Monday, 30 January 2012

Pot-Roast Partridge

I have to acknowledge having, these last few days, fed friends on the likes of Steak Tartare and Chips, dishes that are utterly inconsistent with the rustic glow I aim to emanate here.  Admittedly the Tartare was made of the finest of Norfolk cows, adorned with the yellow Yolks of my mother’s hens’ eggs, Nasturtium Capers and Lacto-Fermented Cucumber, the Chips cooked over gas by starlight in the garden.

The Tartare… preceded by raw Jerusalem Artichoke and Fennel salad, preceding Pear Cake made with the beautiful sweet Josephine pears that are best stored till now, and eaten peeled, running with sweet juices… The Tartare therefore, photogenic though it was, was not photographed.

A Pot-Roast Partridge

More in line with the wholesome theme of this blog however were last week’s Pot-Roast Partridges.  Envisage the artful cooking of the meat as in a roast, the vegetables meanwhile cooking slow in the bird’s juices, all in one pot, for a couple of hours, till the meat is falling, melting in the vegetables, the vegetables are tender but not falling apart… This is the simplest and quite my favourite way of cooking game.  (That is besides enrobing it in Cabbage as in this Rabbit and this Partridge.)

A brace of Partridge, kindly given.  Hung four days.  Plucked, Gutted.  Necks and hearts reserved for stock.  Partridge sealed in butter, stuffed with Butter, Onion, Carrots, Bay Leaves.  Swede, Celariac, Potatoes, Carrots chopped into chunks.  The Partridge lain on these in a big pot.  The mere addition of a knob of Butter, Salt, Black Pepper, an inch of water, some Herbs.   This is brought to the boil on the hob them put into the oven, with a lid on, to cook at about 150-180C for two hours.  The birds tender, the vegetables slow-cooked and rife with flavour…  Eat with the juices, a teaspoonful of jelly, and that’s all.


Save the carcass for stock.  Add to this vegetable peelings, the reserved necks and hearts of the birds.   Simmer covered in water overnight and use the liquid for the base of winter soups.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A Winter's Quiche - Roasted Pumpkin and Onion Tart with Cumin Pastry

On a winter’s night: a Quiche.

Whether to call these creations that are not Quiche Lorraine, Quiches, or as perhaps the French would:  Tartes. Or indeed, as Elizabeth David denominates:  Galettes, Fiouses, Tourtes, Flons, Flans to describe "a flat open tart".  Whether one term demands Lardons, another Gruyère, one Pâte Feuilletée another Pâte Brisée, I’m unsure.  Mrs David seems to suggest that the variations are likely regional. (French Provincial Cooking, Elizabeth David).  

Either way, this one is something of a Roasted Pumpkin and Onion Tart, with Cumin Pastry.

Pastry:  Wholemeal Wheat and Spelt, 2 tsp ground Cumin, 2tsp whole Cumin, 50g Butter, 1 Egg, a splash of cold water.  Left for twenty minutes in the cool, then rolled out.

Meanwhile roasting in the oven;  Pumpkin chunks, added to these, an Onion, cut large, a sprinkling of Paprika.  When just roast, these are laid in the pastry with some cloves of garlic, and Oven-Dried Norfolk Tomatoes, stored in Olive Oil, ‘til the depths of winter.  Need I say ‘tis a joy to have these sweet salty tomatoes at this time of year.

The Egg Mix, on this occasion, was made of: six Eggs, 1 tbsp Yogurt, 100ml Milk, Salt, Pepper.  Poured over the veg until near reaching the rim of the pastry.  The pastry was folded over the top (Is it then a Pie?)

Then cooked in the oven at about 180C for 40 mins until browning and rising.  Eaten with a Winter Slaw and steamed Purple Sprouting Brocolli doused in Lemon Juice.

