Never Look a Gift Horse...

I'm sure all of my friend [sic] think that all the produce I get is showered on me by grateful producers. He can't seem to accept that people will actually do something for nothing nowadays.

OK, I admit that in the 4 years or so I've been running this site, I have received 1 pot of Strawberry Jam (Thank You Sandra's Husband), and very nice it was too.

Anyway, you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from Abel and Cole asking if they could send me a complimentary organic fruit and vegetable box - I thought that it must be Christmas! Then I realised, It is!

There I am thinking I'm the luckiest blogger alive, when I pop over to Jules's Domestic Goddess in Training Blog and read this:

My love of Baileys, is well known. Not just for drinking it, but also cooking with it...

...Last week Baileys contacted me asking if I would like to try some of their new Baileys with a Hint of Coffee plus have a go at some of their recipes created by James Martin. Me being one to rarely pass on the opportunity to try a new alcohol or dessert recipe I jumped at the chance. It came at the perfect time as I had just finished my most recently bottle of Baileys and was trying to work out which Supermarket had the best deal for a bottle of it.

Talk about One-Upmanship, or One-Upwomanship in this case!

To any other major drinks manufacturers out there; I don't want to (Famous) Grouse 'cos I can't see the Woods (Navy Rum) for the trees. You know I promote local Lambs (Navy Rum) and (Black) Sheep (Ale). Come to think of it lots of this rings a Bell('s Brewery(or whisky - I'm not fussy)). And whilst I'm thinking of it, let's mention the Great British Generals - Gordon(s), Booth(s) and Grant...

To all at Abel and Cole - A Big Thank You - I'll write about your generous gift later.

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Chicken (or Turkey) and Vegetable Soup

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Food blogs and the TV seem full of 'Credit Crunch' recipes. No, don't be daft, not recipes to cause a 'credit crunch', recipes to use the leftovers and cheaper foods! Bubble and Squeak seems to be the major one featured, but I've already posted about that ages ago, here.

One of our favourite 'free' foods is soup using stock made with the leftover carcass of a chicken, or at his time of the year, turkey.

We usually make this in the pressure cooker, but the method's the same in a normal pan, just cook it for about 2½/3 hours.

For the stock:
The carcass from a cooked chicken (keep any leftover meat for later).
A Carrot, Onion, Stick of celery, A few sprigs of herbs.
None of the flavourings are set in stone! Add mushroom stalks, tomato, root veg (but not greens), as you wish. Cover with water, Cook in the pressure cooker for ½ hour (following maker's instructions), or simmer in a saucepan. Strain.

The soup:
Add chopped leftover veg to the stock, along with any of the veg from the stock if it looks OK, otherwise chop some more veg and add it, simmer until the veg is cooked, then add any leftover chicken and heat through thoroughly. Thicken the soup, I used potato flour mixed with a little water; you could use cornflour in the same way. You can also use leftover mashed potato or liquidise a portion, or all, of the soup.

Serve with home-made cheese and onion rolls.

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Smoked Pheasant and Partridge

You know how it is. These things start with a conversation in the pub...

Maurice - "Do you want a brace of pheasants, Phil?..."
Me - "Err, No thanks I've not used the last ones yet..."
It goes on:
Maurice - "That's a pity, I've got 3 brace I don't know what to do with..."
Followed by that fateful line...
Me - "I wonder if we could smoke them?"

...and there you are - into another 'little' project.

Anyway, I found a couple of brines online, and chose to do one posted by JPJ at the forum, omitting the allspice and garlic.

2 hours of brining (2½ for the whole partridge) followed by a couple of hours or so smoking, at between 70°C and 80°C, to cook the meat, was all that was needed. The meat was then refrigerated overnight to allow the smoky flavour to fully penetrate the meat.

Smoke Pheasant and Partridge

Some of the finished smoked game; at the back, partridge crowns and whole birds, at the front, pheasant breast.

The brine:
4L pre-boiled water
400g salt
400g sugar (I used ¼ Dark Brown Sugar)
40g cure 1
4 crushed bay leaves
4 ground cloves
1 tsp each of cracked pepper and minced juniper berries

I thought the outside of the meat was very tough, but everyone else seemed not to bother. The taste was superb. Next time I'll lightly oil the meat, or better still, leave the skin on.


If I can make it, so can you.

Chorizo before drying

Before drying.

The finished chorizo

After Drying.

Recipe and instructions? Shortly.

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Pancetta Part 3 - ready to use

When we left the pancetta last time I was having problems with the humidity. It was my hygrometer that was at fault and a new one has solved the problem! I got it off ebay. It's one for use in a terrarium so has an external sensor, this is great 'cos I don't have to open the fridge to see how things are going on!

The meat lost roughly 28% of it's weight in 18 days and, although I say it myself, it's turned out really well. This is the proper job - not the stuff you get at the supermarket, that's basically streaky bacon with an inflated price tag; that has under 10% weight loss. For eating raw I would have dried it even more.

I've sliced some of it thinly for wrapping around chicken etc, and done some in larger pieces for flavouring casseroles and the like.

Needless to say I forgot to take pictures, so this one of it in a vac-pac will have to do. It would, of course keep perfectly well in the piece in the fridge, I just find it easier to slice it all at once.

The finished pancetta

Pancetta is a brilliant way to start curing meat at home and could be made successfully in a domestic fridge. The results are certainly worth the effort.

Previous posts:
For the curing instructions please see - Pigs and Pancetta
For the drying instructions please see - Pancetta - Part 2

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