Dining Table Date Night – Ox Cheek Tagliatelle with Simon Wood

Dining Table Date Night – Ox Cheek Tagliatelle with Simon Wood

SIMON WOOD COOKS Ox Cheek Tagliatelle
| SIMON WOOD OF WOOD MANCHESTER AND WoodKraft Cheltenham. IMAGES © BROOD MAGAZINE

“POUR YOURSELF A GLASS OF SOMETHING YOU ENJOY, POP ON YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC TO UNWIND TO AND START TO COOK…”

Welcome back to Brood food, Last time around I spoke about food and families which are two topics in which everyone claims some expertise, and rightly so. Families are made up of people who eat food. Both families and food contribute to a person’s physical and social well-being throughout life and are the foundation of many memories, both good and sometime not.

Tonight I’m going to focus on a Date night dinner, a tasty, easy to prepare dinner that you and yours can enjoy at a time that suits you. I’m a firm believer in a bowl of wine and a glass of pasta and this dish is as simple as that. There’s some time and love put in to some delicious meaty Ox Cheeks which slowly sit and fall apart in a splendid tomato sauce. This produces a sensational Ragu fit for any table

Here is how it is done, first things first, pour yourself a glass of something you enjoy, pop on your favourite music to unwind to and start to cook. You will need a frying pan, two large saucepans a chopping board, grater and a sharp knife.

Ox Cheek Tagliatelle

Ingredients:

  • ½ Tube of Tomato Purée 
  • 8 balls of Dried Tagliatelle 
  • 2 Large Ox Cheeks
  • 4 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, Grated
  • 1 Large onion, diced 
  • 1 Teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 table spoon Aleppo Chilli
  • 2 bottles of passata
  • 8 really fresh large tomatoes 
  • A small bunch of basil 
  • Grated parmesan to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

 

Method 

  • Turn a medium size frying pan on to a high heat, coat your ox cheeks oil and season with salt and pepper, Place the Ox Cheeks in the frying pan, and cook until golden brown. Set them aside and let them rest, take care to retain any juices.
  • Next Peel, and then dice your onion, add it in to one of your large sauce pans, on a low heat, and stir frequently
  • Now peel two cloves of garlic and grate finely. Add to the saucepan and stir before adding in the tomato purée and cooking for 5 minutes or so. 
  • Chop your tomatoes, the riper they are the better the sauce, add them to the saucepan and cook before adding in the passata and the cheeks along with any juices
  • Add a little Salt, Pepper, oregano and the Aleppo Chilli and cook for 4/5 hours on a ow heat (You can use a slow cooker if you like)
  • Once the meat is softened use two forks or the back of a large spoon to flake it into the rich red sauce.
  • Now it’s time to cook the pasta, in another large saucepan bring some water to the boil and add the pasta, cook until al dente before removing and adding into the pasta ragu sauce, finish the cooking of the pasta in here to allow the pasta to absorb the flavour of the sauce
  • Serve in a bowl, top with a some fresh basil and some freshly grated Parmesan 

 

We mentioned earlier about the bowl of wine and glass of pasta and today I am going to go for this delight a lovely Red wine Gaja Sito Moresco*

 

As an Italian wine producer, there is possibly no one more iconic than Gaja.

Established back in 1859 by Giovanni Gaja, the Gaja family had moved from Spain to Italy towards the end of the 17th century.

 

They first started making wines to be sold from their family tavern, by the end of the 19th Century they were supplying their wines to the Italian army.

 

As their name grew, so to did their wines. Angelo Gaja took over the business in 1970 and today Gaja has 101 hectares of vineyards divided into 32 separate plots and produces around 30,000 cases of wine a year. Gaja produces world-class wines that sell for world-class prices.

 

Sito Moresco is a blend of Nebbiolo, barbera, merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. 12 months in oak creating a pale ruby hue with otes of red and black berries, sour cherries a Smokey finish with a hint of green pepper spice.

 

All that said to simply put it. It is delicious and works incredibly with this dish.

 

If you like the idea of having 55 wines by the glass to choose from then why not call in to WOOD Manchester to try them, or you can even pair them with Cheese and enjoy 5 glasses of wine and 5 cheeses in Homage at WOOD Manchester. Drink only is available from 8pm Wednesday to Saturday and pared with Cheese Wednesday to Saturday evenings or lunches Friday and Saturday.

 

As always, thanks for reading and if you have any recipe suggestions or questions please do send them to me at @SimonJWoodUK or simon@woodmanchester.com

 

 

 

Thanks, Simon

 

Simon is Chef Patron or WOOD Manchester on First Street Manchester and WOODKRAFT ‘The Artisan Eatery’ on Regent Street in Cheltenham.

