At Last - A Fridge!

What a bloomin' lousy week! I said in my last post that the fridge in the kitchen had died; well, now the drying fridge has come out in sympathy! That's two fridges and a microwave in a couple of weeks.

We ordered a new fridge for the kitchen from a very large high-street retailer's website, along with a new microwave. The fridge arrived on Wednesday and, lo and behold, there was a dent in the door. An hour of navigating a labyrinth of the "push button one for..." variety finally got a replacement delivered on Saturday morning. Surprise, Surprise it had two dents in it! We finally got a new fridge today.

As you can guess, going from three fridges to one has meant that not much curing or sausage making has happened in this house recently. Fortunately, the jinx hasn't extended to the garden so my smoker is still working satisfactorily as these pheasants and partridges can testify; at least they could if they were alive. Oh, silly me - and able to speak!

Smoked Pheasant and Partridge


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There's always something!

Finally the snow seems to have cleared. I've not bothered venturing further than the pub while it's icy, not because we couldn't, but it seemed a bit daft to venture far when we didn't have to. I'm getting to be even more of a grumpy old man and the TV set is in grave danger of flying through the nearest window if I have to listen to any more news reporters tell us that the few inches of snow we've had are unprecedented, or other such exaggerated terms. The only reason our roads weren't as clear as they should have been is because our penny pinching council couldn't be bothered to stock up with salt in time; they promised they would ensure adequate supplies last time they got caught out. It's a pity that all the hot wind that comes out of their mouths when they're caught with their pants down yet again couldn't be used to melt the snow.

I'd have gone out today to get more meat as I need to make sausage and ham and also want to try to make the Italian spreading sausage called Nduja, a fiery concoction full of chilli. It needs a particular type of chilli to be at its best and one of my sausage making chums, John from Quiet Waters Farm in Devon, has kindly sent me some. If you're ever down that way, be sure to pay him a visit and buy some of his superb charcuterie. Regrettably, there was no point as I haven't the fridge space for anything else as our kitchen fridge decided to give up the ghost, so everything's in the curing fridge at the moment. To add insult to injury the microwave came out in sympathy with the fridge so we need a new one of them as well. Neither of these items are old and the microwave has hardly been used. We bought an 'all singing and dancing' microwave with a grill and normal oven - neither have ever been used and the microwave has only been used to heat milk for sauces, heat baked beans and the like, and to defrost the occasional piece of meat. I'm sure these things have obsolescence built in nowadays!

On a more cheerful note it's great to read that my writings are appreciated by some, even if you have to go to Canada to find them! Barbecue specialists The Black Pig Competition BBQ Team recently featured my soft bread rolls on their blog, Les Noiracochon. Thanks for the plug guys.

On the cooking front things have been quiet. I know that others write about their everyday meals and the like, but I won't insult you by giving you a recipe for the slow cooked belly pork that we had last night. I won't insult your intelligence by giving a list of ingredients but here's what I did: grab some slabs of pork belly and just season it with salt, cook at 120°C on a grid above water for about 5 hours then blast with heat to crisp up - superb, melt in the mouth meat and crispy crackling, what more could anyone want?

What I will do though is give you the recipe for the hot water crust pastry that my mate used for this game pie (if it looks a bit battered, it's 'cos I carried it home from the pub in my pocket!):

Maurice's Game Pie

Pastry: 9oz Plain Flour, 3oz Lard, ¼ pint water, ½ level teaspoon salt. Heat fat and lard until lard is melted then bring to a boil and mix with the flour and salt. This makes a pastry that's as good as any I've had. Some of the quality is no doubt due the fact that Maurice has got it just the right thickness to be crisp but not hard. He's from Yorkshire. They know a bit about pies in that neck o' the woods! He's now got his own cold smoke generator, so I look forward to posting more about his exploits in future.


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RIP Monster Bresaola

With nothing better to do because of the snow, I had a trawl through my past posts. I realised that I never posted the outcome of the monster piece of beef that I was making bresaola with here and here.

I'd like to tell you how brilliant it was - but I can't! After a while hanging in my drying fridge it started to smell like a tramp's underwear - take it from me, I know from personal experience what a tramp's underwear smells like and it isn't pleasant! There was nothing to do,other than bin it. As one of my forum colleagues has as his signature "It's Not a Sin to Bin". We all get occasional failures but it's all the more galling when the meat has cost a lot of money.

That's the last time I come up with a hair brained-scheme like injecting cure into meat that I'm aiming to dry out! If I'd used my head, I should have realised it was a daft idea in the first place.



You can't tell Stork from Butter?

It's the middle of Pantomime season so you're all allowed to shout "Oh, yes we can", but how about making your own butter? This time of year is great for picking up double cream that's near its sell by date from the Supermarkup [sic], or you could even buy local cream specially. Just after Easter or Wimbledon are also good times.

I make butter using my Kenwood mixer, you could also use an electric whisk, or even make it by hand.

I put the cream in the mixer with a pinch of salt and a small pinch of sugar for every 300ml. I've no idea why I use the sugar it's just that I saw a lady who had made the butter for Chatsworth house for about 50 years do it; who am I to argue with her experience!

The ingredients

Using the K beater on the mixer, start 'churning' the cream

mixing the cream

Nearly there!

mixing the cream

If you don't have a bowl cover use a tea towel, or when it 'turns' it will splatter everywhere:

Cover with a tea towel

Turn it off quickly when you hear the butter slopping around in the butter-milk.

The butter's formed

Now the important bit, rinse and work the butter in very cold water to get rid of as much of the milky stuff in the butter as you can, then put it onto a board and pat (beat) it - water will come out of it. I don't have butter pats so use my hands and a rolling pin.

Pat and hit it to extract water

I flatten it, then roll it like a Swiss roll to shape it.

The finished butter

You can see from the photo that it needs more work to extract water - I'm going to be using it quickly so it's not so important. This butter will freeze well, so there's no excuse for not making plenty.

The taste reminds me of the creamy Normandy butter you get in France; far better than shop bought and for about half the price. You also get the buttermilk; it makes great scones or can be used to dip chicken into before coating in breadcrumbs or flour when making fried chicken.


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