. This is quite an important step in the process because what you actually are doing is removing a lot of starch that covers the rice. Starch is what makes your rice looking gloopy and all stuck together at the end so by just adding this two minute preoperational task to the beginning of the cooking process can really make a huge difference at the end.
The next step is to put the rice into a decent sized saucepan, but don’t add any water to the mix just yet because there is one more tip we can offer you that can help your rice become much more fluffy and light once cooked. Just take a pinch of salt and put it over the rice and then shake the rice about so the salt absorbs into the grains.
Don’t do this when cooking or at the end as it can make your rice very overpowering salty and uneatable.
Once you have added the salt the next step is important because many people add cold water and then cook the rice to a boil. Instead of cold water you should add boiling water to the rice, and as a rule of thumb it’s one cup or mug full of rice to every two cup or mug fulls of boiling water. If you cook this on a medium heat the water will evaporate away and you will be left with the perfect fluffy basmati rice left in the saucepan.
Some people don’t over the saucepan for the period where the rice is cooking but a tight fitting lid, or simply some kitchen foil that is sealed over the top can help keep the steam produced by the heat, in the pan. Again, what this does is it allows the steam to cook the rice which as we all know is a constantly increasing form of cooking in most parts of the world.
This steaming method will take slightly longer but you are guaranteed fluffy and separated grains of rice as an end result.
Once cooked you just need to drain the excess water from the rice pan and then take a fork, run it through the rice and see how it is looking. By now, you have probably just pulled off a great bowl of rice and this type of rice can go with many types of meals.
Basmati is the ideal component to curries, so you can serve up the bowl with a fresh sprig of coriander on top or you can use the rice bowl to accompany other cultural dishes from jerk chicken, peas and mushrooms, to more traditional menu items.
Cooking rice to perfection isn’t as hard as it first seems, it’s just knowing the tips and tricks that you need to do in order to help increase your success rate when cooking it. So if you haven’t already done so, we are sure you are eager to head into the kitchen and get to work on cooking some basmati rice so don’t let us keep you from it.
When it comes to cooking bacon there is only usually one way, and that’s frying it up next to some mushrooms and sausages, perhaps next to some Sunnyside up eggs. This is usually one of the best starts to a day for most people or the ideal hangover cure for many more.
Aside from frying bacon people also tend to grill it, however you will more than likely find that grilling anything that contains a substantial amount of fat will lead to a problematic clear up job come the end of the cooking period.
Frying and grilling bacon has been spoken about and written about many times in the past so we aren’t here to cover old ground, instead we wanted to take you down a new avenue of how to cook bacon, and that method is oven cooking. We know, you most likely have never attempted this in your life before but trust us when we say that oven cooking bacon really does bring out some amazing flavours and smells, and when it comes to taste its unparalleled.
The only drawback is time, as with anything oven cooked it’s usually best left to when you don’t have to rush out of the house. So without any further ado let’s cook some bacon in the oven…
The age old debate crops its head to start with and this really comes down to your own personal preference, are you more of a smoked bacon fan or unsmoked bacon fan? This really has no effect on how you go about oven cooking bacon but it’s a decision that is important especially if you are having dinner guests over.
You see, many people may not like the smoked flavours and all your hard work could go down the pan if you choose to be ignorant towards your guests, so our advice is to simply put the question out there before you even start oven cooking any bacon because you can just cook both types on different racks in the oven and then everyone is happy.
Firstly we want to start the whole process off by turning up the oven so we can preheat it nicely, usually its best to whack up the dial to its fullest and then bring it down to a lower temperature when we finally come to introducing the bacon.
Now, bacon has many wonderful flavours that emanate from the meat so you don’t need to season it with salt or pepper, it’s one of those cuts of meat that seasons itself if you like. What you do need to prepare for is a lot of fat to drop away.
Therefore there are two ways to do this, you can either cook your bacon on a wire rack and let the fat deposit underneath or you can use a baking tray to let the bacon cook in its own fat to add to the flavour. For the purpose of this article we are going to use a baking tray.
So take a baking tray and line the bacon across it (you don’t need oil as the amount of fat from the bacon will keep it from sticking to the tray).
