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Take it nice and slow, and you'll soon be... feasting for a fiver

WE GAVE you some classic standard recipes yesterday, so today we are upping the stakes a little with some one-pot dishes that need longer cooking. As well as main course dishes such as spag-bol and stew, you also need a repertoire of quick and easy dishes that you can finish in minutes so you can get back to the library (or the pub).

Always have some cheddar cheese in the fridge as well as good quality mayonnaise, mustard and perhaps chutney for quick sandwiches.

Remember that any sandwich benefits from being grilled with cheese on top. (Please note prices are approximate.)


Lamb Shanks with Chorizo (serves 2)

Lamb shanks cost as little as €2.50 each, but you need to visit a traditional butcher to find them (e.g. Nolan's, Rathmines or any of the butchers on Meath Street or Moore Street).

Although it is traditional to serve one shank per person, a shank actually has enough meat for 2 people if served with lots of vegetables.

Ingredients: 2 lamb shanks €5.00, 1 onion €0.10, 60g of chorizo €0.60 (or substitute bacon), water (or ale), salt and pepper, 6-8 potatoes €0.60, 2-3 carrots €0.50.

Total Cost Approx: €6.80.

Fry the shanks in the saucepan until browned all over then remove to a plate.

Add a chopped onion and the chorizo and fry until the onions are soft and caramelised.

Add the lamb shanks back in the pot and add 1 pint of water (or substitute ale if you are feeling fancy) plus salt and pepper.

Simmer on a low heat for at least 2 hours until the lamb is tender.

Thirty minutes before serving, add peeled and chopped potatoes and carrots (or turnips, parsnips, squash etc.).

Pork Hocks with Lemon and Chilli (serves 2)

Pork hocks are generally larger than lamb shanks, but it depends on the pig. Pork hocks are fattier than lamb shanks so you will need to skim the fat at the end of cooking.

Ingredients: 2 pork hocks €5.00, 1 onion €0.10, 1tsp chilli powder €0.05, half a lemon €0.10, salt and pepper, water (or cider), 6-8 potatoes €0.60, 2-3 carrots €0.50. Total Cost: Approx: €6.25.

Fry the pork hocks in a pot until browned and remove to a plate. Add a finely chopped onion and fry until softened.

Replace the pork hocks, add the chilli powder, squeeze the lemon juice on top and add the half lemon to the pot along with salt, pepper.

Add 1 pint of water or cider and simmer for 2 hours until the meat is tender.

Add peeled chopped potatoes and carrots or other root vegetables 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Before serving, strain off the liquid into a jug. The fat will rise to the top and you can strain it off with a spoon.

Top Tip 1: This works even better if slow cooked in the oven loosely covered with tin foil which should result in delicious pork crackling.

Top Tip 2: Make an extra portion so you can have pulled pork sandwiches the next day.

Home-made fish fingers

Ingredients: 250g whiting (or cod, haddock etc.) €2.70, flour, 3 slices of bread (€0.20), 1 egg €0.30, salt, milk, oil/butter.

Total Cost: Approx: €3.20.

Cut 250g of white fish such as cod, haddock or whiting (whiting is usually the cheapest) into 2cm strips, 10 cm long and 1cm thick. Rub the fish in plain flour and lightly coat each piece of fish. Make breadcrumbs from 3-4 slices of white bread (if you don't have a food processor, you can grate the bread or buy ready made breadcrumbs.

Beat an egg with some salt and and a splash of milk. Dip the fish in the egg/milk, followed by the breadcrumbs and deep-fry in oil or shallow fry in sizzling butter mixed with a little oil.

TIP: This technique can be used for breaded mushrooms, breaded squid, breaded chicken and so on. There are few foods that do not benefit from being rolled in breadcrumbs and fried.

Chicken nuggets (serves 1)

Ingredients: 1 chicken breast €1.00, 50g cornflakes €0.10, salt, butter/oil.

Total Cost: Approx: €1.10.

Add cornflakes to a clean plastic bag and crush using a bottle or rolling pin. Transfer the crushed cornflakes to a bowl and add a good pinch of salt. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and press into the sticky cornflakes until fully coated. Fry in pan in a mix of butter and oil.

Southern-fried chicken (serves 1-2)

Ingredients: Chicken (breast pieces or drumsticks) €2-3, plain flour, salt, chilli powder, egg €0.30, milk ¤0.10, frying oil €0.20, mayonnaise/crème fraîche (for dipping) €0.70.

Total Cost: Approx: €3-4

Add two tea-cups of flour to a bowl with a good pinch of salt and chilli powder. Break an egg into a separate bowl, add a small splash of milk and whisk with a fork. Add the chicken to the flour and coat it fully. Dip the chicken into the egg mix and then back into the flour and repeat until the chicken is fully coated.

Heat some oil in a small saucepan or chip pan on a medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken a couple of pieces at a time. Deep fry the pieces in the hot oil for at least five minutes and drain on kitchen paper. Pierce chicken with a knife to ensure there is no pink inside.

To make the dip add some salt and chilli to 2tbsp of mayonnaise or crème fraîche (or a mix of the two) and add a little mashed garlic or lemon juice if you have some to hand.

SAFETY TIP: Have a wet tea-towel on standby in case your oil goes on fire (believe me, it happens more often than you might think).

Beer batter

This is the simplest and tastiest batter I know of and can be used for deep frying fish, mushrooms and even chocolate bars

Ingredients: 200g flour €0.10, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 can of beer €1.00,

Total Cost: Approx: €1.10

Add the flour and salt to a bowl and gradually stir in cold fizzy beer (or sparkling water) until the batter is the consistency of thick cream. Use immediately.