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Recipes of the month: sloe gin and piccalilli

PUBLISHED: 17:32 31 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:32 31 October 2015

Andy's piccalilli

Andy's piccalilli

Archant

Andy McLeish, chef-patron of Chapter One, Kent Life and Kent on Sunday’s Restaurant of the Year 2015, is getting ahead for Christmas with two of his favourite classic dishes.

The year has gone by so quickly and 
I can hardly believe it’s November already. I don’t feel quite prepared for the long, dark, cold nights and am secretly wishing it was summer again.

This season can be a hectic time and if you’re like me and leave preparing for Christmas until the very last minute. then it can be quite stressful too. This year I’m vowing to get myself organised and have made a promise (to my wife) that I’ll buy all my gifts and even put up the decorations way before the 25th.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise but there is one area where I’m always prepared and that’s the food for the big day. I look forward to indulging with my family and friends during Christmas, as for me it’s the best part of the season.

I’m often asked by my customers for tips on how to cook the perfect turkey, roast potatoes and gravy and my answer always is prepare, prepare, prepare.

The less work you have to do on the actual day the more likely you’ll get your timings right and cook a delicious meal.

I like to take it one step further and prepare my food and drink months in advance - think conserves, Christmas puddings and cake.

Preparing what you can in advance will undoubtedly make life that bit easier in the run up to the big day and also give you back some all-important family time.

This month I’m sharing with you two recipes which you can make now. The first is one of my personal favourites; sloe gin, which is becoming increasingly popular and it’s so easy to do.

Make it now and leave to mature for as long as you can, it will taste 
fantastic the longer you leave it.

The second recipe is a true British classic, piccalilli. It goes with so many different types of food from pies to meat and cheese. Of course, you may not have piccalilli with your Christmas lunch but don’t forget about Christmas leftovers!

Whether you start tucking into them hours after your lunch or the next day, piccalilli is sure to be a welcome addition to your meal.

RECIPES

Piccalilli

Makes around 1.25 kg

1 cauliflower

3 large onions

8 large shallots (or 16 onions if unavailable)

25g salt

1 cucumber

300 ml malt vinegar

600 ml white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon chopped dried chilli

350g caster sugar

50g English mustard powder

25g ground turmeric

Salt and freshly ground white pepper powder

3 tablespoons cornflower

Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Peel and cut the onions and shallots into 1cm dice. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 25g of salt and leave to stand for 24 hours. Afterwards rinse in cold water and dry.

Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut it into 1cm dice. Sprinkle with a

little salt and leave to stand for 10-15 minutes. Rinse in cold water, then dry and add to the onions and cauliflower.

Boil the two vinegars together with the chilli and then leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Strain through a sieve and discard the chilli. Mix together the sugar and remaining dry ingredients in a bowl.

When the vinegar is cool, mix a little of it with the dry ingredients. Bring the bulk of the vinegar back to the boil, pour into the sugar mixture, and whisk until it is all blended together. Bring this mixture back to the boil and cook for three minutes, then simply pour over the vegetables and mix well.

Leave to cool. The piccalilli is now ready and can be put into jars and refrigerated, or served at once. It will keep refrigerated for at least a month.

Sloe Gin

450g wild sloe berries

225g caster sugar

1 litre gin

Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.

Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well. Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for at least two months. Strain the sloe gin through muslin into a sterilised bottle.

Tip: if you cannot get hold of sloe berries, damsons or even wild damsons make a great alternative

FIND OUT MORE

Next month: Andy cooks Christmas lunch.

Follow Andy on Twitter: @andy23471

Chapter One, Farnborough Common, Locksbottom BR6 8NF

To Book Call: 01689 854848 or visit www.chapteronerestaurant.co.uk

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