Well, I promised some recipes, so I suppose I’d better make good. The first one is for a batch of 4 ready meals, Quorn Sausages with baked beans and deep-fried potatoes (no, not chips).
I don’t particularly like Quorn in any form so why, I hear you asking, am I cooking the bloody stuff? Simple – it’s high in protein, and I need that right now to counter the protein being lost from my still-leaking legs, so off we go.
2 packs of Quorn Chef’s Selection Best of British Sausages, 8 in all – as you can see, rather like me they manage not to be overcome by modesty when it comes to food ;). They are also described as “The tastiest ever, extra succulent”.
A 1kg Fridge Pack of Heinz Baked Beans
For the poaching liquor:-
1 Kallo organic veg stock cube
1 dessertspoon Marigold veg stock powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
Hot water sufficient to cover the sausages – about a litre
First, the sausages. There was a time when I’d wrap them in clingfilm, and zap them in the microwave, but the extremely brief timing is critical, and I’ve long forgotten what it is, doing it this way, it matters far less – he said, hopefully!
Dissolve the stock cubes/powder in a litre or so of hot water, add the herbs, drop in the sausages and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently for about 15 minutes (I forgot mine and they got the better part of an hour – god knows what they’ll be like L ).** Allow to cool, then remove from the poaching liquid and gently blot dry with kitchen towel. At this stage they’ll be an extremely unappetising shade of grey!
**I’ve eaten the finished product – they’re fine.
Preheat the deep fryer to 180C and fry briefly – just long enough to change the grey to a more attractive golden brown, then remove and set aside to cool.
Peel the potatoes – you need something well-flavoured, I used Lady Balfour from Sainsbury’s – and cut into centimetre-thick slices. Par-boil for 15 minutes in salted water (you’ll probably need to do this in two batches), and drain well.
Pre-heat the fryer to180 again and, in small batches, USING THE BASKET! Fry until well browned. Don’t worry about crispness, you want a good, fried, flavour.
WARNING: The residual wetness of the spuds might cause the oil to froth vigorously. If so, remove quickly – this is why the basket is essential – and wait for it to subside before dunking them again. You might have to repeat this step 2 or 3 times before it behaves and, even then, don’t walk away and leave it unattended.
Once all the spuds are fried, set aside to cool.
Once everything is cool/cold take 4 foil dishes – I use Lakeland small foil dishes. These have recently been discontinued – so I needlessly stocked up with them because what fucking Lakeland said was essentially a lie – they were being replaced which is not the same thing at all. The new versions are a different shape so how they’ll work out I don’t know. I’d love to know how many people were suckered like me though.
Anyway, based on the original dish shape, evenly divide the Fridge Pack of beans between 4 dishes. This avoids taking the 250g per dish route as I did, only to find the last one comes up short by 40g.
Snuggle two sausages per dish down into the beans, then fill up the remaining space with the fried spuds. Cover and seal, label (don’t forget the date), and freeze.
Sadly, this is not even slightly spoonie-friendly, especially if concentration is a problem – let it lapse just once and you could have boiling oil all over the kitchen – and you.
This spoonie was fine. However, 24-hours later I fell asleep while standing at the cooker stirring a pot of Quorn mince, and scattered boiling mince and veggies all over the cooker, the sputtering noise of which woke me. I could so very easily have scattered it all over me instead, especially as, in my current state, I can’t wear shoes or trousers, and feel rather vulnerable in the kitchen.
But back to Quorn mince. In their pies, the mince is excellent, with a very good texture, if lacking in flavour – easily fixed. The mince offered for sale, though, is, frankly, slop, with the texture of wet tissue paper. TVP is better than this rubbish.
As Quorn is somewhat of a Terra Incognita, given that it’s so long since I’ve eaten it, I did the decent thing and tested this recipe.
First thing that struck me was that it was difficult to re-heat as it was low in liquid, so I suggest doing what I did – mixing two tablespoons of ketchup with two of water, whisk until smooth and add to the pan, then re-heat on the lowest setting to avoid burning. Stir occasionally. It actually heats surprisingly quickly.
How does it taste? Well the beans are positively anaemic, and would benefit from a shot of HP sauce and a little salt and pepper prior to freezing, as well as the aforementioned ketchup. In fact, next time I’ll make my own sauce and add canned cannellini beans instead of baked beans. More work, but a vastly superior result. Heinz, I’m sorry to say, appear to be losing it.
The sausages were exactly what I’d aimed for, only let down by the dismal flavour absorbed from the beans. The texture was firm but succulent and moist, very close to a real sausage in appearance, except for the absence of mystery meat and unwanted plumbing! I’m not entirely sure who can claim these as a success, but I’m reasonably certain, based on past experience, that 75% me, 25% them is probably about right. Be aware, though, that you don’t get big flavours with Quorn. The potatoes, though soft had, as I’d hoped, retained their fried flavour. All in all a tasty, and surprisingly hefty, meal. Not sophisticated, but it would be very welcome on a cold winter’s day. I’m happy with it, but in future I will make my own beans in tomato and, trust me, they’re damn good.
One thing I noticed – as they were shed during poaching – was that the sausages had casings. Now these aren’t listed in the ingredients, and to the best of my knowledge sausage casings – I use them on my own veggie sausages – are not veggie-friendly. They almost are, as the quantities used – 7g of casings will make a kilo of sausages – are negligible, but I still find it odd, even suspicious, that they’re not listed. I’m reasonably certain that they were collagen casings, too. If you’d care to comment on this, Marlow Foods, feel free.