Does party cooking scare you? Stuck for a good family recipe that is easy and nutritious? Like the idea of foraging for foodstuff in the hedgerows on a country walk but not sure what is edible? If any of the above questions strike a chord with you, please read on. I have a family of eight to feed each night and I make freezer meals for our holiday guests to buy, on top of this I love to throw parties and good food is always needed to soak up the alcohol. This doesn’t make me an expert chef, but it does give me plenty of opportunities to experiment in the kitchen and when I hit on an idea that works, this is where I share it.
About this recipe
We are lucky enough to have our own pork from the farm and the joint I use is cured shoulder called “collar”. The wild garlic I have found in abundance growing on the farm. It has a distinctive smell and white flowers and is prolific in the hedgerows at the moment. Everything else I have to buy, we did try using our own chickens but breading them on a small scale to eat is harder than it sounds so I’m back to the supermarket on this one! The recipe is simple enough in taste for a family meal; all my children loved it, but it also has enough about it for entertaining too. It freezes well so is ideal for my holiday guests and perfect to make in advance for a party.
Note you can scale this one down; this is the maximum I can fit in one oven and will feed around 25 – 30 people!
4 large whole chickens.
2 large ham or Gammon joints
6 large onions chopped
500g button mushrooms or larger mushrooms sliced.
A good bunch of wild garlic, from bulb to flower roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of sugar or Apricot jam
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
Tablespoon of readymade mustard or rounded teaspoon of powdered mustard
5 tablespoons plain flour
2 glasses of wine
1 tin evaporated milk
5 chicken stock cubes.
1. Remove the worst of the fat from the chicken but don’t worry about removing every last bit as a little is needed to thicken the stock later.
2. Place the chickens in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and boil steadily for about 1.5 hours.
3. Do the same with the ham in a separate pan but leaving any skin on.
4. Bone the cooled chicken and reserve the stock.
5. Chop the ham into chunks and discard the water and fat from this.
This is the boring and time consuming bit done!
6. Fry the onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and wild garlic and a few spoonfuls of the chicken stock and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
7. Place about a pint of chicken stock in a large pan, Crumble in the stock cubes and bring to simmering point. Scatter in the flour and make into a thick sauce. Add the wine, mustard, black pepper and gradually add the evaporated milk. Continue to add the reserved stock till you reach a smooth sauce consistency. I find adding the stock from a jug easiest; it also cools it faster and allows you to skim off the surplus chicken fat which will separate out on the surface.
8. Add the onion and garlic mix and the meat pieces to the sauce, stir to combine and place in the oven for about an hour and half on a medium heat of 160 degrees or low in a slow cooker.
If you are serving immediately I would leave for another half an hour or so, but if you are making to freeze I would keep it to an hour and a half as it will get another blast on reheating.
Check and stir every half hour adding more of the reserved chicken stock if it becomes too thick.
Notice I haven’t added salt; this is because the ham can be quite salty so it really doesn’t need it.
If you have a good hot grill the ham skin makes wonderful crackling to serve with the meal.
Serving and Freezing
For our reception meals and our family dinner I add lightly cooked carrot and a saute potato top which all freezes and reheats in the oven perfectly for a balanced meal in one. For a party I would freeze Just the casserole mix then warm up in the oven during drinks and serve simply with rice which can be cooked on the hob (your oven space will be full!) and fresh salad. A little chopped wild garlic and chives adds a perfect garnish.
Do take a look at some of the other recipes in my What’s Cooking Category. They are always easy and tasty. If you have any other ideas from things to find on a country walk and cook with I would love to hear from you in the comments here.
I am linking up to Recipe of the week and Slow Cook Sunday & cook it blog it. Click on the badges for more delicious ideas.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.