Thursday, May 17, 2007

Leek, celery and pancetta bake with a little kick

I'VE always fancied myself as a member of the Sweeney, or perhaps a SWAT recruit. And I got the chance this week, on boozeday Tuesday to be precise. Sitting outside the City Arms getting merrily sozzled with Withers and Nicey, who recently I called Smashy by mistake (the two are quite interchangeable really) I heard the sweet sounds of some ageing muso from the upstairs of the grotty old building opposite.
Honing in on this poor man's Ralph McTell one thought entered my head: Brammy. And another thought quickly followed - that must be the smoking room where he really isn't allowed to smoke but gets away with it because no one will go within a hundred yards of the infernal racket eminating from said room.
Withers was keen to explore further and, on the basis that I had drunk too much to raise any sort of a protest, we walked around the corner, found the door and entered a rather seedy old drinking den. This was when the idea hit me.
Climbing the stairs quietly it suddenly felt like we were about to burst in on some drug dealers swapping some of that expensive white powder for cash rather than a little old man in a cap sneaking a crafty fag out of the window. The music got louder as we reached the second floor and I put my hand out to Withers in silent warning: Stand back!
Then I raised my foot to about my waist and smashed it against the door, sending it flying open and catching Brammy in the middle of an illegal puff. He was like a rabbit in the headlights, jaw open, offending article perching from bottom lip in the manner of Andy Capp. "You're nicked!" I shouted.
As the truth dawned on him and the alarming look dropped from his face, I could see in his eyes that he was pleased to see me. "Daft bastard!" they seemed to say.

Last night had a quiet night in and cooked a leek and celery bake. It seemed a bit bland though so the addition of two chopped green chillis and some of that cubed pancetta certainly gave it a zing.
What you need:
75gms butter
tablespoon olive oil
1-2 leeks, sliced thin.
2 sticks of chopped celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2/3 peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
1 pint of vegetable or chicken stock
2 small chopped green chillis
Some chilli powder for sprinkling

What you do:
Heat oven to gas mark 6 or equivalent.
Heat the oil and butter together in frying pan until butter melts
Add the leeks and celery and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 mins on medium heat
Then add the crushed garlic and cook for another two mins.
Add some flat leaf parsley, the chopped chillis and the pancetta cubes and cook for another five minutes.
Grease a casserole dish.
Put in a layer of the leek mixture followed by a layer of potatoes.
Sprinkle a small amount of chilli powder over the top.
Put in the oven with a lid on, removing the lid after half an hour.
It's ready to serve in an hour.
The addition of chillis might not be to everyone's taste, or the pancetta for that matter, so both can be left out for vegetarians and those of a weak disposition.
For anyone else: It's got a real kick. Just like Brammy's hidyhole door received.
Sprinkle some chilli powder

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