Sunday, 26 June 2011

Jugged Hare

Jugged Hare can be cooked and then stored in kilner jars and reheated when required during those chilly nights of autumn and winter.


1 x Hare

8 x Small Shallots

150g x Lardons

2 x Carrots

2 x Celery Stalks

1 x Bouquet Garni

1 x Large Knob of Butter

1 x Tablespoon Plain Flour

1 x Cup of Port

1 x Zest of Lemon

Salt & Pepper

Cut your hare into manageable pieces and coat in seasoned flour, brown and place in a large casserole dish. Cover the meat with water add the lardons, shallots, diced carrots, diced celery, lemon zest and the bouquet garni and cook for 2 – 3 hrs at 160c or until the meat is tender enough to fall from the bone. Now melt the butter in a skillet and add the flour, pour in the port and thicken and adding some of the cooking juice along with more salt & pepper to season. Fill your kilner jars and top up with more of the cooking juices if necessary. Serve with potatoes or bread and red cabbage.

When I was a gamekeeper many years ago, we used to harvest the hares when they numbers became too great in one area and where they were being a pest to the local farmers, it was on these occasions that I looked forward to this dish. Now I would prefer to watch them through my binoculars or better still photograph them boxing prior to mating. If you are lucky enough to have hare to eat then this dish is certainly worth trying, I recall having it served to me on shoot days when they were plenty.

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Carpaccio of Venison

Raw (cured) venison is the pinnacle of all Carpaccio, served thinly sliced and laid on a platter to tease the taste buds of the unsuspecting guest before they move onto a main course.

First choose your cut of meat, loins and tenderloins work best, now dry cure your cut of meat and place in a vacuum bag and seal, if you do not have a vacuum packer then just use a ziplock type bag.

Dry Cure Mix
60% x Salt
32% x Brown Sugar
08% x Saltpetre

Add some herbs of your choice like crushed juniper berries, thyme, bay leaves and marjoram.

Use at 50g per kilo of meat.

We shall assume we are using a piece of loin appx 4 inches long. Cure between 1-5 days (depending on your taste) in the fridge turning daily, at the end of the curing time, take out from the bag and pat dry with some paper towel and start to use. For a more mature taste place in a cool place to air dry for appx 7-10 days. Leaving it to air dry for longer periods will result in a Bresaola.

Now slice thinly and serve with a Caper vinaigrette or with a simple dressing of olive oil.

Enjoy !

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Fat is Back

Yes guys, fat is really back and not before time if you ask me. It has been away for far too long! People were begining to think that goose fat was just for Christmas in order to get your roast potatos gold and crispy.

Where has it been? Well I can tell you for some years now we have learnt that travelling abroad for our holidays was also a voyage of culinary discoveries. We had discovered olive oil, yes olive oil has to be the largest reason as to why fat fell from our table. I'm not saying we should stop using olive oil for it too has a place in our larder. This era of discovery also timed with reports of alledged health implications if we continued to eat fat in the way we did, we now know that to be so different.

I'm not going to banter on about the health issues over whether we should eat fatty foods or not, that's for you personally to decide. I know I like it and I wouldn't be without it, after all I couldn't do my job without it. In my work I use it in many forms, here I've used Caul Fat to make Crepinettes, but it also can be used to wrap and hold together faggots, terrines of meat loaves like Haslet.

Even our butter has been at risk as all those alledged healthy options of margarine and spreadable oils came into our lives. This also had an effect on our baking industry as more and more artisan bakers closed due to the competition of supermarkets with their mainly bland confectionary. I'm not saying you ought to make your own butter as I often do, but please think about the British dairy farmer as you choose your fat source for your baking. He needs you!

Flare fat / Leaf fat whatever you call it in your region is the finest lard you can obtain.

Pull away from the pig's stomach the set flare fat and roll it up into a tube shape.

Then cut across the length before placing the segments into a slow cooker to render down into pure lard. The old terminoligy for the cooked remnants is Skretchings not to be confused with scratchings.

Centuries ago before sweets were invented the skretchings were given to the children as treats, now they are are used as dog treats.

Cod Fat is the fat you see tied over the boned & rolled beef joints in your butchers window. This fat helps baste the meat during cooking and by adding flavour and moisture to your lean meat.

Here the fat is being sliced from the cod piece and before it it is battered flat with the fat basher. For those of you who don't know, cod fat is taken from the scrotum / crotch area of beef cattle, and hence probally why cod piece was so named.

We need fat for many reasons, I'll name a few here to get you started and then you think of a few: Candles, Soap, Christmas Pudding, Waxing Ski's, Waterproofing Clothes, cooking Yorkshire Pudding, Suet Pastry, Larding & Barding, Confit and the best Fish & Chips are fried in dripping !

One last thing about fat I'd like to ask of you, if you are not the kind of person who likes to eat fat, then can I ask that you still buy fatty meats, cook with it and only when it reaches your plate cut off and leave what you wish not to eat? Buying fatty meat usually means that the animal has had a longer and sometimes better life in order to reach a level where it has a good covering of fat. You see, you can make a difference!

Bon appetite!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Apocalypse Now

No, we won't be reviewing a Vietnam war film from the 70's, this Apocolypse Now is the name of the seasoning for the alledged Hottest sausage in the World.

Franco of sent me this seasoning to try and to give him some feedback.

Sadly the seasonings name is also the name of a very hot currywurst in Germany as I found with some research on the internet, this will cause some confusion for sure.

Anyway back to the seasoning, when it arrived I read the instructions supplied, they advised it should not be used by people with health problems, nor should it be used by minors or the infirm. Those that do use it are advised to use (PPE) Personal Protection Equipment, this was to include goggles, face mask and gloves.

As I have a health problem myself, I decided to wait until my next Masterclass in speciality sausage making at , here I would ask for a volunteer to take on the task of making this alledged hottest sausage in the world. Our volunteer is Tom, well done Tom for picking up the gauntlet!

Tom followed the instructions and advice supplied by Franco to the letter, I have to say here this is the first time in my charcuterie career that I have ever seen anyone dressed in this particular attire for sausage making.

While Tom was putting this sausage mix together, I was asking myself who on earth would want a sausage so hot that such precautions were required to put it together, and what would the eating be like, who could possibly enjoy such an inferno of the like and reputation that this sausage has.

I'm also asking myself as the tutor for this masterclass, can I get away without sampling the finished product, I'm quickly beginning to realise that is not an option, oh dear all of a sudden I'm feeling all queer!

Zoom in to the above picture to read the info on the packet.

The ingredients of this seasoning include: salt, sugar, chili powder and the formidable Naga Jolakia chili powder.

I can tell you here that the sausage were made and sampled including myself reluctantly trying them, it was at this point we were all suffering from the effects including leaving the butchery to seek out some milk to dampen the pain, yes pain, it was monsterous. Beads of sweat appeared instantly on my forehead, my tongue felt swollen and like it had been dragged along the floor of a budgie cage where it was rasping like sandpaper on rough cut wood. I could no longer focus my attention on taking photographs, so this blog will finish without any further pictures I'm afraid.

Philip Wray who was also in class suggested it had no place in the market other than perhaps to be used as a (Dare) on a pub menu, I have to confess I agree with Philip. This sausage probally is the Hottest Sausage in the World as Franco explains, but who wants such a thing? I have a huge sense of humour as most of you know, however I can't see myself ever making this again.

I know Franco has been secretly laughing at the thought of me and the students taking on this task, which leads me to say loudly "Franco, I'll get my own back, you wait and see!"

We did have a bloody good laugh though.

P.S. Digressing I know but did I mention I no longer have a problem with my neighbours cat toileting in my garden ?