Slow braised oxtail with autumn mash

This week we have a cheap autumnal feel with slow braised oxtail. Oxtails have risen in price in the last 12 months due to the championing from celebrity chefs. But luckily, not all butchers have cottoned onto this and you can still find it cheaply priced. For example, I noticed oxtail down to £4.50 per kg last week at my local butcher's shop.

Just be aware that it needs slow cooking to produce a deep flavoured dish.

Ingredients

  • 2kg of oxtail - aim for top of the tail pieces (£9)
  • 3 red onions (68p)
  • 1kg of carrots (64p)
  • 1kg of swede (70p)
  • 1 garlic bulb (22p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 2 beef stock cubes, flour, tomato puree and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA (and the local butcher), where it came to £11.24 - that's £2.24 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 150C.
  • You'll need a good big heavy casserole dish that is capable of holding all the oxtail pieces. For 2 kg of oxtail you'll get five good pieces - firstly, coat the oxtails in seasoned flour. Give them a good coating as this will thicken the final sauce. Get a frying pan and drizzle in a little olive oil and make the pan nice and hot. Now add the oxtails and seal them on both sides. Once they are well-browned on both sides, take out the pan and set to one side.
  • Now turn the heat down slightly on the pan. Roughly slice the red onions and add them to the pan. Soften the onions down a little and add six (yes six!) finely chopped garlic cloves.
  • Whilst the onion and garlic is cooking on a low heat, make up two pints of beef stock. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pan and add to the casserole dish, then place the oxtails in the dish as well. Keep the frying pan for deglazing.
  • Then add one and a half pints of beef stock and a good twist of black pepper to the casserole dish. The remaining ½ pint of beef stock we can use for deglazing the frying pan. Get the pan nice and hot and add the stock and reduce down for three minutes (even better would be to deglaze the pan with red wine, if you've got some). Then stir in two tablespoons of tomato puree and add the stock to the casserole dish.
  • Cover the casserole dish with a lid and place in the oven for four to five hours. Check occasionally to make sure it doesn't need more liquid. And remove the lid for the final 30 minutes of cooking.
  • When out the oven it will be dark and rich with shiny, tasty gravy - let it rest for a little.
  • Serve with buttered mashed swede and carrot. Happy eating!

Pumpkin and sage risotto

In the interests of our vegetarian audience (and at the request of a few) this week's recipe is a little off track as there is no meat or fish involved. I'll be using pumpkin, which is cheap, tasty and best of all seasonal.

Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin, 250g (74p)
  • 25g of fresh sage (68p)
  • 1 medium onion (14p)
  • 50g of parmesan (81p)
  • 500g of arborio rice (95p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 1 vegetable stock cube and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA, where it came to £3.32 - that's 66p per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly finely chop the onion and dice the pumpkin into small cubes. Then get a heavy based pan on the heat, drizzle in a little olive oil and soften the onion. You don't want to get any colour on the onion. Whilst the onion is softening prepare 1 pint of boiling vegetable stock (try to get the stock warm as well for adding to the risotto).
  • Now add a handful (about 50g) of risotto rice to the pan for each person. Make sure you get the rice all nice and coated with the onions and oil. Then add the pumpkin and chopped sage leaves.
  • Now add a little stock and keep stirring over a medium heat. The more you stir the creamier the finished dish. Keep adding a little of the hot stock until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. You're looking for a silky, slightly loose finish.
  • Finely season with salt and pepper and a handful of parmesan.
  • Happy eating!

Breast of lamb with garlic mash and savoy cabbage

In this week's recipe, I'll be using breast of lamb. This really is a frugal cut from the animal and it really shouldn't cost anymore than £2.20 per kg from the local butchers. It takes some love and attention to get bang on and don't be scared of the fat on the cut - we'll cook it slowly so the fat renders down and stuff with lemon and thyme to help cut through the fat. Trust me.

Ingredients

  • 1kg of breast of lamb from local butchers (£2.20)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (30p)
  • 1.5kg of Tesco value potatoes (99p)
  • 25g of fresh thyme (68p)
  • 1 Savoy cabbage (50p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 1 vegetable stock cube and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £4.97 - that's 99p per head!

Instructions

  • Let's get the lamb prepared first as it needs some time in the oven. So, pre-heat the oven to 160C. Place the lamb skin side down and season with salt and black pepper. Then, finely chop the thyme, two gloves of garlic and the peel of one lemon. Scatter over the breast of lamb and then add a dash of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon.
  • Now for rolling the lamb! It's tough to explain so I've found a great picture guide here.
  • Once the meat is ready to go, get an oven proof pan on the heat, season the outside of the lamb and give it a small drizzle of oil. Now put it in the pan and brown on all sides, once browned pour in about 200 ml of vegetable stock (white wine is better if you have it), add the rest of the garlic cloves (unpeeled as for the mash), cover with a lid and cook for around 75 minutes in the pre-heated oven.Take the lid off for the last 25 minutes of cooking and turn the oven up to 175C.
  • All you need to do now is cook the potatoes and cabbage a little before the lamb is due out of the oven - 1.5kg of potatoes is ample for 5 people. Just cook and mash as you would normal mash but squeeze out the oven cooked garlic, mix into the mash and season.
  • For the cabbage I feel its best served lightly steamed (3-4 minutes) with a little seasoning. For the serving of the lamb remember to let it rest for 10 minutes when you get it out of the oven before serving. Then just cut across into slices and serve with a little of its own gravy. Happy eating!

