Hi all, I got my bf the Ministry of Food Cookbook and have been trying some of the recipes. The results have been mixed, I have to say. He has this basic stew recipe which you can adapt to include beef, chicken, pork or lamb. I made the chicken stew last week and the beef stew last night.
The common ingredients are standard enough - , onion, celery, carrot, tin tomatoes. To make the beef stew, you add 500g beef, bay leaf and 500ml Guinness. The end result tasted too much of Guinness. The meat was lovely and tender but the tomato/Guinness combination didn't really work for me. If I'm making it again, I'll double the meat or half the Guinness.
Similarly for the chicken stew, you add 500g cubed chicken, thyme and 500ml white wine. Again, it was too winey, I thought. And the chicken was very dry.
The meatballs from the book were so so. You add crushed cream crackers to the meat mix. They make the balls hard to fry without burning the outside. Meatballs from the Avoca book are far nicer.
In contrast, I made Gordon Ramsey's Steak Diane from the Cookalong program and it was fantastic. Absolutely delicious.
Has anyone else tried the Ministry of Food recipes and if so, what did you think?
This is my favourite cookbook at the moment, I've tried about half a dozen recipes out of it so far, and like you, with mixed results, but I'm putting that down to my own inexperience and taste than anything else. I've found the quick recipes like the stir fries, etc to be a lot better than the roasts, etc
beef stew - replace the tin of tomatoes with the equivalent of good beef stock, and add a scant tablespoon of tomato puree instead. Cook for a long time, and the guinness flavour blends nicely - the sharpness of guinness plus the sharpness of a tin of tomatoes would make the stew very acidic.
You have to remember, the Ministry of Food series is Jamie's effort at cooking 101, getting people out of the kebab shops and into the kitchen. Most of his recipes are designed to get maximum flavour out of less-than-ideal ingredients.
On the chicken stew front, it's easier for someone who has never handled meat to get their head around the idea of adding chopped chicken breast to stew, in spite of the effect it has on flavour. My chicken stew recipe is kicking around this forum somewhere - I start by simmering a whole chicken in enough water to cover it, along wtih some peppercorns and a few bay leaves - then use the resulting, rich stock as a stew base, take the meat off the cooked chicken and return half of it to the stew along wtih carrots, potatoes, onion and celery - other half of it can be used in another recipe. Tastes fantastic, but newbie cooks are scared of things like whole chickens. It's easier for them to buy the simple, prepared and sectioned items. Some of them don't even like to touch raw meat, so Jaimie was pitching the Ministry of Food at a very specific level.
I'm a bit of a foody myself but the boyfriend is that kebab shop guy.
I bought the book because I am trying to get him interested in real food. But that chicken stew would not convert anybody. You're right, the evaporated booze and the tomatoes make it too acidy. I think that Nigel Sleator's Apetite is a better bet for a new cook - simple recipes, not too many ingredients. I have tried most of the recipes and they all work beautifully.
+ Liked very much +
QUICK SALMON TIKKA WITH CUCUMBER YOGHURT - Just the fastest and tastiest. I add rice and mango chutney.
PARMESAN CHICKEN BREASTS WITH CRISPY POSH HAM - Again very quick and tasty.
SIZZLING BEEF WITH BLACK BEAN SAUCE - Really delicious.
+ So so +
CHICKEN FAJHITAS - Not as nice or as cheap as buying the fajhita kit.
MINI SHELL PASTA WITH BACON AND PEAS - Nice but as nice as some of Jamies other pasta dishes.
SWEET AND SOUR PORK - Maybe needed more of both the Balsamic Vinegar and Pineapple Juice.
I cook a lot and 80% of what I cook is by Jamie Oliver. He can be annoying at times but his food is first class.
Now I think of it, I cooked his roast chicken a few weeks ago and it was really nice. He sits the chicken on top of chopped carrot, onion, celery and lots of garlic. He sticks a lemon in the cavity ( I would do that anyway). It was really good. To make the gravy, you add flour to the pan, mash up all the veg with a potato masher, add wine and stock and reduce. Pass through a sieve before serving. The gravy was knockout.
I tried the beef stew with Ale recipe and and so far it is the only recipe that I was disappointed with, I found the dish very dry I was surprised at how much liquid evaporated (obviously I expected some) but it almost looked burnt. I fe;t hte cook time was far too long.
Other recipes were muck more successful however, chicken with parma ham, meatballs, pasta shells with bacon & peas, lasagne. The roast chicken recipe looks good.