02 November 2006

WE HAD a cottage in a barren part of Wales, and a constant stream of guests. On special occasions, the men would go off shooting, looking for rabbits. Once, a French visitor, Alain, aged 15, went along, too. When the party returned with nothing to show for the trip, Alain beamed, and produced a chicken he had shot. It was my neighbour’s.

I plucked the skinny fowl by the fire (never again!), and my neighbour’s daughter appeared, wanting to stay for lunch. Feeling very sheepish, I said: “Thank you; the lunch is on your Dad.”

This pie contains both ham and chicken, and serves four to six.

Chicken and ham pie

2 lbs breast of chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 oz (from a wedge) ham, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard powder
1 leek (1 inch round), cut into rings
8 oz chicken stock
4 fl oz single cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 level tablespoon flour
1 dessertspoon sunflower oil
puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 dessertspoon milk

Sprinkle the chicken and ham with flour. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil, stir in the leek pieces and soften. Add the meat, and seal all over. Pour in the stock, spoon in the mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook for 30 minutes; then add the cream and parsley. Leave to cool.

Place the chicken and ham mixed together in a two-pint heatproof dish. Taking a sheet of puff pastry, cover it and seal it. Then brush all over with the beaten egg and the milk. Sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350°F/gas 4/180°C for 30 minutes.

Delicious meatballs

This is my own recipe; my family loved it, especially on a cold day.

1lb lean minced beef
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin
½-inch piece ginger, crushed
1 small tin (290g) oxtail soup
1 dessertspoon paprika
1 heaped dessertspoon good curry paste
parsley or coriander
2 dessertspoons sunflower oil
salt and pepper

Dice the onions, and fry half of them in a saucepan with the oil, until nearly brown. Then add the cumin, until this also browns. Put in the crushed garlic and the can of oxtail soup, the paprika, and the ginger. Simmer slowly, until it bubbles.

Place the minced beef and the rest of the onions in a bowl. With your fingers, mix all this together, and then add salt and pepper. Make little balls, one-and-a-half inches round. While the sauce is cooking, add the balls to it, and stir in the curry paste. Simmer for about 25 minutes, until the meat is cooked. Serve with rice or mash, sprinkled with parsley or coriander.


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