Rabbit, bacon and thyme pie

Rabbit is an outrageously underrated meat - I suppose some people can only think of nice fluffy bunnies as pets and not for eating. The meat is perfect for novices of game as it has a slight gamey flavour yet has similar characteristics to chicken in terms of flavour and texture. There is an abundance of rabbit in the UK and we're right in season at the moment so your local butcher will be able to get wild rabbit if you pre-order - a wild rabbit should cost no more than £3.50 each.

Ingredients

  • 2 wild rabbits (£3.50 per rabbit - £7)
  • 250g unsmoked streaky bacon (£1.64)
  • 1 large onion (20p)
  • 125g of unsalted butter (£1)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (64p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, chicken stock cube (2), milk, flour, and garlic (2 cloves).

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 £10.32 - that's £2.06 per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly you'll need to joint the rabbits. Here's how it's done. Cut the hind quarters away from the body and separate the legs. Halve the leg joints. Cut the body horizontally through the backbone into two portions, stopping at the rib cage. Cut lengthways through the breastbone and divide the ribcage section in half. Flour and season the rabbit joints generously.
  • Now finely slice the onion and bacon and add a little butter (25g) to a very large saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil to stop the butter from burning. Add the rabbit joints and fry for 5 minutes until nice and browned and remove from the pan. Now add the onions and bacon and fry until brown.
  • Add the rabbit back to the pan along with the finely chopped garlic and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then add 2 pints of chicken stock and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Once simmered turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down completely.
  • Whilst the mixture is cooling down you can make the pastry. I prefer shortcrust for this pie. You can use flaky or rough puff if you wish.
  • For 12oz of shortcrust pastry (which will be more than enough to cover the pie dish) you will need 8oz of plain flour, 4oz of cubed butter, 5 tablespoons of cold water and a pinch of salt. Put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and run between your fingers to breadcrumb consistency. Then stir in (use a knife) a little water until the mixture becomes dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  • Now back to the rabbit mixture. You can either take the rabbit meat off the bone or just put the mixture into an ovenproof dish as it is - it depends on your personal preference. I would leave the bones on, so just fill the dish up with the mixture; cover with the pastry and brush with a little milk (remember to make a small hole in the middle to let the steam out). Cook for one hour at 200C.
  • I would serve with a big pile of comforting mash, happy eating!

Pork, chorizo and cannellini bean stew


It's two weeks in a row for pork and I know it's a little selfish, but the onset of the winter nights has had me craving a good spicy stew. And for me it comes no better than a Spanish style stew - using pork shoulder steaks is a great alternative to loin, fillet or chops and they really take to stewing as a method of cooking. The simplicity of this dish is amazing.

Ingredients

  • 850g of Tesco pork shoulder steaks (£4 - £4.71 per kg)
  • 1 can of Cannellini beans (79p)
  • 225g of Tesco chorizo (£2.35)
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (70p)
  • 2 medium red onions (28p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, paprika, dried chilli flakes and garlic (4 cloves).

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 £8.12 - that's £1.62 per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly slice the pork into strips, season and fry off in a heavy bottomed pan until brown all over. Remove from the pan and drain off any excess oil.
  • Now add the chorizo to the pan (cut into cubes), brown off for two minutes then add the roughly chopped onions, four teaspoons of paprika, 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes and the garlic. Fry for a further 2 minutes until the onion has softened.
  • Once the onions have softened add the pork back to the pan along with ½ a pint of water and the tomatoes. Season to taste.
  • Simmer the stew for 1 hour on a low heat with a lid on (add water if it looks like it needs it). After 1 hour remove the lid and add the cannellini beans. Simmer for a further 30 minutes.
  • Serve with some crusty bread and happy eating!

Organic value box from well hung meat company

This is a great organic box that can feed a family for a while - you just need to get the kids eating liver (with the bacon that shouldn't be a problem!).

http://www.wellhungmeat.com/desc.php?product_id=379

Twice cooked pork belly (with gravy) roast parsnips and sweet apple red cabbage

You've heard this one before I can hear you groan! Yes, pork belly has been done to death. But in my opinion it's a fantastic, if not better, alternative to the usual Sunday roast and at £3.99 per kg it can't be ignored - it's the perfect comfort food to comfort us during recession. The twice cooking method does take some time (overnight) and it will need attention but the results are truly amazing.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg of Tesco belly pork (£4.79 - £3.99 per kg)
  • 1 large red onion (21p)
  • 2 Cox apples (48p)
  • 1 medium red cabbage (50p)
  • 700g of parsnips (79p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, brown sugar, peppercorns, butter, flour and bay leaves.

