Solomillo Adobado

solomillo adobado

Solomillo Adobado (marinated tenderloin) is a classic Spanish pork dish. In Spain you will find pork and ham in almost everything – this dates back to the Inquisition, where eating the meat of a pig proved that you were a good Christian. These days it’s still common to put a ham bone into a vegetable soup or stew, which goes to show how terrifying the Inquisition really was. The film Goya’s Ghosts shows just how extreme the church could be, only a few hundred years ago.

The adobo (marinade) preserves and tenderises the pork – before refrigeration this was how meat and fish were kept safe and edible for months in IberiaVindaloo (now considered to be a curry dish) was originally pork or rabbit preserved in wine and vinegar (Carne de vinha d’alhos) – Portuguese colonists took this to India, where it was assimilated.


Ideally, use a pork tenderloin from an organic Iberian pig, though outside of Spain that will be very hard to come by, so do use any pork fillet from a well looked after pig!

Trim the pork of any excessive fat or membranes.

Solomillo Adobado:

500g (approx) Pork Tenderloin (Solomillo)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
50ml extra virgin olive oil
50 ml red wine
100ml red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to season the meat when it goes into the oven)
sprinkle on a little chopped parsley for decoration at the end


Put the dry adobo (marinade) ingredients into a jug and stir in the olive oil and sherry vinegar to make a paste.


Dilute with the wine and red wine vinegar.

en adobo

Rub the marinade into the pork and put it into an airtight container.

tres días

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and ideally 3 days (agitating occasionally).

listo para hornear

Wipe off the marinade, although I poured a little back on with some olive oil before it went into the oven. Keep the remaining adobo to make a gravy!  If barbecuing, rub a little olive oil on all over first. Season with salt and pepper before cooking.

solomillo cocido

Cook the meat in a hot oven, or on a barbecue, for about 6 minutes and turn over. 12 minutes in total should be enough, but do brown the Solomillo under the grill (broiler), to finish it off (if cooking in the oven). If in doubt check with a meat thermometer – 62º C is the safe temperature for pork, as long as you rest it for 3 minutes – I’m inclined to rest it longer (10 minutes) so that the juices are reabsorbed.

If you wish, Solomillo Adobado is also, commonly cooked a la plancha, sliced as medallions. This is often served in Spain with papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes) and Mojo Picon.

patatas asadas

If cooking in the oven, make some roast potatoes.

plato para horno

Use the residue in the baking dish to make a gravy.


Deglaze the pan with a little wine or stock.


Combine with a roux, the marinade and pork stock to finish off the gravy.

Slice and serve with seasonal vegetables, gravy and a glass or two of Come Jamón y Bebe Vino (Eat Ham and Drink Wine), from the Rioja region in Spain.

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Pichón Relleno


This is a stuffed pigeon recipe from Castilla y León in Spain. Pigeon, like rabbit is a common farmed animal in Europe – it’s not unusual to see them kept for meat in dovecotes (palomares) en el campo (rural areas), similar to people keeping a few chicken for eggs.

For those who don’t fancy pigeon, this recipe is ideal for partridge, quail or poussin – perhaps even a medium chicken with a scaled up farce. Pichón means young domestic pigeon or squab (fully grown, but has not left the nest and milk fed – adult pigeons produce a type of milk for their young), while Paloma is more commonly used to mean a fully grown wild pigeon or dove. I used a wood pigeon (as above) and not one of it’s common feral relatives from Trafalgar Square!


Pichón Relleno (1 pigeon per person):

1 pigeon
2 slices smoked streaky bacon
1/2 glass dry white wine (ideally Spanish)
sea salt and cracked black pepper
extra virgin olive oil


1 slice jamón serrano (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (peeled)
1/2 hard boiled egg (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon capers
1 small slice of stale brown sourdough bread (soaked in milk)
2 sprigs thyme
a pinch pimentón de la Vera dulce
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper

pan y leche

In Spain the most common bread is una barra de pan (AKA una barra de medio) – a baguette. In the heat and humidity, bread bought in the morning is stale by the evening, so like the Italians, the Spanish have lots of delicious ways to use up stale bread. Stuffing game birds is just one of them. I normally buy a large brown sourdough loaf on a weekly basis in the UK and it’s full of flavour, so I’m inclined to use the ends for breadcrumbs, croutons, etc. So soak whatever stale bread you have to hand in a little milk, for 30 minutes before making the stuffing.


