Gourmet Beef Burgers

by Susan Smith in , ,


Almost every evening after dinner, we go for a three mile walk around the outskirts of the village where we live. Aside from helping us to attain a self-imposed daily fitness goal of at least 10,000 steps, it’s a wonderful opportunity to say ‘hello' to numerous four-legged friends that we regularly meet and greet along the way. Amongst them, four horses, some special canine characters - Star, George, Rosie, Eric, Oscar and Alfie to name but a few - grazing sheep, the llamas that live with the sheep to protect them from foxes, and numerous cats who, when they see Sarah approach, literally run over to her to be fussed and stroked. There’s a suggestion of Walt Disney about our walks…save for a couple of spoilers.

The first is that one of ‘our’ horses is old, alone and extremely dirty. Her mucky face, constantly weeping eyes and un-groomed body attracts hoards of flies that readily exploit her poor condition and clearly irritate her beyond measure. She is my favourite. A gentle soul who, when called, snorts, nickers and blows us greetings as she slowly and tentatively makes her way from the farthest end of her field to receive the healthy snack of organic apples and carrots that awaits her. Until last week, we thought she was incapable of moving any faster, but then she surprised us. One evening after she’d been fed, she lay down on the ground in front of us and did what can only be described as a ‘victory roll’ of appreciation. The next day, as we walked away, she came with us - galloping at full speed alongside the hedge separating her field from the lane where we were continuing our walk. Truly heart-warming! It’s clear to us that almost all animals love and want to be loved.

The second is the bullocks that used to stand cheek-to-jowl in the adjacent over-crowded shed to watch our nightly horse feeding ritual almost certainly craved some loving act of kindness. Sadly, it wasn’t ours to give. These permanently confined sentient beings were kept for months on end, unable to move freely and without access to fresh grass even at the height of last summer’s heatwave. We always stopped to talk to them and, looking into their soulful eyes, their boredom and neglect was almost tangible. They’re gone now…we presume raised for beef and slaughtered. Although more fortunate than factory-farmed animals, the unnatural way these animals were forced to live is a moral mistake that leaves us with very little appetite for meat.

For the sake of Sushi the cat, whose health naturally depends on meat and fish, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that all animals survive and thrive by the seemingly barbaric act of killing other animals lower down in the food chain. Twice, through dietary interventions I’ve brought her back from the brink of “incurable” conditions that, in the vet’s opinion, warranted euthanasia. If food is medicine, chicken bone broth appears to be an elixir for health and longevity. Feeding it to Sushi every day for the past two years has seemingly transformed her back to ‘kittenhood’…or so you’d think, if you met her. Her coat is shiny, her appetite hearty and her energy levels amazing. Stands to reason, whatever she’s having, we all need some of it!

The Primal food laws are: Eat whole, real foods, avoid unnecessary carbs and don’t fear fat and animal protein. We prefer to eat a primarily plant-based diet but Sushi’s remarkable recovery has persuaded me to make my peace with eating more animal protein. As well as a regular supply of chicken bone broth for Sushi and ourselves, I also cook a couple of meals a week that centre around organic, grass-fed red meat (primarily for its iron and vitamin B12 content), free-range organic chicken or sustainably-caught wild fish (for Omega 3 fatty acids). Animal products are only as nutritious as the food they are fed on and the care they get while being raised so it behoves health-conscious, compassionate cooks to put their money where their mouth is and support organic farming. Buying organic food is not expensive when you factor in the extra cost, time and dedication that organic farmers expend in producing nutritionally dense meat, milk, eggs and cheese from animals that are raised in a natural environment with full consideration for their welfare.

Today’s post for Gourmet Beef Burgers is a celebration of ‘Organic September’. The award-winning recipe for the ready-made beef burgers isn’t mine but it does provide the perfect opportunity for a well-deserved shout out for both Brown Cow Organics and Abel & Cole

For convenience, I buy Brown Cow’s Guernsey beef burgers from Abel & Cole. Unfortunately, when they arrive vacuum-packed they look more like beef ‘splats’ than the gourmet burgers featured on Brown Cow Organic’s website! First impressions count, so the first job is to quickly re-shape them. Note: Any gourmet burger worth its salt must have depth to it to fully appreciate its juicy succulence when cooked and should only be defined “gourmet” if it requires ludicrous amounts of paper towel or napkins to eat it!

For maximum gustatory pleasure, the toasted keto bread rolls and homemade basil mayonnaise are mandatory. Not a problem since both are best made in advance. To finish, just whiz a large handful of fresh basil leaves into homemade mayonnaise a couple of hours before serving and toast the halved bread rolls in a dry griddle pan at the same time you’re cooking the burgers.

After selecting your preferred salad accompaniments, e.g. lettuce, watercress, rocket, slices of tomato, radish, avocado or cucumber, you’re ready to do an ‘assembly job’. I like to stack the ingredients ‘sky high’ - to the extent that it usually requires a bamboo skewer to hold everything together. Making them visually enticing is the primary objective, not ease of eating! Only Sarah ever manages to work her way through an entire burger whilst holding it in her hand. But even if you can hold it together, there’s no chance of being la-di-dah when tucking-in to one of these bad boys! 

