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Moroccan Stuffed Spleen

9 Sep

Have you ever eaten spleen? I hadn’t until my recent visit to John Penny where I got given a fresh beef spleen to cook with. Prior research from the Offal Club’s page suggested from their experience that spleen was gross. Anissa Helou has a few recipes in The Fifth Quarter for it, which all sound very amazing, so I was excited again. Then I read in Jennifer McLagan’s Odd Bits that she expected that “if you like liver you’ll probably like spleen”. Damned by faint praise indeed. Never one to be deterred I got my spleen out and looked at it. The spleen looked back.

More disturbingly – how filthy was my cooker that day? What a slut! And look how long a spleen is. Long. So what does a spleen do? I always find that thinking about how the organ works can help you get to know how it might be nicely cooked. A spleen:

“… is an organ found virtually all vertebrate mammals. Similar in structure to a large lymph node, the spleen acts primarily as a blood filter. It is a non-vital organ, with a healthy life possible after removal (splenectomy). The spleen plays important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. It also acts as a store of blood in case large amounts are lost. The word comes from the Greek ‘splen’ which is the rough equivalnet of heart – so to be good-spleened in Greek means to be good-hearted. In French, ‘splenetique’ refers to a state of pensive sadness or melancholy.”

Of course that infomation is from wikipedia. Importantly it tells us two things: the first is that as a filter, the texture will be spongy; secondly that if you eat it Greece you’ll be happy, while if you eat it in France you’ll be sad.

Taking the Mediterranean as a theme I used Anissa Helou’s recipe for Moroccan Stuffed Spleen as a guideline to work from, but incorporated EXTRA OFFAL into the recipe. That’s right. Offal stuffed with other offal. Just like a cheap sausage. Or not.

Beef spleens are huge, so I only used half of this one. Due to the nature of stuffing as a premise, I chose to use the fat end. So if you’re cooking along with this, cut your spleen in half, freeze the thin end and then we’ll peel the membrane off the fat end.

Removing membrane from spleen is not very easy. In fact, it’s quite hard for a novice like me to do. There was some fruity language and I cut my fingers a few times. There is an outer one and an inner one (or so it seemed to me). The outer one peels away using your fingers OK.

I tried a few different ways of getting rid of the inner membrane, but the one that worked best for me, was to pinch a bit of it up and to use a knife between the membrane and the flesh to almost chip away at it in small, frequent movements. (There was meant to be a video, but I deleted the wrong file from my phone, so you actually have five second shot of the inner spleen and it’s stupid clinging membrane.)

Once you’ve removed it – or if you’re clever – ask your butcher to do it for you (if you have one), but once it is removed you make a horizontal cut most of the way through (but not the whole way) parallel to the top and bottom of it. Your stuffing will go in this pouch.

Yup, TRIPLE OFFAL STUFFING WITH PORCINI. You can of course see some chopped lamb heart, some chopped lamb sweetbreads and some rehydrated chopped porcini. The porcini had arrived that very day in my foodie penpals package. I mixed these all together with 5 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 2 teaspoons of paprika. Then I shoved it in the spleen pocket, rubbed the pocket with oil and baked it in the oven at gas mark 4 for 40 minutes.

This is pre-cooking – looks pretty nice doesn’t it?

Well, by this point, after all this effort, I was very hungry indeed. And how was the spleen. To me, inedible. That was the saddest part, despite loving liver I just couldn’t cope with the texture of the spleen – think liver but with lots of fibres running the wrong way through it. I couldn’t eat mine – I was clearly in France. Daz said it was OK – so he’s in Switzerland (is that half way between France and Greece? I’m thinking diagonally). The stuffing was amazeballs though. If you take one things away from this – heart, thyroid and porcini is a GRRRRRRRRREAT combination.

If I’d got the spleen from a butcher I might have thought that it had been hanging around a while. But since I SAW THE SPLEEN COME OUT THE BEAST THAT MORNING, it can’t be that. I’m plumping for spleen being better slow cooked (so the fibres can melt down some) – I’m thinking maybe some spleen and kidney pudding? Would that be nice? Spleen, kidney and porcini pudding? I have a feeling a slow-cooked spleen has fabulous gravy potential.