 

Ox Cheek Tagliatelle
Ox Cheek Tagliatelle | SIMON WOOD © FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
WoodKraft Cheltenham
Ox Cheek Tagliatelle | SIMON WOOD © FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
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SIMON WOOD’S FAMILY BBQ: VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS

SIMON WOOD’S FAMILY BBQ: VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS

VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS
BY SIMON WOOD OF WOOD MANCHESTER AND WoodKraft Cheltenham. IMAGES © BROOD MAGAZINE

It is important, so very important that we eat, cook and relax as a family. Despite life trying its best to get in the way. Once a week we should all make the time.

 

This is my first column for Brood so I thought I’d lay out my food and family ethos as well as showing you some amazing hands on child friendly Summer BBQ recipes and a little something for the grown-ups to enjoy.

Food and families are two topics in which everyone claims some expertise, and rightly so. Families are made up of people who eat food. Both families and food contribute to a person’s physical and social well-being throughout life and are the foundation of many memories, both good and maybe not.

Dictionary definitions of food include terms such as wholesome, supporting growth, or providing energy. People recognize that food is necessary for the physical survival of their families. Although sometimes the purpose of food intake is only to satisfy hunger, the role of food in families goes much further than meeting physical needs.

We can all recall many memories, special occasions, sad times and celebrations and in every one of them, Food, will at some point be what joins us together. The flavours, smells and sounds of a meal all evoke a sixth sense in us that immediately transport us to that event or period in time.

It is important, so very important that we eat, cook and relax as a family. Despite life trying its best to get in the way. Once a week we should all make the time.

VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS

Today I’m going to focus on the Summer, the smell of a barbeque and dinner in the garden. And a recipe you can get the kids involved making.

 

When I’m cooking in the restaurant or developing a new dish I have one brief. “Classic flavours served with playful authenticity” and this recipe does just that. It reminds me of my first Chinese, even though I’m using local Manchester products, Hangar Steak from my Butcher, Gav at Albion Farm. Vimto, there aren’t many Children (or Adults) that don’t enjoy the soft drink first sold in Lancashire. It was first manufactured as a health tonic in cordial form, then decades later as a carbonated drink. It contains the juice of grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants and that itself generates many childhood recollections.

 

I use it as the sweetness in my Beef and Green Pepper Glaze, reminiscent of sweet and sour or beef in black bean sauce from family take-away treat nights.

 

Using measures of two parts Vimto, one water and half red wine vinegar it’s a great yet simple marinade. In a saucepan add a little oil gently soften some sliced shallots before adding in your liquid marinade and reducing until sticky

 

  • 2 Shallots (Sliced)
  • 20ml Sunflower Oil
  • 300ml Vimto
  • 150ml Water
  • 75ml Red Wine Vinegar

 

  • Place a pan on a medium heat and add the oil, followed by the shallots. Soften the shallot gently and then add in the marinade. Reduce by just over half. Later in the recipe you’ll use a bunch of rosemary to glaze the almost cooked kebabs to give them a sticky sweet and sour glaze.

 

In this recipe I’m using Hangar steak for my kebabs, you can use any steak for this recipe, it will work with Chicken or even Tofu. However I think beef is best and for that you need to get on good terms with your local butcher. I use Butcher Gav (@butcher_gav) from Albion Farm Shop Butchers in Saddleworth. He is an avid Grill master as well as being one of the best butchers in the business, the produce is amazing and it fits this recipe a treat, plus I’m supporting a local business which in the current climate is absolutely vital.

 

Simon Wood
BBQ IMAGES © FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

For this recipe I’m going to cook for the family, that’s me and the kids (and Grandchild) so in total around 8 People. Here is what you’ll need.

 

  • 5 kilos of Beef
  • 8 Large Green Peppers
  • 8 Large Spring Onions (The giant ones)
  • 6 big sprigs of rosemary (to brush)
  • Maldon Sea Salt
  • 8 Metal 14” Kebab Skewers
  • 200ml Sunflower oil
  • 5 Sprigs of rosemary tied with string

 

Method

 

  • First Dice your beef into equal sized pieces, around 1.5 inches square is best
  • De-seed and chop your peppers into the same size
  • Then, Half your onions
  • Next starting with the onion, then pepper, followed the beef layer up your kebab skewers with a piece of pepper between every chunk of steak.
  • Drizzle in oil and then Season with a good amount of Maldon Salt before grilling at 200ºc turning until thoroughly cooked, around 15 minutes
  • For the last 5 minutes use the sticky glaze and rosemary brush to coat the meat in the delicious marinade. Don’t do this to soon or the sugar will burn before the meat is cooked.

