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Hanger Steak and Broad Bean Risotto

21 Aug

So there’s a note to myself in this: Lucy please write your recipes down. Kthnxbi.

Like all my greatest moments of genius, this one wasn’t particularly well recorded. Partly because offalling is a part of my life now, so I don’t really think about it as much as I used to when I’m cooking. That’s a good thing, because it means the lifestyle change has become in ingrained.

So to this simple recipe. It utilises my slowwww cooooooker (again), but you could just use a pan.

One word about hanger steak before we begin. It’s not steak. It’s not an organ, but it is I think in the under-used cuts category. Why? It lives near the diaphragm and has something to do with all that pumps-and-bellows jazz and the heart of our body, so it is quite awkward to cut out and is usually thrown out with the rest. I think it’s a shame because it is well tasty. It’s also called ‘feather steak’ I think. In England I think we call it ‘skirt’. Wikipedia will tell you more! (Don’t believe it all though, hanger steak is delicious, though I would prefer to call it skirt.)

Ok, so take your bit of skirt. I used some veal skirt. Put it in the slow cooker, covered in water for about 6 hours. It should be all melty and tender. Alternatively, put it in a casserole covered in water in the oven at a low heat for 6 hours.

Remove, drain, reserve the stock and gently pull apart the meat fibres, discarding the bit that runs down the middle. It should come apart really easily into these long filaments. I think it’s really beautiful how it falls apart unlike any other cut of meat. I think there’s a very poetic moment when peel the strands away …

Then you have cooked meaty-deliciousness and some amazing stock. Both are vital for supreme risotto. (You could do this a few days before if you were feeling all Delia.)

Then make risotto.

I chopped an onion and some garlic and melted it all down, then added 300g risotto rice and stirred so it was all covered in the oil. I chopped a generous sprig of fresh marjoram and threw that in. Added the meat. Then began to add the stock a little at a time so it cooked through. With the amounts of stock you just have to use your judgement a bit and if you think you need more just make up a bit of bouillon or vegetable stock. (Don’t introduce chicken stock, that would be a fauz pas, because you won’t get the true veal-ly flavour.)

Five minutes before you think it’s done, add as many broad beans as you think appropriate (for me a metric fuckton).

Top with parmesan. Maybe a bit more marjoram. If you’re feeling flush.

Nom Nom Nom.

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Roast Veal Heart, stuffed with Spring, wrapped in Vine Leaves – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 7

7 May

Yesterday we had quick-cooked veal heart. Today we had slow cooked veal heart. Me and Mr Stupendous Snooker think that this is the best veal heart recipe we’ve done yet.

For me it was a couple of firsts. I’d never roasted a heart before. I’d never made stuffing from scratch before either. Neither had I put a bin bag on the floor to do cooking and baking on so I didn’t miss very much of the snooker.So this was my set-up:

What you can see on the floor is a bowl of Spring stuffing, a crock pot, a heart , a lemon, a packet of breadcrumbs (I am bad), a grater, tomato puree and the round things to the back are raw cookies, waiting to go in the oven. I thought the bin bag idea was GENIUS.

To the recipe – if you don’t have a heart that you’ve already taken the chamber walls out of, then do so. Or get your butcher to do it. If you haven’t and don’t want to do it yourself. Don’t worry, you can put the stuffing in each chamber and have a multi-chambered heart. Like a tomb. If you need to trim any tubes or gristle from your heart, do so now.

Next make the stuffing. I called it Spring stuffing because I wanted really fresh and zingy flavours to go with the taste of the veal.

You want to mix together:

  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • zest of 1 massive lemon and its juice
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • a few shakes of Magi seasoning (or Worcester or soy sauce)
  • 1 heaped tsp dried parsley
  • torn leaves of most of a supermarket basil plant
  • one large mushroom (grated on the zester)
  • one stick celery (ditto)

Mix it all together, it will go a bit sticky. If you don’t think your lemon is large enough (look at the corker in the picture), then use two.

You will now need a packet of vine leaves and string.

First stuff the cavity/ies of your heart. Hold it together in your hands and then gradually wrap vine leaves around it. If you’re having trouble holding it together, tie it up with string. Then wrap the vine leaves around it. The vine leaves will help to keep the heart moist while it is roasting in the oven. If you don’t want to include them, wrap the heart in bacon and make sure it is covered with foil.

So wrap the vine leaves around the heart. I used most of the packet, you want the layer to be quite think so the leaves closest to the heart impart all their flavour to the meat. We’ve done this vine leaf trick before on pheasants and it really does make them lovely. You could do it on a chicken!

Then tie everything together with string again. I went for the three strands approach, you can use as much as you like.

Pop it in your pan and roast in the oven for 2 half to 3 hours. The temperature should be a Gas Mark 4 (190C).

