A word about gravy!

I love gravy! In fact I love a ‘wet meal’ as a friend of mine used to say. I am not enamoured, however, of gravy granules which seem to transform any meal into a school dinner. We had roast pork on Sunday, an outdoor bred, tasty joint from ALDI at £4.99 a kg. My joint cost £5.33 and was plenty for four people and as we are only 3 I had some left over as well as some gravy. Now, back to my gravy. Just a little bit of work makes for a delicious accompaniment which can be used the next day with any leftover meat.

In the roasting tin scatter 1 chopped onion, 2 or 3 peeled, whole cloves of garlic and some fresh thyme if you have it.( I have some growing in the garden as I use it often). Place your meat on top and then add a good glug of white wine, about a glass and the same of water. I have to disagree with TV chefs here, who tell us not to use any wine we wouldn’t drink, in our cooking. I buy a bottle of the cheapest white wine I can find every time I do a big food shop, in my case ALDI Baron St Jean Blanc at £2.99 a bottle. It’s kept in the fridge and used throughout the week for cooking purposes only. The thought of pouring a £7.99 bottle of wine into my food is just too much for me, but each to their own!
I cook the meat slowly so that the liquid doesn’t evaporate, but if it starts to, just top up with more water. The level should be about 1.5cm in the tin. Once cooked, remove the meat to relax and pour the liquid and onions and thyme through a sieve into a small saucepan, then with the back of a spoon, press the onions through the sieve, scraping the underside into the pan from time to time, until you are left with a dry lump of mush which can be discarded. To the liquid in the pan add about a heaped dessertspoon of flour and mix well with a whisk until amalgamated. Turn on the heat and cook gently, stirring all the time. Gradually begin to add hot water from the kettle and stir, until you get a nice thick gravy. You may need to add more flour if it is not thick enough, don’t worry, just keep whisking and any lumps will disappear. I add an oxo cube at this point, just crumbled in to add more flavour. Check for seasoning, and leave on a very low heat for 5 minutes or so. The gravy is delicious, fragrant from the thyme and onions, and flavourful with the juices of the meat.

I had around 6 slices of meat left over and some gravy and I used this up on Monday to eat with some pasta. I fried a couple of  finely chopped leeks and garlic until soft (mushrooms would be nice too), added the gravy and stirred in some double cream, around 150ml, another glug of white wine, just a splash this time and then my pork, cut into small pieces. I served it with flat, long pasta. The best thing? It took around 20 minutes to make from start to finish.

Now to eggs. A lot of us have not tapped into the full potential of these relatively cheap, nutritious and tasty ingredients. They can provide a filling weekday meal, and are quick to cook, there are not many of us who do not love a good plate of egg and chips! However, this week I  broadened my egg horizon and cooked them in the oven with a tomato, chorizo and pancetta sauce. They are delicious with fried chips, but as these are messy and not that good for you (!) we had them with oven cooked potatoes, cut into cubes, with a little olive oil and some cayenne pepper and some crusty bread. Have a look on the recipe page for how to make them.
The eggs cost whatever eggs cost. (I have 2 chickens so haven’t bought eggs for ages). The Italian ham cubes cost £1.49 for 2 little boxes, I used just 1 and the chorizo sausage I had in the fridge. This recipe fed 3 of us, my son had 1 egg, I had 2 and my husband had 3!

Friday is fish day in our house, mainly because it means we eat it at least once a week and also because we have a fab chippie just up the road. Sadly, no chippie this week, but we did have some delicious tilapia fillets cooked in the oven with, you guessed it, white wine! If you are a fish eater, please try this recipe, it smells heavenly as it cooks and tastes wonderful. It is effortless as well, involving no more than a little peeling and slicing of potatoes and onions. Those of you who read my blog last week will have read that having eaten chicken and rice on the Wednesday, I made a small amount of stock with the bones from the chicken, I used it for this dish, waste not want not! Learn to make a simple stock on my recipe page.

I paid £3.89 for the tilapia and there were 5 large fillets. Tilapia is a relatively cheap fish and nice and firm. ALDI sell it frozen for around £3 for 500g, cod works well here too which frozen in ALDI is £2.79 per 500g.
I hope some of you have gained some inspiration this week. Cooking meals day in, day out for your family, can become really tedious, with the added stress of having to do it on a tight budget. Please feel free to share your recipes on this blog as well, I would love to try some of them!