The restaurant, launching its brand new cookbook, gives us a few quick and easy recipes for the weekend...
If you’re a bit of a foodie, the chances are that you’ll have heard of The Clink: a charity rehabilitation programme founded in 2010, training prisoners across the UK and equipping them with culinary skills to help them gain employment and lessen the reoffending rates.
There are four Clink restaurants across the UK run by prisoners, all offering fine dining and first class service. If it weren’t for the strict ban on phones, no alcohol and the use of plastic cutlery, you could easily forget that the elegant restaurants are functioning within the walls of working prisons.
Training up to 160 men and women prisoners and serving around 50,000 meals a day, it’s unsurprising that The Clink has a lot of support, this week launching The Clink Quick and Easy Cookbook, showcasing an array of recipes – even including entries by Albert Roux, Thomasina Miers, Antonio Carluccio and Sadiq Khan.
Here’s a few recipes to get you in the mood for the weekend…
COQ A LA BIERE (Recipe by Albert Roux)`
The original version of this was made with cockerel (coq), but this recipe uses free-range chicken
PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 1 hour
– 1 free-range, preferably organic, chicken (about 1.5kg)
– olive oil
– unsalted butter
– 50g shallots, finely chopped
– 200g button mushrooms, sliced
– 1 ½ tbsp brandy
– 330ml bottle of beer, preferably bitter
– 1 tsp brown sugar
– 200ml double cream
– salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220˚C/ fan 200˚C/ gas mark 7.
Put the chicken on its side in an enameled cast-iron pan with a little olive oil and butter and roast for about 40 minutes; baste the bird several times during the cooking, turning it on to its other side and finally on to its back, breast upwards. When cooked, transfer the chicken on to a plate, breast down so that the juices permeate the meat while it rests. (To test if it is cooked, insert a sharp knife between the thigh and the body, in the thickest part of the bird. The juices that emerge should run clear. If there is any trace of pink, cook for a few minutes more, then test again.)
Discard the fat from the roasting pan and add a knob of fresh butter, place over a low heat and sweat the shallots until translucent, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further three minutes. Pour in the brandy and scrape the pan with the spoon to deglaze fully. When the pan is almost dry, pour in the beer and sugar, bring to the boil, then reduce it by half. Add the cream and reduce again to a light sauce consistency.
Whisk in 50g butter, cut into small piece, to give the sauce sheen, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carve the chicken and serve with the hot beer and mushroom sauce.
SIMPLE FISH SOUP (Recipe by Antonio Carluccio)
Using a few well-chosen items really speeds dinner along. This is a truly luxurious plateful.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 20 minutes
– 6 tbsp olive oil
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 2-3 tbsp tomato passata
– 1kg mussels, cleaned
– 300g monkfish, cut into cubes
– 300g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
– 500ml good French soupe de poisons (from most supermarkets or delicatessens)
– 4 thick slices of coarse-textured bread
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion until softened, six or seven minutes.
Add the passata, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the mussels, monkfish and squid rings and cook at a simmer for about 10 minutes, until the fish are cooked through and the mussels are open. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened after this time. Stir in the fish soup and heat through gently for about five minutes, while you toast the bread.
Place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each of four warmed bowls (or just serve it alongside), pour in the soup and serve.
CHOCOLATE AND TRIPLE HAZELNUT TART (Recipe by Paul Clarkson)
There are two parts to this, pastry and filling, but both are easy. Just leave time to chill the tart.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 30 minutes
For the pastry:
– 100g unsalted butter
– 225g plain flour (plus more to dust)
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– A pinch of salt
– 100g blanched hazelnuts, ground
– 30g vanilla sugar (or 1bsp caster sugar with 1tsp vanilla powder)
For the filling:
– 500 ml double cream
– 75g vanilla sugar (or 70g caster sugar with 1tsp vanilla powder)
– A dash of flavourless oil, or hazelnut oil
– 100g blanched hazelnuts, skinned, plus more, crushed, to serve
– 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
– 50g cocoa powder
– 25g corn flour
– 100-120ml milk
Start with the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, or in a food processor, until it looks like crumbs. Add the egg, salt, hazelnuts and sugar (or sugar and vanilla powder) and bring the mix together into a pastry. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/ fan 160˚C/ gas mark 4. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 23cm tart tin or flan ring. Cover with baking parchment and weigh down with baking beans, dried pulses or raw rice. Bake for 17 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a final three minutes. Allow to cool.
For the filling, take a heavy-based saucepan and heat the cream. Add the sugar (or sugar and vanilla powder), oil, nuts and dark chocolate and heat very gently, stirring often until the ingredients melt. Mix the cocoa, corn flour and milk together to make a smooth paste and add it to the simmering chocolate mix. Stir until it thickens (about eight minutes), then pour it into a bowl and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Pour the filling into the pastry case, cover and chill for at least four hours. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts and serve with cream.
LITTLE LIME POSSETS WITH CHILLI-TAMARIND CURD (Recipe by Thomasina Miers)
Addictive pots with an ethereal lightness. And you can make them the day before you want them.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 20 minutes
For the possets:
– 500ml double cream
– finely grated zest and juice of 5 large limes, plus more lime zest to serve
– 150g golden caster sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract For the curd: – 1 egg, plus 3 egg yolks – finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes – 4 tbsp tamarind paste
– 130g caster sugar
– ½ tsp chilli flakes
– 150g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
To make the possets, put the cream, lime zest, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and leave to bubble for a few minutes, stirring from time to time. Whisk in the lime juice, then remove from the heat. Pour the hot cream through a sieve into a jug then decant into six to eight glasses and chill in the fridge.
To make the curd, whisk the egg, egg yolks, lime zest and juice, tamarind, sugar and chilli together in a saucepan over a low heat, then whisk in the butter, a cube at a time. Let this curd cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until it is thick and custard-like but, at the first sign of the mixture erupting with a ‘plop’, remove it from the heat. Strain the curd through a sieve into a clean bowl, cover and allow to cool. Spoon a layer of the curd over each of the set possets, return to the fridge and leave to set overnight.
Serve topped with curls of zest and eat them either on their own, or with almond biscotti and a glass of aged tequila. This batch of curd is a little big for the recipe, so eat the leftovers on toast. Or double the recipe so that you have plenty: it’s great with vanilla ice cream and will keep for a week in the fridge in a sealed container.