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Oxheart Revisited

15 Oct

I bloody love Brideshead. So does my friend Lauren. And on the last hot day of summer, we were finally converted to the baroque.

By Brisdeshead, I obviously mean the 1981 BBC version. Nothing else will do. I’m not sure if its Jeremy ‘rubs-thighs’ Irons, or the Oxford connection, or the phrase “I’m sorry about your pig”, but together it is sublime. Castle Howard is really the star though – much more than Jezza, or even ole Gielgud.

The other excitement waiting for me at Castle Howard was the butchery there, where they claim to have a good range of offal. FYI they do. And the butchers are lovely! And I got a haul of black pudding, sausages and … an ox heart!

A breakfast of kings went down the following day. But I was most excited about the ox heart! From the estate. Imaginary Catholic-guilt-wine-tasting-idolent-summer-interwar-halcyon-days-heart. Hearts are big. I really wanted to treat the Bridey (the heart) nicely, so decided to treat Bridey as if the cut was a roasting one – but pot-roasting.

First you have to prepare your heart. Abattoirs slash all hearts to check that they are healthy, so it does sort of butterfly open already. Remove the bits of sinew.

Here I am pulling the sinewy heart strings out. Pulling on Bridey’s heart strings. (I wouldn’t actualy sigh over Bridey, but I like the sound/concept.)

Did you know you can put your fist through the blood vessel of a cow? I didn’t until I tried. That’s how big cows are. Massive.

They were a couple of other things I wanted to do with my heart, as well as roasting it, so I sliced a nice muscular part of it off, for a rainy day … you’ll see what I mean …

Next was time to cook my heart. I used the slow cooker. I mean, why wouldn’t you? A better term if you don’t have a slow cooker would be casseroled whole heart, I guess. The idea is to cook a whole heart and then serve it as if its a joint (practise for Christmas really).

What I did was to put the heart in the slow cooker, cover it with water (maybe only just, so a little sneaky bit of heart peeps above the surface) and then cooked it on high for 6 hours. You can see its lying on a bed of onions, carrots and swede. There’s also quite a lot of fresh rosemary tucked around. Snuggly. Turn it over half way through the cooking time.

 

Here I am, doing some carving. Heart makes lovely slices. If I ran a delicatessen counter, I would totally sell slices of cold heart. (Puns about that on a postcard – or the comments – please …)

As you can see, a lovely gravy is made by the veg and the meat together, nothing else added.

Check the grain of that meat out! And it was super tasty. And only a few ingredients. Simple, delicious snackage. The heart was fresh and tender and tasted beefy. BEEFY. But in quite a sophisticated way. I will definitely cook ox heart again. I think it is my favourite of all the hearts.

You can also use it cold in sandwiches. Here is my train baguette. Baguette de coeur de boeuf. Baguette de coeur de boeuf de la Castle ‘Oward.*

 

Castle Howard (*cough cough* Brideshead) suits me, doesn’t it?**

*Can you tell my French is less good than my German – Blutpfankuchen indeed!

** I just realised and stood in front of the sign that said son’t stand on the steps. Sorry. Don’t do that.

 

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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.

This old of heart of mine …

13 Apr

After Valentine’s Day Heart Steak, the heart steak was casseroled. I am a big fan of the slow cooker. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that if you can’t slow cook it, I’m not interested, but sometimes I feel pretty close to that.

Another part of my cookery love is using aromatherapy essential oils in baking (and other recipes). You need to be careful to only add really small amounts, else the taste is super strong, but I’ve made a lot of very successful shortbread – frankincense and lavender were both pretty well received! Cakes also benefit, and rose absolute though very expensive gets that rose deliciousness spot on. In England, we get the therapeutic benefits from using the oils on the skin, whereas in France the benefits are gained from ingestion. I’ve not done this, and I don’t think anyone should without proper advice and guidance. Highly diluted, I’ve found they work well, however I’ve not experimented beyond tiny* amounts of fennel oil in curries. Continuing on with my romantic theme I used vetiver and jasmine oil. These are both relaxing scents and can act as aphrodisiacs. Ooh errr … For more on the essential oil, see good old Neals Yard.