Fast, fun food doesn’t have to be ultra processed junk. Very satisfyingly (to me at least), these keto-friendly Gourmet Beef Burgers are light years away from a ‘Big Mac’ or the ironically named ‘Happy Meal’ for kids. There’s nothing ‘happy’ about filling a child’s belly with beef from cows raised on GM crops. Or encouraging them to eat a disturbingly sweet-tasting burger bun made from damaging-to-human-health ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, bleached wheat flour (genetically modified to withstand being sprayed with Glyphosate - a herbicide proven to cause cancer), toxic soybean and canola oils (also genetically modified). Or turning a blind eye to the pro-inflammatory effects of the polyunsaturated vegetable oil that Mackie D’s use to cook their fries. What you need to know is that MD’s fries aren’t just potato, salt and oil as you might imagine, but are manufactured with seventeen other “shocking” ingredients. Still “lovin it?” I thinketh not!

Whereas, Sarah recently found herself spontaneously retching at the mere smell of a McDonalds (quite rightly!), she would tell you that these Gourmet Beef Burgers are one of “the best meals ever!” Serve them at an informal gathering of friends or family, perhaps with some low-carb ice cream for dessert, and I doubt you’ll hear any dissenting voices drowning out enthusiastic grunts of approval.

Sarah’s photos are probably the best way to show you how to make these Gourmet Beef Burgers. Have fun!

grass fed organic burgers.jpg

Gourmet Beef Burgers (serves 4)

Ingredients

2 packs (2x 180g) Brown Cow Organics Guernsey Beef Burgers

2 tbsp organic, grass-fed gheefor frying 

4 keto bread rolls

Ingredients - to serve

Salad e.g. lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, radish, avocado, watercress, rocket etc. 

4 heaped tbsp organic mayonnaise (preferably homemade - see Notes below)

10 g fresh organic basil leaves

Plus,

4 mini bamboo skewers - optional

Instructions

Pre-make the keto bread rolls and 3-minute mayo up to 24 hours in advance.

Several hours before you intend to eat, re-shape the ready-prepared portions of beef into burgers about 3.5” in diameter and x 0.75” deep. Cover and refrigerate until half an hour before you want cook them. Then take them out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature.

Whilst the burgers are ‘coming to’ prepare the salad ingredients, cover and set aside.

Using a hand-held stick blender, combine the fresh basil leaves and mayonnaise together until smooth and green. Set aside and keep cool.

Melt the ghee in a large frying pan over a high heat. Meanwhile, halve the bread rolls and place them cut side down into a dry frying or griddle pan set over a medium-hot heat.

When the ghee is fully melted and sizzling, place the burgers into the pan and fry for 4 minutes. Carefully turn with the aid of a spatula and cook the other side for another 4 minutes.

From time to time, check the keto bread rolls. There’s no need to turn them over - you just want them hot and toasty.

organic burger recipe.jpg

Once the beef burgers have been fried on both sides for an initial 4 minutes, flip them over again and cook the first side for further 2-4 minutes. Flip again to cook the other side for 2-4 minutes more. N.B. Total cooking time is 12-16 minutes, depending on whether you want your burgers to be slightly pink in the middle or completely cooked through. If in doubt, use a sharp knife to cut into one to check that it’s done to your liking.

Place the bottom halves of the toasted bread rolls on to 4 warm serving plates. Build as much height as you can by layering the salad on top of the beef burger. Finish with a large dollop of basil mayonnaise before pressing the other half of the bread rolls firmly down on top.

Pass the problem of imminent collapse over to your guests by skewering the burgers together from top to bottom with mini bamboo skewers.

Serve with plenty of paper napkins and don’t mind messy eating!

Notes

I’ve updated and improved Primal Plate’s original 3-Minute Mayonnaise recipe by changing-up the oils and altering their amounts. The rest of the ingredients and instructions remain the same. Here’s the revised recipe (with changes in bold):

3-Minute Macadamia Nut Oil Mayonnaise

Ingredients

2 organic eggs 

2½ tbsp organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan Pink salt

a good grinding of organic pepper 

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia

200 ml cold-press macadamia nut oil

50 ml organic cold-pressed olive oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container in the order listed above.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if liked.

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. Use within 5 days.

grass fed organic burger.jpg


Fat 14g  Protein 41g Carbohydrate 0g - per Guernsey Beef Burger

Fat 21g  Protein 13g Carbohydrate 3g - per keto bread roll

Fat 30g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per serving of Basil Mayonnaise


Bone Broth With Vegetables

by Susan Smith in ,


We don’t eat much meat because intrinsically we believe that animals belong in our hearts, not in our stomachs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t regularly buy meat. Almost exactly a year ago to the day, my cat Sushi was suffering from distressing symptoms that the vet diagnosed as the onset of renal failure. We thought her death was imminent. Rather than accept the vet’s unhappy prognosis, which meant subjecting Sushi to the ongoing stress of regular blood tests, injections and the daily oral administration of drugs for the rest of her life, I boldly decided that I would responsibly ‘manage’ her condition by fully taking care of her nutritional needs. It is no mean feat to hand prepare fresh, organic pet food from scratch, but that was what I committed to do and one year later (Sushi’s now 17), she’s completely free of symptoms and, as they say, “As happy as Larry.”

When people think the cost of organic food is too expensive and cooking is a bore, they need to also think about the future cost of healthcare for humans and animals once good health disappears - as it most surely will - when they choose to feed themselves and their pets chemically processed food made with heavily refined ingredients and artificial additives that essentially amounts to toxic crap. It’s this catastrophic dietary decision that makes so many people and animals sick and fat. Good for vets’ profits maybe, but not so good for a cash-strapped NHS when the lifestyle and dietary choices of an ageing population starts to catch up with them! Today I am out to prove a point. Even though my idea of pet food is freshly ground, organic, grass-fed beef, lamb and chicken made from meat cut off the bone by me, when you factor in a nutritious meal for four conjured-up out of the leftovers, 63 pence per portion for my pet food versus 45 pence for Lily’s Kitchen is, in my view, a monetary piffle. What’s 19 pence when I’ve saved £100’s on veterinary fees and my beloved cat’s quality of life?   

