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Venison Liver and Holistic Cauliflower

15 Sep

Less of a post, more of  a handy hint: did you know that venison liver is awesome? Try it. I got mine from Round Green Farm at the Kirkstall Farmers Market and it is SUPER TASTY. I’ve eaten it before and always look out for it. The simplest way to cook it is to flour it all over and then fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Did you know that you can eat the leaves of cauliflowers as well as the florets? I didn’t and I come from the Land of the Brassica (tip courtesy of the lovely lady a B Whiteleys Vegetables). Don’t eat the woody tough bit that runs down the middle of the leaf, but the floppity leaf bits at either side. I snipped them away with scissors and them steamed them briefly. Lovely, cabbage but not, if you will. I’m sure this is old hat to some people, but it was flash of enlightenment for me! What other overlooked leaves can you eat?

I also made a cauliflower cheese. What a nice dinner! I do like going to the Kirkstall Market …

Venison Liver a la Hermes Diaktoros …

20 Jun

Have you ever done this thing where you read in a novel what somebody is eating and you immediately want to have that for yourself? That you were licking lips while you heard the descriptions, and your stomach started to rumble.

I did.

Hermes Diaktoros is a Greek detective, written by Anne Zouroudi*, who solves crimes in a variety of settings around the Aegean. If you’ve not read them, DO. They are really good. I’m saving at the moment to get the newest one on my kindle. But, this is not a book reviewing place.

The description I’m talking about comes from The Whispers of Nemesis, where Hermes and a taxi-driver called Hassan are sharing a plate of goat liver:

It was, as Hassan had said, a fresh, well-flavoured mouthful: a touch of pink at the centre, the onions soft and flavoursome, the whole made interesting with a scattering of thyme.

Not only is it interesting to me as it shows a Greek take on liver and onions. It also talks about liver cooked in a sensitive way. And thyme is my favourite herb.

I didn’t have any goat liver, but I did get some venison liver a while ago, and was inspired to try and feel a bit Greek (but without the murders) in Beeston.

I floured the liver, pan fried it for a couple of minutes each side and served it on top of two potato farls (a lot of my family is Irish too), a bit of Greek salad and LOADS of fresh thyme. It was super tasty.

Have cooked something from a novel? What are your favourite food novels?

I’ve not read any James Joyce (the shame) but I know he’s all over the offal. I know this because my very supportive godmother posted this:

“Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls”

Then there was an interessting discussion about how offal because part of national cuisine, when a country has a high level of meat export. In this case, beef and lamb cuts exported to the British Army from Ireland. Just leaving the trotters and chitterlings behind.

Who says offal isn’t political?

*she is a second cousin of the Barnsdale branch of our family. That’s by the by.

Lincolnshire Haslet – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 14

16 May

Wow. The last day of nose to tail fortnight and my eating along the animal challenge.

How do I feel? Full of meat. I’ve got a craving for cauliflower.

How far along the animal did I get? All the way, baby!

Here is the full nose to tail body part list: pig head, cow foot, pig lung, cow heart, deer kidney, chicken liver, cow stomach, lamb testicle, pig trotter, cow tail, sausages and caul fat.

Haslet seemed a fitting way to end my nose to tail fortnight. Here is what wikipedia says:

Haslet, also spelt ‘Acelet’, is a porkmeatloaf with herbs originally from Lincolnshire, England. The name is derived from the Old Frenchhastilles meaning entrails[1].

In Lincolnshire, haslet (pronounced hayzleht locally), is a meatloaf typically made from stale white bread, ground pork, sage, salt and black pepper.[2] It is typically served cold with pickles and salad, or as a sandwich filling.[citation needed]

Basically it is offal and off-cuts ground up with sage, salt and pepper; the pressed out of it; wrapped in caul fat; then baked. I haven’t tried to make it myself, mostly because Hargreaves of Spalding make the best ones and I try to alway have one in my Leeds-based freezer. It freezes really well and defrosts gently over-night.

I like to eat the end slices by themselves. As well as eating it cold, you can also fry it up and have it warm. A very versatile pork product indeed. The top should be a darker colour (due to the baking). If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see the pattern of the caul fat on the top. The caul keeps the haslet bound together.

In my sandwich on Sunday, I added fresh sage leaves and a few leaves of Jack-by-the-hedge. That made an excellent sandwich.

Don’t buy the stuff from the supermarket deli counter. It is minging. If you do, I’ll play you this Cyndi Lauper clip very early in the morning, so you faint from over-exposure to Shaggy. That’s real threat.

If you’d like to try a proper one, it can be arranged. You can either find a proper Lincolnshire butcher (if he doesn’t rub his hands together, he’s not the real deal) or send me a message and I can be your dealer.

