Wild boar forest pie

Wild boar is a meat that a lot of people have heard of and maybe seen on a restaurant menu but few have cooked at home. To get the maximum flavour and richness from wild boar it needs to be cooked low and slow so this pie recipe is a perfect introduction to it. In keeping with autumn ingredients I have paired the boar with the earthiness of porcini as it is wild mushroom season after all. This pie can be made in advance and is a great crowd pleaser. I made the boar sauce a couple of days before I needed it which really intensified the flavour. Not only do you get a pie recipe with this but you can also use  the wild boar base as a ragu which is delicious with pasta or creamy polenta so you get two ideas for one here!

Now just a quick word about mashed potato. I know potato ricers are popular up and down the country for a super smooth mash but I prefer to use a little (read ‘lot’) of elbow grease and mash for England with a good old stick masher! Yes, it is more time and labour intensive but it is still just as smooth so pick your weapon of choice and get mashing!

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Ingredients- serves 4
Vegetable oil
400g wild boar- diced into large chunks
1 large white onion -chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small pack of pancetta (optional)
20g dried porcini mushrooms- soaked
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml beef stock
Fresh thyme, bay leaves and 4 juniper berries
5 Maris Piper potatoes- peeled and halved
Unsalted butter
Milk
Salt and pepper

1. Get cracking by preheating the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take a large casserole pan and heat a good glug of oil over a medium to high heat. Add the chunks of boar and cook to brown them off. You can do this in a couple of batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan as this does not make for beautifully golden meat. When browned, remove the boar and set aside.

2. Next up keep the meat juices in the pan and cook the garlic, onion and pancetta (if using) until the onion is softened and the pancetta is turning golden. Pop in the carrot and celery and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and make sure it is all well combined.

3. Add the red wine and reduce by half before the stock, tomatoes and porcini go in. Pop in the herbs, juniper berries and season. Cover the pan and cook in the oven for 3 hours until the boar is tender and simply falls apart. Towards the end of cooking check the boar and the sauce should have reduced down; if it is still a bit too loose, simply remove the lid and finish off or simmer on the hob with the lid off. When the sauce is thick, remove from the heat and set aside as you make the mash.

4. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are tender when you prick them with a knife; drain well. Now for the bit that takes tasting to get spot on! Mash the potatoes like your life depends on it and add as much butter as your heart will take so give a creamy mash. Add a glug or two of milk if you like. Keep tasting as you go (I know, such a hardship!) until you end up with a creamy, well seasoned mash.

5. When the boar has cooled slightly, tip it into a large ovenproof dish and you are ready to top it with the potato. Now here comes another choice for you: to pipe or to dollop (very technical!) that is the question? I kept it simple for myself on this occasion and spooned some of the mash on before using the back of a spoon to smooth it over the boar. Take a fork and use the tines to lightly make indents. Top with a little freshly grated parmesan if you like and bake at 200c/ 180fan for around 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Wild boar and porcini forest pie- time to reinvent the classic cottage pie!

 

 

 

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Porcini mushroom, tomato and pancetta pasta

This is one of my go- to recipes for the middle of the week when you are after a satisfying yet lighter meal so I know you’ll love it too!

If there is one thing I can’t resist it’s a good old mushroom! Any variety keeps me happy however porcini keeps me very happy! In the UK you can pick up some decent dried mushrooms so I have used these here. You can use porcini by itself or a mixed selection of wild dried mushrooms if you can get them. The delicate earthiness of the mushroom weighs up the mouthwatering saltiness of the pancetta beautifully.

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Ingredients- serves 2
50g unsalted butter
50g pancetta- cubed
1 crushed garlic clove
20g dried porcini or mixed wild mushrooms
6 vine ripened tomatoes
1 small red chilli- dried or fresh
Handful of torn basil
150g dried penne or gigli

1. Before anything else you need to rehydrate the mushrooms by soaking them in  warm water. This usually takes around 10 minutes andthe mushrooms should feel soft when they are ready. Try and buy the best quality mushrooms you can and you really well tell the difference; your after decent sized pieces rather than mushroom dust!

2. Get a small non- stick pan and fry the pancetta cubes over a medium heat until they begin to turn golden. I don’t add any extra butter or oil to fry these as the natural fats do the trick. Remove the pancetta from the pan and blot on kitchen towel.

3. For the next stage you need a medium sized pan and melt 30g of the butter over a moderate heat. Add the garlic and snip the chilli into the pan and cook for 2 minutes. As a self- confessed chilli lover I think there is a time and place for dried chilli and this is one of them. Remember that dried chillies also contain seeds so remove them if you prefer a milder heat.

4. Quarter the tomatoes (or into sixths if they are larger) and add to the pan with the chilli and garlic. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes so that they tomatoes begin to reduce down and create a sauce. I then add the pancetta, softened mushrooms and the torn basil back into the pan and simmer for another 15 minutes. I  add some of the basil at this stage and save the rest to serve so it doesn’t disappear to nothing or go bitter. The sauce should be chunky and thick so that it coats the pasta.