But despite the loveoly ingredients, I had to perform a splenectomy on my meal (LOLZ). Have you cooked spleen? I’ll have a little poll of the suet pudding …

And I promise to attempt to cook what you decide!

Casual Testicle Curry Turned Indian Feast

22 Aug

The Indian Feast part will be focussed on here. The Casual Testicle Curry you will find over at Juls’ blog PepperandSherry. Juls has been a really supportive reader of here and offered lots of encouragement. She also gets a prize for being the first person to ask me write a Guest Post. I am also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs! So if you go over and read my guest post, I hope it doesn’t reflect too badly on Juls’ wonderful blog. Btw she blates loves the offal too.

To start with, I continued my ear obsession and made Sticky Tamarind Pig’s Ear Salad. This was made in pretty the same way as the rest of my pig’s ear salads, but I marinated the ears in tamarind, lime juice, chilli and garlic paste.

Then obvs, we had testicle curry. I invented my new method of de-sacking a testicle using scissors. I’m very proud of it. You can read the whole recipe for the testicle curry over at PepperandSherry (my first Guest Post), but to go with it I made some black cardoman chick peas, some celery seed flatbread and some raita!

All three extras were really simple to make.

The chickpeas were simply one onion chopped and fried, with a can of chickpeas, a can of tomatoes and four black cardoman pods added, then simmered for one hour.

The raita is really a sort of cucumber salad. You mix some white malt vinegar with a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt, then mix them all togerther.

The celery bread comes from ‘Cook, Brew and Blend’ which is a great volume from the old Yard. It mixes a materia medica of herbs with advice for different organ systems, lifestyles, tips on using herbs, tips on making your own products and lots more. I love it. You can buy it here. The flatbread was very simple and went along the lines of add celery seeds to flour, with a bit of water, mix, then roll flat, then griddle on each side.

Then for dessert we had some chilli and lime sorbet that I made a while ago after a FoodiePenpals package. Nowadays I’m the sort of person who just has the perfect dessert in the freezer.

Foodie Penpals the Fifth

5 Aug

My lovely initial penpal had to excuse herself from this month’s participation, so the lovely Lisa stepped in at the last minute and passed the package on that she’d already prepared. Phew! I didn’t want Lisa to have to make a new one for me, so I received the ‘Learn to Bake’ parcel that she’d already put together with a note explaining why things were there, because they meant something to our penpal partner. I found it really interesting (because I’m nosy) receiving what was designed for another person. And it was a lovely package.

So, there are cake decorations, white chocolate, edible glitter, fancy cases, exotic fruit and a book on baking. Also (possibly a nod to the carnivory, was some tikka rub) which I put to good use making a very simple lamb neck tikka:

There’s the lamb neck and some mushrooms all tikka-ing away in the slow cooker (6 hours=curry-tastic). I literally just added the spice, some coconut cream and some water. YUM! And simple.

My package went to Fay, and you can read about how she found it on her blog here. I sent a real mix of things, but for my next one I really want to put a theme together as I’ve now had a couple of lovely Themed ones. Look out, next Foodie Penpal! Look out!

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.


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?

SoupTuesday Cookbook Swap …

29 Jun

Hello my name is Lucy and I like cooking things and posting things. You would have thought that foodie penpals would be enough for me. Well, you’re wrong. I signed up for a cook book swop too. Hosted by the SoupTuesday blog, you get matched with a person to send to and a person to get from. Oh yes.

This month was the first month so I’m hoping it goes well for everyone. The theme for this month was RETRO. I’ll confess striaght away that I couldn’t find a retro cookbook at home (at least one I was going to give away), so I trundled to British Heart Foundation and found a nice 80s one where you have to add cans of soup to lots of recipes. The reminded me a lot of an earlier but much older boyfriend’s cooking style. Retro indeed.

My cookbook came from Hannah at HomeBakedOnline. She writes a great blog about all the nice things and does it fantastically. It was ‘The Wholefood Cookbook’ by Pamela Westland. It is out of print now, but if you want, you can pick it up second hand off the old Amazon. The tagline is “Natural recipes for health”. Naturally I turned the pages to see if there was an offal recipe … I find all the older cookery books are generally pretty good for offal. There was one for Mushrooms and Liver Provencal. Fate.

