Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder

DonQui has been looking forward to trying out the lamb shoulder he had marinated overnight (see previous post).

img_9231As soon as he gets up, even before his morning cup of tea, DonQui chops up some vegetables (shallots, carrots and celery, along with a couple of garlic cloves and a sprig of rosemary) and pops them into a clay oven (Römertopf) which had been soaking in water overnight.


The lamb goes on top along with the residual marinade (see previous post), a splash of white wine and a splash of lamb stock.

img_9233The lid goes on and the clay pot goes into a cold oven (otherwise it could crack) which DonQui turns up to 120º C. It resides undisturbed in the oven for the next 5 hours.


DonQui seeks a peak at around the 3 hour point. All looks great and the kitchen is filled with the most wonderful smells.

img_9236Thirty minutes before serving, DonQui sets the meat off to one side to keep warm while he cooks up some red Camargue rice and prepares the vegetables.

img_9238To make the gravy he strains the lovely juices from the bottom of the clay pot into a base of lamb stock thickened with a roux of flour and butter. He discards the vegetables as they have done their job infusing the sauce. He separately prepares some far less cooked carrots, broccoli, mange-tout, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes  for eating.

DonQui apologises that he forgot to take a photo of the finished dish. The lamb was so tender that he just pulled it apart, set it on a bed of rice, and arranged vegetables around it. He poured some of the sauce overtop, with extra on the side along with some recurrent jelly.

He will most definitely try this again.

Food Anticipation

DonQui loves slow cooked food and he also loves lamb.

A neighbour who keeps sheep as living lawnmowers has just had a lamb slaughtered and DonQui takes the opportunity to acquire half of one of them.

He decides that tomorrow he would like to try cooking a slow roasted lamb shoulder.


His first step is to marinate half a shoulder in a mixture of rosemary, thyme, white pepper and crushed garlic, along with a dash each of white wine and soy sauce, as well as a teaspoonful of Dijon mustard. He will leave this covered in the fridge overnight.

Gooseberry Crumble

Returning from his travels in Spain, Italy and Tanzania, DonQui finds his allotment burgeoning with all sorts of delectable fruits and vegetables.


strawberry cropThe beans and kale are coming along nicely while the soft fruits are better than ever. Before he went away the strawberries produced an excellent crop. Now it is the time for the gooseberries and raspberries.


DonQui likes gooseberries – or ‘goosegogs‘ as his Mum used to call them. They bring coltish memories. As they are not often found in the shops these days he is happy to find a good crop waiting for him. A bit that on their own, gooseberries require a bit of cooking and added sugar to bring out their full potential so DonQui decided that a gooseberry crumble is in order.


To balance their tartness, DonQui decides to add some apple to the mix.

In the past whenever DonQui has made crumble the topping has tended to be rather soft and insipid. This time he takes a different approach and it works brilliantly, giving a nice crispy top to the fruit mixture.

Here is DonQui’s recipe. He apologises in advance for his vagueness on measurements but that is how he is. DonQui experiments and judges according to feel which makes it difficult to translate into a fail-safe recipe:

For the topping

a good slab of unsalted butter
a nice dollop of golden syrup (maple syrup would be a more expensive but excellent substitute)
about a table spoon of demerara sugar
a good scoop of jumbo oats
an equal sized scoop of plain flour
a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts


Heat oven to 140C. Melt the syrup and butter together in a small saucepan.


Mix the dry ingredients into the melted butter mixture (away from the heat) and stir through well. You should be looking for a moderately dry crumbly constituency. If too wet add some more oats and flour

crumble mix

Spread the mixture over a baking sheet and cook for 5 mins at 140º until it starts to go golden, then mix about, turning it over, and cook for about 5 mins more until it starts to go crisp but not burning.

crumble baked

The crumble mix can be kept in the fridge for several days. The amount that DonQui made was good for two crumbles, the second one he made the following day using the left over topping mix. By the way this mix makes a rather delicious snack on its own.

