11 Great Recipes From 'Let's Eat Meat' By Tom Parker Bowles

In this exclusive extract from his new book, Esquire’s food editor, Tom Parker Bowles, serves up recipes for the more discerning carnivore. Some of them (gasp!) Containing no meat at all.

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Let’s Eat Meat. The title says it all. Yet far from being a tobacco-spitting tome bursting with macho, flesh-tearing bullshit, my new book is different. Sure, there’s a fat chapter on “Meat”, where ribs sit alongside proper Mexican tacos stuffed with charred, pink slices of steak, punchy Pakistani chicken curries and Vietnamese bun cha. But the message is this: eat less meat, but eat better. The good stuff will always be expensive because it takes longer to rear, munches better food and has more space to cluck or oink or moo about in. But in terms of flavour (and welfare), happy beasts make happy eating. And we shouldn’t just concentrate on the posh cuts (breast, fillet and all that), but pay attention to the less flashy bits (shin, oxtail and the rest). Cheap, but always cheerful.

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There’s also a chapter on “Less Meat”, where the animal plays a supporting role, and one on “Meat as Seasoning” – it’s amazing the edible joy a humble scrap of bacon or splash of stock can add to a dish. It’s how most of the developing world cooks, anyway. I even have a section on “No Meat”, stuff to thrill the palate by itself or as a side. So, this is a book about the endless joys of meat, from roasts to beans with bacon, and about pleasure, succour and meaty cheer. We should eat less, but really, you can’t beat meat.

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1 | Tacos al carbon

Steak grilled over mesquite wood (or briquettes, or plain charcoal), sliced very thinly, then wrapped in soft corn tortillas with grilled spring onions, salsa (pico de gallo), a dollop of guacamole, a dash of hot sauce, pickled onions and raw shredded cabbage. Less dish, more generic term, also called carne asada. You’ll find it from Texas down to Oaxaca, Mexico. The smell is intoxicating. It’s best cooked over coals but can be done in a griddle pan.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 large sirloin or skirt steaks (about 300g each)
  • Groundnut or sunflower oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 spring onions
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Small cabbage, shredded
  • Lime wedges, for squeezing

Picked red onion

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 habanero chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar

Pico de gallo

  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 long green finger chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Small onion, roughly chopped
  • Juice of a lime
  • Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Guacamole

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño or finger chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime

Directions:
Light your barbecue and wait until the coals are white-hot, or heat your griddle pan until it’s smoking hot. Brush the steaks with oil, season well with salt, then grill for 2mins on each side. Leave to rest for 2mins. This will give rare steak. Slice very thinly. Brush the spring onions with oil, season and cook for 4–6mins, until charred. Cut them in half, slice into 2cm pieces, or leave whole. Heat the tortillas on the barbecue (or in a hot, dry pan), then wrap in a tea towel to keep warm. Serve the steak on one plate, the tortillas on another, and the spring onions, pickled red onion, pico de gallo, guacamole, cabbage and lime wedges in small bowls. Put the Tabasco on the table and let people pimp their tacos however they wish.

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Pickled Red Onion
Put the onion and habanero chilli in a small bowl with the vinegar. Cover and marinate for 1 hour. Drain and serve.

Pico de Gallo
Mix the tomatoes, green chillies, onion and lime juice in a bowl. Add salt to taste and leave for 1 hour. Stir in the coriander, then serve.

Guacamole
Peel, stone and mash the avocados roughly using a large fork. Add the red onions, jalapeño chillies, tomatoes and lime juice. Season to taste and serve.


2 | Beef rendang

Indonesia’s food gets something of a bum deal in the wider world. The vast and sprawling archipelago has all manner of searing sambals and satays, as well as endless wonderful ways with pig and chicken. And what is it famous for? A pile of rice topped with a fried egg, aka nasi goreng, that gap-year student favourite. But the more I find out about Indonesian food, the more I wonder why we don’t embrace it. Beef rendang is a star dish – beef slow-cooked in spiced coconut milk – and “the one dish”, according to the food writer Sri Owen, that “passes from boiling to frying in a continuous process”. It was originally used to slightly preserve fresh water buffalo. The process would tenderise the meat and prolong its life, as well as give it a wonderful taste. It should be rich and rather exotic, the beef falling apart at the mere mention of a fork.