Winter SlawRed Cabbage, Endive, Lacto-Fermented Cucumber, Lacto-Fermented Radish, Pickled Beetroot.  Vinaigrette:  Apple Juice, Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, grated Ginger, Garlic

I ate this one winter’s eve when a sudden bout of eggs were sent my way.  It’s also makes a nice low key Sunday meal, fitting between pruning of the Apple Trees, the turning of the compost, the planting out of Broad Beans…


Other seasonal Quiches might include:  Leeks, Sea-Beet, Brassicas, Sorrel, Salsify, Jerusalem Artichokes.  If there are enough Nettles around you could try this Quiche: Turkey Egg and Nettle Quiche. If you fancy something slightly extravagant: Endive, Blue Cheese and Walnut is a delicious combination, especially with a few slices of Pear.  That or Boudin noir, Apple and Chestnut for something sustaining, French and all the more extravagant.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Winter Feasting (iii) A Feast Indeed! or How to eat Terrine: with lashings of Bread & Butter, Pickles, the like...

Besides the Terrines, how to satiate the stomachs of twenty-odd banqueters?

Game Terrine

The stoic winter staples: Puy Lentils, Cabbage and Bread.  These, and piles of Pickles and Jellies from the shed.  This finished with Baked Apples, and a variety of alcoholic fruit, again to be found in the shed-cum-pantry.  A moment to rejoice in that Summer-Autumn of perpetual preserving!

Redcurrant Jelly and Pickled Crabapples

Before dining: long milling over Mulled Cider.  The Cider, a dream, made by a friend and sweetened slightly in its flagon with the addition of Honey.  It was mulled with Quince, Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Lemons.

The Lentils I failed, once again, to photograph in their steaming glory.  Simply: cooked the night before with Onions softened in Butter, Garlic Cloves in their skins, Thyme, Bay Leaves, Juniper and Water, flavoured nearing the end with Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine, some Apple/Rosemary Jelly, a touch of Soy Sauce, Salt and Pepper.  They sat luxuriating in their sauce for a day, and were then heated up.

Sliced Terrine and Cabbage

The Cabbage was cooked in batches on the day, first with onions in Olive Oil, then slowly in a light, homemade Cider Vinegar, and masses of Caraway.  Reheated at the last minute, laid on Cabbage leaves and topped with roast Pumpkin Seeds.

An enormous Pumpkin

The enormous Pumpkin, was chopped into big beautiful chunks, and doused in a Marinade of Olive Oil, Chilli, Demarara Sugar (for lack of Maple Syrup), and a touch of Balsamic and Soy Sauce, and French coarse Sea Salt.  After about an hour of marinating it was roasted at high heat in the oven, and served hot.  The idea for the recipe (minus Soy and Balsamic) came from a fortnight spent in November back ‘midst the gales on Clare Island, a recipe for Pumpkin Crisps made with Uchiki Kuri.  I shall tell about the fortnight anon.

...chopped in big, beautiful chunks, sat in marinade

The Bread, all five loaves, were cooked as per the previous recipe.


Great sloshing bowls of Pickled Apples, Pickled Crabapples, Bar-Le-Duc Redcurrant Jelly and Rosemary Jelly were lain between bowls full of Butter.

Apples baked in Gin-soaked Bullace

Following on from that Baked Apples, stuffed with Figs (Norfolk Figs – oven dried) and Sultanas soaked in Quince Brandy.  Cooked in a bed of Gin-soaked Bullace, these the remnants from the Bullace Gin.  With those, to feed the multitude, Potted Brandy Figs, and a selection of post-Christmas chocolates of all varieties, Satsumas, and bowls of Hazelnuts and Walnuts (again from local gardens).

Potted Brandy Figs

Oh ‘twas a feast indeed…


...breakfasting on leftovers

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Winter Feasting (ii) - Venison and Game Terrines

In a moment of over-zealous Christmas jollity, a last-minute festive feast was planned, friends were invited, crockery searched out, rugs shook, candles borrowed, firewood cut, a Christmas Tree erected.  Long debates necessarily ensued over the menu, how to seat and feed such numbers, more to the point, on what… So it was that we settled on a variety of cold Terrines, and on Boxing Day, while others slept off their Christmas indulgence, banqueted languorously on cold cuts, on Tongue and the previous day’s Plum Pudding, or set themselves up for a serious bout of telly-watching, we mopped our brows and set to concocting Terrines.