Bone Broth, or homemade stock as we used to call it, has been hailed as a trendy new superfood by the Paleo/Primal fraternity, but in fact our ancestors always used to have a pot of meaty bones continually brewing over the fire. Our modern day equivalent would be to throw some good quality bones (they must be organic) and vegetables into a slow-cooker in the morning, go to work and come home to a beautiful, clear, savoury broth. The longer bone broth is slow-cooked, the more nutritious and gelatinous the broth. Yet, for the forward thinking cook, this is healthy, fast food at it’s best because it requires nothing more than shoving a few ingredients into a pot and walking away. 

Renowned for healing the gut, fighting inflammation and strengthening bones and teeth, the numerous nutrients found in bone broth are easily absorbed and used by the body. However, today’s recipe is not just for the health conscious, it’s for foodies, cooks and those of us with darling pets to care for because from scraps and remnants, a few meaty bones, freshly filtered water and a handful of organic vegetables, Bone Broth With Vegetables is a fuss-free way to produce the most soothing, nourishing, warming ‘hug-in-a-bowl’ imaginable. 

Last week Sushi’s monthly meat order coincided with me working at a wedding fair with Mirror Imaging at the weekend and because Perfect Roast Chicken is one of the simplest of meals for my husband to prepare in our absence, I ordered an extra chicken for us too. Whilst it isn’t always about preferring to eat vegetarian, it is always about consciously eating less meat and fully appreciating it when we do. For me this this means not throwing out what most people think of as waste i.e. leftover raw bones, giblets and the Sunday roast chicken carcass. And, when it comes down to it, the more variety of bones, the better the broth. Simmered long and slow in freshly filtered water with a handful of vegetables, these simple ingredients are the makings of another meal. All that’s needed to elevate the delicious resulting broth into a visually appealing, light yet filling lunch or supper is some finely chopped vegetables, seasoning and a generous handful of fresh parsley.

Not so much a recipe, more ‘waste not, want not’ opportunism, bone broth can be made from the remains of Perfect Roast Chicken, including the roasted vegetables you cooked it with, plus a few raw, organic meat bones and/or half a dozen raw organic chicken wings, a stick or two of celery, a carrot and an onion. This super cheap, super satisfying ‘superfood’ is so good, you’ll probably be left wondering why you never thought of making it before.

Bone Broth With Vegetables (Serves 4)

Ingredients - to make the broth

The remains of a Perfect Roast Chicken including the vegetables/herbs you roasted it with

Raw, organic lamb/beef bones or 500g raw organic chicken wings

1 organic onion, unpeeled and chopped into quarters

1 large or 2 medium organic carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel) and cut into thick wedges

2 sticks organic celery, washed and chopped into large pieces

Fresh filtered water - enough to virtually cover the bones/chicken carcass  

 

Ingredients - for the vegetables (can be varied according to what’s fresh and in season)

30g organic butter or olive oil

I large or 2 medium organic leeks, tough green tops and roots removed, cut into fine dice

1 small organic sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 organic carrots, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 medium sticks organic celery, washed, trimmed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

½ large organic courgette, washed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea) 

100g organic frozen peas, defrosted 

1-2 tbsp organic tamari

a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Ingredients - to serve

small bunch organic parsley, finely chopped

cold, roast chicken, cut or shredded into small pieces - optional

Instructions - to make the bone broth

Place all the ingredients into a very large saucepan (or you can use a slow-cooker, if you have one).

Add enough cold, freshly filtered water to virtually cover - push down any bits and pieces that are sticking out above the water line.

Set the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to boiling point. Keep your eye on it. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, turn the heat down to a very low setting and, using a metal tablespoon, skim off any scum that’s risen to the surface. 

Cover with the pan lid and allow the liquid to simmer very gently for at least 2 hours - although 4 hours would be better. N.B. It is very important that the liquid does not boil rapidly at any time because this will make the finished broth cloudy rather than clear.

After a couple of hours - longer if possible - the liquid will have turned into a clear, golden broth and will smell really inviting. Allow the contents of the pan to cool down a little before straining the hot broth through a metal sieve into a clean saucepan. Or, if you’re not planning to use it straightaway, a glass bowl. Leave to cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator, where it will turn into a savoury jelly.

 

Instructions - to cook the vegetables and finish the dish

In a large saucepan, melt the butter (or gently heat the olive oil) then add the diced vegetables and stir everything together well to lightly coat the vegetables in the oil.

Cut a circle of greaseproof paper to fit the pan and press this down directly on top of the vegetables. Put the pan lid on and cook gently over a medium-low heat for approximately 8 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft - they should retain their natural, vibrant colour.

Bring the bone broth back to boiling point, then season to taste with Tamari, sea salt and black pepper. 

Add the hot broth to the saucepan containing the vegetables and simmer over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. 

If using, add the diced chicken to the broth and allow to warm through for a further minute before ladling into individual pre-warmed serving bowls - making sure that the vegetables and chicken pieces are evenly distributed between each bowl. 

Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve. 

