MAKING THE MOST OF A MEAL DEAL…
One of the irritations of singledom I have touched on in previous posts, is the exclusion from the benefits of supermarket offers. Meal Deals are usually aimed at couples without imagination or families in a panic. But I am neither of those things yet I’ve taken to buying them anyway with the express aim of making them last all week. Frankly the chance to buy a whole chicken and a bottle of wine for £10 makes a lot of sense to me. Throw in a few sides and a pudding or two and I can literally feed myself from Monday to Friday.
Valentines Day threw up a lot of these offers but I plumped for Waitrose and despite the choices being somewhat diminished by the time I made it to the shop on 13th February, I think I managed to make a good enough selection to fulfil my mission. (Click here to see the glorious Middle Class Handbooks Val Day Face Off. V funny)
So what did I get for my Valentine’s Dinner for two for £20? Well, I plumped for the mussels in a cider, bacon and leek sauce. For the main the breast of duck joint, stuffed with orange and pork (sounds pretty horrid but it was a whole piece of meat). The sides wer some asparagus and new potatoes. Pudding is Gu salted caramel sponges. And of course there was the obligatory bottle of fizz – Prosecco as it happens – and a box of chocolates which I have already eaten. They were very nice. 16 pieces of yumminess.
Not comparable to Paul Young, but 16 chocolates from his shop wouldn’t have seen any change from £30. So these were perfectly acceptable.
So, here’s the first two recipes. I’ve been happy with them for supper. More than enough for me. But a big plate of salad with the grilled mussels might might make more of a meal of it and with the soup, some focaccia might have been quite satisfying. But really it’s up to you.
Oh, by the way, I haven’t bought anything extra to make these. It’s all stuff in my store cupboard or fridge. Sorry if you’re not quite so well stocked.
I cooked the mussels as per the instructions in a pan, albeit for slightly less than the recommended time of 8 minutes which would have murdered them, before I made both these recipes.
SAFFRON MUSSEL BROTH WITH ORZO & PANCETTA
- 1/2 pack Waitrose Mussels with cider, cooked and shelled.
- 4 slices pancetta
- 50g orzo or any small pasta
- A pinch of saffron
- A little cream
- Coriander or parsley to serve
- Shell the mussels and preserve all the cooking liquor
- Fry the pancetta until crisp in a saucepan, drain the rendered fat
- Add the orzo and stir in remaining pancetta fat. Cover with 100ml water and simmer for 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the saffron to the reserved liquor and allow to develop
- Add this to the orzo, pancetta and pan juices.
- Remove from heat and garnish with herbs.
This next recipe takes me back to being in London in the mid 1990’s. The restaurant scene was exploding with ‘concepts’ and one of the most exciting was brought to us by by Belgo. Hunks dressed as monks served mussels and beer, first in Camden and then in a giant basement in Seven Dials. I loved the grilled mussels there at the time, so this is a little homage to them.
MUSSELS GRANTINEE WITH CHILI, COMTE AND SPRING ONION
- 1/2 pack of Waitrose Mussels with Cider, leeks and bacon
- 1/2 slice of bread
- 1 garlic clove
- 25g comte or any hard cheese
- 1/2 red chili
- 1 small spring onion
- oiive oil to drizzle
- salt and pepper
- Remove the empty side of the mussel shells and place the half shells with the flesh on a grill proof plate
- In a small food processor blitz the bread crumbs, cheese, crushed garlic, chili and spring onion.
- Top the mussels with the crumbs and drizzle over some oil. Season and place under grill until crispy and the cheese is bubbling.