So, in a classic Lucy fashion, chuck all these ingredients into a slow cooker:

2tsp paprika, 1 tsp crushed juniper, 1 drop jasmine oil, 1 drop vetiver oil, 2tbsp jasmine flowers, half pint pale ale, 250g sliced chestnut mushrooms, 1 diced turnip, 600g sliced veal heart (approx)

Cook on high from morning til evening.

Devour. Maybe with some rice. Or mash.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, treat the ingredients like a normal casserole. The strips of heart will need a good four hours of solid casseroling.

There was so much heart casserole, that my beloved and I had to come up with new ways of eating the casseroled heart. One was to make lunchtime tortilla wraps sometimes in a burrito style. Take a wrap, add some salad and some sour cream, maybe some green tabasco, add the heart strips, wrap and nom. Delicious.

I am going to experiment further with cold offal. I’m all over the cooked tongue, but have always disliked pate (bleurgh), do you think a solitary cold kidney would be nice? Do you have any cold offal recipes?

*Tiny means dipping a cocktail stick in, taking it out, then stirring it through the sauce, then discarding. Much much less than a single drop. See Aroma-essence, Gritman and  Essential Oil Cookbook. You can make mean flavoured shortbreads by adding one drop of whatever oil to the creamed butter and sugar part of the mix. Do be careful. The essential oil cooking tips have been fine for me and my friends, but our stomachs aren’t sensitive. So you watch out. Or get in touch if you have any questions.

Tagine of Veal Tongue

22 Mar

I was trying to look bovine, but cows don't wear towells.

This is a recipe unashamedly taken from ‘The Fifth Quarter’ by Anissa Helou. This is a brilliant book for anyone thinking of getting down with the offal. The recipe in the book is ‘Tagine of Ox Tongue’ (page 95). However, Daz and I forgot to check we had all the right ingredients. So, therefore, it was inevitable that we didn’t use all the same things. That is a bit of a shame, as I was for once intending on just copying someone’s recipe and not ending up with a different thing all together. Maybe I’m just too creative for my own good *coughs*

Here is the version we ended up with. But I would buy the book. Or don’t as it may give away some of the things I intend to serve at my offal banquet at the end of the year, and if you intend on coming, it might be a spoiler.

  • 1 veal tongue, weighing about 1 kg, well cleaned
  • 2 x 400g tins cannellini beans, drained
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout spice mix
  • salt
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

So, you need to first of all boil the ox tongue for 10-15 minutes, according to Anissa. I would probably boil it for 30 minutes so that the skin is just a bit easier to peel off. After the 30 mins, remove tongue from heat and peel it, using fingers and/or a knife.

Cut the tongue into 1 cm wide slices and put in a pan. Add all the herbs and spices and a litre and a half of water and boil for 45 mins. Now add the cans of beans and boil for a further 30mins. Make sure then you add the beans that the sauce isn’t too dry. You can add a bit more water. At the end of the cooking you want tender tongue and tender beans. If you’ve got too much water, you can then boil that off.

When you’re satisfied with the consistency, transfer to a serving dish and add vinegar. Ours was quite thick, almost risotto like, but you could have it any way you fancy. a nice crisp salad would be good on the side.

A super simple dish that really is a taste explosion. Tongue is delicious and I’m really enjoying cooking with it. Definitely try it. If you don’t fancy wrestling a whole one, just pick up some cooked tongue from the supermarket instead of ham. it really is the SHIZ!

