Take first five
We were playing a silly game the other evening over dinner, when I was asked, if I was stranded on a desert island, how would I go about concocting a meal using only what I could find. I played for time. What sort of desert island? Cold, barren rock or lush green? Did it have sandy beaches, a coral reef or a lagoon? I was allowed warm, green and a lagoon.
Coconuts were the obvious choice, but you can’t do much with them, and my tree-climbing days are long gone. Fish was another, but how would you manage without nets or lines? You could hold your breath and dive for lobsters and crabs, but I don’t like going under water.
Then there are birds of course, so I suppose I could make acatapult and shoot them down (disapproval all round), but where would I find a strong enough piece of elastic? I had several suggestions, most of which involved items of female apparel, but I ignored those. Then we got on to the unspeakable things like lizards and snakes and creepy-crawlies, at which point I dropped out.
But it did get me thinking. There is a programme on the Food Network Channel where the contestants (I think they’re all chefs) are presented with a basket containing four or five ingredients. They don’t know what they are in advance, but from those ingredients they have to make a tasty dish.
They can also use store cupboard things which are in virtually every recipe, like salt and pepper, olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices.
Well, I always did like a challenge, and forgetting desert islands, coconuts and lagoons, and without cheating too much, my recipes this time use the five main ingredients I would choose.
I usually list things in the order in which they are used, but today it’s different in that I’ve put the five main ingredients first and listed the store cupboard things separately. But they all appear in the correct order in the method as usual.
Chicken pops up quite often in our house (and in my recipes), but that’s because it’s so versatile. I cut some legs into drumsticks and thighs and marinaded them in a mixture of honey, ketchup, mustard and brown sugar, then I roasted them until they were nice and sticky and served them with a salad and jacket potatoes.
I hesitated a bit over the pork fillet recipe, as there are rather more ‘extras’ than there should be, but it’s so good I thought I would include it.
I was a bit undecided about stock – stock cubes are a store cupboard thing (and, anyway, who has time to make proper stock these days?), so I’ve included it as one of the extras because it is only in the sauce. However, where it’s an integral part, as it is in the following lamb and risotto recipes, I’ve included it as one of the main ingredients.
Mixed with onions, peppers, paprika and a pinch of chilli, lamb paprika makes a tasty stew.
For just the two of us, I usually buy a boneless shoulder which, after trimming, serves two generously with some over, but for a larger family a boneless leg should serve five to six.
I’m not a great lover of risotto but I’ve been a devotee of risi e bisi ever since I was first served it in our favourite hotel in Taormina. It was ‘soupy’, creamy and delicious and although mine is probably not authentic, because I always add some pancetta lardons, I still think it’s pretty good.