For the fruit mixture
1 eating apple (don’t use a cooking apple as the whole point is to reduce the tartness)
lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice
a couple of tablespoons of golden caster sugar according to taste
A nice pile of gooseberries. You can add other soft fruits such as raspberries and currents to go along with the gooseberries. DonQui added a handful of raspberries and a couple of blackcurrants.
a teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with water

applePeel, core and chop the apples – throw them into a saucepan with a squeeze of lemon juice to stop them browning. Stir in the sugar and cook gently, covered, until the apple begins to soften.

Top and tail the gooseberries and add to the apple along with the lemon zest and any other soft fruits. Cook covered for 2-3 mins until they too begin to soften and leach juices but not to the point that they burst. Stir in the arrowroot and remove from the heat as soon as it begins to thicken. The fruit mixture can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or it can be frozen for much later use.
crumble done

Tip the fruit into a baking dish and scatter the crumble mix on top. Bake for 10 mins until piping hot through. Serve with buckets of custard!

raspberrie crumble

The following day DonQui enhanced the leftovers with some raspberries for a second go at it.



The Earth’s Bounty

It would be no exaggeration to say that DonQui has been feeling utterly depressed and dejected since the results of the UK’s referendum to leave the EU. He knows he must pick himself up, dust himself off and get on with the business of living in the present even if he worries for the future.

DonQui depressed.jpg

The earth carries on producing without regard to politics so DonQui goes up to the allotment to do a bit of weeding to get his mind off the referendum and to sort things out after his week away in Spain.


He is amazed at the progress. The curly kale is ready for cropping and the strawberries are producing more fruit than ever before.

strawberry crop

DonQui only picks the ripest strawberries but the crop is overwhelming. There are as many or more which will be just as fully ripe tomorrow and the day after.

After a week in central Spain, about as far as it is possible to be away from the sea in that country, DonQui feels like having some fish for dinner. He also wants to use some of his maturing kale and decides that Salmon would go best.


He is rather proud of the result — Salmon baked with tarragon from the allotment (the tarragon that is, not the salmon) lemon, olive oil and white wine. This was simply put in the oven at 180º, covered with tin foil and baked for 20 minutes. The kale from his allotment was boiled for about 4 minutes and then drained and stirred with butter. Being young and tender the leaves did not need more than this. Later in the year the kale will need cooking longer. Other accompaniments were cherry tomatoes (also baked in the oven) and fine green beens.

strawberry desert

As for the strawberries they were for desert with lashings of cream and DonQui will have some of the rest for breakfast.

The English soil is still producing excellent results even if the electorate are not.

Easter Lamb

At Easter DonQui Oaty really likes to cook a leg of fresh spring lamb. He has been doing this for years following a recipe he has adapted from Gourmet Magazine (April 1990). As usual DonQui’s measurements are rather imprecise as he rarely measures anything precisely.

1 whole leg of lamb
2 carrots roughly chopped
2 onions quartered
1 celery stalk roughly chopped
olive oil

For the Marinade:
2 crushed garlic cloves
a good amount of chopped fresh rosemary
a good amount of chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a good glug of olive oil
a good glug of dry white wine
lemon zest
pepper to taste


Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Rub into the lamb all over, reserving a bit for cooking later. Place the lamb in the roasting tray and loosely cover with foil. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours — even better if you can leave it overnight.

lamb start.jpg

On the feast day take the lamb out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking so it comes up to room temperature.

Pre-heat oven to 240ºC

Place the chopped vegetables on the bottom of the roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place the lamb on a rack above them.

Put it in the oven and roast in the middle of the oven fat side up for 10 minutes at the high heat.

Turn down to 180º and roast for another 1 hr 10 mins (1hr 20 mins in total for a full leg)
At about the half-way point brush the lamb with the reserved marinade.

Take the lamb out of the oven and let stand for 20 minutes on the carving board while you prepare the gravy and finish off the vegetables.

lamb done.jpg

For the gravy DonQui uses his Rich Meat Sauce recipe (including the recurrent jelly) as the base. This he prepares well in advance. When the lamb is resting he deglazes the roasting pan with red wine and strains it into the gravy base. He also pours in the juices which collect in the channels on the carving board as the lamb rests.