Chop the egg and put all the solid ingredients into a bowl.

el relleno

Break up the soaked bread and mix everything together.


Fill the pigeon with the stuffing.


Rub the bird with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper, then wrap the pigeon with bacon – I’d normally use streaky, but I came across some good smoked back this week, so used that instead.

Heat the oven to 180ºC, pour on half a glass of dry white wine and cook for 45 minutes.

patatas con pimentón

As the oven is on, you might as well cook some roast potatoes at the same time, and give them a sprinkle of pimentón de la Vera picante (hot) – they will thank you for it!

pichón relleno

When the pigeon is done, let it rest in loose in foil for 15 minutes.


Deglaze the oven dish, make a roux and stir in the juices plus a little chicken stock to make a gravy.

Serve with the roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Paloma de Plata Selección Barrica Alicante with your pigeon.

Other Pigeon posts

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Pollo Marinado en Escabeche

pollo marinado en escabeche

Having made Sardinas en Escabeche last week …and eaten them, I was left with some pickling liquid.

Brief recap: escabeche is a food preservation technique which originated in Persia or Arabia several millennia ago. The word escabeche is derived from the Persian word sikbaj, meaning cooked in vinegar – al-sikbaj. Both the Greeks and Romans used vinegar as a preservative (the Romans used it to preserve fried fish and added it to their popular fish sauce Garum), so escabeche probably reached Spain long before the the Moorish conquest of Iberia. The Greeks and Romans both had fish preservation factories in Portugal and Spain. The Spanish added an extra taste dimension to escabeche when they discovered the Americas and brought pimentón (paprika) back to Europe.

I often incorporate the escabeche liquid into a pasta sauce with the sardines, or drizzle it on salad and it’s fantastic per mullar pa – Catalan expression, “to wet bread” – meaning that a sauce is good enough to dip your bread in it! However, this time I thought I’d do something more extravagant with the escabeche, since it contains many of the ingredients associated with a marinade – Chicken marinated in Escabeche. This relates directly to the Iberian technique of preserving raw meat en adobo – before the advent of refrigeration, meat was often (similarly) preserved raw in wine or wine vinegar. Vindaloo (Carne de vinha d’alhos) was originally an Iberian rabbit or pork dish (using preserved meat in wine vinegar) taken to India by the Portuguese.

pollo crudo en escabeche

Pollo Marinado en Escabeche:

1 medium free range chicken
the liquid and vegetables from a sardine or other escabeche
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

To serve:
chicken stock for gravy

Add half a teaspoon of pimentón de la Vera picante (the hot one) to the escabeche. Marinate the chicken for a few hours or overnight. My butcher wrapped the chicken in paper, then handed it to me in a plastic bag – this is common since meat in paper leaks, so I recycled the bag and used it as the marination medium. Unfortunately plastic bags are one of the most efficient vessels for a marinade.

listo para hornear

24 hours later, I put the lemon and garlic inside the bird and the vegetables underneath. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cook for 2 hours at 200º C, basting every 20 minutes or so.

pollo cocinado en escabeche

Sprinkle with parsley, to add colour, when done.

patatas asadas

Serve with roast potatoes, which can be cooked at the same time. Ideally, rest the bird in foil, while making a gravy.

escabeche cocinado

There were two layers of fat on top of the escabeche cooking liquid. I used the top layer to make a roux and and then stirred in the bottom layer (below the fat) of chicken and vegetables juices.

salsa de escabeche

I combined the escabeche roux with chicken stock and red wine to make a gravy.

The chicken tasted fantastic and was incredibly succulent – the escabeche worked in a similar way to brining. The acidic escabeche gravy really complimented the broad beans, green beans and cauliflower served with the bird. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Gallo Alejandro Chana Tinto from las Islas Canarias, with the roast.

