Friday, June 04, 2010

Rehabilitating English Cooking I

I don't know how this is viewed in America. At my end, "English cooking" is a joke on a par with Austrian (or Italian) military prowess, French morals, Russian teetotalism or German humour. Well, not ALL clichés are true, and that about English cooking is plainly wrong. I can only guess that it comes from those many German pupils who are sent for a couple of weeks to England to improve their language skills (which they never do) and who are usually hosted by working class families who want to make a small profit from it. I am not talking about top restaurants, which are bound to be good, I am talking about home cooking and pub grub and both are so far above everything I have known in my own country that it defies belief. So here are a few recipies:
HOT WATER CRUST PASTRY
Cooking time: as specific recipes

This pastry is made by melting the fat in the water, then adding the flour. It is ideal for cold savory pies. The pastry must be kept warm during rolling and shaping to prevent it breaking. lt is also known as raised pie pastry.

350 g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
100 g lard or cooking fat
150 ml milk or water

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Put the lard or cooking fat into a saucepan with the milk or water and heat until melted. Remove the pan from the heat then add all the flour to the hot mixture, stir well until blended. Allow the dough to cool slightly, so it can be handled, then knead until smooth. Placethe portion required for the base and sides of a pie on a lightly floured board and roll out to desired shape. Keep the rest ofthe pastry, which may be needed for the lid of a pie, in a warm place. Shape and bake as specific recipes.

Variation:
You can add an egg yolk for extra flavour without affecting the amount of liquid.

VEAL AND HAM PIE
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours • Serves 6
To make the Veal and Ham Pie follow the hot water crust pastry recipe.
For the filling use a total of 900 g veal and ham - this can be equal quantities of each meat or 675 g of veal and 225 g cooked ham. The meats should be diced and mixed together. The method of filling then baking the pie is as given for the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie but omit the anchovy fillets. The stock can be flavoured with a little finely grated lemon zest. It is usual to hard-boil 2 to 4 eggs and put these in the centre of the meat.

When cold, the pie is filled with a jellied stock.

VEAL, HAM AND CHICKEN PIE
Another less usual version of this pie is made by using approximately 675 g thinly sliced uncooked chicken flesh and layering this with the mixture given for Veal and Ham Pie. Bake as the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie.

MELTON MOWBRAY PORK PIE
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours • Serves 6
This pie it is said to have been invented by a baker in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, in 1830. The inclusion of anchovy fillets with pork is unusual but quite good.

625 g lean boneless pork from the leg
225 g fat boneless pork from the belly
6 to 8 anchovy fillets
3 tbspoons white stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot water crust pasty from 350 g flour (see above)
1 egg to glaze the pastry
For the jelly:
150 ml white stock
1 teaspoon gelatine

Dice both kinds of pork and blend together. Chop the anchovy fillets and mix with the meat, add the stock. Allow to stand while making the pastry. Season with very little, if any, salt but with pepper. Make the hot water crust pastry as above.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F, Gas Mark 3. Lightly grease an 18 cm/7 inch round tin with a loose base or a proper raised pie springform tin, which is usually oval. Roll out two-thirds of the dough (keep the rest warm). Cut a shape to fit the base ofthe tin, and a band the depth and circumference of the sides. Insert the pastry in the tin, moisten and seal the edges. Moisten the top edges of the pastry.

Put in the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out the lid. Place over the filling and seal the edges. Beat the egg and brush over the pastry.

Traditionally this kind of pie is decorated with pastry leaves and a rose or tassel, so make these from the left-over pastry. Make a slit in the centre of the pastry lid for the steam to escape. Press the leaves and rose or tassel on top of the pie, brush with egg.

Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Lower the heat slightly after 2 hours, if the pastry is becoming too brown. Allow the pie to become quite cold.

Pour the 150 ml stock into a basin, add the gelatine, stand for 2 to 3 minutes then dissolve over hot water. Cool until like a thick syrup. Insert a small funnel into the slit in the pastry lid and pour the jelly through this. Leave the pie in the refrigerator for several hours for the jelly to set, then serve cold with salad.
This is from Marguerite Patten, Classic British Dishes.

I owe the following to IPC! Yes, to the publisher.

I started to develop an interest in cooking relatively late in life. I the Nineties, I saw by chance the following recipe in a Christmas issue of Horse and Hound and as I was bored and love game terrine and as it all seemed to be pretty straightforward I thought why not give it a try. All of my friends who REALLY knew how too cook (one of them with a degree in domestic sciences) squeaked in anguish that THEY would NEVER have tried ANYTHING like that because it was much too fussy and difficult. However, it worked a treat and has again many times.

To quote a friend who has encouraged me all the way: "Everybody who can read can cook as well!"
GAME TERRINE
Serves 6-8

450g/1lb raw boneless game, such as duck, venison, pheasant, rabbit
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
25g/2oz butter
1 egg yolk
450g/1lb minced belly of pork
55g/2oz fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
225g/8oz chicken livers (use duck or goose livers if you have them, soaked in milk for 30 minutes
85g/3oz pistachio nuts, shelled
450g/1lb rindless smoked bacon rashers, thinly sliced
For the marinade
port and/or red wine
bay leaf
onion slices
seasoning

1. Marinate the game overnight in red wine or port, together with the bay leaf, onion slices and seasoning. Remove and pat dry, then trim to remove all fat, skin and any sinews.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until softened. Reserve eight to nine good pieces of game, then blend the remaining game, egg yolk and onion in a food processor, until combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the belly of pork, breadcrumbs, thyme leaves and chicken livers. If using duck or goose livers, lightly sauté in butter before adding. Mix together well and add the pistachio nuts. Season generously-a terrine tends to need plenty of salt.

4. Grease a 900g/21b loaf tin and line, crossways, with the bacon rashers. Spoon in X of the mixture, then cover with a few pieces of reserved game pieces. Repeat layering until the tin is full, then fold the bacon rashers over the top, adding a few more lengthways, if necessary to cover top completely.

5. Cover the loaf tin with buttered paper, then foil. Stand in a roasting tin and pour in hot water to come halfway up the tin sides.

Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the terrine juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Cool, then weight down to flatten. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to turn out. Slice to serve.
I forgot where I got this from:
Green Tomato Chutney

For 1 kg green tomatoes:
- at least 250 g brown sugar
- 200 ml white wine vinegar
- Ca. 1 tablesoppn of salt
- coarsely grinded onions to taste
- fresh garlic, crushed, to taste
- fresh jalapeño peppers finely chopped, to taste (careful!)
- fresh ground ginger, to taste
- Additional spices: mace, lemon zest and cardamom to taste.

Bring to boil and simmer on low heat until thickened, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or even burning. I had to throw away the entire content of a huge saucepan once.

If you have a large amount, it can take hours and it will stink. Be prepared to answer back to complaining neighbours.
There's more to come!

1 Comment(s):

Jenn said...

The green tomato chutney sounds interesting... I have plenty of green tomatoes in my garden and I'm growing impatient for the day they finally turn red...
Thanks for the interesting read,
Jenn