 

Notes

The broth will keep for up to 5 days covered in a refrigerator.

Before using jellied broth straight from the fridge, scrape off the top layer of fat from the surface.

You can freeze the cooled liquid broth in ice cube trays and then use the resulting frozen stock cubes individually to add depth of flavour to savoury sauces and gravies. 

 

Carbohydrate 21g Protein 5g - per serving


Beef Stroganov

by Susan Smith in ,


Because I didn’t get around to grinding-up Sushi The Cat’s finest, organic steak in time for her to enjoy last week, I was forced to put Beef Stroganov on our Saturday night dinner menu so that it didn’t go to waste. It’s come to something when our puss-cat is apparently more of a fussy eater than her health conscious owners, but there you have it. According to Sushi, if anything is left in the refrigerator for more than 3 days before mincing and freezing it down for cat food, it’s not fit for her to eat. Her loss. 

However, I hadn’t just been lackadaisical in prepping Sushi’s meals. Every week there is a last minute panic for me to create something fabulous that will use up all the previous week’s Riverford organic fruit and vegetables so we have enough fridge space to store the current week’s delivery. Inevitably, I get so excited when I’m placing my regular Riverford order that I double-up on fruit and veggies still not eaten from the week before. On this occasion, I had mushrooms, onions, a pack of salad leaves, organic cream, lemon and cauliflower leftovers. I suppose it’s a testament to the lack of air miles and their just-picked freshness, but I always marvel at how Riverford’s produce stays ‘alive’ for so long - especially their bags of organic salad leaves. Truly, the salad you see in the photos had been sat in my fridge for over a week! Anyway, I had everything I needed to put together, what is for us, a rare treat.

It must be in the 1960’s that I last made Beef Stroganov. Back then it was the height of sophistication to order this dish in a posh restaurant and have it cooked at your table in an elaborate chafing dish by the maître d’ (headwaiter). As rich-tasting and as luxurious as this meal is, if you don’t even need to be in the kitchen to cook it, it’s clearly not that difficult to make!

Beef Stroganov is named after Count Pavel Stroganoff (1774–1817) or should that be Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov? I think it should, and named my recipe accordingly. The ridiculously wealthy, Europe-hopping, Russian Count Pavel Stroganov was born in Paris and later employed French chefs. For me, just one delicious mouthful of lightly sautéed, tender beef in its creamy, tangy sauce tells me that Beef Stroganov’s origins are clearly French. It was in fact gourmet Pavel’s renowned French chef who adapted a simple beef fricassee from a textbook recipe by adding Smetana (a type of soured cream from Eastern Europe), and then christened it Beef Stoganov after his Russian employer. Rich food for rich people! I like to think that Beef Stroganov was perhaps one of the first fusion foods to be invented.

Pure, simple and indulgent, don’t be tempted to make Beef Stroganov with anything other than prime, organic, grass-fed steak. Fillet steak is best, but the good news is that you need about a third less meat for this recipe than you do when cooking individual steaks, and the finished dish is so deeply satisfying that you won’t even notice that ‘less’ has remarkably transformed itself into ‘more’. Partnered up with cauliflower ‘rice’ and a fresh green salad drizzled over with the finest olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it’s a dish fit for Counts, Kings and all of us that are primally-orientated towards turning our bodies into fat-burning mode rather than sugar-burning.  

Enjoy with a decent bottle of organic no-added-sulphur red wine and you’ll soon see why this quick to make, full of flavour, ultimate comfort food earned itself the reputation of fancy-pants dining in restaurants in the 1960’s. Because it can be on the table in less than thirty minutes, I think it’s a classic that’s perfectly suited to make a comeback in our kitchens, with or without my kitty’s approval!

Beef Stroganov (Serves 4)

Ingredients

45g organic unsalted butter

3 organic onions, very thinly sliced

250g organic chestnut mushrooms, sliced

600g organic beef steak, cut into strips 

sea salt

organic black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp organic whole grain or Dijon mustard

250ml organic full-fat creme fraîche, sour cream or fresh organic double cream soured with the juice of ½ an organic lemon

small handful of organic flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

Heat half the butter in a heavy frying pan and fry the onions slowly over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and golden brown. Lift out with a slice and keep warm.    

Add the mushrooms to the pan and quickly fry over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Keep warm with the onions.

Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan and turn the heat up to high. Very quickly stir-fry the steak for 1-2 minutes on each side until it is seared brown on both sides. N.B. Take care that the juices don’t run. To avoid this, fry the meat in two batches - overcrowding the pan will ‘steam’ the meat rather than fry it.

Return all the meat to the pan, season well, then add the mushrooms and onions. Shake everything together over a high heat, then pour in the soured cream and add the mustard, stirring it in well.   

When everything is bubbling, finally stir in the parsley and take off the heat. 

Serve with mounds of cauliflower ‘rice’ and a fresh green salad dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over.

 

Carbohydrate 6g Protein 25g - per serving


Perfect Roast Chicken

by Susan Smith in ,


Everyone’s favourite, it’s been said "A kitchen is not truly your own until you’ve roasted a chicken in it." Simple and delicious, the perfect roast chicken is aromatic, succulent and tasty with golden, crispy skin. 

Harking back to my childhood, white chicken meat was considered superior to red meat and would most often grace the table for special occasions. Worlds away from the pitiful, intensively reared chickens that now predominate most supermarket shelves, my remembrance is of free-range, pastured, happy hens that, when their time had come, were slaughtered out of sight of the rest of the flock. 

