Saturday, 13 November 2010

Venison In A Day, with Ray Smith

Yesterday was spent with two hairy beasts and Ray Smith, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's butcher on River Cottage. I had joined one of the School's short courses. The deer, a white Fallow and a Roe buck hung from a steel frame in the butchery downstairs as Ray introduced himself. Seven of us eagerly watched in anticipation as Ray flayed the soft, white hide, and began to break down the carcass of the larger deceased deer. 
The haunches were carefully jointed into silverside and topside, using an almost forgotten technique know as seam butchery. Almost forgotten in the UK but actually still common place on the Continent, seam butchery follows the lines of silverskin in meat which separate each muscle of the animal and gives smaller cuts of meat with far more superior cooking qualities. For lunch the topside was wrapped in Pancetta and roasted, and the Striploin seared, giving an almost burnt outside, with a deep ruby centre. Easily the very best Vension I've eaten. 
During the afternoon the pluck (lungs, liver, heart and spleen) was blended with oatmeal, stock and spices, stuffed into casings and poached to create an aromatic haggis.
That was the Fallow deer seen to, but now the little Roe buck needed skinning. I took Rays knife and under his instruction started working the knife between the hide and the leg muscles. Between the seven of us the deer was eventually skinned, and revealed a much leaner animal than the Fallow. 
I cycled home with the hide from the Roe buck and a bag full of sausages for supper. 

My plan is to salt and dry the skin. I think I need some chemicals to stop the hairs falling out, although I'm not too sure. Prehistoric people dried animal skins without chemicals. But they probably also smelt pretty awful.    


Wild Yeast, fermenting doughs and Hokey Pokey

Eighteen loaves of bread are sitting in my kitchen looking glorious with charred crusts dusted with flour. Long, airy Ciabattas, Rye, Spelt, and Wholemeal Sourdoughs, and small tin loaves. We have been baking this week under guidance from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, head baker from Judges bakery in Hastings. Emmanuel baked at Daylesford, the Savoy and Flour Power, practicing the art of slow fermented doughs and wild yeast breads. That is breads made with little or no added yeast, relying on natural organisms from both the atmosphere and the flour to create fermentation.
To start a wild yeast bread, a teaspoon of organic rye flour is mixed with a little water and left overnight. this is then fed equal parts water and flour for a week until tiny bubbles are produced, little bubbles of Carbon dioxide suspended in the mix. These are being given off by the microorganisms in the mix as they go about there business. It is alive, you have nurtured life. This is the rising agent for your bread. look after it, feed it and keep it warm and it will  stay alive and give you fantastically complex and interesting breads.

Fruits of labour; Malthouse sourdoughs.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A very nice salad using one of my favourite English Goats cheeses

1 Tymsboro Goats cheese, crumbled
4 handfuls Lambs lettuce
Handful Almonds, toasted
1 small Acorn or Butternut squash
1 clove garlic, crushed
Small sprig thyme
Chuck of Sourdough, torn into small pieces
Olive oil
Sherry vinegar

Ÿ   Peel the squash and cut into smallish chunks, about 2cm square.
Ÿ  Heat about a small amount of olive oil and butter in a pan, add the squash, garlic and thyme and cook slowly until the flesh in caramelized and soft inside. Stir in a tablespoon of honey and remove from the heat.
Ÿ  In another pan, heat a small amount of oil and briefly fry the pieces of sourdough. They don’t have to be full on crunchy, like croutons, a bit of chewyness is nice.
  •   Dress the lambs lettuce with a glug of olive oil and a little sherry vinegar before adding the almonds, squash, sourdough and the crumbled Tymsboro.   
The very first blog. Sixs weeks into term, and i have discovered a new life focused around food, food production, and eating. every moment is filled with thoughts about food, or simply eating.
Evenings have spent plucking Partridges and Pheasants with a few glasses of wine. Cider has been made in the cobbled courtyard of the school. Wild mushrooms have been foraged from the estate; basketfuls of Cepes, Parasols, Shaggy inkcaps and Deseivers. I've made sloe infused gin and rosehip syrup, churned butter, seperated cream, turned 120 lites of fresh, unpasteurised milk into Cheddar and Coulommiers, and then eaten masses of cheese and debated food politics late into the night. 
The coffee roasters at Monmouth Coffee, based under the railway arches in Southwark, had the pleasure of our company as we smelt, tasted and roasted our way through every coffee producing country in the world.   
The autumn colours lit in thin, watery sunshine have been glorious, but frost and wind this week have changed the landscape to a much colder scene of blues and greys, with a mist hanging over the lake I pass early each morning. I have been eating light salads with a few bitter leaves, salty goats cheese, toasted nuts and a few slices of pear, but this week I plan to cook something richer and more warming; braised venison maybe. or a creamy chicken pie.