Another Lincolnshire delicacy to try is Stuffed Chine. Shaggy loves it.*


*I imagine he does.

Venison Kidney – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 8

8 May

What a lovely bank holiday dinner! At the bottom of the plate you can see my venison kidneys, then clockwise is garlic kale and mushrooms, fruity red cabbage and roast potatoes. It did seem a little odd to have such a Winter plate in May, but I think we had our 3 days of summer in April, so I guess we’re looking to Autumn now.

I’ve said before how beautiful I think venison kidneys are. I definitely think they are the place to start a kidney odyssey with. I floured these and then fried them for a couple of minutes each side. Delicious.

One thing I did note was that because these ones had been frozen (I think this is right) they were harder to de-core. Next time, I’ll de-core them and then freeze. The freezing didn’t change the texture of the meat or the taste, but just seemed to entrench the core a bit more. Or these were firmly cored kidneys. Something to think about though.

Have you noticed freezing make a change in some meat?

And here’s where we are along the carcass!

Five species now!

Surprise Deer Kidney

18 Apr

I blame Bambi. Everyone who I told at the pub that I’d eaten venison kidney the night before pulled faces and squirmed. Bloody Bambi. Making me seem like a heartless carnivore. I’m not, I’m just a normal person trying to think more about the how and the what in meat-eating.

On Saturday I went to the Headingley Farmers Market. This was exciting and also expensive. Mostly because Daz and I got very excited about more goose eggs and fancy mushroms and we wanted PIES. We bought two types of sausage and basically all the deliciousness, apart from fish. We looked at the fish and said ‘ooh fish’ but then decided that we didn’t need any for this week.

Here are our pickings:

They do all look good don’t they? The part I was most excited about was the Venison Man from Round Green Farm near Wakefield. I had seen that they were on the list of attendees, so the night before I had emailed saying would they have liver, because I was doing this project and my friend Sophie had said it was well good. I didn’t get a reply, but I wasn’t to worry as when we got to the stall I was asked for the first time in my life “If I was the offal lady?” and I said yes. Not only was the gentlemen really knowledgeable and interested in what I was doing, but he also had liver, AND venison kidney “on the off-chance that you’d come”. I really think that is very kind and thoughtful and if you are buying venison you should it buy from them. We also bought Wild Boar sausages. They are delicious too. What I was most excited about was my surprise kidney …

Kidney was one of my first offals in January – do you remember Kidney is dense? I’ve eaten pork and lamb kidney and I ate rabbit kidney on holiday last year in Greece, but never venison kidney (I’ll use the proper name now I’ve shocked you with a bit of a Banbi reminder). If truth be told I’ve never really eaten much venison – I guess I’ve never thought to buy it myself and in restaurants it’s always been in the above £15 a la carte area, which is an area I try to steer clear from. What I can say is that venison kidney is delicious. It is far better than lamb kidney (which is meant to be tops) and I urge everyone to have a go.

The kidneys from Round Green Farm were firm and succulent the next day when I cooked one (so they keep well – this is a plus after a kidney went foul on a 20 minute car journey a while ago – it was from Sainsbury’s FYI). And gamey. And lovely.

I wanted to keep the kidney recipe paired down (after all the essential oil excesses – see I can show restraint).

I mixed a couple of tablespoons of plain flour with salt and pepper and some smoked paprika, following advice found on Youhavetocookitright (a really good blog too). Then I cut the kidney in half removed the white core (I am getting much better at this) and dredged both halves in the flour mixture. I heated some butter in a pan and fried them on each side for about 3 minutes each (meduim-high gas heat).

I added a few shakes of Henderson’s Relish – mostly on a whim – you could use Worcester Sauce, or even tabasco, or even leave it out.

After the frying I put them in the oven to keep warm while I added some bouillon to the pan and reduced it, whilst scraping off the delicious flour and kidney bits, to make I suppose a jus! I think it was really a thin gravy.

Here it is cooking down, you really want only a couple of tablespoons of it to be left. When that was done I put the kidneys on a plate with some savoy cabbage and poured my cooking liquor on top. Ten minutes tops from cupboard to plate. Brilliant.

And there you are. A blurry camera phone picture of my delicious dinner. I think venison kidneys are my new favourite type of kidney. Cooking them quickly means they cook almost all the way through with just a bit of pink, so they are juicy and delicious.

I think the secret fear people have of kidneys is that they will taste of urine. I’m pretty sure some do – I’m sure I’ve bought them, but with these (and you can pretend I’m whispering) THERE IS NOTHING OF THE URINOUS ABOUT THEM. Really, if you’re thinking of putting your fingers into the kidneys waters, venison kidney is the way to go.

I have also been promised a brain …