Nigel Slater’s recipes for onion pickle, stilton puffs and roast duck salad | Meals

I need to inform you a couple of jar of pickle I made this week. Crimson onions, sliced thinly and marinated in purple wine and malt vinegars, a bit of salt and sugar and a scattering of peppercorns, cloves and dried fruit. The result’s a tangle of sentimental, garnet purple onions that’s as joyful alongside a miniature pasty of apple and stilton as snuggling as much as a pork chop. This isn’t actually a “preserving pickle” – although you can for those who wished – it’s merely one thing to place collectively in 10 minutes so as to add a sweet-sour jolt to a lunch of bread and cheese or maybe a pork pie.

That is the reply to those that are usually not keen on commercially made pickles but haven’t any want to fiddle making their very own. I’m exceptionally fond of creating the odd jar myself – plums, figs, runner beans or sauerkraut, however typically I need my hit of selfmade sweet-sour accompaniment at pace. Crimson onion is the best way to go. Pickles additionally sat with a salad of roast duck and ripe cantaloupe.

Typically, steeping issues in vinegar and spices is about coping with a glut, or placing a style of summer season away for winter, however on different events it’s merely about including a contact of immediate piquancy to a dish.And that’s precisely what occurs right here.

Crimson onion pickle

I can’t inform you how helpful this pickle is. This week alone I’ve used it with the duck salad and the cheese and apple pastries. It is going to dwell, fortunately, in a stoppered jar within the fridge for weeks. I normally make this with golden sultanas – much less candy than massive, darkish brown raisins, however went with some dried mulberries as an alternative. They provide the identical pleasing jolt of sweetness among the many vinegars.

Makes 1 medium jar

purple onions 2
lemons 2
caster sugar 1 tbsp
purple wine vinegar 3 tbsp
malt vinegar 1 tbsp
water 200ml
black peppercorns 10
sea salt 1 tsp
cloves 5
raisins or dried mulberries a handful

Peel and thinly slice the onions, put them in a stainless-steel saucepan and add the juice from the lemons, the caster sugar and vinegars. Add the peppercorns and cloves, water and salt. Convey the combination to the boil, decrease the warmth to a simmer, then cowl with a lid and proceed cooking for 10 minutes. Maintain a watchful eye on the liquid degree, adjusting the warmth as vital. Stir within the dried fruit and put aside. Switch the new pickle to a clear storage jar, seal and retailer within the fridge.

Apple and stilton puffs

Little puff-pastry dumplings with the time-honoured filling of apples and cheese. The onion pickle provides a pleasingly sharp observe. They’re virtually nearly as good chilly (packed lunch, autumn picnic, midnight snack) as they’re when eaten sizzling. It’s price taking care to seal them tightly to cease the filling leaking as they bake. Makes 16

apples 500g (3 medium apples)
water 3 tbsp
stilton or different blue cheese 150g
puff pastry 1 x 320g sheet
egg 1, massive, overwhelmed
poppy seeds 2 tsp

Peel and core the apples, then roughly chop them. Put them in a stainless-steel saucepan with the water and simmer over a average warmth till delicate. Stir them often to cease them sticking, then crush them with a fork. You’re after a filling that’s delicate, however not runny. Put aside to chill.

Preheat the oven to 200C/fuel mark 6. Minimize the pastry in half. Then, on a floured board, roll out one half to a sq. measuring 32cm x 32cm. Minimize the pastry into 16 equal squares. (Every will measure roughly 8cm.) Crumble the stilton and stir into the apple, then place 1½ heaped tbsp of the combination into the centre of 8 of the squares of pastry. Brush the sides of every sq., then place the remaining squares of pastry over the filling and seal every one tightly along with your fingertips or by urgent across the edges with a fork. Switch the little dumplings to a baking sheet and maintain cool. Repeat with the remaining pastry, once more making 8 dumplings. Brush every dumpling with overwhelmed egg and scatter with poppy seeds.

Bake the pastries within the preheated oven for 20 minutes till golden brown. Switch to a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then serve whereas they’re nonetheless heat.

Roast duck, melon and blackberry salad

‘The melon is a refreshing distinction to the wealthy flesh of the duck’: roast duck, melon and blackberry salad. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

Sizzling, crisp-skinned duck rubbed with a herb salt containing thyme and juniper. The melon – ripe and juicy – is a refreshing distinction to the wealthy flesh of the duck. The blackberries introduce a flash of sourness.The dressing is created from the juices within the roasting tin. Regulate their progress because the duck legs roast, topping up with a bit of extra wine or inventory as vital. Serves 4 as a lightweight principal course

white or purple wine (or vermouth) 125ml
duck legs 4
olive oil a bit of
thyme leaves 1 tbsp
juniper berries 10
sea salt 1 tbsp
melon 750g, ripe
purple wine vinegar 2 tbsp
blackberries 150g

Set the oven at 200C/fuel mark 6. First, make the herb rub. Put the thyme leaves and juniper berries in a mortar, add the salt then grind coarsely.

Place a wire rack excessive of a roasting tin, then put the duck legs on the rack. Moisten them with a bit of oil, then rub with the thyme and juniper salt. Roast the duck for 20 minutes, then take away briefly from the oven, pour the wine or vermouth into the tin, then return to the oven. Decrease the warmth to 180C/fuel mark 4 and prepare dinner for an extra 40 minutes or till the flesh is moist and the pores and skin is golden.

Take away the peel and seeds from the melon, then minimize into skinny slices and place in a serving dish.

Take away the duck from the oven, verify for tenderness, let it relaxation for five minutes, then slice the pores and skin and flesh from the bones and maintain heat.

Make the dressing: take away the rack from the tin, place the roasting tin over a average warmth, pour within the purple wine vinegar and stir with a picket spoon, letting the dressing bubble, scraping on the tin with the spoon as you go. Toss the duck meat into the nice and cozy dressing, then tuck the meat among the many melon. Add the blackberries and serve.

Comply with Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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