Let's face, on these cold dark nights, the last thing we want to tuck into is a salad - right? You may also feel the same way about a zesty, fresh gin and tonic, swapping this 'summer drink' for a heavy, ruby red merlot?
Here at Craft Gin Club we think a G&T is for life, not just for summer! And you'll be amazed how well a cool, crisp gin compliments autumnal comfort food.
Below are some deliciously warming recipes to try this autumn/ winter - one for the carnivorous, one for the herbivorous, and one for the insatiably sweet toothed - and we have gone to the trouble of pairing the perfect gin serve with them! Cheers!
Chilli Con Carne | Chilli & Lime G&T
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, matchsticked
500g minced pork
500g minced beef
1 large white onion, diced
400g cherry tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 fresh chilli, diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 rosemary sprig
1 thyme sprig
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
Double espresso shot of fresh ground coffee or half a mug of instant coffee
50g dark chocolate
1 tbsp maple syrup
Bottle red wine
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can red kidney beans
Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large, deep pan on high, and add a drizzle of vegetable oil. Once the pan is hot, add the beef mince and the pork mince in batches to brown. When each batch of mince is nicely seared, tip it out into a bowl lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat and juices.
Put the same pan back on to a low heat and drizzle in another teaspoon of vegetable oil, before adding the bacon. Cook until golden. Using a spoon, transfer the bacon bits into the same bowl as the meat. Tip away two thirds of the remaining fat, leaving a small amount to flavour the chilli.
Raise the heat to medium and add another splash of oil. Tip in the onion and cook until soft and golden, and then add the chilli. Cook until soft and turn the heat down.
Add the cumin, paprika, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and cook them out for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly and keeping the heat low to avoid burning the spices. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute before adding the coffee, Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup. Raise the temperature to a medium-low heat and cook for at least another three minutes, then add the crushed garlic and cook for another two minutes.
Add the beef, pork and bacon back to the pan, along with the cherry tomatoes. Fold into the spice paste, making sure that everything is evenly coated.
Pour the bottle of red wine over the mixture and turn the heat up high to bring everything to a boil, then turn it down slightly to a fast simmer to reduce the wine by about half – this should take between 15 and 20 minutes.
Add the beef stock, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, bring everything back to the boil for about a minute, then turn the heat right down. Leave the chilli to cook at a low simmer for at least two hours, or until the mixture is emulsified. Keep stirring every now and then to make sure that the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
After two hours, stir in the kidney beans and the chocolate. Pick out the cinnamon stick, the bay leaves, thyme stalks and rosemary sprigs.
10 minutes before serving, add the diced large tomatoes. Season and stir through coriander just before serving. Serve with guacamole and crème fraiche, and on a jacket potato, or with a mountain of grated cheddar. Delicious!
Chilli & Lime G&T
This crisp gin and tonic will really help cut through the thick, meaty sauce of the chilli, maintaining the fiery kick with a fresh chilli garnish!
Leek and Mushroom Pie | Rosemary & Thyme Gin
1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp butter
½ white onion
1 garlic clove (flattened under the side of your knife)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
4 large leeks, halved and sliced into moon shapes
500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp whole grain mustard
500g puff pastry
1 egg yolk
1 glass white wine
Pre-heat your oven to 200C/Gas 6. Stab 3 cloves into the outside of the half an onion by their sharp end, like a Christingle orange.
Pour the milk into a pan and add the garlic, clove-studded onion, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary sprigs. Bring the milk to a simmer, then turn the heat off.
In another pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Cook at medium-low for three minutes, stirring continuously.
Add the flavoured milk to your roux one ladle at a time, stirring together until smooth. You should get a smooth paste after the first ladle or two; dilute this to the consistency of a thick sauce (you may reach this point before all the milk has been used). Add the heaped teaspoon of whole grain mustard to your sauce and mix well.
Add a tablespoon of oil to a pan on medium-low heat and add the leeks to sweat. Once wilted by about a third, add the glass of white wine and turn the heat to high until the wine has almost completely reduced. Drain and press the leeks.
Put the pan back on high heat and add more oil. Sear your mushrooms in batches, then drain the mushrooms and add them to your leeks, discarding their liquid.
Add your leeks and mushrooms to your mustard béchamel sauce and stir them together over a low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
For the pie lid, roll out your puff pastry to approximately the thickness of a pound coin and then lay it over the top of the filling, making sure that the pastry is big enough to hang over the side of your pie dish. Press in the sides to seal the lid onto the tray and then cut out a small hole in the centre to allow steam to escape from underneath the pastry.
Finish the pastry by brushing it with egg yolk all over and seasoning the top with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry has cooked through, and serve.
Rosemary and Thyme Gin Cocktail
Bring out the herbaceous notes of this rustic pie by pairing it with this beautiful gin cocktail. Zesty, aromatic and perfect with your pie!
Treacle Toffee Apples | Toffee Martini
450g dark brown sugar
125ml hot water
¼ tsp cream of tartar
115g black treacle
115g golden syrup
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and then oil the paper. Weigh out your treacle and golden syrup into an oiled bowl.
Add dark brown sugar and hot water to a large, heavy-bottomed pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t stir, or the sugar will recrystallise!
Pour the black treacle and the golden syrup into the pan and add the cream of tartar. Turn the heat up to high and, using a sugar thermometer, heat until it reaches 140C. As soon as the red line does hit that mark, turn the heat off.
If you’re making tray toffee, pour the toffee into your lined baking tray. If you’d like to make toffee apples, dunk skewered apples into the cooling toffee and plunk them on your wax paper to cool.
Leave the toffee or toffee apples to cool. To serve tray toffee, smash into shards with a hammer (yes, really!) and dish out to anyone with a sweet tooth!
Toffee Gin Martini
We could tell you to try and balance the sweetness of the toffee apples out with a savoury flavoured drink…but we wont. Embrace your sweet tooth and the toffee by shaking up a stunning toffee gin martini!