When I was very little, my parents shipped my sister and I off for a month long summer holiday to Gear Farm in Helston, Cornwall. It was here that I endured what at first felt like abandonment but turned out to be a most edifying exposure to farming life. It was rustic. There was no running hot water so we had a washbowl in our bedroom and once a week we bathed in a tin bath in the front sitting room. The only flush toilet was outside. At night if we needed to pee we used under-the-bed chamber pots. The only in-house entertainment was a piano, which is where the family and farmhands gathered in the evening for a sing-along. My all-time favourite was our rendition of a Doris Day song ‘Que Sera Sera’, which to a little girl full of imagination and uncertainty seemed to resonate. Come to think of it, the lyrics still hold good! 

It was a simple but good life. To be woken up very early in the morning to the whinnying of a majestic shire horse stood immediately below my bedroom window, helping to herd the cows from field to farm and back again for their twice-daily milking, hand-collecting fresh, warm eggs from straw filled nests in purpose-made wooden henhouses, walking through fields of ripening wheat, gathering pure white field mushrooms ankle-deep in morning dew, peacefully watching a sow suckling her piglets. And, on the dark side, taking care to avoid the padlocked shed that housed the farm’s very large and vocal bull, lying in bed listening to the sound of a chicken trying to escape having it’s neck wrung and the squeals of terrified pigs being forced onto the slaughter truck. After all these years, I have still not managed to come to terms with the variance between life and death. 

Accordingly, at Primal Plate the vast majority of our meals are vegetarian. However, we do still occasionally eat organic, grass-fed meat, which I also buy to make into healthy, raw pet food for my cat Sushi. An occasional treat for us, a Perfect Roast Chicken is probably what most people think of as the best meal in the world!

I’ve avoided all the ‘faff and fiddle' that many classic roast chicken recipes call for, so you don’t need to be a seasoned cook to bring a perfectly roasted chicken to the table in all it’s golden glory. In fact it’s so easy to cook, it almost beggars belief. However, please don’t be cheapskate when buying chicken. Honour the bird you’re about to eat - and yourself - by paying extra for free-range, pastured and preferably organic, then follow the instructions step-by-step for the best roast chicken you’ve ever tasted.

Finally, there’s nothing much more useful to have in your refrigerator than a cold roast chicken. I like to pile juicy bite-sized pieces of cold roast chicken mixed with lemony mayonnaise, crunchy celery, fresh tarragon and crisp lettuce leaves between slices of grain-free bread to make the most deliciously satisfying sandwiches to take on a picnic with a bottle of chilled champagne. Simply add English strawberries and cream for the ultimate celebration of summer.

Hot or cold, I guarantee that once you’ve learned how to roast a chicken to finger-licking perfection, it’ll be a friend for life!  

Perfect Roast Chicken (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 organic onion, halved

2 organic carrots, cut into chunks

1 free-range, organic chicken about 1.5 kg / 3lb 5oz

40g grass-fed butter, softened

Celtic sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, pricked all over with the point of a sharp knife & microwaved for 30 seconds

small bunch thyme - optional

 

Instructions

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30-45 minutes before you want to cook it to allow it to come to room temperature. 

Remove any plastic packaging and stand the chicken on a plate lined with paper-towel. Pat the chicken dry - inside and out - using more paper towels. N.B. Do not rinse under the tap, the chicken needs to be really dry for its skin to crisp up to a beautiful golden-brown.

Heat the oven to 190℃ (175℃ fan) 375℉ / Gas mark 5. Have a shelf ready in the middle of the oven without any shelves above it.

Scatter the vegetables over the base of a roasting dish that fits the chicken snugly (see photograph).

Season the underside of the chicken (its back) and inside the cavity with salt and pepper, then stuff the cavity with the lemon and thyme, if using. 

Sit the chicken on top of the vegetables and smother it all over with the butter. Then, liberally season it on the outside with a generous amount of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. 

Place in the oven and leave, undisturbed, for 1 hr 20 mins – this will give you a perfectly roasted, crispy-skinned chicken. 

To check, pierce the thigh with a skewer and the juices should run clear.

Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and carefully lift the chicken onto a dish or board to rest for at least 15-20 mins. As you lift the chicken, let any juices from the chicken pour out of the cavity into the roasting dish - you can use this to make delicious gravy, soups and sauces. 

 

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 70g - per serving

Cold roast chicken with tarragon mayonnaise and crispy lettuce between our  Grain-Free Bread

Cold roast chicken with tarragon mayonnaise and crispy lettuce between our Grain-Free Bread

Or serve warm roast chicken with a simple salad and our  Fast & Easy Vinaigrette  

Or serve warm roast chicken with a simple salad and our Fast & Easy Vinaigrette 


Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino with Parmesan Crusted Chicken / Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés

by Susan Smith in , , , , , , ,


There’s a debate going on in our household. A sort of ‘Daddy or Chips?’ to-ing and fro-ing. Sarah thinks I should feature more meat recipes on Primal Plate’s blog and I’m not finding any reason to do so. In fact, the opposite is true - I am not interested in promoting meat consumption.

Mass cruelty is going on, and millions of factory-farmed chickens, pigs and cows are suffering the consequences, without any encouragement from me. Most people don’t want to know how the food they eat arrives on their plate, because if they become fully aware of the heartrending, unmerciful, intense farming methods, kept ‘under wraps’ by agribusiness and food advertising agencies, natural empathy will force them to change their eating habits, or at least make them willing to pay the extra price for compassionately and ethically reared farm animals. I have a solution. If you think you can’t afford to buy organic, free-range, grass-fed meat, stop eating meat! Or, if you must eat it, save it for special occasions when you are happy to pay a little more for the privilege.