You can either place the bacon straight onto the tray or you can use some foil to make a bed for the bacon to rest on the choice is totally up to you. Once you have the bacon ready lower the temperature of the oven to 200C and then introduce the baking tray to the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes.
By 20 minutes you will want to double check the bacon as we know that some people like theirs well done whilst some like it quite chewy.
When you are happy with the bacon you can remove it from the oven and then leave it to rest. It’s important to let meats rest because it helps the juices get absorbed and redistributed around the meat, it’s also wise to give the meat 5-10 minutes if you want to cut or dice it up.
Oven cooked bacon won’t have the exact same texture as you would expect from bacon that has been fried or grilled because those methods are quick cook methods where the bacon comes up against direct heat sources. Instead you will have a much more versatile, tender and moreish tasting bacon that you can add to anything from full English breakfasts, through to mouth-watering pastas and crisp summer salad.
We don’t need to tell you about the kinds of dishes bacon can be added to as it really does compliment the majority of dishes and food types out there, whether its soups, roast dinners or anything else you can put your creative minds to.
Many of us just don’t have the time in our busy day to day lives to cook, so one handy invention of the past 30 years has been the microwave. Sure, the microwave is there to help us cook quick meals and take the time out of having to oven cook many things, but the truth is cooking in a microwave isn’t the same as cooking in the oven.
A lot of you will already know that baked potatoes have different tastes and textures when cooked in the oven, and if you haven’t tried to do this yet then let me tell you that you are missing out immensely.
First things first, we need to have a reasonably sized baking potato at hand. You want to wash the skin under some cool running water and use a vegetable brush to try and get the excess dirt of the skin. The skin is one of the most nutritious parts of a potato and when seasoned and cooked it can be a tasty additional to the internal soft and fluffy potato.
Once you have managed to get rid of all the dirt on the outside of the potato, pat the skin dry with a paper towel to soak up that excess moisture.
Place the potatoes to the side for a brief moment and turn up the oven so you have it preheated nicely when it comes to introducing the potato to it. For this you want to knock the oven up to about 450F and then we can get back to preparing the potato.
Seasoning is an important part to giving the skin that crunch and mouth-watering taste. Grab a fork first and make some prod marks deep into the potato, going around it circumference as you do it. This will help the potato cook nicely internally but also unlock all the flavours.
Now get some extra virgin olive oil and coat the outer skin of the potato in this, before then applying a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Your potato is now ready to go into the oven but first it’s advisable to place some foil around it so that the steam and flavours are locked in. This also helps the potato cook better. Put the potato in a baking tray and then cook for 45 minutes to one hour on a high heat (usually around 300/350F).
Now, there are many things you can have with a jacket potato, some people prefer it has it is with a knob of butter to make the inside more of a creamy mash. Some other people enjoy bacon and mushrooms, whilst other may prefer baked beans and cheese, or coleslaw and cheese. Whatever toppings you are going to introduce to your potato once cooked is your choice and this is the cherry on top if you like to the perfect baked potato.
If you are wanting topping it’s advisable that you get these cooked either when the jacket potato is cooling down on the side for the 5-10 minutes before you serve it to your guests, or during the last 5-10 minutes of baking the potato. That way, none of your ingredients will get cold and when you come to taking the potato to your guests they will have the best experience possible.
Take the potato out of the oven and pull back the foil, but be careful as the steam will be incredibly hot and you don’t want to end up burning your hands. Let the potato cool down and then make two cuts across the top of the potato. Once cut lengthways and the other width ways. Use your hands on the side of the potato towards the bottom to then push inwards and loosen the potato up inside.
To make the potato really fluffy at this stage all you need to do it use a fork to mash and fluff the potato up, before you apply that knob of butter which will then melt across and down into the potato, giving it a sweet and succulent taste.
As we know, anything straight out of the oven can be very hot so let the butter melt, and the cheese if you are using that on your potato. After 5 minutes take it into your guests and then serve the jacket potato with a fresh salad. This again can be served in a sharing bowl or individually placed onto peoples dining plates (we recommend the personal touch here rather than the sharing option as it goes well for presentation purposes as well).