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 £6.75 - that's £1.35 per head!

Instructions

  • You will need a pan large enough to take the belly pork in one single layer and so the water covers the pork. Fill the pan with cold water, a few peppercorns and three bay leaves - you will need to weight the pork down so it stays submerged. Bring up to the simmer and remove the impurities that rise to the top, simmer for around 2 hours (remembering to keep topping up the water!). When the pork is ready it will take a knife through the thickest part with very little resistance. Do not throw away the liquid as we'll use the lovely stock created to make gravy.
  • Once the pork is cooked remove from the pan and let it cool right down. Once cooled wrap in cling film and place a dish and a good weight on top of the pork and place in the fridge overnight. I find a good heavy stone mortar works perfectly; if you don't have one then six cans of beans will work just fine!
  • When you're ready to start cooking the next day get the pork out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it so it gets up to room temperature.
  • For the gravy take the stock you saved from yesterday and remove any fat that has formed. Place in a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Once up to the boil season and bring down to a simmer. There are many ways to thicken sauces and I prefer a method called beurre manie for this gravy - to make it incorporate one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of flour in a bowl to make a smooth paste. Now add to the stock whisking all the time and it will thicken the stock nicely (make sure you simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to cook the flour out a little). Add a drop of red wine if you have that as well.
  • For the accompanying roast parsnip dish, you will need to par boil the parsnips and then roast for 25 minutes at 220C. The parsnips will need seasoning and a good glug of olive oil before roasting. The parsnips can go in the oven at the same time as the pork belly (see below).
  • For the sweet apple red cabbage dish, peel and core the apples and finely slice. Also finely slice the red onion and half of the red cabbage. Now get a saucepan on a medium heat with some olive oil and add the apples and onions - sauté for 3 minutes before adding the finely sliced red cabbage. Season and add a good pinch of brown sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes until the cabbage softens a little.
  • The pork belly just needs seasoning with salt and black pepper, then place on a wire rack and cook at 220C for 25 minutes. I find it easier to cut the pork belly into portions before placing in the oven. Once out the oven you will have a lovely crisp crackling and the meat will be very tender inside.
  • Serve with the gravy and accompanying dishes - happy eating!

Spiced whole mackerel with a chickpea, tomato and coriander salad

One of the most sustainable fish in our waters is mackerel. It's also got a great deal going for it. It's cheap, nutritious, has bags of flavour and easy to cook. It can be a little oily for some so this salad adds a nice acidity that really balances the dish.

Ingredients

  • 5 whole fresh mackerel (£6.50- £1.30 each at the Sainsbury's fish counter)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (39p)
  • 1 lemon (19p)
  • 10 medium tomatoes (84p)
  • 1 large red onion (20p)
  • 25g (small bunch) of coriander (64p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 1 garlic clove, cumin, cayenne and turmeric

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA (and Sainsbury's fish counter), where it came to £8.76 - that's £1.75 per head!

Instructions

  • First up is to prepare the marinade for the fish and get the flavours developing. It's really simple. Grab a bowl and add 1 grated clove of garlic, 3 teaspoons of cumin, 4 teaspoons of cayenne and 2 teaspoons of turmeric - mix this together with a good glug of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Now take the fish and make some small incisions into the flesh (not too deep we just want to get some flavour into the flesh) and pour over the marinade. Give it a good rub into the fish and place in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • Whilst the fish is marinating you can make the salad. Finely chop the red onion, coriander and tomatoes. I would de-seed the tomatoes before you chop them. Put all the chopped ingredients in a bowl along with the chickpeas, a little salt and pepper, three tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Mix together and place in the fridge whilst you cook the fish.
  • Get the grill on a medium-high heat and cook the fish for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. The beauty of mackerel is that the skin can really take the heat, so don't be scared of the fish burning. We need some colour on it!
  • Serve with the salad and happy eating!