So now my intention is clear, I can indulge Sarah and look to those people who like to draw attention to the fact that meat is most often missing on Primal Plate’s blog. Today’s post should make the point admirably. 

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino is a fresh, light-bite that’s been slightly modified from an original Waitrose recipe. More than a cold salad but not quite a hot dinner, this dish captures all the flavours of summer with the minimum of fuss. With the exception of griddling the asparagus spears (which only takes about 6-8 minutes) everything else can be pre-prepared and quickly assembled when you’re ready to eat. 

It’s delicious with Parmesan Crusted Chicken (buy your chicken here) assuming you’ve taken on board the importance of provenance - but here’s the thing, it’s twice as good (and a lot more convenient to serve) teamed with Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (recipe adapted from Rose Elliot’s book Vegetarian Four Seasons).

This is my sort of food - tasty soft pillows of all-protein goodness, topped with golden, crunchy, cheese - and no animal suffering in the making thereof! When it comes to deciding which is more enticing to eat, I think the photographs here say it for me!

Still, I’ve included the recipes for both chicken and soufflés, so you have the choice. However, I entreat you to please stop supporting the horrors of intensive animal farming by paying the extra money for free-range, outdoor bred, organic chicken - without exception. Thank you.

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino (V - see note below) (Serves 2-4)

Ingredients

250g tomatoes, halved (I used Pome dei Moro)

500g asparagus, trimmed

Fast and easy vinaigrette

30g pine nuts, toasted

25g pack fresh basil, shredded if leaves are large, or left whole if small

30g Pecorino, Parmesan or Twineham Grange cheese, finely grated

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 150 ℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 3

Arrange tomato halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment . Cook in the pre-heated oven for up to 1 hour. N.B. Because oven temperatures can vary considerably, check the tomatoes progress after 45 minutes - they should be semi-collapsed, semi-dried and slightly caramelised when they’re done - definitely not scorched! Remove from the oven and set aside.

Gently toast pine nuts in a small dry frying pan over a low heat until golden - watch like a hawk, don’t let them burn!

Make the fast and easy vinaigrette. Set aside.

Wash asparagus, drain and dry. Snap off the bottom of the spears and peel the lower third with a potato peeler. Drizzle the prepared asparagus with olive oil, coating them evenly, then season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Just before you’re ready to serve, heat a griddle pan to hot. Cook the asparagus in a single layer until lightly charred and tender (takes about 5-8 minutes)

Arrange the cooked asparagus on a large serving plate, scatter with the tomatoes. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette then top with pine nuts, shredded basil leaves and grated cheese…in that order.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Serves 2) 

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1 egg white, lightly beaten

60g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

A generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Clearspring organic sunflower frying oil

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃. 

Combine freshly ground black pepper with grated Parmesan.

Dip each chicken fillet into the beaten egg white and then firmly press the chicken into the combined Parmesan and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a non-stick oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat. When it is hot, cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Do not be tempted to move the chicken around the pan - it will be crispier if you leave it alone. 

Put the frying pan into the pre-heated oven for a further 8-10 minutes until cooked through. N.B. if you’re not sure if it’s completely cooked, cut through the middle of one of the chicken fillets with a sharp knife and check.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving. 

 

Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (V) (Makes 8 soufflés - serves 4 for a main course, 8 as a starter) 

Ingredients

Butter for greasing 

8 tbsp ready-grated Parmesan cheese

225g full fat cream cheese (I used Longley Farm)

4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

150g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

5 large egg whites

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4. Boil a kettle of water.

Generously grease 8 ramekin dishes, then sprinkle the insides with 4 tablespoons of the ready-grated Parmesan.

Put the cream cheese into a large bowl and mash with a fork until it’s smooth. Gradually mix in the egg yolks, then add half the grated Gruyere. Season with sea salt and black pepper. 

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a clean grease-free whisk (preferably electric if you’re not feeling energetic) until they stand in soft peaks.

Stir one tablespoon of the whisked egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, then using a metal tablespoon gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins to come level with the top, but don’t pile it up any higher.

Stand the filled ramekins in a roasting tin, pour the boiling water round to come halfway up the sides and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are risen and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to get cold - they’ll sink a bit. Loosen the edges and turn them out. It’s easiest to turn them out into the palm of one hand, then transfer them to an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere cheese, then with the rest of the Parmesan cheese. 

They can now wait until you’re ready to bake them. Then, pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Notes

It’s impossible to make Pecorino or Parmesan cheese without using animal rennet, so they are not suitable for vegetarians. Twineham Grange cheese is made with a vegetarian rennet in place of the animal rennet and is the only cheese of its type to be Vegetarian Society Approved. For more information click here.

Twice-baked cheese soufflés are excellent for a special brunch served alongside slices of wild smoked salmon and accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange and pink grapefruit juice. They can even be made and frozen in their dish, ready to be quickly defrosted and baked.  

The cooking times for chicken breast fillets depend on their size and thickness so I have allowed some latitude in my timings. Try to ensure that both fillets are the same weight so you’re not juggling around with different timings for each. Ultimately, you have to use your discretion but, if in doubt, nothing will spoil if you cut one open, just to make sure it’s nicely cooked all the way through.