 

Once cooked, charred and sticky make sure you leave the kebabs to rest thoroughly at least 10-12 minutes, this is so important and, gives everyone time to take in the smell and anticipation of dinner to be served. I would serve this with a simple green salad and a warm and toasty barbequed flatbread.

 

Now, while you’re waiting for the meat to rest the grown-ups can enjoy this particularly Summery drink using one of my favourite flavours, Lemon.

 

A Limoncello Spritz

 

25ml Luxardo Limoncello

25ml Forty-Five Dry Vermouth

Fill with ice and then Top with Sparkling Wine of Choice.

 

My choice is Exton Park RB45 this is the drink of choice for my restaurants Chefs Table arrival and shows an abundance of tropical and citrus fruit, with subtle notes of vanilla and orange blossom, it works amazingly well with this cocktail

 Once Poured simply Garnish with a Lemon twist or some Verbena before relaxing and enjoying making invaluable food related memories with the people that matter the most.

 

I do hope you have enjoyed my first Column for Brood, Thanks for reading and if you have any recipe suggestions or questions please do send them to me at @SimonJWoodUK or simon@woodmanchester.com

 

Thanks, Simon

 

 

Simon is Chef Patron or WOOD Manchester on First Street Manchester and WOODKRAFT ‘The Artisan Eatery’ on Regent Street in Cheltenham.

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Culinary genius Simon Wood’s Inspiring Journey and his goal for a Michelin star

Culinary genius Simon Wood’s Inspiring Journey and his goal for a Michelin star

SIMON WOOD OF WOOD MANCHESTER AND WoodKraft Cheltenham. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
“I want to have a Michelin star restaurant and I’ll do it! It might take me ten years, but I will do it!”

Culinary genius, Simon Wood, rose to fame as the winner of MasterChef in 2015. In 2016 his debut cookbook – At Home with Simon Wood was published and in 2018 he realised his dreams when he opened his first restaurant – Wood Restaurant in Manchester. He then opened his second restaurant in the December of 2018 – WoodKraft in Cheltenham. But the road to success was not without hard work, sacrifice, and enduring lots of challenges. Simon became a father at a young age and at the time he was working at McDonalds. By the time he was 22, he and his partner had three young children, life was far from easy and career success was seemingly a world away. So when we had the pleasure of sitting down with Simon at his sophisticated Manchester restaurant, we were bowled over by the father of four’s inspiring and incredible journey, and we are sure it will inspire all of you too!

Simon Wood
SIMON WOOD. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
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As soon as we sat down, Simon was so welcoming and jumped straight into a conversation about how dramatically his life had changed since he first became a father…

Simon – “By the time I was 22 I had three children under 5 years old, so I know what it’s like earning £140 a week and making it stretch. ‘Can I get a beer on a Friday night, or do we need nappies?’ Of course, you always have to choose the nappies. That’s the way it was. Then I ended up being a data scientist and made a successful career out of that. Then MasterChef happened and here we are – I’ve got no money again!” He laughs “I’m a grandad now as well, my middle lad has had his first child, so my granddaughter is one and a half. I’m still not sure I’m ready to be called a grandad yet either!” he laughs.

So, has cooking always been a passion of yours?

“Yes, I’ve always done it. I’ve just always loved cooking. I used to find ways to make ends meet, whilst raising three children. I would regularly cook for friends and family, and host dinner parties. And I would do buffets, weddings, christenings – any private events really, just to earn a bit of extra money on the side at weekends.”

And you mentioned earlier that you first became a data scientist. How did that come about?

“I’d spent a lot of time learning about data, initial basic programming, so I became a data scientist and no one ever wakes up and says ‘I think I’m going to become a data scientist.’ People don’t do that. But looking back, it was great learning curve, and it still helps me now – with percentages, GP calculations, wage calculations, negotiations etc – so there’s lots of aspects from it that I still use today. Back then I also managed quite a big team so again, that helped me gain experience as I obviously manage a large team now too. I also met some great contacts doing that, for example, through one of my contacts as a data scientist I ended up cooking for Billy Ocean and Pink Floyd – which was mental.”

We imagine this industry doesn’t lend itself to family life does it, how did you find that adjustment as a father?     

“I was all set to be chef from an early age and I didn’t do it, because life took me in a different direction and it was family life that changed that – of course in a nice way, I have no regrets. I wouldn’t be where I am now without doing it the way I did. I’d probably be sick of it, pulling my hair out, trying to earn a living somewhere else with two or three failed restaurants behind me. That’s the reality of it, that’s what can happen if you’re not focused. But as it stands, I’ve got a good platform, a good springboard, and a good support network around me (within the Manchester industry in particular.)

