Tag Archives: Bacon

Boeuf en Daube for The Care to Cook Recipe Challenge

What dish would you cook to welcome someone into your home? This is the question posed in the Care to Cook Recipe Challenge I’m entering, a competition held by Vanesther at one of my favourite family food blogs, Bangers & Mash Chat. The challenge raises awareness of the wonderful charity TACT who provide fostering and adoption services to help some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK. TACT have recently launched their own cook book Care to Cook with recipes donated by the charities adopters, supporters and staff. At only £3.00, with all proceeds directly benefiting adopted children and their new families, this has to be a steal!.

Living abroad and in a particularly nice place to kick back in (well we think so anyway!) we regularly have friends and family to stay at Chez Foti. With almost all of our guests coming from England, I always try to serve something classically French for at least the first dinner. A couple of weeks ago we had my brother in law Patrice and nephew James to stay for a week and I made Boeuf en Daube to welcome them to our home.

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Beef in Daube recipe

Boeuf en Daube originating from Provence is a fabulously fragrant, hearty and gutsy braised beef dish slow cooked in the oven in red wine, lardons, chopped tomatoes, shallots, garlic, thyme and orange peel. Although similar in sound to a Boeuf Bourguinon it tastes pretty different due to the addition of tomatoes, preserved anchovies and orange peel and the slow baking in the oven rather than on a hob.

I used my first pulled carrots of the year to make this, possibly a little on the small side but I couldn’t resist. It goes without saying that the garlic, shallots, onion and herbs were all homegrown Chez Foti too.

The first carrots of the season!

The beef is great served at this time of year with roasted new potatoes (roasted whole in the oven with plenty of rosemary, lemon wedges, garlic, salt, black pepper and olive oil) and a simple braised or steamed seasonal green veggie (I served mine with braised chard). And a nice bottle of red obviously. By the way the beef is even more amazing served the next day or the day after that, so a great dish to be made in advance.

Enough for six grown up folk: 

1.2 kilos of beef shin or chuck, cut into a large 5 cm dice

salt & pepper

3 tablespoons of olive oil

200g of lardons or diced streaky bacon

a medium onion, diced

10 shallots, halved

5 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

650ml of red wine, nothing too special

3 carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

a 400g can of chopped tomatoes

250ml of good quality beef stock

2 tinned or jarred anchovies (preserved in oil)

3 large strips/peelings of orange zest

4 large sprigs of fresh thyme

4 large sprigs of fresh parsley

3 bay leaves

Season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy based casserole or Le Creuset (it must have a lid and be oven proof). Fry the beef on a high temperature until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now fry the lardons or bacon in the remainder of the fat. Once they’ve taken on a little colour remove from the pan with the slotted spoon and set aside with the beef.

Reduce the heat, and into the same pan and fat throw the onion and shallot halves. Stir at intervals but allow to gently saute for 8 to 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic for a further couple of minutes before re-introducing the beef and lardons to the pan.

Pour over the wine and give everything a good stir. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer reasonably vigorously for 30 minutes until the wine is considerably reduced.

Meanwhile prepare a bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Peel three strips of orange zest from a whole orange, each of roughly 6cm by 2cm.

Once reduced add to the beef the carrots, celery, chopped tomatoes, beef stock, anchovies, orange zest, bouquet garni and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Bring back to a simmer and take off the hob. Cover and place in a preheated to 160ºC oven for 2 hours, but giving everything a thorough stir at least a couple of times during the cooking process (add a little more stock or water if things start to look a little dry).

Here’s some other classic French dinners I’ve served to welcome our guests to Chez Foti: Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguinon, Moules Frites, Tartiflette, A Summary Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

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Classic Bolognese

I feel a bit of a con blogging a recipe for bolognese sauce, as I’m pretty sure everyone can rustle up a simple spag bol. Nevertheless I’d like to share with you the recipe I invariably use after many years of bolognese making. I’ve experimented with adding pork mince, white wine, different veggies, chicken livers etc and whilst they’re all lovely in their own right this is very definitely my personal favourite and indeed the most traditional.

The key is in plenty of red wine, good quality low fat beef mince (ideally get your butcher to mince it in front of you so you know exactly what you’re getting), lardons or streaky bacon, good tinned tomatoes, and a very long slow simmering, at least two but preferably nearer three hours. It might take a long time to cook but the preparation is literally only minutes, especially if you happen to have a food processor to do all the chopping for you. Another top tip is to throw in any Parmesan cheese rinds you have lurking, it’s amazing how much flavour can come out of the rind with a long slow cooking. Never ever throw them away again!

I make mine in large quantities (at least double the ingredients below) so that I can make lasagnes too (recipe blog coming up) and store the rest in the freezer for lazy instant dinners.

My kids eat this with us, but I also make them a Kids Bolognese sauce sometimes minus the wine and lardons and packed full of lots of lovely veggies.

