20 best recipes under £10 for four people: part 4 | Life and style

20 best recipes under £10 for four people: part 4 | Life and style

Feed four or more people for under a tenner with these brilliant cheap dishes, including Trine Hahnemann’s fishcakes, an Ottolenghi risotto and Nigel Slater’s chicken pot pie

Venetian-style liver and onions with grilled polenta.

Venetian-style liver and onions with grilled polenta.
Photograph: Romas Foord for the Observer

Jeremy Lee’s Venetian-style liver and onions with grilled polenta

Calf’s liver was a great luxury when I was very young. The livers of pigs and lambs seemed to have a most profound presence. The offal available in recent times seems brighter and fresher and of good quality, which makes liver a splendid choice for fine repast.

Grilled slices of cooked polenta are a pleasing accompaniment (as too, for that matter, is mash). This polenta needs to be made in advance and then set on a plate or a tray. It is then cut and grilled until beautifully crusted.

Should you wish to get ahead of time, happily, the onions also can be cooked very well in advance and left to one side.

Total cost: £9.82

Serves 6
lamb’s liver in excellent condition 1kg, or so
onions 2kg
unsalted butter 25g
olive oil 4 tbsp
salt and freshly ground pepper

sage 12 leaves

For the polenta
water 1.1 litres
polenta 250g
salt and freshly ground pepper

You’ll need to make the polenta in advance so it has time to set in the fridge. Pour the water into a large stainless steel pan. Bring this water to the boil and then add the polenta in a steady, slow stream, whisking all the while. Whisk thoroughly until no clods or lumps remain. Lower the heat of the polenta and continue cooking gently for 45-50 minutes, stirring regularly if not continuously, to ensure it does not misbehave.

To check doneness, taste with care. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour the cooked polenta onto a plate or tray and let set and cool. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set, and you are nearly ready to eat with the liver.

Clear the decks before beginning this next bloody business. If you haven’t bought the liver in slices, peel away the thin membrane that covers the liver. With a keen blade, cut the liver into three or four pieces. Cut these pieces into the thinnest slices, removing as many of the larger pipes and tubes revealed through slicing. Place the slices of liver on a dish and refrigerate.

Have a jolly good clean-up. Having restored your benches, so to speak, peel the onions and thinly, 2mm or so thick. In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter and add the onions. Lower the heat and cook the onions, lid atop, for 30 or 40 minutes until they are fully softened, cooked thoroughly and turned golden. Should any excess oniony goodness persist, up the heat and boil this away until only a mere drop remains.

Now is the time to return to your polenta. Cut into squares or triangles or rectangles as you wish and then place on a hot grill and let cook undisturbed until a show of colour at the edges alerts you to the polenta being done. Carefully lift up the polenta and flip onto its other side and cook until crusted also. Lift the pieces onto a dish and keep warm to serve with the liver.

Heat a wide frying pan. Pour the olive oil over the pieces of liver, season generously with salt and pepper. Tear the sage leaves and rub all this together evenly. Get a serving dish warm and ready.

Tip the liver into the pan. Shake slightly to ensure the bottom of the pan is covered. Spoon over the onions. Let the whole lot cook undisturbed for a minute, then stir with enthusiasm. Let it sit for 15 seconds, then stir again when all is cooked and there be some colour to the liver. Served pink is best, so tip the cooked panful onto the warmed dish waiting by your side and serve swiftly.
Jeremy Lee is executive chef at Quo Vadis in Soho, London

Trine Hahnemann’s fishcakes and vegetables

Fishcakes and vegetables.

Fishcakes and vegetables. Photograph: Romas Foord for the Observer

Fish cakes is a favourite everyday dinner at my house, I always make them with fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or dill – this recipe is with parsley. They are also really good the day after, cold with a salad or on rye bread.

Total cost: £9.69

Serves 4
big potatoes 4
beetroot 400g
olive oil 3 tbsp
lemon 1
cod, pollock or other white fish fillet 450g (frozen or fresh)
yellow onion 1
fresh curly parsley 1 small bunch
plain flour 50g
free-range eggs 2, lightly beaten
ground nutmeg ½ tsp
salt and freshly ground pepper
butter 1 tsp, for frying
kale 200g
sunflower or rapeseed oil 1 tbsp
garlic 2 cloves, finely chopped
coriander seeds 1 tsp, crushed

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Cut the potatoes into big chunks, peel the beetroot and cut into chunks, and place it all in an ovenproof dish. Mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and half the lemon cut into small wedges. (Save the other half lemon for later.) Mix well. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, opening the oven now and then to mix the vegetables around.

Finely chop the fish fillets, onions and parsley together with a very sharp knife, or use a food processor to mince them all together. Place the chopped fish mixture in a bowl. Gently fold in the beaten eggs and ground nutmeg, then add the flour, then a pinch of salt and pepper, and gently fold again to combine. Season with salt and pepper again, if you think necessary.

Melt the butter in a big frying pan and add the remaining olive oil. Form the fishcake mixture into tablespoon-sized balls. Place the fishcakes gently in the melted butter and oil over a medium heat, and fry them for about 7-8 minutes on each side. Alternatively, fry until golden brown and place in ovenproof dish and finish in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Rinse the kale and drain well. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and sauté the kale with the crushed coriander seeds and garlic for 4-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the fishcakes and roast vegetables.
Trine Hahnemann is a food writer, chef and owner of Hahnemannns Køkken, Copenhagen

Nigel Slater’s quick chicken pot pie

Quick chicken pot pie.

