All my British friends and family are more than likely to be familiar with the “3 for £10″ meat offer at most supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s and recently Waitrose). For all my American friends and family, I’m sure I’ve complained to you how expensive meat is here! While this deal isn’t always the best I have found, it makes grocery shopping a little easier. In this case, I just picked three different types of meat/poultry and thought I’d figure out what I would do with them later. I still struggle with accessibility to quality meat in the UK.. I mean – let’s be honest. The steaks are just NOT the same as American steaks (unless you’re willing to spend a small fortune). Most of the time, steaks served in restaurants are thin and overcooked and have this distinct taste that I really can’t explain. However, I HAVE had a good steak here.. but it was one I cooked myself at Cordon Bleu with meat sourced from Allen’s of Mayfair (London’s oldest butcher shop with superb quality and the prices to match!).. Nonetheless, I still crave red meat from time to time. So that day at Waitrose, I decided to buy a tray of chicken thighs/drums (bone in, skin on), a couple frying steaks and some pork loin steaks.
The dishes I came up with were:
Because it was National Curry week in the UK not long ago, I decided to use up my chicken thighs and drumsticks by making Vietnamese Chicken Curry. Now I’ve promised my mother that I’d never divulge her ‘family’ recipe. But what I can do is refer you to another Vietnamese recipe by The Ravenous Couple (a young Vietnamese couple cooking traditional recipes). There are a few variations of this recipe depending on the family, but their recipe is great. Since I don’t always have these ingredients on hand, I make a few shortcuts and a few additions.
- I haven’t been able to find curry paste in the UK, so I use Madras curry powder from Costco UK and it tastes just fine.
- I don’t often have the patience to cut shallots, so I just use white/yellow onions.
- Again, I don’t often have the patience to marinate the chicken but if you have time then it will only make your dish better!
- My family doesn’t usually add carrots (even though it’s traditional). Instead we add sweet potato chunks. We also don’t add onion wedges.
- My husband likes his curry thick, so I’ll add some corn starch/flour with water.
Vietnamese Chicken Curry by TheRavenousCouple.com
While I can’t reveal my mom’s measurements, my method is basically this.. Cook chopped onions and garlic until translucent. Add curry powder and secret ingredient. Cook a minute or so. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add chicken broth, fish sauce or salt and smashed lemongrass. Let cook and then add chopped potatoes, sweet potatoes and coconut milk. Let cook and thicken as necessary. For some added spice, add cayenne.. Traditionally, Vietnamese curry is eaten with fresh baguettes but it’s often eaten with rice vermicelli or plain white rice. It’s also always better the next day or day after that! PS.. I’ve used up leftover mushrooms to make a vegetarian version of Vietnamese curry – check out this old blog post.
So after eating curry for dinner and lunch the next day, I was ready to cook my steaks (click above for recipe). This was a dish I thought of based on my basic pantry ingredients. It’s such a great classic and is super fast to make. Also, a creamy rich sauce is great to mask a lower quality meat! I used basic Oxo beef stock cubes and didn’t actually have any wine to add, but it was still great! To make the sauce super rich, I reduced the stock quite a bit and added a knob of butter at the end. The sweet potato and fennel combo came about purely because they were available at my local market. I was trying to come up with more creative and nutritious starches to bread and pasta. So I had leftover sweet potato from making curry and roasted it with the fennel. Fennel is a great vegetable which isn’t used too often. I didn’t grow up eating it but I see it so often lately that I’m doing my best to find new ways to cook with it. It did take quite awhile to roast though. So be prepared to wait for this one. But this dish is really minimal in prep and has very little cleanup!
Steak in creamy peppercorn sauce with roasted sweet potato and fennel
So as I worked my way through my very full fridge, I was torn on what to do with my pork (click above for recipe). They were pretty thin already (just about 1cm thick), so making any hope of cutting ‘chunks’ for a Vietnamese dish were out the window. I also wasn’t in the mood for cooking with fish sauce.. It CAN smell the house up a bit So I figured I’d utilize the capers I had yet to open. I originally wanted to make an escalope (breaded) but realized we were low on breadcrumbs. It’s also a bit messy to set up an assembly line of flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs. But dipping in just flour isn’t so bad! Due to the recent unexpected heat wave, asparagus had a second season and was available in abundance at my local market. This is one of my favorite vegetables and I think I’ll be eating more of it.. It’s so easy and quick to roast and can be eaten on its own, in an omelet or tossed with garlic and pasta! Whenever I think of scallopini or escalopes, I always think of warm pasta. Since I’m on a garlic kick right now, I took the easy route and infused extra virgin olive oil with a LOT of garlic. I found that if you let it infuse until the garlic slices become really soft and golden, the taste isn’t too strong and doesn’t stay with you for ages. This is also my ‘fast’ way of getting nice garlic flavor instead of roasting a whole garlic. But yum, remembering this dish is making me very hungry.. pasta, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, meat, butter, lemon.. Mmmmm.. Hope you enjoy!
Pork Scallopini in Lemon Butter Caper Sauce
P.S. I recently discovered my new favorite ‘affordable’ wine! Sainsbury’s House Cotes du Rhone. 75cl is £3.99. It also comes in mini 250ml bottles that are 2 for £3.
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