So here is the recipe, photographed from the book:

Basically, you quickly fry the liver on both sides, then add it to a simple ragu of tomato, peppers and mushrooms. The herb used is marjoram. You serve it with ‘noodles’ but it is really tagliatelle!

My liver stack, waiting to enter the ragu


Part of the joy of the cookbook swop is being reminded in these recipes of things you’ve not seen for a while. I would like to know what happened to the savoury loaf? You know the ones NOT BREAD but things like asparagus and parmesan in a loaf tin, or a stripey one with carrot and fennel or whatever. Because I haven’t seen one for a while (especially not in a restaurant), not only am I going to resurrect them (Surprise Offal Loaf!), but I feel sure they will be the latest great food trend.

I’ve also enjoyed the 80s food photography in the book.

There is what the book reckons my provencal liver should look like. And here is what it actually looked like:

Note the two pieces of roast potato. What a nice extra. The best thing about this swop and the recipe I chose, is that it introduced me properly to the pairing of offal and pasta. I had been dubious after reading other recipes, but am pretty sold. I’ve also really liked the tomato liver sauce. And the fact that one herb (marjoram) is the star. I know I can get herb happy and toss them all in and I think its a good change for me to think consistently about single culinary herbs.

I hope there’s going to be another cookbook swop, so do get involved!

Lamb’s Liver and Orange?

6 Jun

This is a recipe I stole off of Nigel Slater. You can find it here. The title there is Lamb’s Liver with onion and Seville orange relish. Or as I realise now Marmalade Liver. Paddington would like that?

I was staying at my lovely Mum’s and she ever-so-thoughtfully bought us some lamb liver (which is the only offal me, Mum and my brother like). I could have just dusted it in flour and cooked it simply, but to be honest I’ve had quite a lot of floured offal in the past few months, so wanted to fancy it up a bit.

Unlike the modest beginning of this post. It is actually a pretty delicious recipe. So if you’re cooking liver, give it a go.

You will need:

Lamb’s liver for 3. Also salt and pepper, fresh sage leaves and 1 tsp mustard seeds.

4 onions, 25g butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 orange (preferably Seville) zested and juiced (you add the zest and jucie, not the whole fruit), 1tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 6 prunes chopped

  1. Cut the onions into quarters or rings and cook slowly for half an hours in the butter and oil so they go lovely and soft and gooey.

    You can see I mixed it with using red and white. Danger!

  2. While that’s going on put some salt, your mustard seeds, some peppercorns and your lovely fresh sage in your pestle and give it a bash.
  3. When the onions are as soft as you want, basically add the rest of the ingredients. Originally I used prunes and honey, but that was a bit too sweet. So don’t use honey. this is the voice of experience. This will be a sauce to go on top of your liver. So keep it warm while you cook your liver.
  4. Season each side of liver with your sage/pestle mix of seasoning. Fry/grill your liver on boths sides on a high heat for 2 minutes each side. I like my liver pink, longer if you don’t.

    Frying one side …

    … frying the other

  5. Serve with some nice vegetables and enjoy. I dry-fried some extra sage leaves to use as a garnish. Posh!

    our lovely Emma Birdgewater strewn table!

    My plate

    Mr Pink Liver!

    Fakenham Flollop for Pudding?

I would definitely recommend broadening your offal horizons. Get some liver down you! This Jimmy’s Farm or whatever programme (I’ve not seen it, just followed the resulting twitter threads) seems to have got people talking about offal and whether you should eat it. My biased answer is that yes, you should. It’s lovely if you cook it well. There reasons over ethics and sustainability that I shouldn’t have to say. Mostly I think it’s a matter of respect. If you eat meat, you should respect the animal. That includes eating its organs. Get over your squeamish selves.

The excuse of “It’s societal” is often rolled out. ‘Societal’ gets changed by being PERSONAL and endeavoring to live your life by the ethical standards that you choose. And that stands if you’re vegan, or meatatarian, or offaltarian, or only eat balloons. Once you consider what your own standards actually are, your own choices become much clearer. Just give it some thought …

Lamb’s Testicles – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 4

3 May

If you’ve come here from the FemaleDom website. That’s OK, but please can you sponsor my half marathon, before you get your greasy mitts on my testicle pictures?

