New Year’s Eve

Whether you like it or not, new year’s eve is pretty much the one night of the year when it’s imperative that, above all else, you have a really good time. OK? It’s undoubtedly this ‘forced fun’ element that makes so many people resent the annual ralf-fest. It doesn’t help that it comes at the end of a solid week of over-eating and drinking, but we can’t blame the baby Jesus for being born exactly one week before the turn of the millennium.

Anyway, to steal a joke from Ali G, I digest. The point is, if we are to concentrate fully on having a really good time, it’s important that 1) we get to eat something that is special and delicious, and 2) that it is entirely fuss free. For example, I could write three completely new recipes. But, uh, hello, it’s new year’s eve. I’m too busy necking sherry and being a rude boy. So instead here are two recipes from the archives for starter and main, along with a new invention which really is a knock-out for pudding. And of course a new year playlist to shake your ass to whilst you cook. Happy New Year!

[See below for the magnificent Fiona Beckett’s wine suggestions].

Chestnut soup with chorizo and saffron cream

I know I only just posted this, but I can honestly say it’s one of my proudest cooking moments, and as far as NYE goes it’s ideal – you can do the soup ahead before reheating and doing the saffron cream at the last minute.


Serves 6

200g whole Chorizo, cut into cubes

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

400-500g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 tin tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock

2ooml double cream

a pinch of saffron

Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the chorizo until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until lightly caramelised and soft.

Next add the chopped rosemary, chilli and cumin and stir for a minute or so, before adding the chestnuts, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the cream and saffron together until the threads have dissolved. Set aside and blend the soup until smooth.

Whisk the saffron cream over a medium heat until it is a little lighter, then serve the soup with a few chunks of chorizo and some of the cream.

Rolled shoulder of pork with pommes dauphinoises and red cabbage

You could equally do roast tatties here, but the beauty of these spuds are that you can cook them ahead and simply reheat. The red cabbage also benefits from being done ahead.

For the pork

1 rolled, boned, shoulder of pork, about 1.4kg

250ml cider

500ml stock

Salt, pepper and olive oil

Red cabbage

1 head of red cabbage

1 bottle cider

200ml balsamic vinegar

1 cinnamon stick


For the potatoes

6 Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes

300ml double cream

300ml whole milk

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

A few thyme leaves

A bay leaf


Salt and pepper


You can do the cabbage and spuds a day ahead:

The cabbage then. Quarter the cabbage and remove the thick stalk from the centre. Slice the cabbage as finely as you can manage and sling in a saucepan with the cider, vinegar, cinnamon stick, a few knobs of butter and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to as low as you can, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for another half hour until dark and sticky.

The spuds. In a saucepan whisk the milk, cream, garlic and thyme. Grate in a little nutmeg, season and add the bay leaf. Heat until almost boiling, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash the potatoes (don’t peel them). Butter an ovenproof dish. Slice the potatoes into discs and start to layer in the dish. Pour a little of the cream mix on each layer, before tipping whatever you have left over the top once you have finished. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

Four hours before dinner, preheat the oven to full whack. Score the skin with a sharp knife several at 1 inch intervals or so. This helps to render the fat and get really good crackling. Season the joint copiously with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Put in the oven and turn the heat down immediately to 170C. Cook for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and pop on a warm plate to rest while you make your gravy. Degrease the pan by pouring off any excess fat, then put it over a fairly rigorous heat. Pour in the cider and the stock and simmer.

Pop the potatoes in the oven to reheat for half an hour, and warm the cabbage over a medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Taste the gravy for seasoning and serve with the pork, crackling, and vegetables.

Homemade Snickers ice cream

This was a slightly whimsical experiment that turned out surprisingly well. Very easy to do, and no ice cream machine required. Can be done at least a day ahead.

100g milk chocolate

50g sugar (3 tablespoons)

125 ml water

50g salted peanuts, roughly chopped

2 egg yolks

50g sugar

500ml double cream

Melt about 3/4 of the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and leave to cool (but not get cold).

Meanwhile whip the egg yolks and 50g sugar until light, then whisk in the cream. Continue to whisk until the cream thickens enough to slightly hold its shape.

In a non stick frying pan, whisk the other 50g sugar into the water until dissolved, then place over a medium heat until caramelised (don’t stir while this process is occurring). Once a golden brown, remove from the heat and gently toss in the peanuts. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before folding into the whipped cream, along with the melted chocolate. Roughly chop the remaining chocolate and fold this in too.

Transfer to an ice cream tub or something similar, and freeze. After 1 hour remove from the freezer and give a quick whisk. This prevents ice crystals forming, creating a smoother ice cream.

Leave for a further 4 hours minimum before serving. Keeps for a week.

Fiona Beckett’s Wine Suggestions

As James helped me out with my Ultimate Student Cookbook this year I reckoned I owed him one so when he suggested I should come up with some ideas of what to drink with his New Year’s Eve menu I could hardly refuse. Or rather I might have done if I’d looked at the menu but I rashly said yes first.

The soup is a real bugger for a start. It’ll slaughter any half way decent white so you either have the choice of red (a young Rioja, say) or – ta-daaaa – sherry which is rather appropriate as that’s what James says he’s been necking – er, sipping. A dry Amontillado or Palo Cortado I reckon would hit the spot nicely. You could also drink sherry with the Snickers icecream – cream sherry this time though a genuine Spanish bottle not Harvey’s Bristol Cream. PX if you have a particularly sweet tooth.
Which leaves the main course with which you’ll be devoutly relieved to hear I’m not going to recommend sherry but a good Spanish or Southern French red – something like a Gigondas from the Rhone or a Chateauneuf du Pape, for example. With all the cider in the recipe you could even drink cider but I guess most people wouldnt think that was sufficiently festive. And fair do’s it is New Year’s Eve . . .

Thanks Fiona, you’re a star.

To keep you company whilst you spend a happy hour or two in the kitchen, here is a little music:

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Filed under Recipes

2 responses to “New Year’s Eve

  1. I hate New Years Eve with a passion; never ever go out. I may however try that chestnut soup for dinner.

  2. Nic

    Loving the snickers ice cream!
    Happy New Year to you James, and best wishes for 2010!

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