Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver

"For many years now, I've been making TV series' about the food from other countries and I've also been defending British food against its reputation overseas. We've got fantastic food here in Britain and it's time we celebrated it, especially as we’ll have the eyes of the world on us in 2012."

Jamie's Great Britain explores much that is great about British food and shows that much of what constitutes "British" food is actually a result of centuries of invasion, exploration, colonisation and immigration which has created a unique and wonderful food culture within our small island home.

Jamie's Great Britain captures the heart and soul of real British cooking - it's full of food that'll make you happy and will put a smile on your face. Over the years, Britain has embraced loads of different flavours and influences from all the people who have settled here and have made this country their home, and the result is an unique and wonderful food culture within our small island home.

Over six programmes, Jamie visits Yorkshire, the East Midlands, Essex and East London, Bristol and Somerset, South Wales and the Scottish Borders and immerses himself in the traditions and cultures which make British food so exciting.

He will be pausing along the way to cook some delicious examples of classic dishes that make this country’s cuisine great, including: Bubble and Squeak, Steak and Kidney Pie, Eccles Cakes, The crumbliest scones and Retro Arctic Roll!

"The recipes you'll see in these programmes and my book are some of my absolute favourites of all time," says Jamie. "Whenever I visited a part of Britain, I was blown away by the quality of local produce and the dishes that were created. This series really puts British food on the map and anyone who watches it will realise that our tapestry and patchwork quilt of old traditions and new arrivals makes our food some of the most exciting in the world."

The other week I was at a different branch of my library where they have their cook books right before the exit. As I was walking through this book caught my eye and I picked it up! Having now read through it as if it was a novel (i.e. straight through from beginning to end without missing a page) I know that I am going to have to own it and in fact have already brought it!

When I posted about Jamie and me (grin) a couple of weeks ago, I talked a bit about the effort that he is going in terms of educating people how to cook at home. As much as I enjoy those books, I loved that this book is about the joy of cooking with British ingredients rather than teaching people something. I know that there are other books by him that do this (like the Jamie does series for example) but I haven't read those yet and so I really can only compare this book to the Ministry of Food book and the 30 Minute Meals books that I have at home.

I loved the layout of this book! It is very much about fun and celebration. There are of course all the photos of food and ingredients, but in addition there are photo essays about places and people that Jamie has obviously met in his travels across the UK for the TV series that accompanies the series. The series hasn't yet made it to our TV screens here, but I will try and watch it when it does come here, despite the fact that his series show on a channel that I watch very rarely!

Speaking of the TV fun is this for a trailer for the show

I bookmarked a number of recipes from the book as ones I would like to try one day including Roasted Apple and Squash Soup (a fun twist on the soup I usually make using Butternut squash), Granny Smith's Port and Rice Salad, Epic Roast Chicken Salad, Empire Roast Chicken (roast chicken and potatoes with gravy all with an Indian flavoured twist), My Nan's St Clement's Cake (orange flavoured cake with lemon icing), Wonderful Welsh Cakes, Tasty Shredded Brussels (I can't stand brussel sprouts normally so it would be interesting to see if I could eat them like this) and Joyful Trifles (always happy to find a good trifle recipe).

I would say that for the first two thirds of the book I was constantly drooling and I knew very early on that it wasn't going to be enough to have read the book from the library!

The recipe that I am going to share from the book is Guiness Lamb Shanks. I have been making the same lamb shanks recipe for three or four years now, and I still love it when I make them, but it might be time to try a new variation and these look, well, good enough to eat!

Guinness Lamb Shanks

3 red onions, peeled
olive oil
sea salt and ground pepper
2 handfuls of raisins
3 heaped tablespoons thick-cut marmalade
1 heaped tablespoon tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus extra for serving
200ml Guinness or smooth dark ale
6 lamb shanks, roughly 350g each
8 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 litre organic chicken stock

To serve

a small bunch of fresh mint leaves
a few tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
2 spring onions, trimmed
cider vinegar

People absolutely love lamb shanks. You cook them until they’re just falling apart and they develop the most amazing flavours. This recipe is all about investing in dark sticky sauce and tender meat. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to interesting ales, and adding a good dark ale or even Guinness to the onions creates the most brilliant depth of flavour. The sauce here makes enough for ten lamb shanks, so if you want to make this recipe serve more people, just plop a few more shanks into the pan and top up with a little more stock if need be. Whatever you do, do NOT skip the mint oil or spring onions. It’s like switching on a light, and just that simple little touch makes the whole dish sing.

Finely chop the onions and put them into a really large casserole-type pan (roughly 26cm in diameter and 12cm deep), with a lug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over a medium to high heat, stirring as you go, until the onions start to caramelize. Add the raisins and marmalade, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and booze. Give it all a good stir, then leave to gently simmer.

