Torero’s pie

rabo de toro (1 of 3)I’ve decided to add recipes. I’ll tag them “eating in”

I wouldn’t describe myself as a gourmand but I know my way around a kitchen and enjoy cooking. I’m a gastrosexual like most British blokes around my age. Cookbooks are our Razzle, Nigel Slater our Linda Lusardi.

I’m always giving recipes to friends and colleagues, so I thought I might as well add some here. And it’ll be an outlet for my food porn pictures.

Torero’s Pie (Rabo de toro/Oxtail shepherd’s pie)

Neither British nor Spanish food has much of a reputation outside their own borders, so I thought as a British-ish man-cook who has lived in Spain for the last decade, I should marry two average cuisines and create something great. So here is my first attempt at Anglo-hispanic fusion food.

First you need to dust the bits of oxtail in flour and brown them in hot oil. Then remove them from the pot.

Chop onions, green & red pepper, a leek, some carrots, a wee stick of celery and soften in the pot, add salt and pepper and a couple of bay leaves

rabo de toro (2 of 3)When they’re suitable softened, add a couple of chopped and seeded tomatoes and cook for a bit longer.

Pour in about half a bottle of red wine and a mug of beef or veg stock. Over a high heat, reduce the liquid by about a thrid, then cover and turn the heat right down to the lowest it can go.

rabo de toro (3 of 3)Now it’s going to cook for about 5 hours. You can do it in the oven if yours is big enough…mine isn’t so I did it on the hob.

Now take the bits of tail out of the pot.

The next stage is up to you if you want to do it or not. Personally, I find it much tastier…but up to you. Take out the bay leaves and using a hand blender blitz the sauce.

Now pick the meat off the tail bones…it should falling off the bone by now. Shred it into bits using your hand or two forks. Make sure there’s no lumps of fat in there (unless you like lumps of fat). Put the shredded meat back into the sauce. If the sauce isn’t as thick as you’d like, turn up the heat until it is. You can keep the oxtail bones for stock if that’s how you roll.

Make mashed potatoes in the time-honoured way. When you’re happy with it…add some smoked paprika and a spoon or two of red pepper paste (it’s called carne de pimiento in spain, I believe in the UK you can get Chargrilled Red Pepper Paste in Sainsbury’s). Mix these into the mash.

Pour the meat sauce into a baking dish so the sauce is no more than half way up. or a bit more than halfway actually.

Start to cover the meat sauce with the mash. Easiest way is, using a spoon start at a corner and scrape the spoonful of mash on top then do another one next to it and work around the dish that way. Then fill in the middle. With a fork, lightly go round all of the topping making lines in it so that it looks like a ploud field and the mash is spread equally enough.


Brush and egg white over the top. Bung in the oven for 20-30 minutes so that the top is crispy and some sauce has bubbled out and made a mess of your oven. (don’t worry…the wonderful Elena cleaned my oven. I’d have just sold it and bought another one)


y voilá


Pastel de Torero/Torero’s Pie


beyti (1 of 1)This dish sort of brings me round full circle.

When I was growing up my mum cooked everything at home. Nothing pre-processed passed my lips unless it was school dinners or when being fed by somebody that wasn’t my ma. She even baked the bread, biscuits or scones that we’d eat. Unfortunately, when I became an adult and left home at 18 I turned my back on all this and embraced preservatives, e-numbers, trans-fats and high-fructose corn syrups and lived off cook-in sauces and frozen food. Cooking was browning mince or chicken breasts and pouring over some mother’s pride or sharwood’s sauce. What a rebel! Arriving in Istanbul to live as a twentysomething came as a bit of a shock when it came to cooking...instead of jars and packets of chemically produced gloop, the supermarkets were just full of vegetables, meat, fish, vegetables and spices. What are you supposed to do with them?

While Turkish food is amazing, it was my first time outside the British Isles for any length of time and I began to miss British/Irish food. So, I had to learn how to cook them as 99.9% of the restaurants in Istanbul at the time served the Osman Mutfak (the Ottoman Kitchen) only.

Fast forward 17 years and you’ll hear me whinging that despite Madrid being a major European capital, there’s only one Turkish restaurant…and that’s on the outskirts of the city (well, up near the santiago bernabeu…but as far as I’m concerned Madrid ends at Gregorio Marañón.) There was a great one on Cava Alta years ago, but that closed down to be replaced by a Spanish place. Then there was an amazing one on Santa Engracia which only lasted a year before becoming a Spanish place…because we were in desperate need of another Spanish restaurant.

It suddenly occurred to me that if I missed my favourite Turkish dishes then I should cook them myself. Suddenly meaning “after about 5 years.” Yes, I can be a bit thick. So, here it is…Beyti!

Lamb mince is extremely difficult to come by in Spain and Portugal, so I used beef mince. Into the mince add as much crushed garlic as you like and then add a little more. Throw in some ground coriander and cumin, salt and pepper and maybe some chili powder or piri-piri if you like. I think I might have put some chopped fresh parsley in there too. Mix the mince together and then roll into balls the size of plums (ahem)…put a metal skewer (or a wet wooden one) through the middle of the ball and then massage it so it looks like a fat cigar along the skewer. Then grill or barbecue or fry…I did it on the plancha.

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Put some lightly oiled peppers and onions on there too, you can add them to the dish when you serve it.

While they are cooking you can make the bulgur wheat and the spicy tomato sauce. If you’re not used to cooking bulgur, it’s much like coucous in that it soaks up the liquid you add to it. I had softened some of the onion and red pepper then added the bulgur and then some hot stock and cooked it down. The sauce was just a tin of tomatoes mixed with some harissa and probably a splash of white wine (it’s practically impossible to cook without using some form of alcohol. unless you’re cooking breakfast). You could use rice if you prefer, but I much prefer bulgur wheat…if it’s not readily available in your local shops you could try one of these health-food shops they have nowadays.

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Now, get a thin tortilla or dürüm..lightly brush it with olive oil on both sides and roll it around your kebab. Then, using a sharp knife cut them into sections.

beyti123 (3 of 3)Put them in a heated oven for a few minutes

beyti (1 of 1)Now serve along with the bülgür wheat and a dollop of greek former-ottoman-empire yoghurt. I put a slice of the onion and pepper in between they beyti and  spoon over the spicy tomato sauce. I was going for a crescent shape, with the bulgur being the star..and hey presto! a turkish flag! with a white yoghurt stain on it

beyti (1 of 1)