He serves with roast potatoes which he puts in the top of the oven at the half way point after the lamb has been cooking for 40 minutes. This gives them 60 minutes to get really nice and brown (the remaining 40 minutes cooking time plus the 20 minutes resting). DonQui is now quite proud of his roasties but it has taken him quite some time to master them. At some point he will write about his method.

For vegetables DonQui goes for a medley of baby carrots, fine green beans and baby corn. He parboils each for 4-5 minutes in advance. Then when the lamb is resting he swishes them around in a large pan with melted butter, salt pepper and thyme for a couple of minutes until they are well combined and nicely heated through.



Soft on Cabbage

Oh dear!

It looks like DonQui Oaty – the great carnivore and scourge of  vegetarians everywhere –  is going a bit soft on cabbage.

Well not soft really.

If DonQui has a problem with vegetables it stems from 1960s English cooking and school dinners. Back then an alarming degree of softness was always obtained by boiling everything for a good 20 minutes or more. If DonQui is going to enjoy something that has sprung out of the ground rather than having run around on it, then it needs to still retain a good deal of crunch.

So soft vegetables will not do… mashed are even worse… but something keeping its crisp freshness… then DonQui can begin to consider it as fine food rather than compost.


So first it was sauerkraut and now this – a rather perky looking small pointy-headed cabbage which DonQui found in his local farm shop. The helpful lady said it was a Hispi Cabbage and told him that it was utterly delicious.

“How do you cook it?” DonQui enquires.

Helpful lady replies, rather unhelpfully, that she steams it.

DonQui cannot help but think that there must be more interesting ways to deal with the pretty little cabbage, so he takes it home with him and scours the internet.

A recipe from Chef Adam Gray seems more like it. A quick 3 minute parboil followed by a stir-fry in butter and shallots seems much more interesting than a simple steaming. DonQui tries it out as an accompaniment to roast chicken and it works wonderfully. Duchess loves it but DonQui thinks it is still a bit too soft for his liking so he vows to try it again without the parboiling.

This is what he does:


He finely slices a shallot, chops up some smoked speck (you can substitute lardons or dry smoked streaky bacon) and crushes a few juniper berries with the blade of his knife.


Then, after removing the outer leaves, he cuts the cabbage into fine strips by slicing across with a knife. The leaves of the Hispi cabbage are tightly packed, making it ideal for this sort of treatment.


He stir-fries the speck and shallots in butter until they begin to colour.


Then he adds the cabbage and juniper berries along with a few twists of black pepper from his pepper grinder. There is no need to add salt thanks to the saltiness of the speck.IMG_6569.jpg

He cooks it all together until it starts to glisten and begin to go soft. DonQui tastes to check doneness. When it looses its raw taste but still retains a good bit of crunch it is ready. This probably takes about 4-5 minutes.

IMG_6570.jpg He serves it with a couple of bratwürst, mustard for those who like it (DonQui does not) and fresh sourdough bread.

Quick and dead simple to make – and rather yummy too, DonQui thinks.


Choucroute Garni

Having been a bit distracted by other things of late, DonQui has been a bit remiss in posting.

Fear not! Today he has the pots and pans out and is going to try to create a classic winter’s dish that he has never attempted before.

It all started when Duchess decided she liked sauerkraut. Now DonQui has a sort of love/hate relationship with sauerkraut. Properly cooked like they do it in the Rhine valley – simmered in Riesling with lots of smoked meats infusing it with their deep flavour – then it is love. Taken straight from the jar and still sour, or cooked with caraway seeds, then it is hate.   To be certain, to get the sort of sauerkraut he loves then there was no doubt that he would have to prepare it himself.


So after searching through a myriad of different recipes and casting his mind back to the tastes he remembers from meals he had in Alsace and Baden, DonQui creates his own version of Choucroute Garni. This roughly translates as “Dressed up Sauerkraut” –  Choucroute being a gallicisation of Surkrutt , the word used in the local dialect on both sides of the Rhine for sauerkraut.