We can assure you that this will be one of the best potatoes you have baked, and it will taste on a different level compared to microwaved baked potatoes.
Our final tip is also to take a taste of that crispy skin, you won’t be disappointed!
You would be surprised at just how dried beans can be added to a meal, and then completely change the texture and taste of that specific dish. Now, when we talk about dried beans we are referring as a general term as we know there all kinds of different dried beans out there, all with different colourings, flavours and textures.
One of the great benefits to dried beans is that they can offer you a brilliant source rich tastes that work well as part of any well-balanced diet. On their own they may not offer enough taste to get you going but as part of other dishes they do. One important part of cooking dried beans is the preparation though, and this is a key place for us to start.
The first step you will need to take may seem tedious but believe us, this is a step you don’t want to skip especially if your end result is cooking for a number of guests. So before you start cooking you want to sort out the beans by discarding damaged, bruised or shrivelled beans from your pack, at this stage you can also add them into a sieve and then run cold water through them, this will remove dirt and other foreign objects from the beans.
The last thing you want to do is serve your dinner guests beans that may contain small rocks or pebbles, they will only end up with a nasty surprise!
The next phase depends on how much time you have available, so are you cooking this dish tomorrow or do you need to get on with cooking the dish asap? If you have time you can slow soak the beans overnight which allows that you fully cook the beans when you do come to cook them.
If you don’t have that spare time then you can choose the faster soak, which essentially consist of putting the beans into a saucepan and then slow boiling them for a few minutes so they soften up. Leave them on the side, with a lid over for about an hour.
If you already have your beans in a saucepan then keep them in there with enough water to cover them, you can then add yourself a bit of olive oil (a tablespoon is enough). The olive oil is a little trick you can learn which stops the amount of foam over you get from boiling beans, pasta etc.
The beans can take anything between 30 minutes and up to 2 hours of cooking time, all dependant on how full your saucepan is, what beans you are using and what method you used to soak them (the slow or fast method).
For example, the black bean is one of the quickest requiring abut 30-60 minutes, whilst the red kidney bean can take 120 minutes.
Pick up one of the beans from the saucepan pot and then squeeze it between your fingers, if the bean is tender then it’s done. If you have undercooked them then they will still be crunchy, and if you have overcooked them they will become very mushy.
Firstly you can use them to create your own baked beans, but if you want to really challenge your culinary skills then there are a few simple recipes that you can follow below:
The most popular choice for beans is to create a chilli dish with black and red beans, you can optionally add some mince beef to this dish or you can keep it ‘bean only’, that’s up to you and your guests. Boiling up some rice, grating up some cheese and creating a chilli styled sauce is all that is keeping you from a warm lunchtime meal with a bit of a kick to it.
The final recipe that we think you will like is creating a five-bean soup which consists of using different types of beans, from red kidney beans, mung beans, pinto beans, lima beans and black beans. You can add a few scoops of rice to the side of the soup or cook some French bread for dipping.
To do this recipe you just need to cook the selection of beans and then add your favourite vegetables to a saucepan and bring the soup together ready for serving.
The opportunities that you have with beans are plentiful and you can really experiment with certain foods and dishes, using beans as alternatives to your usual meats. For example, try using red beans in a hummus recipe to give yourself a bit of a change to the usual ingredients or think about a Caribbean red bean and rice seafood dish.
If you are a deer hunter then you will already know how to get your hands on the finest Venison that the country has to offer and the fact that the longer the meat stays on the carcass the much more tougher that meat then becomes to eat.
However, what if you have no idea how to cook venison? Or the different ways you can cook deer meat that brings out a variety of different tastes and textures.
The first principles of venison that we need to understand is that it should be aged for a good two weeks before you begin to cook it. This two-week period just helps make the meat much tastier and takes away that game taste, as you don’t want to taste that.
Also, you should be aware that whilst the likes of pork and beef fat tastes amazing when cooked and adds delicious flavours to the meat, the same does not apply to dear. Dear fat tastes awful and adds absolutely zero value to the cooking process.
So before we get to preparing the meat for cooking cut off the fat and get rid of it.
