So Xmas Day arrived and I wanted to feel a bit more at home and asked if it would be possible to make a traditional English Roast for lunch.
The answer was a resounding yes, so long as I cooked a traditional English breakfast too.
So out came the eggs, the pancetta (bacon replacement), the Italian pork sausages and even the Heinz Baked Beans I managed to buy at the supermarket. And yes, I was surprised by that too.
In the meantime, to keep us going and in the Portuguese Xmas spirit, I decided to make some traditional Salted Cod Fish Cakes. They have always been quite popular and didn't let me down even with my Italian friends.
* 1 pound dried salt cod
* 2 cups milk
* 4 medium Idaho potatoes
* 1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
* 1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
* 2 large eggs
* Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, if needed
* Vegetable oil, for frying
* Lemon wedges, for serving
Starting a day ahead, soak the dried cod in cold water for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water several times to remove the majority of the salt.
Drain the cod, rinse, and put it in a large pot.
Add the milk and enough water to cover by 1-inch; cooking the cod in milk keeps it really moist. Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cod is tender and pliable.
Drain and rinse well, then flake the cod into a bowl with your hands, removing any little bits of skin and bone.
While the cod is cooking, pour 1-inch of water in a large pot fitted with a steamer insert.
Add the potatoes and simmer on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes until very tender. Drain the potatoes, peel off the skins, and mash them well with a potato masher or pass them through a ricer or sieve.
Add the cod to the potatoes, along with the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and eggs.
Beat the mixture firmly with a wooden spoon so that it well combined and firm – a spoon should stand up in it. (If you find it too dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk.)
With lightly moistened hands or using 2 tablespoons, shape the cod mixture into egg-shaped balls – you should get about 25. (The cod balls can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day before cooking or frozen in a container.)
Heat 3-inches of oil in a deep heavy skillet or pot to 370 degrees F.
Add a few of the cod balls at a time to the hot oil, turning them 3 or 4 times to get nicely browned all over.
Carefully lift the cod fritters out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a platter lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat.
Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.
While making these, I placed my beautiful piece of beef that I had marinated overnight in some red wine, garlic and rosemary, in the oven.
Whilst the others tucked into the Cod fishcakes, I prepared the vegetables and the yorkshire pudding mixture.
I also roasted some pumpking (the strange orange thing on the plate) and finally made some gravy with the meat juices.
It really went down well with the Italian folk and made the day all the more Xmassy for me!
ENGLISH ROAST BEEF DINNER
* 905 g rump roast
* Red wine, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper for marinade
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Marinade the beef overnight in Red Wine, gralic and rosemary.
Dry the beef and drizzle with Olive oil.
3. Bake on a wire rack inside of a large roasting pan in the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or to desired doneness. For medium-rare, the meat thermometer should read 135 degrees F (57 degrees C). Remove roast from pan, reserving drippings.
* 125 g all-purpose flour
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 235 ml milk
In a small mixing bowl, beat the two eggs until frothy.
In another small bowl, mix the salt and flour. Stir the beaten eggs into the flour. Stirring constantly, gradually pour in the milk.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Pour the reserved pan drippings into a medium muffin tin. Place in the preheated oven for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the egg, flour and milk mixture into the hot drippings. Return muffin tin to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until fluffy and golden brown.
floury potatoes, such as Cara or King Edward, cut fairly small – roughly egg size
sunflower or groundnut oil
1. Par-boil the potatoes in gently boiling salted water for about 8 minutes. Stop cooking before they’re cooked right through.
2. Leave to cool completely, then scratch roughly with a fork and season with a little fine salt.
3. Only roast around the joint if there is plenty of fat – at least ½cm/¾in in the tin – and plenty of room. It’s better to preheat the oil in a separate pan, adding any beef fat from the roasting tin just before the potatoes go in. Don’t add the potatoes until the oil is sizzling hot. Baste or turn the potatoes (carefully) as soon as they go into the pan so they have a light coating of oil from the start.
4. Roast for the last 45 minutes of your joint’s cooking time, turning at least once. If they look like they could use a bit more browning/crisping, leave them in after the joint has come out to rest, while you increase the heat for the Yorkshire pudding.
5. Then, when the preheated pudding tin is ready you’ll have to decide whether the potatoes come out, or stay in for the full 15 minutes of pudding time.
6. Drain well and keep in a warm oven, uncovered and not too piled on top of each other. Season again with salt and pepper before serving.
2 tbsp liquid meat fat
30g/1oz plain flour
570ml/1 pint stock
2 tsp gravy browning (optional)
1. Collect the juices and the fat from the meat you are roasting. Put the juices in a glass jug and allow to stand for a few minutes so that the fat will rise to the surface. Skim off the fat.
2. Put the roasting tin that you used to cook the meat on the hob on a medium heat and add the fat. (The meat needs to be resting, covered with foil, in a warm place at this point)
3. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
4. Stir in the meat juices and gradually stir in the stock until you get a smooth gravy. Use a wooden spoon and stir all over the surface of the pan to incorporate any meat juices that are stuck to it.
5. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Season to taste and add a little gravy browning if desired.
Serve with mashed potatoes, vegetables of your choice, traditionally cabbage, carrots, peas, brocolii and cauliflower and cover it with yummy gravy.
There you go, hope you try it. Laborious but so well worth it!