One of the hurdles DonQui had to overcome was to find suitable smoked meats and sausages to give the right flavour. Heavily smoked bacon, pork and proper German style sausages are really hard to find in Britain. The influx of recent Polish immigrants may help in the future but for now DonQui was going to have to rely on doing some online shopping.

Melbury and Appleton furnished authentic Frankfurters and Bratwürste  (DonQui put the latter aside for another day)


The German Deli came up with the all important Geräucherter Speck (smoked pork belly) as well as Kassler (smoked and cured pork loin) and some Schwarzwälder Schinken (Black Forest Ham)

Black Forest ham.jpg

For those who don’t know, real Black Forest ham is like a super smokey version of Italian dry cured Parma ham. What is peddled under that name in some other countries (especially in North America) is nothing like it.

So to the Recipe for 2 people. More people will allow a greater variety of meats:

About 250-300g Sauerkraut, depending on size of appetite
A good piece of smoked Speck cut into 1cm wide chunks (although nothing like as good, smoked lardons, available from supermarkets in the UK, can be a reasonable substitute)
1 thinly sliced carrot
1/2 a finely chopped onion
butter mixed with a bit of duck or goose fat or dripping
1 bay leaf
around 10 peppercorns (DonQui used soft pink peppercorns for their delicate flavour and so as not to loose a filling when biting into one)
around 8 juniper berries (a few more or less do not matter)
about 200 ml Alsatian Riesling (no other wine works quite as well)
about 100 ml non-salted chicken stock (leave this out if you cannot find an unsalted version otherwise, with the addition of the cured meats the taste will be far too salty).

A selection of smoked and cured meats such as:
Smoked sausages (at least 1 or 2 per person — DonQui used 2 long frankfurters which he cut in half)
Kassler or smoked gammon (DonQui used the former)
Smoked Black Forest ham (Next time DonQui would leave this out as unnecessary)
Pork Knuckle (Not used this time)
Confit Duck legs (Not used this time)
Smoked pork ribs (Not used this time)


Drain the sauerkraut and soak in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Pick it apart to separate the strands.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Stir-fry the speck, carrots, and onions in butter/fat slowly in a casserole for 2-3 minutes until they begin to colour. Then cover and simmer for around 8 minutes.

Add the sauerkraut and when it is well covered with the fat and vegetables, cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes more.

Choucroute Garni.jpg

Add the herbs and spices. Pour in the wine, and enough stock to just cover the sauerkraut. Add the kassler or any other uncooked meats that will benefit from a long simmer. Cover, bring to the boil then put in the middle of the preheated oven. Turn down to 160 degrees and then let it cook slowly for 2-3 hours. Check every once in a while and if it is beginning to dry out add a splash more wine.

Twenty minutes before serving add the frankfurters to the pot or any other meats that need a little less cooking such as duck confit if you are using it. If you want to try using bratwürst then it is better to fry or grill them and add them at the last minute.

At the same time boil some potatoes. When they are done, swish them around in butter and add some chopped parsley

Five minutes before serving add the Black Forest Ham to heat through and allow its smokiness to permeate the dish. Next time DonQui will leave this out as he did not think it quite worked.

choucroute garni 2.jpg

Served with the sauerkraut heaped on a plate with the meats draped over it and surrounded by the boiled potatoes, it met with Duchess’ approval.


Wash it down with the rest of the Alsatian Riesling (chilled)






Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Much to DonQui’s surprise this is really easy to make. He first tried it out over Christmas and more recently to accompany his guinea fowl supremes.



200g fresh cranberries
Juice of 1 orange plus a bit of zest
Sugar to taste (DonQui likes his quite tart while Duchess likes it sweeter)
A good splash of ruby port



Put all the ingredients except the port in a small pot. Bring to the boil and then let simmer gently until the cranberries turn soft and the liquid reduces down.


Add a splash of port. Taste for sweetness.