Put the lamb shanks into a large frying pan (roughly 30cm wide) on a medium to high heat with a drizzle of olive oil – you can cook them in batches if needed. Turn them every few minutes; once they have some good colour, pick in the rosemary leaves and move them around in the pan to get crispy, but don’t let them burn. Use tongs to move the shanks into the pan of onions, then pour in all their juices and the crispy rosemary. Add the stock, put the lid on, turn down the heat and leave to blip away slowly for around 3 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Try to turn the shanks halfway through so they cook evenly.

When the lamb shanks are ready, carefully move them to a platter, making sure the meat stays intact. Whiz or liquidize the gravy with a stick blender until smooth, then allow to reduce down and thicken. Quickly bash most of the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt and the olive or rapeseed oil, then take to the table. Finely slice up the spring onions and toss on a plate with the remaining fresh mint leaves, a drizzle of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.

Add a little splash of cider vinegar and a few more splashes of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce, then ladle it all over the lamb shank and pour the rest into a jug for people to help themselves. Scatter the vinegary spring onions and a few fresh mint leaves all over the top, drizzle the mint oil all around the shanks, and serve with lovely potato and celeriac mash. The plate will be clean before you know it.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


  1. I am surely going to watch this! I actually picked up one of Jamies cookbooks myself from the library. The Jamie is 30 minutes one.

    While Jamies books aren't vegetarian, he does include a whole lot of vegetarian dishes in that book :) I hope I will be able to write about the book soon :)

  2. I'll be interested to see what you think of the structure of the 30 minutes meal book. It is very different to your normal cookbook! One of these days I will post about it.

  3. I adore Jamie Oliver. While I don't always find his cookbooks the easiest to navigate, I still love his food philosophy. I think my favorite cookbook of his is his Food Revolution one. But I haven't checked this one out so I'll have to see if my library has it.

  4. I'm going to have to see if the show will air here in the states. I've always liked his attitude about food, even from his early shows. I think I'd love this cookbook -- all about the joy of cooking and great flavors.

    I have lamb shanks in the freezer waiting to be eaten ... This may be the recipe.

  5. I've always enjoyed watching Jamie on the tele (from the very earliest series) and greatly admire what he's been trying to do with nutrition for kids and in schools around the world. For some reason I don't think I've got any of his books, which is unusual, I have many, many cookbooks. I love the trailer for this series- how fun. And that recipe for lamb shanks sounds great, except I just know my 10 year old would hate it.

  6. I have been a little scared of English food for as long as I can remember, so this book would probably open my eyes some and put me in a better frame of mind when it comes to cooking English dishes. I was under the impression that a lot of stuff was boiled, and there were a lot of organ meats, which are two things that I can't stand. I will have to see if my library has a copy of this one to check out and try. It sounds like I could learn a lot. Great post today, Marg!

  7. That recipe looks delicious... I have not cooked much this way but I am willing to try :)

  8. The fact that you bought the book after reading the library's copy says it all. The recipe looks pretty good too.

  9. I hadn't seen anything about this Jamie Oliver cookbook yet. Probably because it's not even listed at my local chain, although, I see now that Amazon has it.

    I absolutely love the 30 Minute Meals book though - Have you tried the Fish Tray Bake?

  10. I was just flipping through this book-it looks just lovely.

  11. I really enjoy Jamie have not seen one of his cookbooks though.

  12. Peggy, I haven't seen many of them, but I think I am going to try and buy more.

    Esme, it has such a fun layout doesn't it!

    Elena, I haven't tried anything from the 30 Minute Meals book yet. That does look really awesome! Might have to invite some people around for dinner to do that one!

    Margot, I knew I had to have it!

    Sheila, I do love lamb shanks so it is exciting to find a different way to cook them.

    Zibilee, English food does have that reputation but it certainly seems to have evolved past that over the last 20 or so years.

    Louise, it took my son a few goes to like shanks, but he eats them now.

    Beth, if you don't try this recipe, I can highly, highly recommend the other recipe I linked to.So good!

    Beth S, I have his Food Revolution one here. I need to go back and find some more recipes to try out of that one!

  13. If you don't mind me speaking up again, I have a couple of suggestions for recipes from Jamie's Food Revolution:

    The Cheat's Pasta with Cherry Tomato Sauce is one of my absolute favourites. Try chopping in an onion with the garlic, too.

    My other two favourites from this book are the Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake and the Chicken Fajitas. Both are simple to make and absolutely delicious.

  14. I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver. I would read anything by him!

  15. I'm dying to get my hands on this one. I'm working my way through a borrowed copy of Jamie's America with mixed results, but I still want a copy of my own. The books are just gorgeous, aren't they?

  16. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm getting this for Christmas (not allowed to look at in the shops!) Love the look of this, hope I do get it!

  17. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm getting this for Christmas (not allowed to look at in the shops!) Love the look of this, hope I do get it!



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