A homegrown dinner

This is a post I started working on in January, but for some reason I never finished writing it until now. But perhaps it’s a timely one for all of you who live in the northern hemisphere!

Last summer, for the first time ever, we planted potatoes in our garden. We ended up with about 7-8 kilos of potatoes! Pretty good for a first attempt. Our other successful crops this summer included garlic and tomatoes. In fact, we had a pretty good crop of tomatoes, as the weather was unusually and consistently warm for this part of Australia!

Homegrown produce

Browsing through my cookbooks to get inspiration, I came across a Jamie Oliver recipe for chicken, tomatoes and potatoes. Perfect! I played with the recipe a bit, adding garlic and reducing the amounts a little to fit our family a bit better. It’s a fairly loose recipe, easy to adapt to fit your needs.

Chicken dish for collage

It looked delicious, tasted delicious, and was a great way to cook our homegrown dinner!

Crispy, sticky chicken thighs, with new potatoes and tomatoes

Adapted from Jamie at Home, by Jamie Oliver

Serves 4-6

1 kg chicken thigh fillets, preferably skin-on, cut into 3 strips
1 Tbs olive oil
600 g new potatoes
300-400 g cherry tomatoes, large ones halved
1 small head of garlic (or 4-5 cloves), peeled and smashed
Bunch of fresh oregano, leaves picked
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Red wine vinegar
4 Tbs Olive oil, extra

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Boil potatoes until almost cooked. Drain and squash using the back of a spoon or your thumb.

While the potatoes are cooking, season chicken with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. In two batches, fry in a large frying pan for about 10 minutes over high heat, until almost cooked. To the second batch add the garlic, tossing it with the chicken.

Add back the first batch of chicken, along with the potatoes and tomatoes, and toss to combine with the chicken and garlic.

Pound the oregano leaves and a large pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle, add a good splash of red wine vinegar and about 4 Tbs olive oil. Season with ground pepper and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Toss to mix and transfer to a large shallow ceramic or glass baking dish or a non-reactive roasting tray. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes until golden.


1. I didn’t skin the tomatoes, but if you prefer, you can blanch them in hot water and then slip the skins off.


Magnificent meat pie!

I’ve been craving pie. Here in Australia, a special place is reserved for the meat pie, a classic concoction of pastry, mince and gravy sold at milk bars, bakeries and convenience stores, and most especially, at the footy. But the pie I’ve been craving is more than that. Melt in your mouth meat, thick rich tasty gravy, tender flaky pastry. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

I found some gravy beef on sale last week, a cheap cut of meat even cheaper. So I scoured my recipe collection for a worthy recipe. And I think I found it in Jamie Oliver’s tribute to last year’s Royal Wedding between Kate and Will, a delicious casserole of beef, beer, barley and herbs. He used beef shin, but I substituted the gravy beef I had, which worked fine. I think it would work with any slow-cooking friendly cut of beef—chuck steak, gravy beef, blade steak or shin.

I also substituted a different pastry to the suet pastry he used, replacing it with Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry. It’s quick to make and results in the most beautiful light flaky pastry.

And the end result? Just as magnificent as I envisioned!

Magnificent meat pie

Adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain, by Jamie Oliver

Serves 8-10

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
3 bay leaves
3 red onions, chopped
1 kg gravy beef
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs tomato paste
440ml can of guinness
1.5 L homemade or good quality beef stock
2 Tbs plain flour
140g pearl barley
1 Tbs dijon mustard
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
100g cheddar cheese, grated 
Sour cream pastry (see recipe below)
1 egg yolk
2 tsp milk

Put olive oil, butter and herbs in large casserole pot over high heat. When butter has melted, add onions, meat and a large pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomato paste, Guinness, stock and flour, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the pearl barley, replace cover and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally. Then remove lid and turn up heat to medium low, and cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring frequently until meat is falling apart and gravy has thickened.

Preheat oven to 220C.

Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Pour into large pie dish, approximately 25cm by 30 cm and 5 cm deep. Brush edges of dish with an egg wash made from egg yolk and milk whisked together with a pinch of salt.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5 mm thick and big enough to just fit over dish. Carefully place on top of pie. Pinch edges down and brush with egg wash.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 220C until pastry is golden. Serve with green veges and homemade chips.

Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry

From Maggie’s Harvest, by Maggie Beer

200g cold unsalted butter, roughly chopped
250g plain flour
120g/125 ml sour cream

Put butter and flour into bowl of food processor and pulse briefly until mixture has texture of breadcrumbs.

Add sour cream and pulse again until mixture just comes together. Turn out onto board and press into a ball.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.


1. You can replace the pastry with store bought shortcrust or puff pastry if you don’t want to make your own.