Most avid venison fans will tell you that to get the best from venison you will need to marinade it in a dressing for the period of 24 hours, and they are absolutely right. Usually venison goes quite nicely with the likes of BBQ, and Italian dressings but you can create your own seasonings and marinades by using a selection of ingredients from garlic, vinegar, olive oils and onions.
The other angle to approach is to remove that game taste by looking at zests and citrus flavours that can easily overpower the game taste. Half a cup of lime juice with olive oil, some cilantro and green chilli, combined with a teaspoon of cumin and tequila is all you need to really charge up the perfect marinade.
Now, depending on the cut you have will all depend on how you cook it. Generally there are a few different methods that work well with cooking venison though, starting with grilling. If you are in possession of venison steaks then this is the perfect way to cook them so turn up your grill to a high heat and preheat it before you add the steaks.
One thing when cooking venison that’s important is that you bring it up to room temperature otherwise you aren’t going to get the inside cooked well enough. A simple 20 minutes out of the fridge will do this no problem.
If you haven’t marinade the steak then this is the point you can add some salt and pepper to the steaks in order to season them. Do this to both sides of the steak and then place them under the grill for about 4 minutes on each side.
To check that the steak has cooked to the optimum temperature you will need to use a thermometer and look at 130F or 54C, any higher and you are going to make the meat toughen up more.
Tip: Brush your steaks with some butter to keep it as moist and tender as possible.
Roasting you Venison
The second popular method of cooking venison is to roast it in the oven which allows for you to really jazz up the aroma and infusion. Take the venison and make several diagonal cuts to the surface of it and then stuff those cuts with vegetables and bacon which will help produce a fat source and inject flavour into the meat.
Remember that we removed that awful tasting deer fat early on so adding bacon or butter is a tastier alternative to that venison fat.
If you are wondering what kind of herbs go well with your roast venison then you can try rosemary, sage or some thyme which will all provide wonderful aromatics for you. Preheat the oven before you slide in the venison (which needs to go into a roasting tray), you can also add your vegetables around the roast venison to cook as well.
If time isn’t of the essence then roasting is ideal as it takes about 3 hours to cook on a heat of about 325F, and once the meat has cooked don’t forget to leave it on the kitchen side for around 15 minutes so that the juices and fat all disperse evenly throughout the venison, allowing it to taste much more tender, and moist.
Once you have left it resting for that time you can then start to carve up the deer meat, add the vegetable to a plate and then make a nice gravy from the juices left in the roasting pan, that can be served on the side of the venison.
When you think about the food culture of the USA the first thing that comes to your mind is fast-food, and that primarily comes down to the fact that America is the central hub for the likes of McDonalds, KFC, Burger King and other popular fast food chains. Aside from quick food there are also other dishes that you can expect to see when you visit the land of opportunity, all of which are gut-busting but very, very tasty.
In today’s article we wanted to take a closer look at the foods that have come out of America, some of which we eat in other countries now due to franchises, but some that haven’t made it out of the USA. Either way the dishes we are about to talk you through are what make America, America. These are rich cultural foods that we just love to get our teeth stuck into.
Since the 1950’s and the spate of fast food diners that opened up throughout the States, hamburger and chips has been a part of every American persons menu during the last 60 – 70 years. Why? These are usually part of quick fix dishes for busy Americans who either don’t have the time or the expense to eat from home.
The beauty of hamburger and chips at popular fast-food stores is easy to see, not only are you getting a meal but you are getting a meal that can be ordered and in your hands within minutes, and of course the price you are paying is next to nothing.
It doesn’t matter where you are up and down the country this traditional culture food is a staple in many peoples diets and since the 1950’s it’s become a popular success in many places across the world.
If you were a fan of 90’s American teen dramas then this food will have popped up on a number of occasions throughout the programs. If you didn’t you would have almost certainly spotted these at local fairs throughout the country.
A corn dog is simple a regular sausage that is then covered in a thick layer of cornmeal batter, then a wooden stick is places lengthways through the centre of the sausage ready to be eaten. Usually ketchup and mustard are popular sauces that are used with this dish and despite them not being talk about as much nowadays there are still plenty of corn dog vendors about, from fairs to sports games.
