Saturday, 26 November 2016

Manchester Smokehouse and cellar - A review

I am a self confessed BBQ fanatic not in the sense of a back garden burnt sausage variety but the US style of low and slow like brisket smoked for hours until juicily tender, ribs and chicken tasty with rubs and smoked with love and attention. I am an enthusiastic amateur and bow down to the skill of the Pitmasters (and Mistresses) who know exactly how to control the fire and smoke necessary for great BBQ and so was very excited to have the chance to visit the new Manchester Smokehouse and cellar during a recent visit to see my daughter who is now living in the city.

The Smokehouse is housed in the city centre and was easy to find, My daughter was rather taken with the cow outside the premises as you can see and then on going inside found it to be a great space, A large light and airy room with a warm lighting which felt welcoming and cosy on a wet night.

The waiter was really friendly and we sat at the back of room near the door so had a good look at the whole room which was pleasantly busy on a Thursday night. We ordered a variety of items and we were spoilt for choice there was so much good sounding items on the menu. We had brisket and burnt ends for us to share and then my husband ordered beef rib, I ordered baby backs and my daughter wanted the prawns which unfortunately weren't available that day but the waiter recommended the monkfish skewer and we also had sweet potato fries, smothered fries and onion rings.

O-M-G it was incredible the brisket and burnt ends were so tender it was unbelievable the flavour was so good I give up on ever being able to produce anything like that at home. They were served with traditional  light crunchy pickled vegetables which were the perfect accompaniment for the rich meat.  The baby back ribs were everything I hoped they would be gorgeously tender and just coming away from the bone with a tasty rub they were so good. My husbands beef rib was delicious, tender and full of flavour. You could tell the quality of the meat as well as the care that had been taken to cook it I know from smoking meats myself how hard it is to get it just right. The side dishes were really amazing too the smothered fries, sweet potato fries were fab and you can see from the pic the size of the onion rings (where do they get their enormous onions from??) My daughter really enjoyed the monkfish skewer she said it was perfectly cooked really fresh and light.

We were way to full for dessert but did manage to fit in a few cocktails which were lovely I had the espresso martini and have to say one of the best I have ever had it was not too sweet which is always good and my daughter loved her porn star martini and her 'apple of my eye' cocktail (You can tell Mum was paying for dinner!)

I was able to talk to Jason Latham the Pitmaster of the Smokehouse while we were there I have 'spoken' online to him previously and he was so friendly in person, He explained they had only been open for 9 weeks and he has big plans to extend the space even more which gives me a even better reason to visit again. You can tell he is a perfectionist and wants everything to be just right and was saying about the quality of the meat he uses and when he said  the hours he has put in to make the place work it's clear the man really has the passion for BBQ.

I really enjoyed our time there and will definitely be back and if you are ever in Manchester make sure you pay the place a visit.

Tandoori chicken (Slimming World friendly)

This is a really tasty and easy recipe to make. I used 'East End' tandoori spice powder which is syn free but do check which Tandoori spice you use as they are not all syn free. I bought mine in a small shop in Cardiff but I have seen that brand on sale in Morrisons.

This recipe is another great after work dinner as you marinade the meat in the morning and just cook it in the evening. The yogurt and lemon juice make the chicken really tender, I used chicken thighs as I think they have more flavour but you can use chicken breast if you prefer.

Tandoori Chicken

8 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless and trimmed of all visible fat) OR 4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp tandoori spice powder
4-6 tbsp fat free natural yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice

Place the Tandoori powder, yogurt and lemon juice into a bowl and mix well. Put the chicken into a dish and make shallow cuts into the meat to allow the marinade to penetrate, pour over the marinade and mix well so all the chicken is thoroughly coated. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours but as said I like to do this in the morning to cook in the evening.

Line a roasting pan with foil (saves on the washing up) and place the chicken in the pan along with any leftover marinade. Cook at Gas 6/200/400 for 30-40 minutes or longer if necessary until the chicken is cooked and browned.

You can also cook it under the grill if you prefer just ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Syn free on extra easy and serves 4

Monday, 14 November 2016

Diet Coke Chicken (Slimming World friendly)

Now to some of you this might sound odd but believe me it is delicious, Its another super quick dinner. The vegetables give it colour and freshness , Once the sauce has reduced it makes a lovely sticky syrupy BBQ tasting sauce but you have to persevere and simmer it right down it doesn't make a lot of sauce but it coats everything so its tasty. I served it with spring greens and rice but it's good with noodles and stir fry veg too..

Diet coke chicken

2 large chicken breasts (or 6 chicken thighs skinned and boned trimmed of fat)
2 peppers (red, green yellow whatever colour you like) bell peppers for my US friends
6oz mushrooms (quartered)
1 large onion (sliced )
1 can diet coke
4 tbsp passata (sieved tomatoes )
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
spray oil

Place a wok or large deep frying pan or wok over a high heat and spray with oil, Add the chicken,  onions and peppers and stir fry until the vegetables are soft and the chicken id cooked . Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another couple of minutes.

Pour over the can of diet coke, the passata and add the worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced, thick and syrupy , You really need to have patience because just as you think its not going to happen it will :  )

Syn free on slimming world....  enjoy!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Slow cooker chicken stew (Slimming World friendly)

This has got to be the easiest recipe to make and it's also a good one for clearing out your veg drawer in the fridge. You simply put everything in the slow cooker, turn it on and when you get in from work it's ready to eat. The amounts I have given make loads it served six of us last night but you can make as much or as little as you like.

 Increase more of the veg you like or don't use meat at all and make it vegetarian. It''s also a good one to prep the veg and chicken the night before and just put it all in the slow cooker in the morning. Simple and delicious.

NOTE: I have a HUGE Swan slow cooker please halve this recipe if you only have a smaller slow cooker Xx

Slow cooker chicken stew

8 chicken thighs (skinned, boned and trimmed of fat) cut into large chunks
4 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
4 sticks of celery (peeled and chopped)
2 large leeks ( sliced)
1 bag (2kg) new potatoes (cut into 4 or 6 pieces)
1 pint chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Put everything in the slow cooker, Mix well and cook on low for 6-8 hours but it can happily stay there a bit longer if you need it to.

Syn free