And that’s it!



Guinea Fowl Supremes

Looking for something interesting for dinner, DonQui rummages around the corners of his freezer. There, underneath some frozen beans, he finds a pair of guinea fowl supremes which he picked up from the wonderful Wild Meat Company at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival last September.

Thinking that these will do the trick DonQui pulls them out to thaw and then looks around for advice on how to cook them.


Guinea fowl is a lot like chicken. It has a relatively delicate white meat without any of the gaminess of pheasant, partridge or grouse. DonQui has roasted a whole guinea fowl before but not supremes.

g-f supremes.jpg

The supreme is the breast of the bird off the bone but with the first wing joint still attached and the skin on. Mr Google advised first frying and then finishing off in the oven. This is what DonQui decides to do and he is delighted with the result.

This is his recipe:

Preheat the oven to 200º

onion fry.jpg

Lightly brown a very finely sliced onion or a couple of shallots then put them into a roasting tray with a good splash of white wine.

Make sure the supremes are completely dry (this will ensure a nice caramelised outside), season with salt and pepper and then fry skin side down in the same pan. Fry gently for about 3 or 4 minutes until nice and golden brown then turn over and seal the other side.

Swish out the pan with white wine and add to a gravy base (see DonQui’s earlier post: Rich Meat Sauce)

roast tray.jpg

Turn down the oven to 160º, place the supremes skin side up in the roasting tray on top of the shallots, sprinkle with rosemary (or you can also use tarragon for a slightly different flavour). Cook uncovered for about 12 minutes.

g-f roasted.jpg

Let rest for 4-5 minutes while you finish off the vegetables. Pour off the juices into the gravy.

guinea foul finished.jpg

DonQui served his with curly kale, roast carrots, wild rice and parmentier potatoes (roast potato cubes); gravy and homemade cranberry sauce (very easy to make and may be the subject of a future post).

moulin a vent.jpg

DonQui recommends a light red wine to go with it. This Moulin-à-Vent was just about perfect.

Duck with Cranberry and Orange Sauce

DonQui has been rather lazy over the past few weeks but then that is what the Winter Solstice is all about — a fire burning in the hearth to keep him warm on the outside and calvados or port to keep him warm on the inside.

With a belly full of turkey DonQui has not been particularly inclined to do much cooking of late but today he decided it was time to get the pots and pans out again and eat something other than cold cuts and salad.

In the freezer was a large duck breast DonQui had bought in France a few months back. In the fridge were some left over cranberries which he did not use with the Christmas turkey. Therefore duck breast with cranberry sauce seemed to be the way to go.

Here is his recipe for 2 people:

For the Meat
1 large duck breast
6 juniper berries
3 allspice cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon

For the Sauce
100 ml ruby port
100 g fresh cranberries
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
½ cinnamon stick
250 ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons of redcurrant jelly



Score the skin of the duck breast with a sharp knife cutting all the way through the fat but not into the meat.


With a mortar and pestle, grind the juniper berries, allspice, salt, pepper and cinnamon into a rough powder. Rub the mix all over the duck breast and leave to stand for about 10-15 minutes.


Gently fry the duck breast, skin side down, in a dry heavy-based pan for about 10 minutes. The idea is to let all the fat cook out, leaving the skin nice and crispy. Then turn the breast over and fry the other side for about 4 minutes. Set aside to rest while you make the sauce. It will need a good 10 minutes resting time.

Pour off excess fat from the frying pan, there will be a lot of it, but try not to loose the meat juices. If you managed not to burn it then you can keep it in a jar to use later for roasting potatoes


Deglaze the pan with the port then add the remaining ingredients for the sauce.


Bring it to the boil and let it cook down until it is reduced by about two-thirds and had thickened to a syrupy consistency and the cranberries are very soft.

Add the juices from the resting duck. Taste and adjust the seasoning and add a little sugar if you think it is a little too tart.


Thinly slice the duck breast and serve with the cranberry sauce spooned around it. DonQui had roast potatoes and black kale to accompany it.