Lincolnshire Pig’s Fry

4 Mar

This, in case you were wondering, is a pack of Fry. Or Pig’s Fry. Or Bag of Deliciousness. What you can see, going left to right is some pork offcut, some fat, some liver and hiding underneath is some sliced kidney. These are the raw ingredients for Lincolnshire’s Fourth Most Famous Pork Dish (Sausages, Haselet and Chine come further up the Walk of Fame) – Lincolnshire Pig’s Fry. A lot of the cuisine I grew up with can be summed up in two words. PORK and SAGE. Pigs are very cunning, George Orwell would have us believe. Sage is used as a medicinal herb to aid alertness and concentration and also helps the body to digest fat. Clearly Lincolnshire’s sons and daughters should be taking over the world on this diet … *embarrassed cough* Margaret Thatcher …

Being the well-behaved yellowbelly that I am, I did feel quite sad when I realised it had taken me til my 27th year to cook and make it myself. Unsure of how to procede, Google came to my aid with a recipe from this website. I’m not sure if it’s a blog, or something else, but thank you for putting it online as it gave me an outline for my Fry Making!

What you need is:

1kg pig’s fry – I bought this from Hargreaves Butchers in Pinchbeck (“Now then Mrs Moore, nice bit of beef *whispers* on the bone?” a quick nod, then “See you round the side” where you collected your then illegal beef on the bone from a secret door near the bins … I kid you not so many moments of my adolescence were pretty much copied by League of Gentlemen) – if you don’t visit backwaters very often then you’d need to either ask your own butcher for a fry, or get a pig liver, couple of kidneys and some meat. So it all adds up to a kilo of weight.

Potatoes, washed and peeled, then sliced

2 large onions sliced in rounds, 2 large carrots sliced in rounds, 2 pints of stock, 2 tbsp dried sage, 2 tbsp flour, salt and pepper, a knob of butter.

First of all you need to tackle your offal:

From left to right you’ll find a slice of liver, a slice of kidney and some fat from around the organs. In the background of the third picture, you can see the pork meat. No idea of the cut – I kept meaning to telephone and ask, but also kept forgetting.Possibly belly, but it didn’t seem fatty enough. Anyway, I’ll take order for when I’m next down in the Shire …

Everything needs to be cut into similar sized pieces. You need to check the liver is de-veined – if it isn’t they come out quite easily if you just pull them. The veins look like white tubes. You only need to pull the biggest ones out. The kidney needs to have the white core removed and then cut to chunks. I like to say “WHITE CORE” in a Star Trek voice because I think it sounds like either space engineering, or astronomical stellar gumpus! “We can’t save the white core, captain! We just don’t have the power!” The fat also needs to be cut to chunks, as does the meat.

Add the flour to a bowl, season it with salt and pepper, then roll each chunk in it so they are all generously covered. If you run out of flour, just use a bit more.

Heat the butter in the bottom of the casserole you’re going to use and add the onion. Cook until soft. Now add the floured meat chunks and brown them all off.

Add the carrot, the sage and lots of black pepper. Add the stock. Boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Lay the slices of potato on top of the casserole, the layer can be as thick as you like, mine was of 2 or 3 slices thick. Put lid on the casserole and either heat in oven for a few hours, simmer on hob for few hours or if you’re using a slow cooker, cook on High for four hours.

Basically you get a really sagey stew – think Lincolnshire sausage seasonings – with a potato top that is basically steamed because the lid is kept on the casserole. Different to Hotpot, because the potatoes aren’t crisp. It is well delicious and stands up to re-heating very well.

We had at least six really large meals out of it, but what I think I’d do next time is to cut it all up, but cook half and freeze half. I think two smaller frys are better than one big one.

Also, don’t be concerned about the lump of fat, I’m sure it’s really nice fat and even though it looks massive in my hand a) I have tiny mouse hands and b) it’s very thin. It does add a lovely taste and because the sauce goes floury and potatoey it sort of melts into a suspension. You wouldn’t know it was there, if you hadn’t seen this picture.

I can’t wait to go back to the Shire to get me some more fry!

If you’re interested in the cuisine of Lincolnshire you can visit the Lincolnshire Sausage Assocation website – I’m already planning an October Sausage Festival trip – maybe to tie in with Mum’s birthday? Nothing says “I love you, thank you for nurturing me” than a superfluity of sausages!