 
Ingredients (serves 4–5):
  • 1tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
  • 1kg beef shin, cut into 4–5cm chunks
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 x 400ml cans of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Big pinch of sea salt
  • Steamed sticky rice, to serve

Spice paste

  • 4 cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 6–10 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 6 shallots, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 5cm piece of fresh galangal, peeled, or ½tsp galangal powder

Directions:

To make the spice paste, put the cloves and nutmeg in a small blender and grind. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz to a thick paste. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, then add the paste and cook over a medium heat until fragrant. Add the beef, increase the heat to high and mix well, so the meat is well coated in the spices. Put the lemongrass on a board and bash once or twice with the flat side of a knife. Add it to the pan with the cinnamon stick, coconut milk and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan loosely with a lid and simmer for 3 hours, stirring often and adding about 150ml of water now and then if the sauce looks very thick, until the beef is coated in a rich, dark sauce. Remove the lemongrass, cinnamon stick and bay leaves, season with salt, then serve with the sticky rice.
 

3 | Slow-cooked lamb with shallots, fennel and broad beans
 
Slow-cooked lamb, studded with garlic, surrounded by an adoring crowd of shallots, fennel and broad beans. This recipe is adapted from one by Bill Knott, the Financial Times’s The Gannet, and a serious lunching companion. If fresh broad beans aren’t in season, use frozen.
 
 
Ingredients (serves 6):
  • 1 shoulder of lamb (2kg approx), trimmed of excess fat
  • 4 garlic cloves, each cut into 3 slices
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3tbsps light olive oil
  • 12 banana shallots, peeled, roots intact
  • 1 fennel bulb, fairly thickly sliced
  • 300ml dry white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock (cube is fine)
  • 1tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tbsp pastis (or 2tsps toasted fennel seeds)
  • 150g podded and peeled broad beans
  • 75g anchovies preserved in salt, roughly chopped
  • 2tbsps roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard

Directions:

Preheat the oven to fan 160°C/325°F/Gas 4. Using a small sharp knife, make 12 little slits around the lamb and push a garlic slice into each one. Season the lamb liberally all over. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then sear the lamb until deep brown on all sides. Transfer it to a snug casserole dish. Cook the shallots and fennel slices in the frying pan until slightly coloured, then add the wine and bubble away the alcohol. Add the stock, thyme, vinegar and bay leaves, simmer for a couple of minutes, then pour over the lamb. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 3 hours or so, turning after 1½ hours and adding a little more stock if needed. The lamb should be tender, but not completely soft. Leave to rest for 20mins. Spoon off any fat that has risen to the surface. Remove the bones – they should pull out easily – then break the meat into chunks and pile in the middle of a warmed serving dish. Arrange the shallots and fennel around the lamb. Put the juices in a wide saucepan over a high heat, add the pastis or fennel seeds, and bring back to the boil; if necessary, reduce to about 500ml. Add the broad beans, anchovies, parsley and mustard, then simmer gently for 2mins, until the beans are cooked. Season to taste, then pour the beans and juices over the lamb and serve hot.

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4 | Baked eggs with ham and spicy potatoes

Ham, eggs and fried potatoes in one glorious dish. A little green or red chilli adds its fiery magic, too

 
Ingredients (serves 4):
  • About 10 small new potatoes, or any waxy variety, sliced 5mm thick
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4tbsps olive oil
  • 3 green or red finger chillies, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • About 6 thick slices of good British ham, torn in half
  • 4 large eggs
  • Bread, to serve

Directions:

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted water, boil then simmer for 10mins, until cooked but firm. Drain in a colander. Preheat the oven to fan 200°C/400°F/Gas 7. Pour 2tbsps of oil into a frying pan, add the chillies and garlic and cook over a low heat until soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chillies and garlic and set aside. Add another 1tbsp of oil, whack up the heat and fry the potatoes until burnished and crisp. Return the chillies and garlic to the pan, mix and remove from the heat. Oil four heatproof bowls (ramekins are too small; earthenware tapas bowls are best). Line each bowl with ham and fried potatoes, leaving a dip for the eggs. Place the bowls on a baking tray and bake for 5mins. Remove from the oven, crack an egg into each dish, season and return to the oven for 10mins, or until the whites are firm and the yolks runny. Serve with good bread for mopping up the juices.


5 | Gratin of chicory and bacon
 
This is adapted from the great Richard Olney’s recipe in Simple French Food, which is simply superb. There’s a touch of bitterness from the leaves, but a whole lot of richness, too.
 