If you do go to the States, this culture food won’t be hard to find.
This dish comprises of Russian or Thousand Island dressing to give it that rich taste. The sandwich is cooked using corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, and the bread (which is generally Rye Bread, is grilled each side).
As it’s an American delicacy the sandwich is literally crammed with the meat and cheese, and makes for a very hearty snack, especially in the fall and winter periods.
The one thing you will find with this sandwich is that over the years different variations have been brought out, so from New York to Texas, you are bound to spot different takes to this culture food.
You can’t get more American than a Taco Bell, and thanks to this company which is a complete American invention this fast food choice is eaten up and down the country by many Americans.
Taco’s originally from Mexico has been taken by the USA to provide an American food culture with fillings that range from beef, pork, chicken, cheese, vegetables and even seafood’s.
Again the best thing about this dish is that you can eat it on the move because its classed as a take-away food.
Finally the fifth and final food choice on our list is the food old bagel which isn’t originally an American food as it was first a big part of Jewish delicacy. However in the North American region this has become a huge part of cultural food choices and it’s not uncommon that people wake up for breakfast with bagels stuffed full of eggs, ham and Philadelphia cheeses.
The bagel can be toasted on either side to give it that crispy texture, and this American food culture has even made its way overseer’s where the likes of European countries have adopted the food as an alternative breakfast choice on their menus.
Best still, these can be eaten anytime of the day so they aren’t just left as part of a breakfast meal, they can also make great lunchtime snacks.
Next time you venture out to the USA don’t forget to give some of these cultural dishes a try as they could be a whole new experience for your taste buds!
Britain’s love their food and over the past 20 years there have been some incredible dishes created in England alone, some have taken off but some have failed miserably. In more recent times, Chefs such as Heston Blumenthal have ventured to great lengths in experimental food dishes, but in today’s article we wanted to look at the dishes that make England, England!
These are traditional food cultures of England that have lasted the lengths of time, but are a staple in our weekly diets now.
Let us introduce you to the food culture of England…
When you think of England and food you instantly think of the good old traditional English breakfast which is usually complimented with another English favorite, and that is a cup of tea. The English breakfast dates back years and usually includes the likes of hash browns, sausages, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, tomatoes, beans and toast.
Wow, we are hungry just thinking about it!
Whilst most English people don’t eat this on a regular basis, i.e. each morning. It is more of a luxury that is left for weekend mornings or during vacations.
The side splitting, gut-busting meal will have you full and content until tea-time!
Still a very big tradition in England is families sitting down to dinner on a Sunday to be presented with a Sunday roast and all the trimmings. Whether its chicken, pork, beef or lamb this English food culture is a way of bringing all the family together at the end of the week, and before the new week commences.
A general Sunday roast will consist of Yorkshire pudding, plenty of vegetables, stuffing balls, pigs in blankets (bacon wrapped around sausages) and lashings of thick gravy.
As the years have moved on family sit downs have become fewer and the Sunday roast in some areas has spilled over to other weekdays, but the concept of the Sunday roast is still strong and a firm English tradition.
This is a wildcard entry as it isn’t a meal but then again we are talking about English food culture on a general basis. The tradition for years in England has been an 11am break time where people pour themselves a nice hot cup of tea, with some biscuits on a plate.
Although the “elevens” break has slowly phased out from the War time era, the tea and biscuit break has probably become more and more popular in the country. Not only does it give people the opportunity for a good natter but they get to drink and eat at the same time, this is always a good point in English tradition!
Whether it’s a stroll down the Blackpool promenade or a visit to your local chip shop, this dish is served in different forms up and down the country. Fish and chips is one of England’s go-to foods and because there are so many fish and chip shops around each street corner, you aren’t going to need to walk too far before you bump into one.
The fish and chip dinner is usually deep fried chips with a battered piece of fish (usually cod). Back in the mid-20th century these would be served in newspaper to form a cone, but as time has gone on you tend to see them served in either conventional white paper or polystyrene boxes.
Best of all, fish and chip dinners are usually quite inexpensive and you can feed a family of four one night in the week for less than £10, and you can even have some left over!
