Regularly, while standing in a shop (normally a supermarket these days, as small shops with fresh food are disappearing), I look around the shelves and am shocked by the amount of food produced in large factories. As a general rule, the larger the production operation, the less the love – and often the less nutrients. I look at the .49c fresh vegetables, and wonder what corners in production, storage or supply have been cut to allow produce arrive on the shelves at that price.
Fresh and natural is best, undoubtedly. Fresh produce in its whole state yields the most active nutrients. Worth bearing in mind as you prepare for the festive season.
There’s been a huge increase in ‘one-pot wonders’, which bring so much warmth on a winter’s day. These variations include plenty of good raw materials, and so plenty of nutritious deliciousness.
Christmas season is a great time to eat and enjoy fabulous west-of-Ireland lamb from your local butcher.
What you need
> Top half of a lamb leg (approx 1kg) on the bone
> 400ml white wine
> 2 white onions cut into quarters
> 8 garlic cloves
> 250g frozen peas
> Good bunch of fresh rosemary
> 5 fresh sage leaves
> 2 bay leaves
> Seasoning and olive oil
What you do
Take your lamb leg out of the fridge and allow it come up to room temperature, then season it well by rubbing a little oil over meat and then sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place it in a casserole pot surrounded by the onion quarters, and add the garlic cloves and rosemary, sage and bay (you can leave the skin on the onions and garlic if you like). Pour the wine over the lot, and place the dish, lid on, in a pre-heated 150°c oven.
Cook for 2.5 hours, check it, throw in some potatoes, and add some liquid if it needs it, stir it, and cook for another 1.5 hours. Ten minutes before the end, add the frozen peas. By the end of the cooking time, the meat should be falling off the bone. Serve up, and savour!
One-pot chicken with garlic
I have ordered one organic chicken, a broiler, from Laurie in Westport Country Markets for our Christmas dinner, myself being the only meat eater.
This is one-pot chicken recipe, which uses lots of garlic, is worth trying in the run up to Christmas, so you may always have something to hand. Remember to source good ingredients – it’s better to buy good-quality ingredients less often than bad-quality ingredients regularly.
What you need
> Oven ready chicken (approx 1-1.5kg)
> 30 garlic cloves
> 250ml stock
> 100ml cream
> 25g butter
> 250g shallots
> ½ lemon
> 1 bay leaf
> 1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
> 2 tbsp fresh tarragon chopped
> 150g vermouth or white wine
> Olive oil and seasoning
What you do next
Place the lemon and bay leaf inside the chicken cavity, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, then rub the thyme all over bird. Melt the butter a casserole dish, and over medium-high heat brown all sides of chicken. Peel the garlic and shallots, add to the pot, and pour in your stock and vermouth or wine.
Bring the liquid to a simmer on the hob and then transfer to the oven, preheated to 200°c. Cook for about 80 minutes, until the meat and garlic is soft. Pour off some juice, skimming the fat away, then add the tarragon and cream, and simmer for three three minutes to create a delicious sauce.
Happy cooking … and even happier eating!
> Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.