Now, it has to be said that a Terrine, like a Chutney, improves with age.  If covered with Goose fat, or clarified butter, it can happily last a week, longer even.  Time however, had pressed us to last minute structuring, and I have to say these seemed none the worse off for having sat a mere twenty-four hours.  Both of us claiming to be experts, and each distrusting the other’s method, cookery books – Elizabeth David, Constance Spry, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – were heavily consulted.  Eventually we took ideas from all, a hefty pinch of common sense, of foody inspiration and adoration… and the recipe that follows is what we came up with.

Before I begin however, two things:  Firstly, a Terrine is simply a Pâté, made in a terrine dish.  Once you have the method you can adulterate it as you wish, adding and removing ingredients according to preference or what is available.  That said, I have known a Terrine to fall apart, so I do suggest having at least equal quantities of farce to chopped meat.  Secondly, in a burst of immodesty, I have to say these were the best Terrines I have ever eaten, not only did they look sublime, but the flavourings, the texture, the moistness, all combined to make them taste utterly heavenly, and quite worthy of French charcuterie…  Whether this is repeatable simply by following a recipe, I don’t know – but do have a go, and do let me know.

The following should fill three two pint Terrine dishes.

For the Farce:
2lb Sausage Meat
½ lb Pheasant Livers
8 Chestnuts
6 Dried Figs
6 Dried Apricots
15 Juniper Berries
2 Blades Mace
1 Egg
1 tea-cup White Wine
Black Pepper

Chop the Pheasant Livers; Roast the Chestnuts; 
Soak the chopped Figs and Apricots

The Farce is literally the stuffing, it holds the Terrine together.  To make it, first chop the Pheasant (or Chicken) Livers very small, keeping any blood; Roast the Chestnuts and peel them, breaking them into small bits; Soak the chopped Figs and Apricots in hot water; Crush the herbs and spices (to taste).  Then mix all ingredients, including the blood from the Pheasant Livers.  Season with Black Pepper.  If you find you want to further moisten the mixture, you can use the water the fruit soaked in.  If you want to dry it or bulk it out, use stale Breadcrumbs or Oatmeal.

Crush the herbs and spices

For one Venison Terrine, one Pheasant Terrine, one Venison and Pheasant Terrine:
1 ½  lb Pheasant meat
1 ½   lb Venison
21b streaky Bacon
Bay Leaves

Thus using about 1lb of meat in each Terrine.  The meat should be in pieces, but chopped thinly so it can be lain in layers through the Terrine.  Stretch the Bacon on a chopping board using the back of a knife.  Any Bacon Fat or bits that break off can be added to the Farce.  Line Terrine dishes, or Loaf Tins with the Bacon, leaving enough so it can fold over the top and wrap around the whole Terrine.  You can place Bay Leaves or other Herbs in the base, these will produce a pattern when the Terrine is turned out.

Line Terrine dishes with Bacon

Now layer Farce, followed by meat in thin layers, to fill the Terrine.  Aim to commence and finish with Farce, so that the Terrine holds together.  In the Venison Terrine I added a layer of Bar-Le-Duc Redcurrant Jelly, made this Summer, after the Meat, this added a tart sweetness to the Terrine.  

Finally the Bacon is wrapped around, tucked in and the Terrines are covered and cooked for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a Bain-Marie at 160-180C until firm, shrunken from the sides, the juices running clear when a knife is stuck in.

Any juices will eventually form a jelly when the Terrine cools.  If you are fortunate this might even enrobe the sides and top of the Terrine when turned out and provide a delicious glaze – ours slipped off.  The Terrines are then left, pressed under a weight to finalise the togetherness of the Terrine and to create a flat base for when they are turned out.   Leave for up to three days, or, if longer cover with a fat, or freeze. Turn them out prior to serving using a butter knife to slip around the edges.

When sliced, all the layers of meat and farce, as well as the fruits and nuts become apparent: follow: the entire feast.