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Sardinas en Escabeche

sardinas en escabeche

Food can be preserved en Escabeche using vinegar and olive oil for a considerable amount of time. This technique originated in Persia or Arabia several millennia ago. The word escabeche is derived from the Persian word sikbaj, meaning cooked in vinegar – al-sikbaj. Both the Greeks and Romans used vinegar as a preservative (the Romans used it to preserve fried fish and added it to their popular fish sauce Garum), so escabeche probably reached Spain long before the the Moorish conquest of Iberia. The Greeks and Romans both had fish preservation factories in Portugal and Spain. The Spanish added an extra taste dimension to escabeche when they discovered the Americas and brought pimentón (paprika) back to Europe.

Fish, meat and vegetables can be preserved en escabeche – there are 3 escabeig recipes listed in the 14th century Catalan cookbook, el Libre de Sant Sovi.  The later 16th century Libre del Coch (in part based on the Libre de Sant Sovi), lists pickled aubergine (berenjenas en escabeche), pickled rabbits (escabeche de conejos), pickled pandoras, sea bream, oysters and flounder in good escabeche (buen escabeche). In his book, Catalan Cuisine, Colman Andrews suggests that the word escabeche comes directly from the Catalan escabetxo – if the word had come from Castilian (the Spanish language), sikbaj, would have become cabej or escabege, whereas, escabetxo became escabeche. He goes on to say that it’s likely the Catalans introduced escabeche (in it’s modern form), to Europe.

sardinas al horno

I went into the fish shop, once again towards the end of the day, looking to buy sardines. The fish lady said I could have some for £1.99 a kilo, as long as I bought the whole kilo. I was very tempted, especially since they were already cleaned. I asked if the fish needed to be cooked that day, but she said that they were good for two more days – I was sold!

I went home and cooked 6 fish on top of onions, potatoes and garlic – see here for a similar recipe. I decided to preserve the remaining fish en escabeche. This recipe will also work well with mackerel fillets.


Sardines can be preserved en escabeche in two ways. The Catalan method has the fish dusted in flour and fried beforehand. I’ve used a southern Spanish method of poaching the sardines in escabeche without flour. Both methods are good – the pickling ingredients vary from house to house or village to village.

Sardinas en Escabeche:

3/4 Kg sardines
2 slices onion
6 cloves garlic (bruised)
1 carrot (julienned)
1/2 an unwaxed lemon
150ml extra virgin olive oil
150ml dry white wine
150ml white wine vinegar
a teaspoon sherry vinegar
a pinch coriander seeds
a pinch fennel seeds
a pinch black peppercorns
a pinch of thyme leaves
2 small sprigs rosemary
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
3 bay leaves
1 small hot chilli pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
16 turns cracked black pepper

Descale and gut the sardines (a good fishmonger will do this for you). Cut the heads off the sardines, slit them underneath, all the way to the tail. Open up the sardine, uncut back uppermost. Push down gently from head end to tail – this will loosen the backbone. Turn the fish over and remove the bone – cut to leave the tail end on.


Give the sardines a generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper. Drizzle a little of the olive oil into a cazuela or cast iron casserole and layer the fish on top.


Cut a couple of slices from a medium sized white onion, bruise and peel the garlic, julienne the carrot and mix with the remaining ingredients (but not the lemon or sherry vinegar) in a saucepan.

sardinas con escabeche

Warm the escabeche mixture in the saucepan, before pouring over the sardines.


Heat the sardines in escabeche until they start to simmer then turn down to the lowest heat setting, poach for no longer than 5 minutes.

en escabeche

Transfer the sardines to a glass jar – you can also leave them flat  in the cooking dish and then refrigerate when cool. Add all the vegetables, herbs and liquor, but try to pour most of the liquid through a sieve – a tea strainer is good for this! It will remove any fish skin and pimentón dust. Do taste the liquor first and add salt and pepper if necessary. Push the lemon down into the jar and pour on a teaspoon of sherry vinegar.

Allow the flavours to permeate for at least 24 hours in the fridge before serving and eat at room temperature, or warm the sardines up. In theory food in escabeche should last for some time, but do follow basic food preserving recommendations if you intend to keep the escabeche longer than a week or two. Claudia Roden suggests that sardines in escabeche will keep for two weeks in the fridge, using an escabeche of dry white wine, vinegar and olive oil in equal proportions. Of course, 2,000 years ago this was the safest food preservation method available – meat, fish and vegetables would have been kept this way for months, without pasteurisation (canning), because the vinegar would have killed all the bacteria and the oil on top stopped oxygen getting to the food. Pimentón also has some antibacterial properties and is used in curing ham.