People that have supported me and have told people about us, now other people want to come down here, its great! As well as the good food, it’s about being hospitable, it’s called hospitality for a reason, it’s about earning a living but enjoying what you do as well.”

Simon Wood
SIMON WOOD. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

Covid notoriously hit this the hospitality industry really hard, how much did this affect you, both as a business and as a family?

“Going back to the family thing, every one of my family has worked in this restaurant. Because being honest, I’ve needed them to. Everyone seemed to quit after covid. Despite the staff being kept on furlough for 18 months or so, everyone came back but did six services then left! We lost around eight staff in total. This was hard. They were people we’d been loyal to. Really loyal, even when we’d struggled to find money for their wages, I couldn’t see them struggle, so had to take it out of our my own pocket before the government paid it back in 6 weeks.

Plus, they’d all accrued holidays while they were all off, so when we re-opened, six services in and our head chef just quit, our sommelier, followed by our assistant manager. The Chef de partie was being offered head chef roles elsewhere, even though the restaurant offering them wasn’t ready, the industry was on its knees, and it was brutal. That was probably the most challenging time. I had my sons on the pots, I had my daughter and her mum polishing cutlery and glasses in the back. I was taking peas home to pod on my day off because I didn’t have enough time to do it there, all kinds of stuff had gone on, but that was a challenging time and I’m lucky I have a great family. They’ve all been really supportive of me. They’ve been through the whole journey, of course, since MasterChef especially, it’s been beneficial for me, there’s no escaping that but it has been for them too, because it’s given us [all] a fantastic quality of life, maybe not fantastic, but it’s certainly a better, more diverse, and interesting one! The people that you see, the people that you meet and that you cook for. Even doing things like this. That’s what makes hospitality worthwhile, it’s a network of enjoyment, I guess. It’s hard, you know. We might do 80 hours in four days, and then I wake up on a Sunday morning to go get Charlotte, my daughter, because it’s her day with me and I can’t get up – literally; so I have to sit for a minute and finally start to wander round like a 90-year-old, then finally by 4 o’clock when you’ve had a glass of wine, you can move around again a bit quicker.”

How do think it has impacted and inspired your children overall?

“Growing up, the lads have had other jobs over the years, that weren’t in the restaurant sector, but when they’ve come in to help out here, done a day on the pots, then suddenly whatever job they’d been doing before, doesn’t seem so bad. They’d do 7 and half hours with an hour’s lunch break at their work place, whereas here, when you’re 7 and a half hours in, it means it’s only half past three, and we haven’t even started service yet! When you’re in at 8am and you don’t leave until 1am – that’s working hard! So, it’s been good for them to see how hard it is, its definitely been grounding for them. They’ve learnt a lot from that, but so have I. You know I came from an office background originally, I used to go in the office early around 6.30am to miss the traffic and get an early start, but I’d always leave early and be home by 6pm. So, it’s not that long of a day looking back – for an office day, it’s probably quite long for an office job now I guess, but in this [restaurant] world it’s not at all.”

You’ve obviously always had a strong work ethic, do you think that has come from you having such a lot of responsibility from being a father at such a young age, or has that come from somewhere else?

“I got that from my parents, you know, I was always told, if you want money, you go out and get a paper round. Whereas I probably made the mistake of saying to mine not to – I felt like it was a bit risky them being out that late, for not a lot of money – I wasn’t sure it was worth it. So I didn’t push them in that direction. Well, at least with my first lad I didn’t, whereas my second lad he wanted to, so he did it regardless. And my third lad works the same hours as me in a Michelin star restaurant – as he’s a chef now too. So, it’s funny how your dynamic changes throughout. But in the end, they have all worked really hard, following their own passions and they really enjoy it. And that’s the key isn’t it, it’s making sure you’re doing something that you enjoy. We all know that if you’re enjoying it, it’s not really work. It might be stressful, it might be difficult, but it’s still enjoyable. If even on your worst day you can think – it’s alright – well, once you’ve thrown a few things that is. He laughs.

The margins are tight, there’s all kinds of things that you have to do but if you love what you do it’s worth it. We’ve even slept in the restaurant to save hotel bills; we’ve done home deliveries to save on fuel – you name it, we’ve done it. It’s definitely not as glamorous as it might seem on the outside sometimes.”

I think that’s something that we feel very passionate about with BROOD, is getting across the reality of what goes on behind the scenes in order to get to that success or achieve your dreams, whilst juggling your kids, as it’s very rare that it happens overnight or without sacrifice.