£1/$1/1 euro would make an extra hundred pounds a day for good causes. You can do it anonymously.  I dare you:

Also, it just goes to show that a well-meaning, ethical endeavor can be highjacked for porny porn porn … *le sigh*

So we had testicles for tea. They come from the back-end of the animal – see we are working our way along. I testicles are a bit more out there than tripe even, so despite being super excited, I was also a bit wary. The excitement meant that I did exactly what I did yesterday and woke up really early and had two false postal alarms before the delivery man came with a big box.

The delivery man said he was very glad I was in the house. I said I was very glad to get my testicles. He looked uncomfortable.

Keevil and Keevil were the testicle-suppliers that came up when I googled ‘buy testicles’. A lot of other things came up, including testicle implants. I can say that when I emailed yesterday panicking that they hadn’t arrived, they were very nice and have been very kind on twitter. Have a look at their website – they have meat boxes themed by London borough – apt since their actual premises is in Smithfields (which I learnt yesterday was one of the first places that Huguenot silversmiths settled after fleeing France in the 1600s)! What I liked best was their very low post and packaging. So many online meat suppliers either insist you buy over £40 or charge £20 just to deliver. You can’t try the product if you have to fork out stupid money just to get it sent.

And here, they are my bag of testicles:

I think the smile on face here is meant to convey a) Gosh four! I thought I’d only get too and b) I bet my hair looks very bouffe in these pictures. Bonus testicles are always good. Yes that is puffy bedhair. You can also see my pyjama top covered in strawberries. I am that glamourous. Look at those lovely balls. Hmmmmm …

So now I had the testicles what was I meant to do with them? There was some conflicting advice. On the one hand Jennifer McLagan advised to soak them overnight, skin, poach, re-poach and so on, which all sounded very good but time-consuming. On the other Anissa Helou said you could do that, or just skin them and use them as they were. The latter advice suited me better because Daz had to go to rehearsal so tea needed to be made with some fair haste.

Daz is my very supportive boyfriend, but he wasn’t entirely convinced that eating testicles would be a delicious thing. He did say he would try them, and I said that was fine, if he didn’t like them then we had sausages to quickly fry. But he does get an award for being a Big Brave Boy.

So, how do you prepare a testicle? Basically, the testicle lies within three membranes and you need to cut it out them before you can use it. Below is a step-by-step photojourney of the de-sacking, but basically you use a knife to make a small nick, widen it with your fingers (there is a tearing sound) and then to in effect, turn the ball-sack inside out.

Step 1: Membrane the first. Pinch the skin of the testicle up and put the point of your knife in to make a little cut. Then make the cut wider, using your fingers or a knife, to then turn it inside out.

Here we have both testicles inside-outed, to the side I think is the tube that take sperm to the penis and some other biology. I wasn’t sure whether I should eat it or not, so erred on the side of caution. (The other two testicles are in the freezer, so I might experiment with those.)

Step 2: Sack the second, do exactly the same. Here you can see me pulling the membrane away with my fingers. If you push a bit with your finger, then pull it comes away pretty nicely.

Step 3: Membrane the third. This one is the trickiest. Your really have to use your fingers (or maybe a spoon) to push the membrane and the body of the testicle apart. If you don’t do that, the flesh will rip and you won’t have a lovely smooth edible bollock. So go gently, teasing flesh and sinew apart.

And this is the testicle that you have to cook with. It is soft and also a bit like one of those jelly tube things that if you squeeze it shoots out your hand. Gel-filled and purple? No? Anyway, they are slippery and I dropped one. BUT I caught it with my knees. Offal Save!

I know these instructions are quite long, but it’s quite intuitive when you get going. There are instructions from Anissa Helou here and Jennifer Mclagan’s view here and a much more exhaustive account in ‘Odd Bits’. I don’t have Fergus Henderson’s books yet, so I don’t know what he thinks, but I’m sure he likes them.