 

Carbohydrate 6g Protein 8g - per serving of Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino/Twineham Grange cheese

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 44g - per serving of Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 28g - per main course serving of 2x individual Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (1g carbohydrate 14g protein - per soufflé)


Stir-Fried Masala Chicken with Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes and Coriander & Mint Chutney

by Susan Smith in , , ,


I lost my mojo with regard to writing more recipes for the BBQ this past week, because when the weather turns cold, wet and windy, I really don’t want to eat outside thank you. This means the Halloumi & Vegetable Skewers promised in my last blog post will just have to wait, because I’m now more in the mood for something hot and spicy, like Stir-Fried Masala Chicken.

A packet of organic chicken thighs left too long in the fridge was actually intended for Sushi (my cat), but ended up being far too near its sell-by date for her to deign to eat them! Feeling under some obligation not to waste good food, Stir-Fried Masala Chicken just had to be! Accompanied by Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes, some baby salad leaves and a fresh, green, zingy, Coriander & Mint Chutney it has the cheer-up factor of spring with a little bit of heat for comfort. An all round winner I’d say, especially as Sushi got some fresh organic chicken breasts to compensate for her loss!

If you’re thinking “Is it okay to drink a lager/beer/cider with my curry when you’re following the Primal diet?” the answer is that none of these alcoholic drinks are strictly Primal (they also contain about 10-15 grams of carbohydrate per glass). However, an occasional, gluten-free, ‘light’ beer or lager (only 3-6 grams carbohydrate a glass) can be considered a bit of a ‘cheat’ and is obviously better for you than regular beers and lagers. 

Anyway, I’m off on a tangent because the drink shown in the picture below (just above Notes) is not alcoholic. It is a deliciously different and refreshing drink made from Thorncroft Detox Cordial  and San Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water. Having no artificial flavours or preservatives, no refined sugar and being a great detox to boot, this is how I manage to drink my full quotient of water every day! As a bonus for cider lovers, if you add 1-2 tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar (also recommended for detox and cleansing) you'll end up with a non-alcoholic cider that not only tastes good, but does you good!  

For ease, I have kept the recipes for the Stir-Fried Masala Chicken, Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes and Coriander & Mint Chutney separate. However, these dishes brought together on one plate work brilliantly. For those of us committed to a low-carbohydrate, grain-free Primal/Paleo diet, it’s safe to say that the rest of you can keep your traditional naan bread accompaniment, because when compared to this flavourful made-in-curry-heaven combination, it won’t even come close!

To help you avoid any last-minute kitchen frenzy, the Coriander & Mint Chutney can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, the sweet potatoes can be part-cooked, spiced and 'oven-ready' for a final roasting and the chicken sliced, all in advance. Then, with a pre-heated oven on standby, dinner can be on the table within half an hour or so.

Ingredients - for the  Stir-Fried Masala Chicken (Serves 3)

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped 

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp (about 2.5cm / 1inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp organic curry powder (or garam masala)

1 tsp Marigold organic bouillon powder

6 x free-range, organic chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces / strips (alternatively, 2 organic chicken breasts, cut into strips)

2 tsp organic tomato puree

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Baby green or mixed leaf salad, to serve

 

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat.  Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the chillies and continue to fry for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to turn golden brown.

Add the grated ginger, bouillon powder, curry powder (or garam masala), coriander and cumin to the pan. Stir until well combined and continue cooking for 2 more minutes until the mixture is thick and fragrant (take care that it doesn’t burn).

Stir in the tomato puree, then add the chicken to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and over a medium/high heat dry-fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the chicken is cooked through and a deep reddish brown. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve immediately with baby green leaf salad. 

 

Ingredients - for the Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes (Serves 3)

700g Organic Sweet Potatoes

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp turmeric

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 250℃ / 480℉ / Gas mark 9. Boil a kettle of water.

Peel the sweet potatoes then cut them into approx 2.5cm x 5cm (1in x 2in) pieces and put into the top half of a steamer.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of the steamer, cover with the pan lid and cook the sweet potatoes for 8-10 minutes until just tender (test with a skewer, they should just give without too much resistance). Don’t let them go too soft. Remove from the heat, drain well and set aside to steam dry. 

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan. Check that the oil is hot enough by adding a sprinkling of mustard seeds (they should pop when it is) then add the rest of the mustard seeds, the chilli flakes, the turmeric and a large pinch of salt. Fry for 1 minute until the spices are well combined and fragrant. 

Tip the sweet potatoes into the pan, give everything a good stir so that they are well coated in the oil, spices and mustard seeds then take the pan off the heat. Using a potato masher, squash and flatten the sweet potatoes down to about half their original size. You’re aiming for a coarsely crushed mixture that'll provide lots of crispy, roasted edges after blasting in the oven. 

Tip the spiced crushed sweet potatoes onto a large non-stick baking tray and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden. 

Serve hot with Stir-Fried Masala Chicken. 

 

Ingredients- for Coriander & Mint Chutney (Serves 4-6)

100g (4oz) bunch fresh coriander, rinsed and dried (I use an OXO salad spinner)

20g fresh mint, stalks removed

2 long green chillies, finely chopped

15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tsp, grated)

½ large lime or ½ medium lemon, juiced (about 30ml / 1 fl.oz juice)

1-2 drop(s) liquid stevia

Sea salt, to taste

250g organic Greek yogurt

 

Instructions

Place the coriander, chillies, grated ginger, lime or lemon juice, a single drop of liquid stevia and a generous pinch of sea salt into a food processor or blender. Whizz together into a smooth, thick puree. 