“Oh yeah, for around 6 years, I worked in a warehouse in the morning at half past six until quarter past three and I would pick the kids up from school, then my missus would go out and work in the same warehouse and do the half past three while 10 o’clock shift – and that’s how we did it back then, because we had to. It was hard. And some weeks you would throw in a bit of overtime on a Saturday to make ends meet, the lads would have football on a Sunday and then your week would start again! Then I started to dabble in IT in the late 90’s, taught myself basic programming and different other bits, and just progressed from there and ended up being quite successful in a more corporate industry, because I needed to do something more than what I had been doing. I couldn’t even afford a computer to practise on, but I was determined to change course no matter what. Once I got into that industry, and I had the tools to progress, I did it quite quickly. In a year I was managing the team, in two years I was managing the department and then I moved into the university side of things – looking at statistics there.”

So, at that point you had obviously carved out a new career for yourself that you were doing really well in, what made you decide to do MasterChef?  

“Well, I’d gone to work one morning, and my boss had really got up my nose! So, I clicked off my emails, got myself a coffee and started to look on Facebook and a little advert popped up at the side and it said, ‘Are you the next champion?’ [of MasterChef] so I just clicked it and that was that. I got on and won it! I had always been that guy at home questioning ‘Why are they cooking that!’. Everyone had always said to me, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ But in reality, I applied in temper. Everything I wrote in that application was very honest, but it probably had a little edge to it!” [We all laugh.]

“After getting through the application process, you do three telephone interviews, then you go to a hotel, take a dish with you – I was shaking, frightened to death at that point. And after that, once you’ve got through all that, you get into the kitchen and that’s it – the rest is history.”

At what point did you think, I could win this?

“I was never over confident to start with, I have to be honest, but there are points that I do remember where, at the end of each show you would walk around and look at what everyone else had done and you get to taste the food, I started to think, ‘Mine’s better than that, it’s better than that, it’s better than that one’ and it was at that point that I’d think, ‘I’m alright here’ and then I’d get through to the next round. Looking back, there was a couple of pivotal moments, like we’d had a shocking round as a team, I didn’t think it was managed properly and I lost my temper. So then I ended up running the team for the episode with the red arrows, and I was like a top gun geek and I was on the runway with red arrows and they’re flying around and I’m running the kitchen and I was just like, ‘this is me, I’m done now, I’m happy’ and I think it was there where a little switch clicked and it made me a little bit into what I am today, tenacious, direct, driven and passionate. I knew 100% from that point that was what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.”

You have achieved so much already, what other goals do you have and what do you want for the future of your business?

“Well, we’re pushing towards a Michelin star, so my aim is to get a Michelin star, I want to have a Michelin star restaurant and I’ll do it! It might take me ten years, but I will do it! One way or other, because that’s my goal. I’m going keep trying and we’ve got a great team here. It’s really enjoyable despite it’s ups and downs, the kids are a little older now, my youngest Charlotte is taking her exams soon.”

Do you ever switch off? And if so, do you find it easy to switch off?  

“You’ve got to try and find a way to run a business by keeping your stress levels down so that your home life isn’t affected. Like on my Sunday, that’s my day with my family, so if I’m having an off day  I’m stressed, you know, that’s not how I want that day to be but it’s ruthless at times so it can be hard to switch off.

Especially when you’re tired, your body’s broken and you’ve not broke even that week, they’re the weeks you’ve got to try harder than ever to find that balance. But most Sundays, I manage it, and we’ll either watch the football or eat out so I’m not cooking, and when the boys have gone home me, and Charlotte will watch a box set or something together. We’re closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, which highlights how hard the other days are. Although we’re meant to be off on a Tuesday and a lot of us (the chefs) still come in, because we all know what needs to be done. You can’t really switch food off though, because it’s not up here (points to his head) it’s in here (points to his heart).”

And finally, what tips would you give to anyone else starting out into the world of business or looking to achieve their career goals? How does someone find the type of drive and determination that you’ve got?

“I think circumstance can dictate the amount drive that you have, like my dad died when I was 11. I had a paper round then, then I went working at the working mans club, then onto McDonalds at 15. So, I’ve always worked. I think family or personal circumstances change your work ethic. I think I would advise any young people wanted to find that work ethic to come into hospitality because it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s frantic, it’s ferocious – it’s always entertaining and it’s always hard. I think it’s something people can learn from very quickly. Hospitality is just a great steppingstone no matter what you want to do. If you can cook or pour a pint, you’ll never be out of work any where in the world – simple as that!”

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