Archive | July, 2012

Pig Kidney Stroganoff

30 Jul

Ve vere just expecting you Mr Bond ….

I’m not sure what puts a connection between James Bond, things that sound vaguely Russian and dodgy eastern European accents, but there you go. This can only be eaten and discussed if you use a comedy voice. Have you got your Xenia Onatopp voice in your head now? “Vot shall ve do viz zese pigz kiduhneyz?”

In all seriousness, I was super lucky at the Kirkstall Deli Market on Saturday.* I snuck in just before everyone packed up due to the pouring rain. My mission was to get some black pudding from the Blue Pig Company. I had some a few weeks ago on a romantic weekend away at the Craven Arms where they use it in their menu and it is well delicious! I then had a trawl around the other stalls, picking up some lovely tea and chatting to the venison man (they’d sold out of liver and kidneys) and the buffalo people (they didn’t have any offal). I did however, end up back at the Blue Pig stall, investing in some pork and apple sausages. I then spied some kidney at the back of the stand. Hiding. Sneakily hiding. To cut a long story, the kind stall owners gave me the two pig kidneys for free! Altruism at its best!

Normally when I cook kidney, I get kidney from the market. As it is a filtration organ, it does worry me slightly that these kidneys are not organic, so probably have residues from feed supplements and other animal things I don’t really know about! Pig and beef kidney are meant to be the kidniest tasting of them, so I was looking forward to experimenting with these lovely free range kidneys (but free range doesn’t necessarily mean organic, will have to investigate)!

Kidney stroganoff was a suggestion that my godmother made when I began this journey. She makes it quite often and loves it.

The recipe I based mine on was from good old Delia. I did make some changes though …

Take:

2 pork kidneys, 1 sliced onion, 2 oz butter, 8oz mushrooms (I like chestnut ones), 150ml soured cream, 1 tablespoon paprika, salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, cook the onion gently for ten minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for a further ten minutes. Prepare the kidney by de-coring and slicing. Turn the heat up under the pan and add the kidney, brown it all over. Next turn the heat down and add the paprika and the sour cream and simmer for five minutes.

We had ours with some kale and some brown rice. I’d recommend giving pig kidney a go. Especially if you’re going to pair it with nice robust flavours. A subtle blend of herbs wouldn’t stand up to it, but punchy paprika and black pepper both do the job well.

I pretended I was a secret agent eating hearty food in an Eastern Bloc country. James Bond would be proud.

*The Saturday I’m talking about was in May possibly … a little while ago certainly.

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Pig’s Ear Popcorn

29 Jul

So my current obsession with all things auricular means an infinite variety to my creations. As you might have noticed I also tend to be all over a food or ingredient for a few weeks and it’s all I want to use/eat. Lately I’ve been experimenting with making popcorn at home. An excellent mix to go on your popped corn is paprika, salt, sugar and dark chocolate.

But what would happen is crispy pig’s ears and popcorn got cooked together to make a delicious snack?

Offal snacks have been on my mind, as there are few offally bits that you can just pick up and run with. Scratching are one. I’m not sure about biltong. Gone are the days however, where my afternoon snack could be a couple of slices of ham. Oh dear. What to do? Tongue is an option, but what else could be out there?

Cue my patented pig’s ear popcorn! Similar to creating crispy pig’s ears, instead of a frying pan, use a saucepan. Fry the ears in hot oil for five minutes, then add your popping corn. Wait til it’s all popped and then shake through your salt, sugar, paprika, or whatever flavouring you’re balling with currently! I like some fennel and cumin seeds thrown in with the popping corn.

I made some to take on a long car journey with me and below is the picture of the remnants, because they were SO BLOODY DELICIOUS I snacked down on them all and forgot to take a good picture.

I used salt, sugar and paprika to shake on, leaving out the dark chocolate … chocolate and pork didn’t seem quite the perfect combination.

Next time you’ve got some pig’s ears lying around your fridge have a go! Or just pop some corn, it’s bloody great!

Mugwort Pheasant

22 Jul

Mugwort is my new favourite herb. Particularly when paired with orange. What an aromatic combination!

July clearly isn’t game season, but my Mum’s butcher in Norfolk had pack of pheasant legs for a pound, so really I couldn’t refuse. Just as a recap if you are thinking ‘leg isn’t liver – she’s breaking all the rules’ – game is allowed for several reasons:

  1. The animals do lots of running around before they’re shot – so it really is free range. Animal welfare, tick!
  2. They have a pretty organic diet.
  3. We don’t eat enough game – the argument goes along the lines of the animals are already there, so there’s no extra energy/expense in raising them, so they are a more environmentally friendly source of meat. Large holes can be picked in this – what about estates stocking pheasant chicks? I’m going to do more research and get in touch with the Game-to-Eat organisation.

All thoughts on the subject are gratefully received too. In November is it Game-Eating month according to Game-to-Eat, so I’m sure I’ll be talking more about it then.

But onward. Again, this is one of my mighty slow cooker recipes. I love my slow cooker so much, it’s hard to describe the feelings of warmth I get when I see the resultant stew after I through together a few ingredients. I’m sure there are ways I could have made this recipe better, but I was feeling lazy, so basically all the ingredients got flung in and cooked on low for about 16 hours.