Fish out the sardines from the jar and serve on a salad with some of the escabeche and pickled vegetables, at room temperature or heated up. You will notice that the sardines have mostly lost their skins, unlike the alternate method, where they are dusted in flour and fried first.


…or eat stirred into pasta, on top of toast or better still, Catalan coca.

I kept my sardines in the fridge for a week and they tasted amazing – firm when bitten – not exactly al dente, but the texture was much better than tinned!

Don’t throw away the escabeche when the sardines have been eaten, use it for salad dressings, dipping bread and even as a marinade for fish or meat.

I recommend drinking a glass or two of Blanc Pescador, from the Empordà region of Catalunya with your fish.

Other escabeche recipes.

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Pollo con Ajo y Limón

pollo con ajo y limón

Chicken with garlic and lemon is a popular dish in many countries and definitely Spain, which produces the largest amount of garlic in Europe and the 6th largest amount in the world. Spain doesn’t produce quite as many lemons globally, but it is, similarly, Europe’s largest producer. This is a fairly simple dish, the marinade is easy and once the bird goes into the oven, it can look after itself – no basting required.

pasta de ajo

Mash a whole (peeled) head of garlic, with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. I find it easier to chop the garlic a bit first.


the juice of 1 lemon
50ml extra virgin olive oil
a level teaspoon thyme leaves
a whole head of garlic turned to paste with a mortar and pestle
a pinch of sea salt and a few turns of ground black pepper


Mix the garlic with the juice of a lemon, 50ml olive oil, a level teaspoon of thyme and some sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Lemon and Garlic Chicken:

1 medium (about 3lb) chicken (spatchcocked), or chicken legs and thighs
1 medium onion (sliced)
a few slices of lemon
a handful of black olives
1/2 pint chicken stock
parsley to serve

Spatchcock the chicken. Lay it breast down and push down hard until you hear a crack.
Snip out the backbone with some strong kitchen scissors and lay the bird out flat. There’s no need for skewers unless cooking on a barbecue.


Spread the marinade over the chicken – inside and out. Allow to rest for 2 hours – if the weather is moderate it doesn’t need to be in the fridge, but if it’s hot (above 20º C), or you want to leave it longer, make sure it’s in the fridge. Do use a non reactive dish – not metal! This doesn’t need a long marination (lemon cures meat and chicken isn’t exactly tough to start with), it’s just to add flavour. Be careful not to put a cold ceramic dish (from the fridge) into a hot oven – it will crack!


Lift the chicken out of the cooking dish, pour any residual marinade into a jug and lay the sliced onion on the bottom.

caldo de pollo

Pour on 1/2 pint of chicken stock.

listo para cocinar

Return the chicken to the baking dish, above the onion. Pour the marinade from the jug, back on top of the bird. Place a few lemon slices on the chicken and sprinkle on a handful of black olives. Cook in a preheated oven at 220º C for one hour. Rest the chicken for 20 – 30 minutes (in foil) before carving.


Sprinkle with parsley and do squeeze on a little more fresh lemon juice.

salsa de limón

Make a gravy with the juices at the bottom of the pan, while the chicken rests.

patatas asadas

Serve with the onions, roast potatoes (which can be cooked in the oven at the same time) and seasonal vegetables. I recommend drinking a glass or two of El Pollo Alegre, a white wine made with Zalema grapes from D.O Condado de Huelva.

This is also a perfect barbecue dish, which should be served with allioli.

