I’ve been ploughing on with my challenge to save on our food bill by adopting the principles of BBC2 show Economy Gastronomy. It was quite surreal on Tuesday night watching my Mum’s friend Douglas Rae and his partner Jonathan on the show, plus their cute daughter Ellen, because I was actually cooking one of the show’s recipes myself in our kitchen! I kept looking out for clips of my old primary school too where Douglas was headmaster, but unfortunately they didn’t show much of it. I was shocked when he admitted to only eating the breast meat on a whole chicken and throwing the rest out. I feel guilty if I can’t be bothered to make stock and throw the carcass away. But hopefully he has since mended his ways.
I’d forgotten to give you a list of our shopping so far for the Economy Gastronomy book recipes. Some of the items we already had at home, so these are the things we had to buy (as well as the pork recipes, we will be using one of my garden pumpkins to do some ‘bedrock’ pumpkin recipes using the coconut milk and dolcelatte cheese):
Crème Fraiche – £1.79
Spare ribs – £2.89
Instant polenta – £1.39
Pork half shoulder – £6.58
Gran padano – £3.49
Taleggio cheese – £3.96
Dolcelatte cheese – £1.88
Coconut milk – £1.29
As you can see, there’s an awful lot of cheese involved and some surprisingly expensive ingredients, so I was scratching my head as to whether chefs Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett’s approach is really a frugal one. However, I will keep an open mind and reserve judgement until I have cooked more of the recipes.
After making the delicious roast pork in tomato sauce and polenta dish we had tonnes of leftovers, and have been turning these into other ‘tumbledown’ meals. We made some bread in our bread maker on Monday and used it to make some tasty pork sarnies. McEvedy says beetroot goes well with the pork, so we put in some of DJ’s homemade beetroot chutney and it was a good match. DJ was a bit greedy with the pork in his sandwich if you ask me, but there was just about enough meat spare to go in the next meal – a lasagne using the pork, half the leftover tomato sauce from the roast and the taleggio cheese.
I was a bit sceptical as I’m used to beef or vegetarian lasagne and, not being a cheese aficionado, I’d never heard of taleggio cheese. I worried I wouldn’t find it in the supermarket but I managed to track it down. It wasn’t cheap, though, and when I got home I realised I’d only bought 200g and not the 400g required in the recipe. Making the béchamel sauce to go with it was a bit fiddly and I was a bit concerned it wasn’t thickening up, although the recipe didn’t say whether it needed to or not. Luckily we already had lasagne sheets so we didn’t have to buy them. Then I found that because there was less meat (thanks, DJ!) I had to use more tomato sauce. In the end, I used all of the leftover sauce rather than just half, so I will have to make more for the next tumbledown recipe – a gnocci alforno using the polenta. Another thing that worried me was the large amount of parmesan I had to use. But despite my misgivings, it worked beautifully and the lasagne was stonking. I think I actually enjoyed it more than the roast pork, and substituting home-grown courgettes for the broccoli in the recipe worked well.
Next we tried the pork spare ribs. The idea is that you buy them and roast them along with the pork shoulder, then put aside to cook later as a snack. I couldn’t see when we’d use them as a snack, so I thought I’d serve them with my own fried rice recipe. You heat up a marinade of runny honey, red wine vinegar and chilli sauce (I didn’t have chilli sauce so I substituted some chilli powder) in a pan for 10 minutes, cool it and then marinate the ribs in it for 20 minutes before baking in the oven at 240 degrees for 15 minutes. Now, I thought the lasagne recipe was a winner, but this was the most mouth-watering one so far! I love Chinese spare ribs but I’ve never dared make my own. We were knocked out by how authentic it was. DJ liked it so much that he said the only downside was having to let go of the ribs to eat the rice!
Next we’re going to make the final dish – a gnocchi alforno – from the leftover polenta and try out some other ‘bedrock’ recipes from the book using pumpkin. I’ll report back next week on our progress and whether I think this approach has saved us money.
What are your favourite frugal recipes? Do leave a message and let me know as I am always looking for tasty new meals to try out, especially if they help me save money.
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