So now I had some testicles, what was I going to do? I found a lot of recipes that recommended crumbing and frying them. I thought this sounded a good idea because most fried things are nice, and frying isn’t too heavy a flavour so the flavour of the testicles (which I was told was mild) comes through. I sliced the testicles into rounds holding on firmly but not tightly and then I chucked some spelt flour, some ground black pepper and the zest of half a lemon into a bowl and covered the testicles discs in the mixture so they were covered both sides. They only take a minute to cook each side, so I got my vegetables ready and then cooked the balls at the very end.

Here are my lovely little testicle fritters, they look pretty good don’t they? The taste is lamby, but in a mild way. So even if you don’t like lamb, I think you’d like these. The texture is like one of the quenelle dumplings – like a REALLY firm mousse. They do leak some juices. I don’t *think* its jizz.

And here was our final dinner. If you are interested in the vegetables: to the left we have kale steam-fried with ground ginger, red chilli and half a lamb stock cube; to the right stir-fried purple sprouted broccoli with wild garlic* wilted over the top just from the heat of the pan. The punchier flavours of the vegetable went really well with the creamiest of the testicles. Bit of lemon to squeeze. Tortilla – mostly because Yorkshiremen have to have bread at every meal.

And here’s my favourite little Yorkshireman, digging his testicle fritter!

That IS a nice face he’s doing. Apparently lambs testicles are a very potent aphrodisiac. Just saying. The other thing I’d like to say is please don’t all rush out and buy shed loads of testicles so that they are the only type of meat being demanded and whole carcasses are thrown out in the street. At the moment I think they disappear at the abattoir most of the time and then get turned into things we don’t know about (can anyone enlighten me?). It’s much better that people buy them for what they are and treat them with respect. (Even if that respect is turning them inside out three types and frying in hot oil. Still respect.)

Would you eat a testicle?

Have you eaten a testicle?

Don’t worry, I will try to even out the gender balance and find an udder or a womb.

*We FORAGED the wild garlic today, down in Kirkstall near the Aire. There is quite the crop far down on the banks. I also got some nettles and some cleavers for JUICING! *tries not to look like a smug Guardian reader*

Doing things properly!

23 Apr

I was delighted when I found this little volume it a second-hand shop in Fakenham in Norfolk. I’m not sure what it was called, but I know it had moved some distance to its new premises there. It sold some books, some furniture, records, coins and miscelleany. The man was valuing a home-made exploding warship when I was in there. The explosion was caused by a mousetrap! But I digress …

I really love cookery books from the 1970s and 1980s. This gem was published in 1984, fulfilling the niche in the cookery bookmarket. It was designed “for those who are buying (or thinking of buying) their first slow cooker, as well as the expert” – something for everyone you may say. In the introduction, it’s still women who do cooking. Men can’t. Wrong sized hands. My favourite section is about Who uses a slow cooker? and it lists Students, People out at Work, Mothers and Old Folks. So most people, right? Not fathers though. You couldn’t say that EVERYONE uses a slow cooker. Not yet, anyway.

The other reason apart from the sexism that I love these books is because they often have several offal recipes. Some of which have a continental influence! *Gasps*

So to dip my toes into the “Properly Explained” world of Slow Cookery, I started with a liver recipe.

I’m still working out my relationship with liver. I really like it, in all the species, but it is very much an offal you have to treat with respect. Ox-tail you can do what you want with and as long as you cook it long enough, it’ll be lovely. Liver, I believe, could turn against you if you’re not kind to it.

So I gently stroked my lamb’s liver and whispered to it: “If you could become one of the recipes from Slow Cooking Properly Explained, which one would you like to be?” And the liver said “I would like to be Liver Austrian Style”. Who am I to refuse a dead organ’s last wishes?

Liver Austrian Style

LOW 3 – 10 hours

1 lb sliced lamb/pork liver, 300ml milk, 25g butter, 1 finely chopped onion, 100g sliced chestnut mushrooms, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp salt, black pepper, bouquet garni, 300ml stock, 3 tbsp cream

If your liver isn’t fresh or you are worried about the quality of it then you’ll need to soak it in the milk for 8 hours before cooking it. Put it in a bowl, cover with the milk and refrigrate for 8 hours. When you’re ready to use it, drain it, discard the milk and pat the liver dry with kitchen roll.