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Huevos a la Flamenca

huevo a la flamenca

Huevos a la Flamenca is a popular egg dish from Andalucia. Huevos a la Flamenca means flamenco style eggs, Flamenco being the music and culture of the Gitanos (gypsies) from the south of Spain. There is no proven etymology for the word flamenco, but it is said that the Gitanos themselves were called Flamencos, possibly with a slang origin of flamancia and flama, meaning fiery. Flamenco also means flamingo, the bird – they are bright like a flame and strut around as if dancing. The first written evidence of Flamenco was in 1774 by José Cadalso in his book Las Cartas Marruecas. Roma Gypsies arrived in Spain during the 15th Century coming to Europe via Egypt, hence the names Gitano and Gypsy, though linguistic and genetic evidence points to a North Indian origin. There may also be some Moorish influence in Flamenco (relative to Andalucia being the last Al Andalus stronghold in Spain), but the style of dance has many artistic similarities to that of Kathak dance from Northern India.

Huevos a la Flamenca is probably related to the North African dish Shakshouka. The Maghreb Shakshouka was created after the introduction of tomatoes and pimentón to Tunisia, when the Spanish occupied the region between 1535 and 1574. Shakshouka typically contains onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, pimentón and eggs. The dish sometimes contains preserved lemons, lamb, artichokes and broad beans. Shakshouka spread throughout the Ottoman Empire and Sephardic Jews living in the Maghreb introduced it to Israel, where it is quite popular.


Huevos a la Flamenca (serves 2):

1 large free range egg per person
a piece of picante chorizo (sarta) cut into 6 or 7 slices
2 slices jamón serrano (sliced)
1 medium onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 medium potatoes (chopped)
1 medium red bell pepper (chopped) or a pimiento rojo (blackened and peeled red pepper)
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
a handful fresh peas
1/4 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
1/4 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
a splash sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley (for decoration)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil

Cut 6 or 7 slices from a horseshoe shaped (sarta) chorizo picante and brown them in extra virgin olive oil. Remove to a plate.


I used leftover boiled potatoes (which is less time consuming than frying from raw), chop them into cubes and lightly colour in the same olive oil. Add more oil as necessary. Reserve to the same plate as the chorizo.


Poach (sofreír) the chopped onion in olive oil until it becomes soft.


Add the garlic and grate on the tomatoes.


Sprinkle on the pimentón and add a splash of sherry vinegar.

pimiento rojo

Stir in the chopped red pepper. Do use a pimiento rojo (a blackened and skinned red pepper) if you wish – they are sweeter and smokier than raw red pepper. Most supermarkets in the UK sell them in jars. Cover with a lid or plate and cook gently for 10 – 15 minutes to enrich the sauce and to allow the raw pepper to soften.

carne y patatas

Check the seasoning and return the chorizo and potatoes to the pan – stir in the chopped jamón. Don’t cook the jamón for a long time, it will become chewy.

huevo crudo

In Andalucia, this is often served in individual cazuelas, though sometimes it’s cooked in one big cazuela or frying pan with multiple eggs. So either make several indentations in your oven proof pan, or dish out the tomato mixture into individual bowls. Crack an egg per person into the indentations and put the Huevos a la Flamenca into a preheated oven at 200º C for about 10 minutes – check to see how they are doing after about 8 minutes.

While the dish cooks, shell a few fresh peas (you need about a handful) and put them on to simmer. When they are tender, drain the water and keep warm in the saucepan. Some people cook peas in the tomato mixture, but they look greener and more appetising if done separately.

Not everyone has an oven in Spain – where I lived on Carrer dels Escudellers (Barrio Gótico), back in the 90s, many apartments had originally been equipped with coal fired ranges. As small gas and electric burners became available, many people bought a two ring  hob and placed it on top of the range. Similarly, outside of town, people are more inclined to cook outdoors and ovens can be too warm during the hot summer months. Therefore, Huevos a la Flamenca sometimes comes with fried eggs on top or a plate is used to cover the pan while the eggs poach on the hob.


When ready, sprinkle the peas and parsley on top of the eggs with a little black pepper or a pinch of pimentón. Serve with grilled or toasted sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. I recommend drinking a glass or two of La Flamenca tinto  from Casa Balaguer with your eggs.

…and for a little music with your eggs, this is possibly the greatest Flamenco singer of all time, el Camarón de la Isla.

