Thursday, 11 February 2016

Homemade Tomato Passata

Sauce season is here!

Last year I made my own passata for the first time, and loved being able to tip this homemade goodness into many of the meals I cooked throughout the year. This year I've repeated the effort, but on a slightly larger scale.

Saucing tomatoes can be picked up from many produce stores; I bought a huge box for just $16 and we now have enough sauce to set us up for the year. It's great for ragu cooked in the slow cooker.

To make your own passata, you will need:
box of saucing tomatoes
olive oil
your oven (180-200C)
a large cooking pot
lots and lots of jars and/or bottles

I filled my sink with cold water and tipped all the tomatoes in for a quick wash. Remove any with suspect patches  (I had a few with fuzzy spots that I discarded).

Cut in half long-ways, arrange on a tray and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Pop in the oven and allow to cook until the start to bubble.

Transfer into the pot. I cooked 4-5 trays of tomatoes to fill the pot. Now is a good time to give your jars a quick rinse under hot water and put them in the oven, ready to receive your passata.

Cook tomatoes on the stove until they collapse fully. Pick out as many of the skins as you can be bothered with. I get less fussy as it get's later in the evening.

When you're happy with your tomatoes, blitz them with a stick mixer.

Get your jars out of the oven (don't burn yourself), then pour your hot passata into the hot jars, and seal. Once they are cool they are ready to store. For a little extra jazz, throw a few leaves of fresh bottle into the bottom of each jar before you pour the sauce in.

I had so many tomatoes that I had to do mine in several batches, so I was putting another two trays of tomatoes in the oven to cook while I dealt with the pot. If you have a massive pot, or a smaller load of tomatoes, you may be able to do them all in one batch.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Polenta

It's still summer, but I couldn't resist pulling out the slow cooker yesterday for some melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks, served with creamy polenta.

2 lamb shanks
1 Onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tub tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1/2 tsp beef stock powder
Herbs of choice; I used oregano

Coat your shanks in plain flour, then brown off in a frying pan with a little olive oil.

Transfer to slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for approximately 8 hours, when the meat should be falling off the bone.

We cooked our polenta on the stove, 1 litre of water and 1 cup of polenta. Stir continuously for approximately 15 minutes until smooth and no longer grainy. You can add extra water or even milk as required. We also added in a dollop of butter at the end and a generous sprinkle of salt.

Serve your shanks atop your lovely creamy polenta with a  sprig of fresh parsley.