A Fresh Green Chilli

Ok, I will admit, coming home to cook dinner after a long day can be tiresome, but there are days when I spend my afternoons daydreaming about what I will conjure up for dinner that evening. I enjoy unwinding in my kitchen with my chopping boards at the ready, glass of wine in hand.Yesterday I had decided on meatloaf. The plan was formed and the expectation set, until I discovered much to my dismay that it was minced pork and that I had in the fridge, and not beef. One of the great things about meatloaf is that a combination of any minced meat can be used in it, but I find that beef needs to be involved to give some depth to what could otherwise be a banal dish. And so, back to the drawing board. Luckily I had the fixings for a recipe I have been dying to try for ages, so all was not lost. This recipe is adapted from Jamie’s America by Jamie Oliver.

Fresh Green Chilli

Serves four

Olive oil
800 g pork mince
Salt & pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 green chillis, chopped
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh coriander
2 limes

To serve –

Flour tortillas
Soured cream
Romaine lettuce
Tomatoes
Or whatever else you fancy….

Heat the oil in a pan, when hot, add the pork mince. Break up with a wooden spoon and saute for a few minutes. Add chopped onion, garlic, green pepper and chillis, along with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, adding some water if necessary. This dish is fairly dry so don’t drown it. When the chilli is cooked and golden, remove from the heat and add in chopped herbs and the juice of the two limes. Combine thoroughly and serve with warm tortilla, sour cream and crispy lettuce. Yum!

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Girls night in

I’m not sure  it’s a good sign that staying  is often more appealing than going out, but one of my favorite things to do at the weekend is have a few of my nearest and dearest over for good (hopefully) food, good wine (or beer) and conversation. I won’t go so far as to say the conversation is good (it’s subjective) but we rarely have any complaints. And so, with this in mind, I invited a couple of friends for dinner last Saturday, and it wasn’t half bad (the food, not the company which was exemplary as usual). Coq Au Vin is a great one pot wonder that allows me to prep everything  in advance and then sit and sip wine while it simmers away – giving the impression that I’m not flustered at all. Unfortunately, they know me too well. On the plus side, the bar chez ciara is not restricted to traditional closing times, whether that’s good or bad,  I have yet to decide

This recipe is loosely adapted from Leith’s Cookery Bible

5/6 chicken fillets on the bone (or peg bone attached)

290 ml red wine
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, 1 sprig of parsley, and 1 stick of celery)
8 shallots
100 g bacon lardons (or sliced streaky bacon)
50 g  butter
12 button mushrooms
570 ml chicken stock
1 clove of garlic crushed
20 g plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan and add bacon, shallots and mushrooms. Saute until browned then remove and reserve. Season the chicken with salt & pepper and add remaining butter to the pan, followed by the chicken, skin side down. Resist the impulse to prod and poke, you need the skin to brown. After a few minutes tip off any fat and reserve, then add the bacon and veg back to the pan along with bouquet garni and wine. Scrape off any sediment at the bottom of the pan then add garlic and enough stock to envelop the chicken. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes. To thicken the sauce, remove chicken, bacon and vegetables from the pot and set aside. Add flour to reserved fat and mix to a smooth paste, then add to cooking liquid, whisking all the time to remove lumps. When the sauce is at the desired consistency, return the chicken and vegetables to the pot and heat through before serving.

I served this with rustic french bread and a green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. It needs nothing more. Easy as that.