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Pork Osso Buco

meat and vegetables

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Pork Osso Buco  and was about to link to a previous recipe before realising that it had never been written! I cook this quite often and was quite surprised that I’d never put pen to paper. Osso Buco is traditionally shin of veal, sliced across the bone, so you get a nice round piece of meat with a marrow bone in the centre. Osso buco quite literally means bone with hole. In Italy, where the dish comes from (and in other parts of Europe), veal is relatively cheap and shin of veal is one of the cheapest cuts. In the UK, however, a 1970’s documentary on young veal calves being taken to Holland in crates, caused an uproar and generations of British people have shunned veal (which means it’s quite expensive) ever since. Sadly, what people don’t realise, is that veal is a by product of the dairy industry. Male dairy calves are born 50% of the time and for decades most of these have been shot within a few days of birth because they are not beef cattle. However, all these veal calves could have a reasonable life if the British knew the full story. Rose Veal calves are slaughtered much older than a regular chicken, pig or lamb – which is considerably better than just a few days!

But I digress, Pork Osso Buco is the porcine equivalent of the traditional veal and it’s incredibly cheap! It also comes from the same pig as your Sunday roast, so there are less ethical issues. Yesterday I walked into the butcher at about 4.30pm and noticed that the already economical pork was reduced to £2.85 per kilo and it was free range! I hesitated for a second, it was 30ºC outside and the meat needed to be cooked for supper or frozen. I had no specific dinner plans and having already cycled up to Muswell Hill for work on Monday (in similar heat), I thought “carpe diem” – a couple of hours with the oven on is nothing!

I cook this regularly and adjust the vegetables relative to what is seasonal. In the winter that usually means leaving out the red pepper and courgette. As this contains tomatoes, it’s relative to a modern style Osso Buco, as opposed to the original Osso Buco Bianco recipe.

Pork Osso Buco:

1kg pork osso buco
3 slices smoked streaky bacon
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
a stick celery (chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 medium courgette (chopped)
1 red romano pepper (chopped) or a red bell pepper
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
a large squirt tomato purée
2 squirts anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
2 dessertspoons plain flour seasoned with sea salt, cracked black pepper and 1/2 teaspoons English mustard powder
a splash red wine vinegar
a small glass red or white wine
1/2 pint chicken stock
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

pork osso buco

Season 2 dessertspoons of plain flour with sea salt, cracked black pepper and 1/2 teaspoons English mustard powder. Dust the osso buco with the seasoned flour and brown it in hot olive oil, then remove to a plate.

vegetables and stock

Gently fry the onion in the same pan (ideally a cast iron casserole). You will need to add more olive oil. When the onion becomes translucent, stir in the chopped bacon and as soon as the bacon takes some colour, grate on 4 medium tomatoes (cut in half, grate the wet side then dispose of the skin).

Mix in the remaining vegetables along with the tomato purée, anchovy paste, herbs, pimentón, red wine vinegar, white wine and chicken stock. Taste to see if any additional seasoning is necessary. Stir in a dessertspoonful of the remaining seasoned flour to thicken the sauce. Add more spice with a pinch of chilli if you wish.


Return the osso buco to the pot, sink it into the liquid, put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 160º C for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender to a fork.


Serve with rice or potatoes – it’s particularly good with mash! You will notice that I added a few peas and broad beans to my plate. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Cerdo Rojo (Red Pig) from Catalunya, with your pork.

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Braised Breast of Lamb

braised breast of lamb

Lamb breasts are one of the lesser known cuts of meat, most of them are used to make doner kebabs in the UK (know as Gyros in Greece and America). While this meat is a little bit tough, a long slow cook will make it succulent and tender. The most common way of cooking breast of lamb is to stuff it and roll it up. Sausage meat is often used as stuffing and it sometimes comes this way pre-prepared. This is also the cut of meat required for Breast of lamb St Ménéhould, as recorded by Elizabeth David in her book, An Omelette And A Glass Of Wine.

breast of lamb

Lamb breast is normally sold boned and ready rolled, in pieces weighing about 500g. Lamb goes very well with anchovies and garlic – here I’ve added cumin, relative to the way in which the Moors cooked lamb in Spain, which in turn led to the way in which the Spanish cook pork.