 
Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 50g butter
  • 6 heads of chicory (white, red or a combination), discoloured outer leaves discarded
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 100g coarse fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 3tbsps chopped fresh parsley
  • 100g lean unsmoked bacon rashers, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 300ml double cream
  • Lemon quarters, to serve

Directions:

Preheat the oven to fan 210°C/415°F/Gas 8. Generously butter a large gratin dish. Split the chicory in two lengthwise. Pack it into the gratin dish in a tight single layer, split side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley and bacon, and scatter evenly over the surface. Place the dish in the oven and, after a few minutes, turn the temperature down to fan 170°C/340°F/Gas 5. Bake for 30mins, then remove from the oven and trickle the cream around the sides of the gratin. Bake for another 30mins or so, trickling in more cream if it didn’t all fit in first time, until bubbling and golden. Serve with lemon quarters.
 

6 | Arancini di riso
 
Deep-fried risotto balls with a filling of either oozing mozzarella or slow-cooked meat ragù. They’re a southern Italian classic, and the Sicilian versions are usually larger than their Neapolitan cousins. The best I’ve ever tried were from a stall outside the main café in Marina Corta on Lipari, my favourite of the Aeolian Islands. They’re easy to make, too. Start from scratch, as I’ve done in this recipe, or use leftover risotto. I like them small: two-biters rather than great, hulking cannonballs.
 
 
Ingredients (makes 12)
  • 125g/4½oz Arborio rice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2tbsps tomato purée
  • 75g/2¾oz Parmesan, finely grated
  • 50g/1¾oz fine dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, cut into 12 cubes, or
  • • 6tbsps Neapolitan ragù (beef or pork meat sauce)
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Tomato sauce

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • A few leaves of basil, torn

Directions:

First make the tomato sauce: heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook for 10mins, until soft. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 40mins, stirring regularly. Add the basil leaves just before serving. Cook the rice in a pan of salted boiling water for 16–18mins, or until very tender. Drain in a sieve, then tip into a bowl and leave to cool for 30mins. Stir in the egg, then add the tomato purée and Parmesan and season generously. Tip the breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl. Divide the rice mixture into 12 portions, but set aside about 3tbsps. Roll each portion into a 4cm ball. Taking one ball at a time, hold it in the palm of one hand and make a dent in the middle, then either push a piece of mozzarella into the hollow, or add a generous teaspoon of ragu. Cover the filling with a little of the reserved rice mixture, moulding gently to seal in the filling. Gently roll each ball in the breadcrumbs to coat, then set aside while you fill and coat the remaining arancini. Heat the oil in a deep pan to about 170°C/340°F, or until a cube of bread turns golden in 30 secs; alternatively, use an electric deep-fat fryer. Deep-fry the rice balls, four to six at a time, for about 5mins, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the rest. Serve with the tomato sauce.


7 | Bun Cha

Smoky pork, soft noodles and fistfuls of cool herbs… bun cha is elegant street food, a Vietnamese classic. Sadly, even in this internet-enlightened age, some of the more obscure herbs are impossible to find. Still, this is a dish of glorious contrasts, subtle and seductive.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4tbsps fish sauce
  • 4tbsps dark soy sauce
  • 6 spring onions, sliced diagonally
  • 4 Thai (or 1 banana) shallots, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g/1lb 2oz rindless pork belly, thinly sliced
  • 225g/8oz dried thin rice noodles
  • 250g/9oz bean sprouts
  • Handful of holy basil leaves, rinsed
  • Handful of mint leaves (Vietnamese if possible)
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 romaine lettuce, thickly shredded

Dressing:

  • 3tbsps fish sauce
  • 3tbsps rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2tbsps caster sugar
  • 1 red finger chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2tbsps lime juice

Directions:

Mix the fish sauce, soy sauce, spring onions, shallots and garlic in a bowl. Add the pork, cover and marinate in the fridge for at least three hours or, better still, overnight. Light your barbecue and wait until the coals are white-hot, or heat your griddle pan until it’s smoking hot. Cook the noodles to packet instructions, rinse with water, then drain. For the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved; set aside. Drain the pork and grill over a high heat until charred and burnished – around 5mins – and cooked through, turning twice. Mix the noodles with the bean sprouts in a bowl. Add the herbs, lettuce, pork and 2tbsps of the dressing and toss together. Divide among four bowls, pour over the remaining dressing and serve.