And that’s what you end up with. I carved it laterally, so the slices had stuffing in the middle. YUM! We ate some with kale and broccoli in the evening and there was enough left for both of us to have cold for lunch the following day.

Six meals. One heart. True Love.

Or something.

Stir-fried Veal Heart – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 6

5 May

Now we moved more towards the middle of the animal, things are going to get cooked in a less linear order. This is because I am defrosting a lot of the offal now (there was a freezer accumulation) and it all depends on what I pull out.

Now we are in the innards of the animal, and pretty much all we’ll eat over the next couple of days will be organ-licious. The variety, however is hugely surprising.

Before we get to the veal heart of the matter – a word about lunch. Today we double offalled. Oh yes. Two organs, one day. All the win. For lunch we chicken liver curry. This was one of the first things I cooked with offal and because I live in the curry-capital that is Leeds, spicy chicken livers are on a lot of menus. Today we had a curry that channelled a bit of Africa as I used again some of the spices that I got sent in my first foodie penpals package. Today I used the Hot Chilli Pepper (it is super hot) and some Cameroon Pepper (which tastes a bit smoky). These along with ginger, chilli flakes and garlic made something pretty hot (but not too hot for me). I didn’t take a picture because for me now, it’s a pretty normal thing to cook and I’m sure I’ve made it and not blogged about it. It was good. It looked like a typical tomato-based curry, but with chicken livers in.

For supper, the Beautiful Man and I were slightly more adventurous and chose to make a couple of meals out of our de-frosted veal heart (from the lovely Heaves Farm Veal). So there’ll be another post about the Grand Plan tomorrow. I’ve cooked heart before (it was 2 for 1 when I got the hearts) so this time I had an idea of what I was meant to be doing. The heart has several chambers and for dinner tonight I was taking out the meat that makes the walls of the heart and chopping it up for stir fry. Most hearts you buy (I am led to believe) are already slit so the abattoir vetenery officer can check the animals health. This makes our job easier. Key to understanding where to cut is handling the organ, understanding where the chambers are and where you need to cut. Again, like the testicles, it’s quite intuitive.

Once you’ve cut the chamber walls out, slice them fairly thinly, bite-sized pieces I think. Then I marinaded the meat. I think this helped to tenderise it.

For the marinade:

1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp ras el hanout, 1 tsp harissa, 3 tbsp orange juice, 1 wedge of lemon squeezed in.

Mix all these together with the heart in a bowl. Leave to stand for twenty minutes.

All there was then left to do was make some egg-fried rice (this was incidentally the first time me or the Wondrous Male had made egg-fried rice – all the experiementation) and stir-fry on a high heat the heart for five minute or less.

So there you go. The exciting thing that I’m taking away from this is that heart can be lovely if you just cook it fast. After Valentine’s Day (which was good) I felt like I’d lost a bit of my heart confidence. But it’s back now! So, next time you’re making stir-fry and shopping in Morrisons put up a pack of heart there.

Just so you haven’t lost track of our pace along the animal – here is my up-to-date diagram again:

As you can tell, I’m not a graphic designer, or any sort of artist. The green bits are testicles. (The lady cow is now a gentleman cow btw. I don’t think that’s because too much offal was eaten. That was BSE.) There’s an extra species listed type listed too! Hurrah!

Veal Tail Risotto – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 1

1 May

So if you read this previous post, you’ll know I’m eating my way along the animal this fortnight, beginning at the tail.

Day 1 began with tail, rather than head, because I didn’t plan very well, so had to get some veal tail out the freezer. (Offal drawer is not big enough to accommodate a whole head at the moment.) This veal tail I purchased a few weeks ago from the Alternative Meat Company along with my hearts, hanger steaks and tongues. Veal does have a beefy taste, but quite a light one. It tastes pretty sweet too. I wanted to use some flavours that wouldn’t cover the veal taste. With ox tail, recipes tend to use quite a lot of heavy flavours like star anise and chilli and I wanted to avoid that.

Veal tails are smaller than oxtails, so I used two. I was cooking for three people.

To begin with I decided to poach the tails in water for a few hours to separate the meat from the bones and to make a veal stock.

The water looks a bit pink because I added the defrosted blood from the cellophane packets to the water. It;s all good. I let the bones simmer all afternoon, so for maybe four hours. Keep topping up the water so it doesn’t boil dry. When the meat is separating itself from the bones, take the pieces out, pull the meat off and put to one side. Bones, gristle and cartilage to the bin. You should now have a bowl of poached veal and a jug of veal stock!

ooh look at all the goodness in there

The stock should look cloudy. This will be the base stock for your risotto, it should smell a little beefy and a little chickeny.

Then, to the risotto making.