Lamb Stuffing:

500g breast of lamb
6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
3 large squirts of anchovy paste or 3 salted anchovies
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon thyme
a pinch of sea salt
10 back peppercorns
a drizzle of olive oil


Heat half a teaspoon of cumin seeds and when you smell them warming, grind up (using a mortar and pestle) with a teaspoon thyme, a pinch of salt and 10 black peppercorns.


Unroll the lamb breast and spread the anchovy paste on the inside. Do use 3 tinned anchovy fillets if you don’t have the paste, the end result will taste the same. Sprinkle with chopped garlic and the cumin mixture. Alternately, use sausage meat, breadcrumbs …and I even considered crab or black pudding!

Roll the lamb back up and retie it. My ties were elasticated, but if not, this is how to tie a simple butcher’s knot.

Braised Breast of Lamb (serves 2 greedy people):

500g breast of lamb (stuffed)
3 slices streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 stick celery (chopped)
a handful fresh coriander (chopped)
1/3rd pint chicken stock
a splash sherry vinegar
a splash dry white wine
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil

rolled breast of lamb

Brown the rolled lamb in a little olive oil, sprinkling on a little salt and pepper.


Remove to a plate when done.


Gently fry the chopped onion in plenty of extra virgin olive oil.


When the onion goes translucent, add the bacon.


Stir the bacon until it takes a little colour and mix in the other vegetables.


Add the coriander, or substitute parsley if you are not a fan!

lamb and vegetables

After 5 minutes or so, return the lamb to the casserole.

stock and wine

Pour on the stock, wine and sherry vinegar. When the liquid starts to bubble, put the lid on the casserole and remove to a preheated oven at 160ºC for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours.


As the oven is on, peel and cube a few potatoes. Bring to the boil in salted water, drain and allow the potatoes to dry in their own steam.

potatoes with pimentón

Sprinkle the potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of pimentón de la Vera dulce. Heat some olive oil in an oven dish, add the cubed potatoes and agitate every 10 minutes or so. These take about 90 minutes.


Turn the lamb breast occasionally. You will know it is done when the meat yields to the fork.

roast potatoes

Roast the potatoes until golden.

braised and browned

Leave the lid off to brown the meat and thicken the sauce for 20 minutes when the lamb is tender.

Slice the lamb and serve with the potatoes and seasonal vegetables. This will produce meat every bit as tender as the best leg of lamb. I recommend a glass or two of Oveja Tinta Graciano from Bodegas Fontana, with the lamb.

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Pork with Black Beans

pork with black beans

I had some Cajun roasted pork shoulder leftover from Sunday and some dried black beans (with a looming best by date) and decided to cook a Spanish style cocido with a Mexican chilli pepper influence. Just about all the beans we eat on a regular basis (in Europe, aside from broad beans) came from the Americas after 1492. The Spanish in particular, love beans and have incorporated them so much into all their regional cuisines, that one would almost expect the legumes to be native.

The black bean is considered a staple of South American cuisine and is very popular in Frijoles Negros (sometimes with pork) cooked in Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. A simpler vegetable and black bean dish called Moros y Cristianos can be found in just about every restaurant and kitchen in Cuba. Some recipes call for the addition of ham or bacon, though historically, I doubt many Cuban households could afford it. Moros y Cristianos is a dish of black beans and white rice – translated from Spanish it quite literally means Moors and Christians, a reference to Spanish Medieval history.

black beans

Pork with Black Beans (serves 4):

500g leftover roast pork (cubed)
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1/4 hot chorizo ring (sarta)
250g dried black beans
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 stick celery (chopped)
1 red romano pepper (chopped)
3 medium tomatoes (grated)
2 squirts anchovy paste
1 teaspoon oregano (ideally Mexican)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground)
1 1/2 teaspoons pimentón de la Vera dulce
1 dessertspoon chopped cilantro (coriander)
a pinch ground ancho chilli (to taste)
a pinch ground chipotle chilli (to taste)
2 bay leaves
a large glass red wine
a splash red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

to serve:

a teaspoon chopped coriander
a squeeze fresh lime
grated cheese

Soak the black beans overnight, rinse and cook gently for a couple of hours until tender. They should double in weight and size.


Poach the onion in plenty of extra virgin olive oil until soft.


Stir in the bacon and cook it until it changes colour.