Add the coriander mixture to the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning and/or add another single drop of liquid stevia, if you think it needs it.

Serve as an accompaniment to Stir-Fried Masala Chicken, Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes and a baby green or mixed leaf leaf salad. 

Notes:

Although the recipes for Stir-Fried Masala Chicken and Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes serve 3 people, Sarah reckons she can never have too much! Therefore, I suggest that if youve only got two mouths to feed (and youre both hungry), don’t reduce the quantity of ingredients but rather knock yourself out and eat the lot! Just remember, if you're trying to lose weight, you’re loading up the carbs when you eat sweet potatoes!

Skinless chicken breasts are easier to prepare than chicken thighs because there’s no fat or sinew to remove prior to cutting them into strips. Eversfield Organic Farm is Soil Association Approved, deliver nationwide and has won many awards for their organic grass-fed meat from Compassion in World Farming, Food and Drink Devon and Great Taste. They’ve also had many recommendations from top food chiefs and writers and I am now about to add Primal Plate Blog to the list! If you eat a Primal or Paleo diet you will know that only organic, pastured meat is recommended, so this is your one-stop shop for the best fresh meat and poultry you can buy. 

Sweet potatoes are strong sources of beta-carotene, manganese, and copper. A small one has 22g carbs and 3g fibre, making it the perfect post-workout snack. They’re also Primal/Paleo and a lot tastier than a bland white potato (which isn’t!). In this Primal Plate recipe, they perfectly balance out the heat of the Masala Stir-fried Chicken and the fresh, green tang of the Coriander & Mint Chutney. Truly delicious!

Coriander & Mint Chutney, whilst obviously the perfect condiment for an Indian dish, also makes an utterly moreish dip for crudités and other finger-licking goodies. I’ve even recently used it as a dipping sauce for the first-of-the-season English steamed asparagus. My advice would be, never let a bunch of fresh coriander go to waste in your fridge - make some fresh coriander chutney with it instead - once tasted, you just can’t seem to get enough!

 

Carbohydrate 5g Protein 36g - per serving of Stir-Fried  Masala Chicken 

Carbohydrate 51g Protein 3g - per serving of Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes 

Carbohydrate 4g Protein 2g - per serving of Coriander & Mint Chutney 


Little Ham and Egg Pies

by Susan Smith in , , , ,


Unusually, for someone who embraces Primal living, I don’t eat much meat. When I do it’s a) because 'fast' meat dishes like steak and salad are my go-to easy option when I'm just too busy or b) I believe it’s the best or only option available to me when I’m eating out. Either way, in spite of enjoying the taste of meat and knowing that it can in fact be a nutritionally sound choice, I’m usually at odds with my decision. 

I was in fact vegetarian for over a decade because I believe that the animal cruelty involved in factory farming of around two in every three farm animals today (that’s over 50 billion animals a year!) is an abomination; a testament to man's stupidity. Not only is our insatiable appetite for cheap food causing so much suffering to farm animals, it’s trashing the environment and fuelling climate change too. Quite apart from the stress and disease that cramming farm animals together causes, it seems obvious to me, and somehow only fair in the face of ‘farmaggedon’, that human health is also at risk. By eating meat from animals that have been routinely injected with drugs such as antibiotics and growth hormones and animals given unnatural animal feed - grains grown with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides - we’re exposing ourselves to disease too. So if you want to protect your health, the answer is to only eat pasture raised meat - namely, meat from animals that have been allowed to roam freely on lush grass. I recommend Green Pastures Farm

That said, these Little Ham and Egg Pies (original recipe from Simple Food by Jill Dupleix) have been a life-saver when I’m on the move and I’ve needed something quick and easy to eat. Tasty and sustaining, they really come into their own when we’re working flat-out at a Mirror Imaging wedding. Travelling between venues, Sarah drives whilst I feed these little protein packed morsels into both our mouths at the same time!

Also handy for a school lunch box, picnic fare, a high protein snack after a work-out, breakfast on the run, to serve with drinks, or served warm for a light supper or brunch. I’ve even converted the recipe into making ‘tiny’ ham and egg pie canapés using quails eggs and Parma ham! Little Ham and Egg Pies are all-rounders. They’ll keep for up to three days in a refrigerator. 

Little Ham and Egg Pies (Makes 12)

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil or butter

12 slices best quality ham

12 large organic free range eggs, preferably pastured

2 tbsp double cream

Sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp chopped parsley

4 tbsp Parmesan Reggiano, freshly grated

 

Instructions

Heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Lightly oil a 12 hole muffin tray with melted butter or olive oil

Line the base and most of the sides of each mould with a slice of ham. Break an egg into each hollow.

Drizzle a little cream over each 'pie' and scatter with sea salt, pepper, parsley and parmesan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the egg is just set and starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then run a small knife around the mould to loosen the ham and egg. Remove to a wire tray.

If there are any straggly pieces of egg white left on the bottom of the ham just wipe away for a neater appearance.

Eat warm or at room temperature.

  

Notes

Buy the best quality ham you can afford, preferably organic and free-range.

Your average slice of processed meat does not come from a grass-fed pastured animal so don’t base your diet around cured meats such as bacon, ham charcuterie etc.  A little eaten occasionally is okay but treat cured meats as an adjunct to vegetables, fruits and fresh meat.

Also, go easy on the salt when you’re seasoning these ham and egg pies because often processed ham is heavily salted already. 

 

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 13g - per serving