Rosemary and lemon chicken thighs with spinach and potato salad


In this week's recipe I'll be using chicken thighs as a cracking alternative to chicken breasts. Not only are chicken thighs richer and have more flavour, they are also a great deal cheaper. You just need to bone and skin yourself to save a little more money if you wish.

Thighs will cost from £3.29 per kg to £6 per kg for organic, whereas chicken breasts will range from £11.49 per kg to £18 per kg. That's a saving of at least £8 per kg and personally, I'd take thighs over breasts any day.

(That is, when it comes to chicken...)

Ingredients

  • 1kg of free range chicken thighs (£3.38)
  • 180g of baby spinach (£1)
  • 250g of cherry tomatoes (74p)
  • 1 large red onion (10p)
  • 1 lemon (23p)
  • 400g of new potatoes, buy loose (52p)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (68p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt and black pepper, 1 garlic clove, sugar and white wine vinegar.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Asda, where it came to £6.65 - that's just £1.67 per head!

Instructions

  • Let's prep and get the chicken thighs marinating. Take out the bone of each thigh (just by running your knife both sides of the bone and then underneath the bone to remove) and remove the skin (or you could leave whole with bone and skin on - just score the skin a little to get the flavours in). Place the thighs in a marinade of chopped rosemary, the juice of one lemon, a glug of olive oil, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Try and let the flavours develop for a few hours - however it's not the end of the world if it's only for 20 minutes.
  • As the salad is served cold (obviously!), it's best to clean the new potatoes and cook in a pan of boiling salted water next - once cooked, cut the potatoes length-ways and chill.
  • Once the chicken thighs have marinated, place under the grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side (or a bit longer if they look thick in parts). If you decided to leave the skin and bone on the thigh, just place in a hot oven at 200C for 25 to 30 minutes - finish on the grill to get the skin crisp.
  • Whilst the chicken thighs are under the grill, we can put the salad together. Place the new potatoes, washed spinach leaves, finely sliced red onions and cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) into a large bowl.
  • For the dressing, blend 12 tablespoons of olive oil, four tablespoons of white wine vinegar, one crushed clove of garlic, salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar together. Pour the dressing over the salad in the bowl and mix gently with your hands.
  • Now for plating up - place the salad in the centre of each plate and serve the hot chicken thighs on top.
  • Happy eating!

Thai (Pollock) curry with egg noodles


We'll be looking at cheaper cuts of meat and cheaper more sustainable fish and how to make them into some fantastic meals over the next couple of months.

I'll be showing you some recipes that are great alternatives, and in my opinion equal alternatives, to the more expensive pork chops, chicken breasts and un-sustainable cod options.

This week we start with fish and Pollock as a great, cheaper alternative to Cod. Pollock should cost no more than £4.99 per kg, whereas cod will cost in the region of £12.99 to £16.99 per kg.

In terms of texture and taste there is little difference and remember to skin and bone yourself to save more money.

Recipe #15: Thai (Pollock) curry with egg noodles (serves four people)

  • 800g of filleted Pollock (£4 at £4.99 per kg)
  • 400ml of coconut milk (57p)
  • 500ml of fish stock (cupboard staple)
  • 1 red chilli (10p)
  • 8 shallots (48p)
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar (cupboard staple)
  • 2 tbsp of Thai fish sauce (cupboard staple)
  • 4 tbsp of Thai red curry paste (cupboard staple)
  • 400g of egg noodles (73p)
  • 2 limes (34p)
  • Small bunch of coriander (79p)

The cupboard staples...

Red curry paste, fish sauce, Black pepper, fish stock cube, sunflower oil and brown sugar

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Sainsbury's, where it came to £7.01 - that's £1.75 per head!

Instructions

  • Get a large frying pan on to the heat and fry off the finely sliced shallots and red chilli in a little oil for about two minutes. Then add the curry paste and fry off for a further minute on a reasonably high heat. You need to cook that paste out.
  • Now add the stock, fish sauce, coconut milk, brown sugar and a twist of black pepper and bring up to a gentle simmer for around seven minutes - we want to reduce the sauce down a little to intensify the flavours.
  • Whilst the sauce is simmering cook through the egg noodles and place into four bowls. The egg noodles will take no longer than three minutes at a gentle simmer.
  • The sauce should have reduced a little now. So add the Pollock fillets (it's your choice to add as four fillets or cut down into eight). The Pollock will need around three to five minutes to cook on a medium simmer dependant on the thickness of the fillets.
  • Now we're ready to serve - serve the curry over the rice noodles and add a sprinkle of finely chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime.
  • Happy eating!