Grate the tomatoes on top of the onions and bacon.


Cook for 4 or 5 minutes before adding the other vegetables.


Chop the pork into bite sized pieces and mix in. You can use fresh pork if you wish and if that is the case, brown it before frying the onion.

ground cumin

Warm a teaspoon of cumin seed in a frying pan until it smells fragrant. Grind the cumin and a pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle.

cumin and pimentón

Sprinkle on the oregano, ground cumin, pimentón and chilli.

beans and chorizo

Mix in the beans and add a piece of chorizo for flavour (this is common in Spanish cocidos).

bay and coriander

The bay leaves, wine, vinegar, a squirt or two of anchovy paste and the chopped coriander go in next. Season to taste.


Put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 160º C for 1 or 2 hours. The pork and beans have already been cooked, so this would be ready after an hour, but the longer you cook it the more the beans break down, making the sauce thick and creamy.

pork and beans

Sprinkle with a little more chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime fresh juice then serve with rice or corn tortillas and some grated cheese. This goes very well with a glass or two of Cerdo con Gusto (Pork with Taste) a Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain.

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Músclos a la Marinera

músclos a la marinera

I went out to buy sardines but got sidetracked by pork osso bucco and a kilo of mussels with a very silly price tag (£1.75) – they were practically giving them away! I conversed with the fish lady – she said she’d been talking to the mussels and tapping them occasionally to keep their spirits up, but they wouldn’t last another day and needed to go to a good home! Evidently this moral boosting worked because there were very few bivalve casualties!

perry court tomatoes

I had no idea how I was going to cook the mussels, but as I cycled home, remembered the first Perry Court tomatoes of the year – Martin the farmer had presented me with a large bag on Sunday. Catie was coming for supper and my initial idea was a marinara sauce with crusty bread, but it was a bit late in the day to find a decent baguette, so I decided on pasta instead.

Marinara (marinera in Catalan) sauce is said to have originated in Southern Italy around 1600, after tomatoes were introduced by the Spanish, who controlled two thirds of the country for several hundred years. The name marinara means mariners and it’s thought that the dish was created on board ships sailing from the Americas to Naples, or by fishermen who cooked while out at sea. Either way, it’s an incredibly versatile sauce that can be turned into many other dishes, such as puttanesca and arrabbiata or in my case músclos a la marinera.

Recepta de Músclos a la Marinera (serves 4):

1 kg fresh mussels
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 medium to large ripe tomatoes (grated)
a dessertspoon tomato purée
a large squeeze anchovy paste (or a couple of good quality tinned anchovies)
a handful of fresh basil leaves (torn)
a pinch of chipotle chilli flakes (or any chilli you have to hand)
a glass dry white wine
a splash or two of red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil

400g spaghetti
a few torn basil leaves for decoration


Gently poach the chopped onion in plenty of olive oil. When the onion becomes soft, add the garlic and grate on 4 medium to large ripe tomatoes (cut the tomatoes in half and grate the wet side – you will be left with a circle of skin, which can be disposed of or used in making stock). Stir in the tomato purée, a large squirt of anchovy paste, a pinch of chilli, black pepper, red wine vinegar and a glass of white wine. Sprinkle on some torn basil and the sauce is done, though simmering for 30 minutes or so will bring all the flavours together. Salt can be added if necessary, but use it sparingly because mussels can be quite salty naturally. This can be made ahead of time and heated up when you are ready for pasta and or mussels.

mussels in marinara

When hungry, make sure the marinara is simmering, have the mussels debearded and rinsed in cold water. Don’t soak them beforehand, it kills them! Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil (for pasta) and when the spaghetti goes in, add the mussels to the sauce – stir or shake them and put the lid on. When the pasta is al dente, drain the water (saving a cupful) and stir it into the músclos a la marinera – pour a splash of the cooking water into the pot with the spaghetti. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and a few torn basil leaves. Serve with salad and ideally, crusty bread.


Before eating the pasta, we enjoyed some griddled Perry Court asparagus,


with allioli – do try it, it works perfectly! We drank a bottle of citrusy Dabarca Vinho Verde (from Portugal), which is a perfect compliment to shellfish.

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