To make the dish: in a large pan gently fry the onion in the butter until softened but not browned. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute on a low heat. Toss the liver in the flour and brown it quickly on both sides, stirring to keep the meat separate. Add the seasoning, bouquet garni and stock. Bring to the boil, stirring consistently until sauce has thickened. Transfer to the slow cooker and cook for the recommended time (above). Just before serving remove the bouquet garni, stir in the cream and serve with wither buttered noodles (?) or rice! I served ours with kale not carbs.

What you can also do is just throw everything in the slow cooker (apart from the cream) and it all cooks fine. I did this because there were no clean pans and I was too tired to wash one.

As a note on liver, if you look carefully in the picture above, you can see holes where the veins ran through the organ, They need removing before cooking. Here I am putting my left index finger through one. This was lamb’s liver that we used. Just saying. That means their veins are the size of our fingers. GIANT LAMBS roaming Wensleydale, bleating that not enough people eat their organs after they die. I did my duty. It was good.


Sour Lamb Neck (deliciousness, but could be sourer)

8 Feb

Neck of lamb isn’t strictly speaking an offal, but it is definitely an underused cut of meat with bone in it, so I picked some up from my Mum’s butcher in Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, and froze it until a occassion where I was skint. That occasion came and haunted by a delicious dish of lime lamb neck at a Lebanese restaurant in Leeds called Fairuz, I wanted to make something similarly SOUR. So the other name for this dish would be Lamb and Grapefruit Casserole.

There are no pictures of this gem, because it was another brown dish and you’ve probably seen lots of brown casseroles in your time. So, PAUSE, and IMAGINE a dish of brown …. like a nice dark brown, the colour of chesnuts exposed to the air for about an hour and a half*.

This recipe is different to my others, in that it seems to me to have an inordinate amount of ingredients, but essentially was made from what Daz and I had on the kitchen side. I’m not sure either if I’m writing the recipes out in a way that you can follow, so if it doesn’t make any sense, please let me know.

The ingredients fall into four groups:

  1. 4 tablespoons plain flour, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 neck of a lamb cut into four by your butcher
  2. half a large aubergine, half a very large courgette, 1 whole turnip
  3. zest and juice of 2 limes, zest and juice of one yellow grapefruit, 2 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon hot paprika, half teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 and a half teaspoon ground cumin
  4. 2 vegetable stock cubes, enough hot water to cover all ingredients, 4 dashes Magi liquid seasoning

What I did was to mix on a teaplate all the dry ingredients from 1, then coat lamb neck in mixture and fry off till browned. I put the neck in the slow cooker with the rest of the flour-spice mix. Then add 2 to the slow cooker and jumble them all together with your (washed) hands. Add all of 3, jumble once more. Add 4, stirring to melt the cubes of stock. If of course, you make/use real veg stock then reduce the additional water, please.

I left everything to marinate over night in the slow cooker and then switched it to high at about 8am the following morning. We ate at 7 that night. (If you don’t have a slow cooker a) buy one because they are ace and b) you can just do a normal casserole at 180 for 3 hours or so, the gravy might not be as thick but you can always add cornflour.) It was scrumblelicious, but didn’t have the sour sour tang that I’d been after. I blame the Asda grapefruit. Maybe it had lost its sour by sitting in my kitchen when it was already reduced to sell-by-fresh for two weeks.

Ideas for different things to make it sour are welcome – tamarind might work? preserved lemons? those gobstoppers I remember from being 7 which had SKULL GROWLING on them? I found this blog which is all about Cambodian food and how they love it sour. The rest of the blog is pretty good too. My friend Paul lives in Cambodia and he hasn’t mentioned the sour factor but has mentioned how they love to eat all the bits of the animals, perhaps a Cambodian special one week, prehaps I’ll cook some brains in a Pol Pot? *comedy trombone noise and muttered apologies*

*At primary school we did a day where we got a conker, broke it out and drew the changing shapes and colours of the darkening brown pigment. There are only so many times you can draw the same conker in one day.