What you need:

4 pheasant legs (skinned), 1 tin chickpeas, 1 chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of mugwort, zest of half an orange, 1 tin tomatoes, enough stock to cover the rest with fluid.

Fling everything in the slow-cooker. Add an appropriate amount of stock. Wait. Devour.

 NB: If you don’t have a slow-cooker, you can use an ordianry casserole dish, cooking in the bottom of the oven for about 6 hours at 140C would probably produce the same results.

NB2: If you don’t have any mugwort, you could use any other aromatic herb that fits with the orange – rosemary would be good I think, so too would juniper, sage another good one. If you really want to try the mugwort (you’d need to get it from a herb garden (like Dilston) or from a herbalist, it won’t be in the supermarket), but can’t find it I can send you some – see twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product looked like most tomatoe-y, chickpea-y concoctions you make. I also think I took the picture on my boyfriend’s phone, which I can’t locate right now – so you’ll just have to wait for this one to be updates with another *amazing* phone picture.

Crispy Auricular Salad

15 Jul

How delicious does a Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad sound? I know. Incredibly delicious.

You may remember that I postulated that my off the cuff whim of buying pig’s ears might result in a pig’s ear carbonara from the Foodie Penpals Recipe … well, Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad is not that. Mostly because I kept coming across people saying how good crispy pig’s ears are. (You know who you are, Brian.)

You do need to prepare your ears first. Shave the hairs off (Bic razors are a good tool) and then scrub all the crevices (a toothbrush is another good tool) to remove any dirt/wax. It’s not as gross as it sounds. I did it when I roasted Arthur.

Then you need to poach your ears in a delicious stock. Since they are made up of skin, cartilage, tiny bits of meat and other thin tissues, there isn’t a huge amount of flavour there already, but they do carry the stock flavours on.

Here the ears are in their poaching liquid. I poached them for two hours until the skin was just beginning to come away. I added a bay leaf, a bouquet garni and a fresh lovage leaf (bobbing in the middle of the picture). When you fish the ears out, don’t through the stock away. The stock is awesome.* In fact if I was to make pork stock again I’d probably just use ears.

Then you need to press them. I put them on a plate, with another plate on top, and then a few bottles of beer top of that in the fridge overnight.

Now they are ready for you to make creations with. For a crispy pig’s ear salad, you need to slice the ear into long strips, that you then toss in corn flour and fry. I got most of my instructions from After Hours with Iggy – go check an awesome food blog!

That is the cross-section of a pig’s ear. Informative. Biological. Interesting. The white line is the cartilage and the pinkier bit at the bottom is some meat. Don’t worry about the cartilage being too tough. The poaching and then the frying makes it tasty nice! So cut as many fine slices as you want to eat. Then toss them in corn flour (for extra crispness – it makes a big difference to the taste). Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan (or if you have a deep fat fryer use that) and fry them until they are pretty crispy.

Sizzling in the pan! I used olive oil so they take about 4 mins on a high heat to get to the Crispy Factor. If you use sunflower oil that gets hotter, so it will probably take less time. Just watch as you toss.

While these were frying I made my vinaigrette. I’ve been experimenting with herbal vinegars (yes, I do live in 1992) and am currently enjoying strawberry vinegar (thyme and honeysuckle are also on the go). If I’m making dressing for one I use my indispensable tiny Tiptree jam jar. So I added one-third strawberry vinegar, two thirds Beauty Oil, a squeeze of lime and some chilli flakes. Then I shook my tiny jar. Presto! Dressing! Pronto!

The rest is history. Put the ears on kitchen towel to drain. Add leaves, ears and dressing to a bowl and enjoy.

I love pig’s ears. There will be more pig’s ears posts coming soon. Auricular pickles anyone?

* We used the stock to make an aromatic risotto of just onion, rice, orange zest, a teaspoon of dried mugwort and this stock. IT WAS SO GOOD.

Kidney Rosemary Skewers

11 Jul

What it says on the tin really.

Take two lamb kidneys, cut in half and de-core. Take a long stick of rosemary, push in one side and then back through – it gives very easily, don’t worry.

If you have time let them rest for an hour or two in the fridge, so the kidney get all the rosemary sucked in.

Grill on a BBQ or fry on a high heat2 mins each side (4 if you like your offal well done).

Two ingredients. A whole deliciousness.

More things should be on rosemary skewers.

Amen.

Liebster Award

3 Jul

Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to be given the Versatile Blogger Award by Carol Anne at RockSalt. Now more recently, another award has come my way, this time from Elisabeth from Everyday Yummy. You can see her original post here. Thank you very much, Elisabeth. I hadn’t even realised you read my blog, so it was a lovely boost! I’m glad you got all offal inspired – have you cooked those hearts yet?

The Rules of the Liebster Award:

  • Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.
  • Post the award to your blog.
  • Give the award to five bloggers with less than 200 followers who you appreciate and value (please do not be offended by this, I don’t think you have less than 200 followers I am sending on some blog love because I think your blog is great!)
  • Let your award winners know!