Quick chicken pot pie. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin

Sometimes, you just want pie.

Total cost: £8.40

Serves 4
white beer
all-butter puff pastry
chicken or vegetable stock

Peel and roughly chop 2 onions.Brown 400g diced chicken in a little oil, remove, then add the chopped onions and 100g quartered mushrooms, letting them brown. Add 3 tablespoons of flour and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, then add 330ml white beer, 300ml chicken or vegetable stock and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat, then add 4 tablespoons of chopped tarragon leaves, a grinding of salt and pepper, and simmer for about 10 minutes till thick. Tip into a baking dish and leave to cool for as long as you can.

Put a ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry sheet on a work surface and, using the dish as a template, cut out a disc to fit the top. Lay the pastry disc gently on top of the sauce, then cut three slits with the point of a knife. Decorate with the remaining pastry, cut into leaves or whatever you fancy. Bake at 180C/gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.
From Eat by Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate, £26). To order a copy for £21.32, visit guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99

Fergus Henderson’s beef mince on dripping toast

Beef mince on dripping toast.

Beef mince on dripping toast. Photograph: Romas Foord for the Observer

Firstly, save your dripping! Dripping toast is one of those treats for the day after, a lovely second wind from the previous day’s roast. Mince is a dish discussed as much in Scotland (and indeed in London) as cassoulet is in Castelnaudary. Questions such as should you add peas or carrots can start a gastronomic row of great proportions. I do like a spot of carrot in mine.

Total cost: £9.70

Serves 4
onion 1, peeled and thinly sliced
leek 1, cleaned, sliced lengthways in half, then thinly sliced across
carrot 1, peeled, sliced lengthways in half, then thinly sliced across
garlic 2 cloves, peeled and chopped
extra virgin olive oil a splash
minced beef 750g
whole tinned tomatoes 2
oatmeal a handful
Worcestershire sauce 3 tbsp
chicken stock 250ml

For the dripping toast
good white bread 4 slices
dripping to spread generously

In a large pan, sweat the onion, leek, carrot and garlic in the splash of olive oil until softened. Add the mince, giving it a healthy stir to break up. Add the tinned tomatoes, crushed in your hand – a subliminal gesture. Keep stirring and add the oatmeal, not so much that you end up with porridge.

Stir, add the Worcestershire sauce and – if you have a bottle open – a glug of red wine. As this may take it above the £10 mark, it is delicious but not essential. Pour in three-quarters of the chicken stock and stir again.

Take a view on the liquid content; if it seems a wee bit dry, add the rest of the stock. You are looking for a loose lava consistency. Check for seasoning.

Now allow the mince to simmer gently for 1 and a half hours, if not 2 (if it is drying out, add more stock). Time allows the mince to become itself, as is the case for most of us.

Toast the bread, spread the dripping onto each slice and put under the grill for a moment to make sure it melts completely. Spoon the mince over the toast.
Fergus Henderson is co-founder of St John in Clerkenwell, London

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s barley risotto with marinated feta

Barley risotto with marinated feta.

Barley risotto with marinated feta. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin

This vegetarian main course is a dish everybody loves, particularly children. Unlike the proper Italian risotto, ours does not require the exact precision and meticulous preparation, but still tastes sensational.

Total cost: £9.20

Serves 4
pearl barley 200g
unsalted butter 30g
olive oil 90ml
celery stalks 2 small, cut into 5mm dice
shallots 2 small, cut into 5mm dice
garlic cloves 4, cut into 2mm dice
thyme 4 sprigs
smoked paprika ½ tsp
bay leaf 1
strips of lemon rind 4 strips
chilli flakes ¼ tsp
tinned chopped tomatoes 400g
vegetable stock 700ml
passata 300ml
caraway seeds 1 tbsp
feta 300g, broken roughly into 2cm pieces
fresh oregano leaves 1 tbsp

Rinse the pearl barley well under cold water and leave to drain.

Melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a very large frying pan and cook the celery, shallot and garlic on a gentle heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon rind, chilli flakes, tomatoes, stock, passata and half a tablespoon of salt. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the risotto does not catch on the bottom of the pan. When ready, the barley should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.

Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. Then lightly crush them so that some whole seeds remain. Add them to the feta with the remaining olive oil and gently mix to combine.

Once the risotto is ready, check the seasoning and then divide it between four shallow bowls. Top with the marinated feta, including the oil, and a sprinkling of oregano leaves.
From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press, £27). To order a copy for £22.14, visit guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99

All recipes serve at least four for dinner

All ingredients, apart from those in the ‘store cupboard’, below, were included in the total cost along with serving suggestions. Costings are based on the full price of a product, not the proportionate cost, ie, if 150g of butter is listed, the cost will be for a full 250g packet of butter.

We checked the cost of each recipe against nationwide online retailers.

All recipes came in at under £10 at the time of checking, but prices are subject to change.

Where possible, free-range produce was used.

Store cupboard

We allowed for the following: salt; pepper; dried herbs and spices (mint, sage, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, chilli, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves); olive oil up to 50ml; butter up to 50g; garlic up to 2 cloves; stock cubes/powder/paste to make up to 1 litre of stock; plain white flour up to 50g; caster sugar up to 50g; light soy sauce up to 50ml; red wine vinegar up to 50ml