8 | Chicken lahori

I first tasted this punchy Pakistani curry not on the charcoal-scented streets of Lahore, but in the rather less visceral environs of a Mayfair basement. Hardly the place, I hear you say, to cook up an old-fashioned brow-beader. But the restaurant was Benares and the chef, Atul Kochhar, one of the true masters of spice. His version, thrown together with almost raffish insouciance, not only seduced the taste buds, but had them begging for his hand in marriage, too. My version is a little less refined, but this is a curry of meaty magnificence.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4tbsps vegetable oil
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 3tsps red chilli powder
  • 1tbsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 4–8 green finger chillies, chopped
  • 5–6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2tbsps natural yoghurt
  • 500ml/18fl oz fresh light chicken stock or water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • Steamed or boiled basmati rice, to serve

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and sauté the whole spices and bay leaves until they crackle and pop. Add the onions and cook for 15mins, until lightly browned, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1min. Add the red chilli powder, ground coriander, ground turmeric, green chillies and tomatoes and cook for another 5mins. Add the chicken, yoghurt, stock and salt. Simmer for 20–25mins, until the chicken is piping hot and cooked through, with no sign of pink in the juices when the thickest part is pierced with a skewer. Stir in the coriander and garam masala, and serve with basmati rice.


9 | Onion Fritters With Cumin

Takeaway onion bhajis are invariably drab, sullenly greasy and disappointing, having sat around for hours, losing any crispness and joy. But eaten fresh from the hot oil, they’re wonderful street food and a fine snack.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 150g chickpea (gram) flour
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2tsps (heaped) cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1tsp (heaped) coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2tbsps chopped coriander leaves
  • 1tsp hot chilli powder
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Directions:

Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix with the salt. Add the onions, cumin, coriander seeds, coriander leaves, chilli powder and lemon juice, plus 6–8tbsps water, to make a thick batter. In a deep, heavy pan, heat the oil to about 180°C/350°F, or until a small drop of batter sizzles fiercely, rises to the top and browns in 30 secs. Alternatively, use an electric deep-fat fryer. Drop in 1tbsp of the batter and cook for 2–3mins, until golden brown. Drain and taste. If necessary, add more salt, chilli or cumin. Deep-fry the other fritters in batches, two or three at a time, so the oil stays hot. Let the oil heat up again after each batch. Remove with a slotted spoon and eat hot.


10 | Jalapeño Cornbread

Cornbread is a staple of the southern United States and, when done well, should be as yellow as a Kansas cornfield on harvest day, and light and airy, too. Jalapeños add a little heat, and crumbled pork scratchings add crunch and punch. I recommend Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling. But as part-owner, I would, wouldn’t I?

Ingredients (makes 20 pieces):

  • 250g/9oz fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1tsp fine salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 85g pickled sliced jalapeños, drained
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 125ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g Cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 60g bag of pork scratchings, crushed

Directions:

Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/350°F/Gas 6. Oil a 20 x 28cm baking tin and heat for 2mins in the oven. Mix the cornmeal, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (except the scratchings). Add to the dry ingredients, stir well, and pour into the warmed tin. Bake for about 30mins, then scatter the pork scratchings over the top and bake for a further 10–20mins, until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 10mins, then cut into squares and serve.


11 | Spinach With Potatoes and Chorizo

This is my take on acelgas con papa y chorizo, a Mexican side dish that mixes chard with potatoes and chorizo. Spinach is easier to find than chard, but does have a rather different taste and texture. In season, round about late summer, I tend to substitute chard for the spinach. Just remove the stems, wash, place in a saucepan with the water that clings to the leaves, cover and cook for 4mins, then chop and treat like spinach.

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Ingredients (serves 4–6 as a side dish):

  • 450g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • Salt
  • 2tbsps olive oil
  • 300g cooking chorizo, sliced as thick as a £1 coin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 700g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1kg spinach, trimmed and shredded

Directions:

Parboil the potatoes in lightly salted water for 5mins, then drain. Heat 1tbsp oil in a deep pan and cook the chorizo until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, then add the onion and cook in the chorizo fat until soft. Add another 1tbsp oil, then add the potatoes and cook over a medium heat until some burnished edges appear. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat slightly and cook for 10mins. Add the spinach and cook for 2mins, stirring regularly. Serve hot.

Taken from Esquire's December issue – out now. To get Esquire delivered to your door every month, check out our subscription offers.

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