Finely chop 1 onion, 3 cloves of smoked garlic and 2 sticks of celery. Heat a tablespoon of oil in your risotto pan, add the finely chopped ingredients and sweat them down gently so its all softened and lovely. Add 1 tsp dried parsley, half tsp dried rosemary and quarter tsp ground nutmeg. Stir it all together. Add the risotto rice -enough for 3 people – about 350g I think? I judged it by shakes from the packet though … Stir again. Add the veal bits and stir around.

The you’re at the point where you can add your stock –  a little at a time so the rice swells with the fluid, then add a bit more and so on. I’ve assumed that most people reading have made a risotto before – if you haven’t then please get in touch and I can give you more deets.

When you’re happy that your rice is cooked and lovely, take the pan off the heat and stir in about 500g of fresh spinach. The heat from the rosotto will wilt it down fast, but you loose very few of the nutrients from it.

Serve with grated cheese (parmesan for authenticity, cheddar for convenience if you’re me).

I understand, mostly what you can see is a pile of cheese.

To sum up, the ingredients you need are:

1 kg veal tail, several pints of water, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 sticks celery, 1 tsp parsley, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/4 nutmeg, 350g risotto rice, 500g spinach, cheese for grating.

I hope you like the freshness of the ingredients. I think this was a good start to Nose to Tail Fortnight! I’m going to try and blog each day moving my way along the animal – here’s where we are now:

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.

Happy Valentine’s Day

9 Apr

Just so as we are clear, in case you haven’t guessed, I am not very good at writing things up the day I get them. I invariably cook something, take pictures and all of that and then start writing and stop. It is compounded by a continual and wearing loss of phone data cables. This has lessened somewhat since I learnt you could use your kindle cable for that task (if you have an old nokia like me).

With that pre-amble out of the way, make way for the Valentine’s Day Veal Heart …. tah dah!

So I got this heart from Alternative Meats when they were on 2 for 1 – I do like to sniff out a bargain. I looked around for a long time to try and find a recipe that I wanted to do. Stuffed heart and braised heart kept coming up, but I wanted to try something different. Some bloggers mentioned that you could grill veal heart like steak and that it was super delicious. For this check out Alex Cardoza’s blog. Heart steak sounded like a good Valentine’s meal to me! I do really like the synchronicity of eating heart on the day of love too. (I know I missed world kidney day, maybe i’ll find out when world tripe day is?)

Things you have to remember with hearts are that they are very lean. They have chambers. They also have veins and bits of ligaments n ting. Sinews. Heart is sinewous. You could start a Seamus Heaney poem with that line.

So basically, you have to sort your heart out. (I have now segue-wayed into Carrie Bradshaw *sigh*) I’m not an expert of offal butchery. The pigs I used to joint and roll were all free of these accoutrements, so I wasn’t really sure where to begin. I knew that there would be plenty of heart and I just needed enough for two nice steaks. The rest would casserole (more of that later). What I did was basically try and open the heart out, removing sinews as I went.

You do need a sharp knife and to spend some time playing your heart, so you can work out where the central wall is. Cut along that and you should see something like the view above. Clean those sinews out, then cut the other side of the central wall. It will look a bit like this:

She wrote a book called Odd Bits - guess what that's about? And her blog is super interesting http://jennifermclagan.blogspot.co.uk/

You then want to flatten it out, and then cut the central wall away – this can go to the casserole side. Then find the evenest areas of the heart and cut two steak sized pieces. These you will then grill or griddle or you could I guess fry them too.

There are two things I would do differently next time:

  1. I would make sure the heart was all at room temperature, because it had de-frosted, it was still quite cold in the middle, which meant when I grilled it the heat didn’t permeate all the way through.
  2. Don’t treat it just like it’s a fillet steak. It’s not. It’s denser and meatier and it’s not steak. I like to cook a fillet steak quickly on a high heat both sides so it’s very rare in the middle. I would lower the heat slightly next time so it cooks a bit further through. I think if you cooked it as if you wanted it medium rare, it would still turn out rare. Not the still beating version my beloved and I had.

As you can see in the picture, I also grilled some aubergine. I roasted some potatoes in goose fat (mmmmmmmm … goose fat). We had some purple sprouting broccoli too. This was my finished Valentine’s Day meal:

Accompanied by the beautiful rose that was purchased for me, by the love of life! (He must be that as he didn’t even mention the over-rarity of the heart.) There’ll be another heart recipe on it’s way as these two steak used maybe a third of the heart, so as they say, watch this space!

Also I don’t know how I’ll top this next year, so any ideas are welcome – what did you cook for Valentine’s?

And last but not least, this meal won me a competition from the Lahloo Tea facebook, so you should look at their website and buy some deliciousness. I won the Wild Rose tea. Thank you, Lahloo!

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!