Finally we come to our fifth and final English tradition which is bubble and squeak, and let me tell you we don’t get more English than this recipe. Now if you have a sensitive stomach the likelihood is that this will make you feel a little queasy.
This English tradition stemmed from the days during World War II when rations and restrictions to food were in place. Families wouldn’t dream of casting out leftovers when they could find ways to create completely new dishes that the family could then go on to eat the following day. However, some 70 years later and this dish is still seen around many homes across the UK.
Bubble and squeak is essentially the leftovers from your Sunday roast, so potato’s and vegetables constitute a large part of this dish. Usually they are mashed together and then fried in a frying pan, then served. If you have meat leftover you can also throw this into the mix but make sure that you dice it up into chunks.
So next time you head to England, don’t be afraid to ask for one of these authentic culture dishes and see what you make of them!
Duck breast is a very succulent and tender part of the duck and when it is cooked correctly, you won’t find many meats that offer this substantial exquisite taste. However when it comes to cooking duck breast it’s also all about how you prepare the breast, because both the cooking and preparation stages entwine together for that final tasty end result.
Of course, it all depends on how you want your duck cooking, whether you can hack rare duck, medium or whether you want it well-done. On the whole though the preparation takes 10 minutes and cooking a duck to well-done usually takes just under 20 minutes.
Firstly like always you are going to need to whack that oven up to around 220C in order to get it preheated to a level that is hot enough to introduce the duck breast to. By reheating the oven you are circulating the heat around the oven, so that it’s at its maximum temperature.
While the oven heats up we can start the preparation stage…
You should have sitting in front of you a couple of quality duck breasts, the first thing you need to do is remove them from any packaging and then using some kitchen towel or paper you need to pat any excess moistures of the breast. This will help the skin become crispy and you will only benefit from doing this step (that most people tend to forget about).
Once you have patted down the skin of the two duck breasts (or more if you are catering for a larger party), you need to take a sharp knife and then start scoring the skin. Usually scoring in diagonal markings down the length of the duck breast is the preferred method by many professional and amateur chefs.
Finally in the preparation stage you will want to season your duck breasts, a simple combination of salt and pepper will work well here, making sure that you divide the seasoning evenly across te duck breast and into those score markings.
Once you have completed this step we can move onto actually cooking the two duck breasts.
There is no need to heat up a frying pan or add oil with this method; you just want to place your duck breasts skin side down into a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Leave them in there for around 7 minutes when they should have adopted a nice golden brown colour. Switch the duck breasts to the other side and cook for about 30 seconds just to seal it in.
You can now turn off the heat and remove the duck breasts from the frying pan, ready to add them to the oven part of the cooking process.
A rack in a roasting tin is probably the best way to cook duck breasts, just so that the breasts are lying a few inches above the bottom of the tin away from the dripping fat. It also helps the underside cook much better if you leave them on a rack.
Put the two duck breasts skin side up this time, on the roasting rack. Remember your oven will be nicely heated now so it’s up to you to decide on how you want your duck cooking. If you want it well done then you are going to need to leave it in the oven for a good 18-20 minutes, however if you want it rare then 10 minutes should suffice.
If you are looking for a medium level of cooking then place the time somewhere in the middle at about 15 minutes.
The final part of cooking is to just let the duck breasts rest on the side of your kitchen counter for a further 10 minutes, all that this does is allows the juices to disperse inside the breast which will help keep the duck breasts tender but also moist to the pallet. What you don’t want is a dried out piece of meat that has no tenderness.
Once the duck breasts have been resting for 10 minutes you can now either cut them up for your guests or serve them as a whole breast, whatever you are looking to do is your choice at this stage.
Duck breast can be shredded up and used as part of a simple salad, and because orange seems to have the perfect complimenting touch to any duck dishes you should think about creating an Chinese inspired soft duck salad with radish, chicory and sweet orange.
The other alternative is to create a warmer dish such as a duck, potato and bacon main meal which brings together infusing flavours and warm winter tastes, perfect for those late winter nights when you want something healthy but quick to cook.
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.
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.
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.
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.