So I pass on the award to the following five lovely bloggers:

I think everyone should follow PlateBritain – a blog chronicling a year spent only eating foods made and grown in the UK. We all need to think more sustainably and steps like these all help us retain focus. Go check! He just cured his own bacon!

My friend Rosie is doing a programme of music through twitter called Really Slow Radio. Follow her on twitter and have a listen. We all need more music in our lives …

Another friend (who I did my MA with) writes Ben’s Adventures In Wine-making and has had it published! An example for everyone. He records the drinking of each bottle too. I don’t make any wine, but with every post he writes I always want to. Delicious!

Katie makes beautiful embroidery into jewellery and I am currently saving up for one of her lovely MotherEagle pieces. If you like owls or mystery or fairytales, there’ll be something there for you!I’m always learning about folklore from her blog.

Last, but not least, a new internet friend, Lisa who has a baking blog at Sweet2Eat. Her recipes are great and she was my foodie penpal for July, so must be a good egg! Have a peek!

Thanks for all the support from everyone too … it’s very kind of people to read about what I’m doing *blushes*

Keep offalling!

Sweets for my Sweet, Breads for my Bready?

1 Jul

Yup, it was 1994 in our house last week and C J Lewis was brapping around (Shaggy was busy). In his honour we decided to cook Sweetbreads! Yup a NEW OFFAL. One that didn’t even get touched in NosetoTail Fortnight …

This is an offal that we cannot now go and bulk buy. Then there would be many, many, many spare carcasses hanging around. Demand cannot out-strip supply. That is unsustainable. Sustainability is the name of the game!

Sweetbreads are glands. They can either be thyroid or pancreatic ones. I think these were thyroidy ones because they were plumper and roundish, rather than longer and thinner. I do know they came from a lamb. I also know I got them from the website Farmers Choice. Their website is very good, AND postage is reasonable AND you can choose your delivery day. Trufax! I also bought some pig’s ears.

The buying of the sweetbreads coincided with my Mum giving me Mark Hix’s new recipe book. It lists recipes month by month and is good at pointing out what is native and when it is best. There is a bit too much talk about foraging and fishing/hunting/poaching your own meat, not because I don’t find it fascinating, but because the reality of pretty much everyone I know is that doesn’t happen due to location restraints, I think, rather than time. I say this because a few years ago we were all told that there was no point in growing vegetables in cities because you just ended up with really polluted vegetables. It was in the papers – do you remember? I raised this point again on my herbs course at Dilston Physic Garden, as to how much benefit you lost by using herbs that grew in and around the city. Or if by using plants that breathed the same gases you did, whether that made them have a better synergy with you. All that aside, the Mark Hix book is good and should you wish to see what I’m talking about, you can find it here.

He suggests that sweetbreads be eaten in July. This is different to the “Spring” that I’ve read elsewhere. I guess June falls between the two nicely anyhow. Apparently you can do the same treatment with testicles. FYI.

The end bit of this recipe is a bit of a rat-race and you have to do things simultaneously. Just saying. I was a bit shocked in the change of pace from ‘lalalalala just change and soak lalalalalala’ to ‘BOIL, FRY, SIMMER, REDUCE, WATCH ALL THE PANS LIKE A HAWK AS NOTHING NEEDS COOKING FOR VERY LONG AT ALL’. Like you arrived at the Parochial Church Ramble and it turned out to be bleep-tests for ultra-runners.

Just do like a boy scout …

I had 250g of sweetbreads, so had to adjust the recipe, and it fed two people comfortably.

1 medium onion, 150ml lamb stock, 150g podded peas, 100ml double cream (I used extra thick), 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  1. Soak the sweetbreads in repeated changes of water until the water is pretty clear. This could take up to an hour (it took us about twenty minutes).
  2. Cover them with water and boil them for two minutes. Then drain and run COLD water over them. You will want to now peel away the outer membrane. It’s very fine (like the layer of cells between onion layers), but is definitely manageable:
  3. Now heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the onion gently until soft. Add the stock and let it reduce til there is only a few tablespoons left mingled in with the onion.
  4. While the stock is reducing boil your peas for 3-4 and then cool them under running cold water.
  5. Add the cream to the onion/stock mix and let it reduce by a third.
  6. While the cream is reducing, heat a tablespoon oil in a frying pan, season the sweetbreads and fry them on a high heat until each side is crisp.
  7. Remove them from the pan (drain on kitchen towell if you feel the need), then add them to the cream mix along with the peas. Simmer it all together for a couple of minutes.
  8. Serve.

It is lovely and refreshing. VERY SWEET. Who knew meat could be this sweet? Almost like marshmallows, but a bit sweeter. Amazing. Nutty. Sweeter than testicles actually.

Would I make them again? Maybe. Would I order them in a restaurant? Yes. What do I think about the recipe? The peas added too much sweetness, but I’m not sure what you’d match with soemthing sweet, nutty and meaty. Any ideas? I was thinking maybe grapefruit? And lovage? As like a side salad?

Have you eaten sweetbreads? Are you too attached to your thyroid to eat that of another creature?