What better way to beat the January blues than with some comfort food? And this trio of Welsh-themed winter dishes certainly fit the bill
PREPARATION TIME: 15-20 mins
COOKING TIME: 2-3 hours
400g lamb neck fillets or lamb scrag • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper • A few spoonfuls of plain white fl our • A glug of olive oil • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed • 4 carrots, peeled and cubed • 2 handfuls of diced winter roots, such as turnips, parsnips, swede, and celeriac • 2 leeks, scrubbed and trimmed • A few sprigs of thyme • A few good splashes of Worcester sauce
1. Season lamb and coat in flour. Lightly fry in a large pot till browned. Add 2 litres water. Bring to the boil. Lower heat. Simmer.
2. Add the potatoes, carrots and root veg to the pan. Simmer for 2-3 hours, or till the meat is fall-apart tender. Or, if you can cook it overnight in a slow cooker, even better.
3. Twenty minutes before serving, chop the leeks and add to the pan. Finish with a good few splashes of Worcester sauce.
4. Top up salt and pepper levels, if needed. Shred the meat or chop, if it needs breaking up, and mix through. Remove bones and excess fat, if using scrag. Finish with fresh thyme leaves.
5. Delicious with warm crusty bread and cheddar cheese – or with a slice of Golden Squash and Gruyere Rarebit (see recipe below).
GOLDEN SQUASH AND GRUYERE RAREBIT
COOKING AND PREPARATION TIME: 20 mins
200g cave-aged Gruyere • 200g butternut squash, peeled • 3 tbsp Welsh ale or cider • A handful of thyme • A good pinch of freshly ground pepper • A dusting of chilli powder, for hot heads • 4 slices of sourdough (rye is particularly great here) • A few slicks of organic slightly salted butter
1. Heat grill to high. Finely grate the cheese and squash into a bowl. Mix in the ale or cider, the thyme leaves, a little pepper and a pinch of chilli.
2. Lightly toast your bread on one side by slipping it under the grill. Remove the bread from the oven and butter the untoasted side. Pile the grated cheese and squash mixture on top. Press firmly into the bread to ensure it stays put and cooks evenly.
3. Arrange the rarebits on a baking tray and melt under the grill for 10 mins or till the cheese and squash are golden. Delicious served alongside soup or a stew, or for a breakfast treat.
SMOKED HADDOCK CHOWDER AND HOMEMADE SODA BREAD
PREPARATION TIME: 20 mins
COOKING TIME: 35 mins
150g plain flour • 1 tsp baking powder • Pinch salt • 225ml organic whole milk • 1 lemon • 1 free-range egg • 240g smoked haddock fillets • 1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced • 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced • 1 celery stick, finely sliced • 1 large potato, peeled and diced • 1 chicken stock cube • 100g kale, leaves finely sliced • Sea salt • Freshly ground pepper • 2 tsp olive oil • 500ml boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
2. Sift flour into a large bowl. Scoop out a pinch and sprinkle it over a baking tray. Add baking powder and a pinch of salt to the bowl. Whisk together. Pour 75ml milk into a jug. Add a squeeze of juice from half the lemon. This will curdle the milk. Crack in the egg. Whisk together.
3. Pour ¾ of the liquid into the flour and stir together with a fork to make a soft dough – only add the rest of the liquid if it’s too dry to come together. Turn the dough out of the bowl. Pat into a 2cm-high round. Place on the baking tray. Bake for 10 mins, then turn the heat down to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Bake for 25 mins till the bread is golden and it feels light when you pick it up. Cool on a wire rack.
4. While the bread bakes, pop the haddock in a large pan or wok. Cover with boiling water and put on the lid. Simmer for 5 mins. Drain the haddock into a colander. Wipe the pan clean.
5. Add the leek, onion, celery and potato to the pan, season and fry in a little olive oil over a medium heat for about 5 mins until the vegetables have softened a little.
6. Crumble the stock cube into the pan with 500ml boiling water. Cover, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down a little and simmer for 15 mins till veg are soft.
7. After 15 mins, stir the kale into the pan, flake in the haddock and pour 150ml milk into the pan. Simmer for 5 mins to wilt the kale. Taste and season.
8. Ladle the chowder into warm bowls and serve with wedges of the soda bread.
Recipes and imagery courtesy of Abel & Cole. www.abelandcole.co.uk
Keep it dry this January, says Tanners’ wine expert Tiffany Vernon
If you must put yourself through Dry January this year, why not opt for dry white or dry red (!!)? There are plenty to choose from…
Firstly, the simple yet delicious Golden Squash and Gruyere Rarebit is the perfect partner to a dry sherry such as Viña AB Amontillado Seco Sherry, Gonzalez Byass (£14.95). This is a wonderfully nutty Amontillado with hints of wood spice and a saltiness that all combines to pair particularly well with aged Gruyere cheese. Sherries are created through fractional blending in a solera system, whereby barrels of different aged wines are stacked upon each other and drip fed down into one fi nal barrel making the sherry ready for bottling. This technique gives tremendous complexity and a yeasty character synonymous with sherries.
Or, an oaky Chardonnay like Juniper Estate Chardonnay, Margaret River (£19.90) which has citrus fruit combined with a dab of butter and spiced vanilla pod. It’s nothing like the sucking-on-sawdust style of yesteryear!
Smoked Haddock Chowder, meanwhile, is perfect with an aged Muscadet from the Loire Valley. Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Goulaine, Vieilles Vignes, Bonnet- Huteau (£15.90) has a floral scent that leads into a voluptuous palate bursting with citrus fruits and dried apricots. Bone dry and age-worthy, it showcases what the Muscadet grape (called ‘Melon de Bourgogne’) and excellent winemaking can give you! Or opt for Bruno Sorg Pinot Gris, Alsace (£16.80), which is super-perfumed and rich with juicy pears, candied fruits and ginger.
Finally, the Welsh cawl cries out for a sumptuous red. Domaine de la Cendrillon, Classique, Corbières (£12.70) gives us juicy black fruits entwined with liquorice and a subtle herby character. Rich yet smooth, this is made from the classic ‘GSM’ blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grape varieties. Alternatively, Margan ‘Breaking Ground’ Barbera, Hunter Valley (£14.95) is brimming with black cherry and blackberry jam, combined with star anise, allspice and a touch of chocolate. Barbera is an Italian grape variety, so it’s unusual to see it across the world in Australia!
Tanners Wines, 102/103 Tremarl Industrial Estate, Ffordd Maelgwyn, Llandudno, Conwy LL31 9PN. Tel: 01492 874009. www.tanners-wines.co.uk
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