5. Cook the pasta as per the cooking instructions and drain well. Add the remaining butter to the pasta and stir so each piece is coated. Combine the pasta and sauce and then it’s ready to go! Tear over a little extra basil and offer parmesan alongside. Using the best parmesan you can afford adds a little touch of luxury.

Porcini and pancetta- a perfectly moreish combination!

Veal, porcini and cavolo nero ragu

This veal, porcini and cavolo nero cannelloni was inspired by a recent trip to a local Italian restaurant where I had order envy! One of my fellow diners ordered a sumptuous veal cannelloni so I thought, ‘why not make a classic even more special?’. Veal mince is more widely available now and gives a lighter flavour but is still delicious. You will see that I have given you the recipes for the ragu and béchamel sauce but the photo is for the veal ragu served with spaghetti- ‘why?’ I hear you cry! Simple as this: time was short and hunger was high! We all get impatient from time to time but really do try it as a cannelloni!

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the filling
Olive oil
400g veal mince
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed or finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml white wine
25g dried porcini mushrooms- rehydrated
Fresh thyme
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
300ml beef stock
100g cavolo nero
Dried or fresh lasagne sheets
Freshly grated parmesan

For the béchamel sauce
500ml milk
1 onion- halved
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
50g butter
50g plain flour

1. I make the veal sauce in advance so it has plenty of time for the flavours to develop. Take a large pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium/ high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the veal mince. You may need to do this in two batches so the meat browns nicely. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. If the veal has released a fair bit of natural fat then drain a little away. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and carrot for until softening but not so the onions are catching too much colour. Add the tomato puree and stir so it is well combined before cooking for a minute or two before adding the porcini mushrooms and thyme.

3. I have chosen to use a dry white wine in this recipe to keep it lighter but feel free to use red if you would like. Add the wine to the pan and heat until reduced by half; this will deglaze the pan as well as adding flavour. Pour in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally. After the hour is up I then add the cavolo nero before giving it another half an hour or so. Season well.

4. Whilst the sauce is simmering away, you need to make the béchamel sauce which is going to top the cannelloni. For the sauce, secure the bay leaves to the onion halves using the cloves- this way you don’t have to go fishing around the saucepan to find the cloves later on! Add the milk to a small pan and bring to a boil before removing from the heat and allowing the flavours from the bay and clove to infuse for around 20 minutes.

5.Take another pan and melt the butter and flour together until a paste, or roux, is formed. Remove the onion, clove and bay from the pan containing the milk and slowly add the milk to the pan with the roux. Keep stirring so lumps don’t form! Simmer and stir until it thickens before removing it from the heat ready to pour over the cannelloni.

6. When the veal sauce is thick and reduced, you can get going on forming the cannelloni. Take the lasagne sheets and cook for a couple of minutes, drain and allow to cool until you can handle them. Each pasta will vary in time slightly so do refer to the packet instructions. Place a line of the veal sauce to one end of the lasagne sheet (not right on the end, leave a small gap) and roll. Place the pasta tube, seal side down, into a baking dish and repeat the process until the veal sauce has been used. Tuck each tube in snuggly. Pour over the béchamel sauce and grate over a little fresh parmesan. Bake in a 200c/ 180fan preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Veal, porcini and cavolo nero ragu which is fit for a king- a twist on an Italian classic!

 

 

Chestnut mushroom and porcini risotto

Picture the scene: you come home from a hard day in the office and want to spoil yourself with a luxurious yet simple dish. Well this hits the spot so kick off your shoes, throw on your apron and get stirring!

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Ingredients- serves 2 (double for 4)
50g unsalted butter
1 banana shallot finely chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
100g chestnut mushrooms sliced
10g rehydrated dried porcini mushrooms
175g arborio rice
600ml good vegetable stock
60ml dry white wine
40g grated fresh parmesan
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Drizzle of truffle oil

1. Heat half of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softening. Pop in the chestnut and porcini mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes. Make sure your mushrooms are finely sliced so any natural water can evaporate quickly.

2. Stir the rice through the mushrooms so the rice is well coated before adding your first ladle of hot vegetable stock. Stir and then stir some more until the stock had been absorbed. Carry on doing this until all the stock had been added and the rice has become soft and plump. This should take around. 20 minutes however some arborio rices may take a few minutes longer. If you need an extra splash out two of stock then go ahead as you want to achieve a creamy risotto.

3. When the rice is ready pop in the wine and stir well to absorb. Risotto purists may put the wine in first before any stock has been added however putting it in afterwards adds an edge which you just don’t get the other way around. When the wine has absorbed add the remaining butter,  parmesan and parsley. Cover the pan for a minute or two.

4. Serve your creamy risotto in warmed bowls and drizzle a little truffle oil over as well as an extra grate of parmesan.

Unctuous, silky risotto- the perfect midweek treat.