Enough to feed a family of 4 twice:

1 large onion

1 carrot

2 sticks of celery

3 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

600g of good quality low fat beef mince

180g of lardons or streaky bacon

320g of mushrooms, finely sliced

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

a large pinch of black pepper

a teaspoon of Worcester sauce

400ml of red wine

2 x 400g cans of good quality chopped tomatoes

parmesan rind (optional)

grated parmesan – to serve

Begin with very finely dicing the onions, celery and carrot. If you have a food processor use it, it’ll pulse up everything in a flash. I like my onions and veggies diced particularly small so they unidentifiably blend into the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and throw in the onion, celery and carrot together with the finely chopped garlic. Cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes stirring regularly so nothing catches. Turn the heat up and add the minced beef. You want the meat to caramelise slightly and be fully browned all over. Stir every few minutes.

Whilst the beef is browning fry the lardons or streaky bacon in a separate frying pan. You don’t need to add any additional fat. Mop up any excess water or fat from the bacon with kitchen roll as you go along, if there is any. Fry until slightly golden.

Once the beef is browned add the finely sliced mushrooms, cooked lardons, bay leaves, oregano, black pepper and Worcester sauce. Cook for a further couple of minutes stirring regularly. Pour in the red wine and bring to a gentle simmer.

Once most of the wine has evaporated add the chopped tomatoes and any Parmesan rinds you have lurking.

Bring back to a simmer, cover, and leave to gently bubble away on the lowest heat setting you have for two to three hours.

Serve with a generous grating of fresh Parmesan on the top on a bed of spaghetti or pasta of your choice.

Have you tried some of my other pasta dishes? How about Roasted Veggie Lasagne, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, Pasta & Meatballs, Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne or Jamie’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes & Mozzarella?


Braised Venison in Red Wine & Brandy

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Last week we were very kindly given a couple of haunches of venison from the local chasse (hunters).Talk about local, they might even have been living in our garden. We see them quite often here but only for a split second before they shyly scarper away. Wild deer are extremely timid creatures.

Venison is such a wonderfully lean and incredibly flavoursome meat, I love it. With haunch number one I removed most of the fabulous meat, cut it into 4 cm cubes and left it to marinade for a couple of nights in red wine, brandy, juniper, bay, thyme and plenty of black pepper, before slowly braising in the marinade with carrots, onions, garlic, celery and lardons. The remaining scrags of meat and bone were braised in more red wine and veggies and greedily enjoyed that evening with a pile of buttery mash. Haunch number two is in the freezer awaiting inspiration.

I often use juniper berries as a flavouring with game. For this dish I use them loose as part of the marinade then tie them in a piece of muslin for the cooking, so as to extract maximum flavour without the risk of accidentally eating one which is not a particularly pleasant experience.

Enough for 4 grown ups, or a family of 4 with a few leftovers:
a kilo of venison shoulder, haunch or leg meat, cut into 4cm cubes
400ml of red wine
3 tablespoons of brandy
10 juniper berries
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
a large pinch of sea salt
a teaspoon of roughly ground black pepper
a tablespoon of plain flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
200g of lardons or streaky bacon
an onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
400ml of good quality beef stock
a little chopped fresh parsley to serve

Firstly marinade your meat, at least overnight, maybe for two nights if you have the time. Place the venison pieces in a large bowl with the red wine, brandy, juniper berries, thyme (leave the sprigs whole), bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir everything around a little, cover and place in the fridge to marinade.

When it’s time to braise, drain the meat from the marinade, making sure you retain all the lovely liquor. Set aside the marinade and dry the venison on some kitchen roll. Coat the meat in the tablespoon of plain flour. Tie the juniper berries in a small square of muslin if you have any.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish until very hot. Add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the lardons or streaky bacon, diced onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the same pan. Add a dash more olive oil if there wasn’t much left after cooking the meat. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reintroduce the venison to the pan, along with marinade liquor, herbs and muslin juniper parcel. Bring to a simmer before pouring in the stock.

Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook on a very gentle heat for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is extremely tender. Have a final taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and juniper bundle (if used).

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley over the top. Braised venison is particularly great served with my Boulangere Potatoes (made with thyme) and a simple steamed green veggie.

If you liked this, have you tried my Beef in Guinness, Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce, The Best Chilli on Carne ever, or Coq au Vin recipes?


Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

I cut into the last of our pumpkins to make this soup. I never actually thought we’d get to the end of our almighty Autumn harvest but now we’re on the last one I’m more than a touch sad!. Though I’m very excited about growing plenty more of these wonderful orange monsters again this summer, despite spending most of the last one cursing them for the enormity of space they took up and vowing never to bother again! My opinions however quickly changed after our first homegrown pumpkiny dinner (I think it was indeed a roast pumpkin soup), far more delicious and sweet than I thought possible of the humble pumpkin. The ones you buy in the UK, particularly around Halloween time, can be so bland and devoid of any real flavour, and I assumed our orange monsters would be the same. So wrong! I think the hot Southern French sun worked it’s magical wonders on my patch, each and every one were delicioso.

