First Taste of Toledo

On his first evening in Toledo, DonQui trots down towards the Plaza de Zocodover which he is led to understand in a hive of local activity.


His heart sinks when he sees the place dominated by McDonalds and Burger King. Although Toledo was the capital of Visigothic Spain, DonQui takes strength in the certain knowledge that the Spanish could not wholly succumb to such barbaric invaders so he wanders on.

El TrebolThere, just around a corner and tucked into a most inviting courtyard, he stumbles upon the delightful Cerveceria El Trebol. He has enough grasp of the Spanish language to feel certain that a cerveceria would serve beer and that is exactly what he wants.

Domus Toledp

Not only do they have beer but they have a rather nice local brew. It may not quite stack up to a Southwold Adnams but it is far better than your average industrial lager. Encouraged, DonQui decides to stay a while and have a bite to eat as well.

He goes for a plate of grilled Iberico pork with potatoes and tomatoes. Coming from a special breed of acorn fed pigs, the pork is dark, rich, tender and utterly delicious. DonQui is not normally a great fan of potatoes but any he has sampled in Spain are much more to his taste that those he has at home in England. He does not know if it is the variety, the soil or the climate but they are firmer and nuttier in flavour. The tomatoes too are deep red with none of the insipidness of those picked green and transported from many miles away.

Iberico porkBetter than your average tapas, it is a simple and flavoursome dish which leaves DonQui feeling utterly satisfied. And at €7 it is a bargain.

He rather expects that he may be paying a return visit.

A Roast Chicken Dinner

DonQui has guests coming over. Immediately his thoughts turn to supper.
Should he cook something?
Yes, please.
That would be great
Roast Chicken?
So while Duchess goes to Southwold to select a bird from his friends at Mills and Sons Butchers,  DonQui goes up to the allotment to pick some curly kale, pull up some carrots and go to the farm shop for some potatoes (as he did not grow any this year).


Now DonQui believes that the trick to a good roast dinner is getting everything ready well in advance. Potatoes and vegetables parboiled, gravy base prepared and then everything can be finished off at the end with no stress.
When it comes to gravy he is a bit of a stickler. He likes to make it all from scratch without any packaged stuff — most of which tends to be salt and various additives.

So with the guests arriving in a couple of hours, DonQui gets to work.

His basic plan goes something like this:

1. Parboil the potatoes and set aside.
2. Prepare the gravy base.
3. Put the chicken in the oven to roast
4. Prepare and parboil the carrots and kale
5. Put the potatoes in the oven to roast when there are 45 minutes remaining for the chicken
6. Take the chicken out and set aside to rest
7. Finish off the gravy and vegetables


And here are his recipes:

For the Roast Chicken
1 good quality chicken (approx 1.5 kg)
1 onion
2 carrots
2 sticks celery
1 lemon
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
a mix of fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage.

Take the chicken out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking so it comes up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 240°C.
Roughly chop carrots and celery, quarter the onion, then place vegetables onto a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil.


Place chicken in the middle of the roasting tray on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and rub salt and pepper all over it.
Cut the lemon in half and put in the cavity along with the herbs.
Put the chicken into the preheated oven and turn down to 180°C.
Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Baste the chicken halfway through cooking and if the veg look dry, add a splash of water to stop them burning.

chicken resting

Take the chicken out of the oven and put it on a carving board to rest for 15-20 minutes. Some people like to cover it with tin foil while resting but DonQui does not like doing that as it makes the nice crispy skin go soft.

While the chicken is resting finish off the gravy and vegetables.

Ingredients for the Chicken Gravy
2 table spoons butter
2 table spoons flour
500 ml chicken stock (preferably unsalted)
salt and pepper to taste
a bunch of frush herbs (such as thyme, rosemary oregano, sage).
a chopped mushroom (optional)
a couple of chopped tomatoes (optional)
vegetables from the roast chicken
a good splash of white wine

Make a roux by combining the flour and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan.

chick2Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the roux begins to darken slightly.


Remove from the heat and let cool for about a minute then whisk in the stock. Add vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt. Some chicken stock is often already heavily salted so it is better to taste it and gradually add the salt. It is easy to add more, impossible to take any out.


Cook on a very low heat for 20-30 minutes then strain.
Put the strained gravy base back into the pot and wait until the chicken is cooked.
Once the chicken is resting, place the roasting pan with the vegetables on the stove top on low-medium heat.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine making sure to scrape up and disolve all the brown bits.
Strain into the pot, pressing any residual juices from vegetables through the sieve. Whisk together with the rest of the gravy base and then simmer very gently until everything else is ready.

Roast potatoes
Wash and quarter a couple of medium potatoes per person. You can peel them if you like but DonQui often likes to leave the skins on as he does on this occasion.
Parboil in salted water for 10 minutes, drain and set aside until you are ready to begin roasting. All of this can be done well in advance.
Place the potatoes on a roasting pan, drizzle with a goodly amount of oil — DonQui likes using a mix of oils, and goose or duck fat if he has some. Put them in the oven with the chicken when there is about 45 minutes of cooking time left for the chicken. The potatoes should take about an hour to get nice and crispy brown. Turn every 15-20 minutes and sprinkle with salt in the just before serving.

Curly Kale


Wash the kale, strip the leaves from the stalks and roughly break apart into small pieces.
Bring a small amount of water to the boil in a pot, add the kale, put on a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.


Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of kale at first. It will reduce down.
Drain and set aside until the chicken is out of the oven and resting

Wash and scrape the carrots. Cut into relatively even pieces. DonQui prefers carrots cut lenghwise rather than across but it is a matter of personal taste. Boil the carrots in salted water for 7 minutes. DonQui also likes to add a bit of sugar to the carrot water.
Drain and set aside until the chicken is out of the oven and resting.

The Finishing Touches.
With the chicken resting, the potatoes done and the gravy simmering it is time to finish off the kale and carrots. In both cases the method is the same.


Simply melt a bit of butter in a pan, add the partially cooked vegetables and stir around in the butter until heated through. This will take around 3-5 minutes.


DonQui thought is all went rather well and his guests seemed to quite enjoy the meal…


…which was rather nicely washed down with a fine bottle of Côtes du Ventoux which DonQui had picked up in the South of France a few months ago.

And to finish off…

strawberries and cream

…strawberries from DonQui’s autumn crop along with a few grapes from the garden and clotted cream.

Wild Boar DonQui Oaty style

Ever since tasting the delectable wild boar filet steaks on a bed of potatoes at Puerta Osario Restrobar in Seville, DonQui was determined to try to reproduce it at home. The Aldeburgh food and drink festival gave him the opportunity to purchase a couple of wild boar filet steaks and now he was ready to experiment.

wild boar

He remembered a few things from the meal at Puerta Osario Restrobar. Firstly that the steaks were coated with something that reminded him of balsamic vinegar. As they had been topped off with a balsamic glaze and a pesto dressing he thought that a wine and balsamic vinegar glaze might just work.

The second memory was of the delicious slice potatoes which seemed to be neither fried nor boiled. He decided to try a combination of both. After searching on line he thought that a slight modification of the recipe for patatas pimenton con ajillo might just be the answer.

So here is DonQui’s own invented recipe for Spanish style wild boar filets. Recognising the difficulty of obtaining wild boar filet steaks DonQui suggests beef filet mignon as a more than acceptable substitute. Farmed boar will not work as it tastes more like pork.

For the Potatoes
2 medium sized potatoes of a firm waxy variety such as Charlotte. Floury potatoes will not work as they will simply fall apart.
1/2 a chicken stock cube
1 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove
olive oil

For the Steaks
2 wild boar filet steaks (or beef filet mignon) 2-3 cms thick
a small amount of cooking oil
a good splash of balsamic vinegar
an even better splash of red wine
a dollop of pesto mixed with olive oil (optional)

Potatoes first

Scrape and slice the potatoes, putting the slices in a bowl of lightly salted water (optional but recommended if you don’t start cooking right away). The soaking also helps to remove starch. Drain and dry.


Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the potato slices.


After a minute or so put a lid on the pan and let them simmer gently for about another 7 minutes.


At this point they should be partially cooked and not too browned. Take out of the pan and set aside.

Crush the garlic clove and mix with the paprika. Then dissolve the bouillon cube in a small amount of hot water and set both aside.

The Steaks

Take the steaks out of the fridge at least 45 mins before cooking and let them come to room temperature.


Put the balsamic vinegar and wine into a jug or glass and have ready to hand.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on a board or plate and press the steaks into it, coating both sides.
Oil a heavy bottom pan and heat it up until it is very hot.


Sear the steaks at very high temperature. About 2 mins on each side for medium rare. Then take them out of the pan.

Pour the wine/balsamic vinegar mixture into the hot pan. It will bubble fiercely. As soon as it begins to reduce to a thick, sticky syrup add the steaks back to the pan.

Take out the steaks when they are nicely coated and set aside to rest for 5 minutes while you finish off the potatoes, reserving the remaining liquid for later.

Resting Meat

DonQui has learned that letting meat rest is very important, and very convenient. When cooking under high temperature the muscle fibres contract, as it rests the fibres relax and the meat continues cooking slowly resulting in an even tender pinkness rather than well done on the outside and blue in the middle. This also allows you to finish off the vegetable while the meat is resting and can be advantageous in all meat-vegetable combinations.

Finishing off the potatoes

Put some more olive oil in the potato pan then add the paprika/garlic mixture and stir it around for a couple of seconds. Add the potato slices and coat in the mixture.

Throw in the bouillon and put the lid on the pan, letting the slices cook gently for about 3-5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are done but still firm. If there is still a little liquid left in the pan then take the lid off and let it cook a minute or two more until it is absorbed or evaporated.



Arrange the potato slices on a serving dish.


Place the steaks on top and garnish with the reserved wine/balsamic vinegar syrup and the pesto/olive oil mixture. Surround with your choice of vegetables. DonQui used beans, kale and cherry tomatoes from his allotment. He prepared the green vegetables by par boiling, setting aside and then warming up in butter at the last minute. He put the cherry tomatoes in the oven and warmed them up to the point that they opened up but not turned to mush. He thought that they added a nice splash of colour to the final dish.

The Verdict
It worked.

Indeed DonQui thought that it worked rather well.

The potatoes were delicious and this coming from a donkey who is not overly fond of potatoes. He will cook them again this way in the future to accompany other dishes. The two part process lent itself rather well to finishing off as the meat was resting.


The wild boar filet steaks were delicious but not quite up to the standard of Puerta Osario Restrobar. By the size of them DonQui is fairly certain that the steaks he had came from the larger end of the filet and were not quite as melt in your mouth wonderful. The ones he tasted at Puerta Osario were smaller and much more tender, suggesting that they came from the finer tail end.

DonQui will try the recipe again with beef filet mignon.