Thursday 12 December 2019

Rachel Allen: Magic is in the mustard

Rachel Allen
Rachel Allen
Rachel Allen's Gujerati-Style Green Beans

Rachel Allen

Mustard isn't merely a condiment, Rachel Allen says, as she shows ways to use the hot stuff, be it Dijon, English or the whole seeds.

The heat and intensity of good mustard is not to be sniffed at. It rivals even wasabi for nostril-searing power. For those who like to be loudly awoken by their food, that means huge dollops on sausages and sandwiches. Those who want only a little intensity from their dinner can still enjoy a little mustard stirred into cauliflower cheese or gravy.

I don't discriminate against mustards. I think each one has its time and place. Dijon, that fabulous French creation, is irreplaceable in a cheese Mornay sauce, and it is my personal preference to smother a sausage with. Smooth and rich, it does seem like the Rolls Royce of the mustard world. Dijon's cousin, wholegrain mustard, is a little rougher around the edges. Forever rustic, I like to stir it through the sauce for a chunky pork chop, or even use it to add a little intrigue and texture to a mayonnaise.

English mustard is usually the hottest of them all. Use in moderation! I think it is the perfect addition to a nice thick slice of cold ham and some buttered white bread. Lunch for a king!

Then we can go back to the source: the divine little mustard seeds that, pounded down (and with a few other ingredients), will become mustard the condiment. Mustard seeds are used extensively in Indian food. They have long been used to add depth to curries and sauces, fried in hot oil at the start of a dish.

The recipe for Gujerati green beans, opposite, is adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey, the beloved Indian cook and writer. Madhur showed us this recipe on one of her visits to the Ballymaloe Cookery School. It is such a simple recipe, yet it's still a great way of adding flavour to some green beans. Unlike in curries, where mustard is just one of a gallery of different flavours, this recipe really showcases the flavour that whole mustard seeds add to a dish.

Gujerati-Style Green Beans

Rachel Allen's Gujerati-Style Green Beans

Serves 4.

You will need:

450g (1lb) green beans

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 tablespoon whole black and white mustard seeds

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 dried hot red chilli, coarsely crushed

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Trim the green beans and cut them into 2.5cm (1in) lengths. To blanch the beans, put a large pan of salted water on a high heat and bring it to the boil, add the green beans and cook them for about 2 minutes or until they are just tender, then drain them and set them aside.

Put the sunflower oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the black and white mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, add in the finely chopped garlic. Stir the garlic pieces around until they turn light brown, then add the crushed red chilli and stir for a few seconds. Add the blanched green beans, the salt and the sugar, and stir to mix. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then stir and cook the beans for 7-8 minutes, or until they have absorbed the flavour of the spices. Season with freshly ground black pepper, mix well and serve.

Honey mustard pork chops

Serves 4.

You will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pork chops

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons runny honey

4 tablespoons cream

2 tablespoons wholegrain or Dijon mustard

Put the olive oil into a frying pan on a medium heat. Season the pork chops with the salt and freshly ground black pepper and, when the oil is hot, add the seasoned chops to the pan. Fry them for 3-5 minutes on each side or until they are just white all the way through, then transfer them to warmed plates.

Meanwhile, put the runny honey in a bowl with the cream and the wholegrain or Dijon mustard, whichever you're using, and mix everything together.

Add the honey, cream and mustard mixture to the frying pan, then bring it to the boil, reduce the heat and allow the sauce to bubble for 20-30 seconds or until the liquid has thickened and become treacle-like in colour. As the sauce heats, use a wooden spoon to scrape the sticky pork bits from the bottom of the pan so that they dissolve in the liquid. Season with a little salt and pepper, then pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve.

Parsnip mustard mash

Serves 8-10.

You will need:

1½kg (3lb 5oz) parsnips

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g (3½oz) butter

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

First, peel the parsnips, then cut off the tops and tails, cut the parsnips into wedges and remove the inner core. Next, cut the wedges into roughly 2cm (¬in) chunks.

Place the parsnip chunks in a large saucepan and pour over enough boiling water to just cover them. Add a pinch of salt and cook them on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until they are quite soft. By the time the parsnips have cooked, most of the water will have evaporated; there is no need to add more.

When the parsnips are cooked, drain them, pouring off any excess liquid. Then mash together with the butter, the Dijon mustard and the chopped parsley. You can either mash by hand or using a food processor, depending on how smooth you want the mash to be.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Rachel Allen

Chicken with mustard and sage

Serves 6.

You will need:

2 teaspoons English mustard powder

2 teaspoons wholegrain or Dijon mustard

125ml (4½fl oz) dry white wine

8 fresh sage leaves

100ml (3½fl oz) chicken stock

1 chicken, jointed in 6-8 pieces, skin removed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

3 onions, peeled and quartered through the root

225ml (8fl oz) creme fraiche

Squeeze of lemon

In a bowl, mix together the English mustard powder, and the wholegrain or Dijon mustard, whichever you're using, the dry white wine, the fresh sage leaves and 50ml (1¾fl oz) of the chicken stock. Stir in the chicken pieces, then cover and leave them to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat them dry with kitchen paper, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place a casserole pot on a medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook them for a few minutes on each side until they are lightly browned, then add the wine vinegar and continue cooking for a minute. Then, remove the chicken pieces from the pot and set them aside.

Add another tablespoon of the olive oil, followed by the onion quarters. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally for a few minutes until they are lightly browned around the edges, then add in the chicken pieces, along with the marinade. Add the remaining 50ml (1¾fl oz) of chicken stock, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover and leave to gently simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Next, remove the chicken pieces and the onion quarters from the pot and place on a hot serving plate. Stir in the creme fraiche and cook for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly. Taste and add the squeeze of lemon if necessary. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

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