Not only are pumpkins so incredibly easy and fun to grow, albeit taking up way too much room, they are wonderful and versatile to cook with providing they have a half decent sunkissed flavour that is. I’ve added diced pumpkin to virtually all my stews and casseroles throughout the autumn and winter, stir fries, pasta dishes, curries, and obviously soup a plenty. It’s also a great veg to accompany a roast dinner, cut into large chunks and roasted in the oven with a little chilli and/or bacon pieces and plenty of black pepper.  Porky flavours work really well with pumpkin and squash which is how I came to concoct this soup. Might sound a little weird but it’s oh so lovely!.

Enough for a couple of servings each for a family of four:

1 kilo of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut squash, skin removed and cut into 2cm chunks

olive oil

salt & pepper

the merest pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

80g lardons or streaky bacon, diced

600ml of chicken stock plus a little more water to thin down

Rub a tablespoon of olive oil into the pumpkin chunks along with a little salt, a generous grinding of black pepper, and the chilli flakes, rubbing the oil onto all sides of the pumpkin. Place on a baking tray in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 220°C. The pumpkin is ready when it’s soft and starting to brown a little. Turn at least once during the cooking time.

Meanwhile heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until softened a little, now add the lardons or bacon. Continue to cook on a medium heat for a further 7-8 minutes  until the lardons or bacon are browning, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Once the pumpkin is roasted add it to the onions and bacon and cook for a further couple of minutes then add the stock. Bring to the boil and leave on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes of simmering remove the soup from the heat and whiz thoroughly, I usually use a stick blender to do this as it’s much less washing up than a processor or blender!. Taste the soup and add a generous grinding of black pepper to suit, it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and stock. Thin down with water to make to your desired thickness. We tend to eat our soups really thick as they’re easier for the wee ones to spoon.

Here’s some other Chez Foti soup recipes: Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup), Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

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Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce with Leek & Mustard Mash

This was our Sunday dinner last weekend and inarguably makes my Sunday Food Heaven top 5 list!. We all LOVED it, and needless to say there weren’t many chickenie leftovers!

I’m really into pot roasting meat these days as it by-passes having to use an oven, and as I’m sure most of you are well aware our temporary gas oven is worse than dreadful and best avoided at all costs. I daren’t buy a decent bird or joint of meat until it’s replaced, unless I can pot roast it on the hob. If you have a slightly older chicken (as we had, a gift from a neighbour) then this is also a particularly great way to cook it and retain as much moisture in the meat as you can. Older in age I mean, not old in the sense of it knocking around the fridge for a couple of weeks!.

Steamed in plenty of white wine, lardons (or streaky bacon if you can’t source), thyme, bay, garlic and onion, then thickened with a little crème fraiche at the end, this is a rather splendidly rich dish yet somehow light at the same time. I like to serve a mound of fluffy leek and wholegrain mustard mashed potato on the side as well as a simple steamed green veg, and in our case french beans fresh from the freezer (fresh from the garden last summer anyway!). Leek & mustard mash is also great with sausages, a pork joint or chops or just a plain roasted chicken.

If you happen to have fussy kids (we have one!) then with very little effort you can adapt this dinner to suit the whole family. If your kids don’t ‘do’ sauces as many seem not to (our daughter recoils with horror at anything other than gravy!) then they can just have the plain chicken, leaving even more delish sauce for those that can appreciate it. Similarly on the mash front I tend to keep a little plain mash back before adding the mustard and leeks. As it happened they both ate the lot today, sauce and all.

Enough for 4:

2 tbsps olive oil

salt & pepper

an average sized chicken (about 1.5kg)

1 smallish onion, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g lardons or streaky bacon

500ml white wine

500ml chicken stock

4 large sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

3 bay leaves

4 heaped tbsps of creme fraiche

For the Leek & Mustard Mash:

900g of peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks, thoroughly washed and finely sliced

30g butter

a dash of milk

salt & pepper

1 to 2 tbsps wholegrain mustard

Add the olive oil to a very large saucepan or casserole dish (it must be able to easily contain the chicken and have a lid), place on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a  little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the onions and garlic in the same pan and sauté on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Add the lardons and cook for a further 5 minutes. Put the chicken back in the pan with the onions and lardons, along with the white wine, chicken stock, the thyme and bay leaves and last but not least a generous grinding of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for one and a half hours with the lid on. The chicken is ready when it falls easily off the bone.

Whilst the chicken is simmering away make your mash. Boil the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water. While they’re boiling saute the sliced leeks in a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, stir regularly and saute for about 10 minutes until very soft. If the leeks are catching on the bottom a little too much, add a splash of water. When the potatoes are cooked drain and leave to steam for a couple of minutes to dry out. Mash with a potato masher, mashing in the butter, a dash of milk, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the cooked leeks and the wholegrain mustard. Start with just one tablespoon of the mustard and taste, add more to suit your taste – I like about two tablespoons!.

When the chicken’s cooked, remove from the pan and leave to rest in a covered dish or a roasting pan covered with foil, so that it stays warm. Stir the creme fraiche into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is a little thicker. Pour into a serving jug.

Carve the chicken and serve with a generous pouring of sauce over thet top, a mound of mash and a green veggie on the side. Perfect.

Have you tried my Coq au VinSimple Chicken Stew or Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans recipes?


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