Tried&Tested: Jamie Oliver’s Winters Night Chilli


I’m not the biggest Jamie Oliver fan….. I don’t like his ‘Italian’ Restaurants much, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fifteen in Cornwall either and he sometimes annoys me on TV, but that being said I do own quite a few of his cookbooks and think he does great family food, and do really enjoy his 30 and 15 minute meal books. I recently caught an episode of his Friday Night Feast programme, the one where he was making Chilli – and I thought the recipe looked fab, and planned to cook it off the back of watching this. I then found a copy of his new Comfort Food book for £10 in TKMax (gotta love this shop right?!) and the recipe was in there too. Fate, obviously! So here goes my attempt at the recipe – which you can find online here It calls for pork belly and brisket instead of mince, and the recipe is set out for 12 people in the  book. We halved the quantities, using 500g of each meat, both of which are really good value for money at the moment – much more economical than the ‘better’ cuts of meat. The chilli fed us both for 2 evening meals and 2 lunches each (8 portions!)


Browning the pork belly

Its a pretty easy thing to cook, but does require a fair amount of prep. We cooked ours in the slow cooker rather than the oven, which suited us perfectly. The smell when we came home from the football on the Sunday afternoon was amazing!


Soaking the mushrooms


The base of the Chilli

The only comment I would have on the dish as a whole, was that for a ‘Chilli’, I didn’t find it spicy enough. I think if I make it again I will put in more red chillies, or add in some chilli flakes in the rub mix at the beginning.


When the lid came off…

A word on the apple salsa that accompanied it – this was outstanding. Really simple, but the apple and cider vinegar set of the pork element of the chilli really well and added a zing that the thing really does need to cut through all the richness.


Apple Salsa


Lots and lots of Coriander!

Happy eating :)



the bond

Celebrating Spring with Seasonal Markets

Just a quick post today.

Yesterday we popped along to the Spring Seasonal market at The Bond Co in Digbeth.   They run a market, yep you guessed it, once a season with a great range of Street Food, Artisan Producers and Craft Stalls.

the bond

The sun was blazing and it seemed like the whole of Birmingham descended on the market. Luckily we got in early so we enjoyed a browse and grabbed some food without too much of a queue at all. By the time we left the place was heaving and you could hardly move, let alone decipher which long queue was which!

seasonal markets   IMG_6744


We picked up some Wild Garlic Foccacia from Peel & Stone, as well a few nice cheeses – Tomme de Savoie, Munster and Morbier from the Cheese Man. A producer we had not come across before, Tiny Seeds, led us to discover their spiced peaches, pears and blueberries which are going to be perfect and a little different for when we eat all the above cheese! And of course we couldn’t leave without a box of goodies from Bake.





Obviously we had to have a little bit of street food whilst there. We opted for some Tacos from Smoqued – a vendor we’d not tried before and they were very tasty, although at 2 tacos for £6 we felt they were a little on the expensive side. We also raided the Hungry Toad for some Chicken Wings and Some of their Ribs. licks fingers. A couple of hours well spent!





The next market is on the 11th July – put it in your diary!


Review: Rico Libre


I’ve heard a lot of rave things about Rico Libre, inconspicuous in a small side street down in Digbeth, since they opened. So would their ‘tapas with a  twist’ live up to the hype?

We left it late to book, but on a Friday afternoon they were able to squeeze us in to their early sitting that evening which was great. It was already busy when we arrived at 605pm and we were led to a table in the back room. It was a small intimate space complete with only 2 tables, small sofa and piano, and not quite the vibe coming from the front room but this was ok for me.


Rico Libre is BYO, but you can order soft drinks there, which was fine for us that night as we were driving. The menu is split into a couple of sections, the main tapas section which is 3 dishes for £12, specials at £5 each and some smaller things like breads and olives. Between the two of us we chose some bread and olives, 3 of the standard tapas dishes and 4 of the specials, including one which wasn’t on the menu (the chef does ‘special specials’ according to what produce he has and what he feels like – which is fab). So what did we eat?

  • Albondigas Jardinera – Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce
  • Calamares – Deep Fried Squid Rings
  • Patatas Brava’s – Fried Potatoes with rustic tomato
  • Quail – whole quail in a green mojo sauce
  • Conejo Al Salmorejo – Rabbit in a white wine , thyme and garlic sauce
  • Scallops – served with a mango coriander salsa
  • Duck – with goats cheese, chestnuts and figs


I really liked the sound of a lot of the dishes, and it certainly fit its tapas with a twist description, a nice mix of classical and more unusual dishes.

The Calamari was well cooked with a nice light batter and tasty garlic dip, another hit was the scallops which were plump and perfectly cooked with the mango and coriander which for me is a match made in heaven.


Slightly less successful was the quail and the rabbit; loved the green mojo sauce and sweet pomegranate seeds with the quail, but we found both meats a bit overcooked and them both a bit bland, they just didn’t hit the spot like we felt they should. The meatballs were juicy and soft and the sauce had a nice hit of spice and depth of flavour but they were a little on the ‘cool’ side, and the patatas bravas were a decent version of something that can be either glorious or ghastly.





Lastly the chefs special of the duck – and the winning dish of the night for the both of us. Pink duck, creamy goats cheese, soft chestnuts, sweet figs and a scattering of bitter herbs was a magical combination really imaginative and got the tastebuds working in overdrive. Big thumbs up!


Our service throughout was nothing but friendly and accommodating and the food was served in a timely fashion too. We were less keen on the gaggle of people that were sent into the back room to wait while a table ‘misunderstanding’ was figured out, the room was small and I didn’t really like finishing off my meal with the bum of another person practically sitting on the edge of our table. But maybe thats me being picky. And not really the fault of Rico Libre themselves, I understand!

In summary, a lovely meal over all with some big hits but also some misses in terms of the food, but a great vibe and great staff. I enjoyed it, but I’ve had better tapas in the Midlands.



Disclosure: We paid in full for our meal and the staff did not know we may write about the experience.