Tag Archives: potatoes

Christmas roast

Roasted pork belly

Last year I roasted a turkey for the first and last time. Not that I didn’t like the finished product, there was just so much of it leftover, and with just D and I, turkey leftovers get a little boring, no matter how you try to dress them up.

This year, D will have to do without turkey, as I have the special present of my parents visiting, and I’m reverting to a family tradition of making roast pork for my family.

I’m lucky to live in Singapore where I have easy access to lots and lots of pork belly, my favourite cut of pork to roast.  It’s such a tasty cut of meat, due to the layers of fat between the meat that seem to almost melt once roasted, just basting the meat in tasty goodness and keeping the meat tender and moist.

A little preparation can also give you brilliantly crispy crackling.  Simply pat the meat dry and score the skin every 1 cm (you can also ask your butcher to do this for you).  A great trick is to use a stanley knife – it’s a bit rudimentary, but it works a treat in giving you evenly deep cuts into the skin without any stress at all.

Coat the entire cut of meat in oil, and then rub a liberal amount of salt into the skin, making sure you get salt into the scores.  Then pop into the fridge, uncovered, for a few hours or overnight if you can.  Both the salt and the fridge draw the moisture out of the skin to ensure a really cracking crackling.

Bring the meat out of the oven an hour or two before roasting to bring it to room temperature.

Brush off the excess salt, and then season the entire cut on all sides, above and below with salt and pepper.

Pop onto a roasting tray, and into a hot oven at 230C for 30 minutes to get the crackling going.  Then lower the temperature to 180C for an hour – an hour and a half if you’ve got a huge piece of pork belly.  Because pork belly is a thin-ish cut of meat, it doesn’t take a long time in the oven, but also because of the layers of fat, it’s a forgiving meat to leave in the oven for longer at a low temperature.

Leave out to rest for at least 30 minutes before tucking in.  This will give you time to make gravy with the juices in the tray.

Haricot vert, potatoes roasted in duck fat, honey-glazed carrots

Serve with roasted potatoes (I’m doing mine in duck fat for a more festive touch – if only I could find goose fat !), roasted onions, garlic, leeks and any other vegetables that you can find in your fridge.


Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup

Another one of my favourite comfort foods.  Easy, nutritious and delicious – leek and potato soup hits all the right spots.

I keep the skins on my potatoes so that I can keep a lot of the nutrients and fibre that potatoes offer.  Just make sure you scrub them thoroughly and remove any deep eyes or bruises and don’t buy potatoes that look green – it’s not enough to make you ill if you eat these, but it just means that they are not fresh.

Ingredients to serve around 6 comforting bowls

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large leeks, washed
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 L of chicken stock (at room temperature or cold – not hot)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • dollop of cream (optional)

Method

  1. Sweat the onions in a large saucepan in butter and olive oil until translucent
  2. Slice the white part of the leeks (discard the darker green parts) and add to the leeks
  3. Chop the washed potatoes while the leeks are sweating down
  4. Fill the saucepan with chicken stock and add the potatoes (cooking potatoes in cold liquid helps them cook more evenly and prevent mushiness – I adhere to this rule even in soups).  The stock should just cover the potatoes.  Add more or less depending on the size of your saucepan.
  5. Bring to boil, cover and lower temperature to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Take off the heat and blend/puree with a stick blender until smooth.  Season to taste.
  7. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil with some crusty buttered bread.  Alternatively you can add a generous dollop of cream.

potato gratin dauphinois

You can pretty much serve me potatoes any way and I’ll love them – mash them, bake them, chip and fry them, or coat them in cream and cheese and bake them.  After not having cooked for a week and with a whole Saturday afternoon and evening ahead of me, I decided to make my-friend-Christine-inspired potato gratin dauphinois with truffle oil as a side dish to the free-range chicken I picked up from the butcher downstairs at Great World City this morning, and was roasting for dinner (wow that’s a long sentence).

I was trying to find a recipe for it in the Larousse Gastranomique that D had bought me for Christmas, and was surprised that under the many many potato recipes, there was none to be found for potatoe dauphinois.

So, I improvised, and I have to say that the potatoes beat the chicken by a long shot !

Potatoe gratin dauphinois:

Smash a clove of garlic and pop in into a saucepan of 200ml heavy cream and 100ml full cream milk and heat until there are bubbles around the edges of the saucepan.

Remove the garlic, and add in a cup of grated Gruyere cheese and stir till it’s melted into the cream/milk mixture.  Add in a few drops of truffle oil at this stage.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add some freshly grated nutmeg.

Peel about half a kilo of potatoes (I used Russet), soak them in water so they don’t burn, pat dry, finely slice with a mandolin and add them to the cream/milk/cheese mixture to coat.

Arrange in a buttered gratin dish and top with more grated Gruyere, dot with a bit more truffle oil and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 1 1/2 hours or until the potatoes are cooked.

Enjoy the smell of your kitchen/flat as it bakes!