Southern Fried Squirrel

 

Once you have caught your grey squirrel what to do next? At present there are some pockets of red squirrels left in Scotland, Anglesey and the Lake District. Apart from these, there are few left in the wild. A once controversial solution offered by some of the preservation bodies and a few MPs … recipes. Grey squirrel is available from some game butchers, either whole or portioned. A friend of mine, Robin, mentioned yesterday that a restaurant near Morpeth in the North East serves squirrel curry.

For years rabbit and wood pigeon have been hunted for the duel purpose of pest control and food, so why not the grey squirrel? The country economy is often bouyed by this kind of activity and it is the incentive for some of the hunters. Should some of the quangos get there way then sales of wood pigeon by shooters would be unlawful. Would there be any incentive for shooters to help out the farmers, as they do now, if an income stream is cut off?

Once you have a prepared squirrel, what can you do with it? Squirrel is a fairly dry meat like chicken or rabbit, but probably best to think of rabbit in terms of the relative anatomy. The main portions are the legs and the saddle. All of this can be casseroled or stewed. A real restaurant dish would be bone the saddles, stuff with leg meat and trimmings etc. Wrap in parma ham and tie. This can be cut into slices and pan fried.

If you want something quick and easy, then there is Southern Fried Squirrel. Legs and portioned saddle is floured, dipped in egg, rolled in breadcrumbs (or your own propriety coating) and then deep fried. You could even go as far as curing this and hot smoking on the barbecue.

Is grey squirrel meat the ethical award winner? It is free roaming, naturally fed and a pest species, so maybe not far off the mark. The only downside with grey squirrel is that it is believed to be higher in cholestorol.

 

 

 

Parsnips

 

Parsnip puree is a great side dish for all meals, especially Sunday dinner. If you think of a semi sloppy veg dish, similiar in consistency to bread sauce, this is it. Ideal for mopping up gravy or for adding a subtle sweetness to your plate. Parsnips are often relegated to roasting or boiling but they have so much more to offer. Like all root vegetables they are hardy and very versatile. Most of the things you can do with potatoes you can do with parsnips.

In this recipe you only really need one skill and that is to keep an eye on the pan. This is going to be cooked in milk or a mix of milk and cream. A heavy bottomed pan is best for this as you don’t want any hot spots which could catch the milk. It goes without saying that this recipe does carry an above average calorie count so serve occasionally :)

The recipe quantities are down to the volume of parsnips you are cooking. First peel and top the parsnips. If they are large, consider removing some of the centre in case it is woody. Chop into rough chunk and then drop into the sauce pan. Only just cover with milk (or milk and single cream mixed). Lightly season, easy on the salt in case you don’t have unsalted butter for later. One nice extra at this point is a little freshly grated nutmeg. Turn on the heat at low and don’t allow the pan to get above a gently simmer. Once you can feel the parnsips give easily with the point of a fork, you are done, probably 15 – 20 minutes.

Take off the heat, add unsalted butter and blend. Check and adjust seasoning, then you are ready to serve. If you have a while before serving the main meal then leave in a warm dish and maybe consider adding the butter now rather than before blending. Put the butter on the top and don’t stir in until ready, this prevents the top changing colour. Another way of keeping the colour is to plate the puree using a piping bag, filling the bag while it is still hot and keeping it somewhere warm.

Without saying, all the peeling and trimming are very welcome in your wormery or main compost bin.

 

 

Sous Vide Vegetables: Cauliflower on right

 

One of the disappointing parts of vegetable cooking is getting the flavours in the dish. Vegetables have the most flavour when they quickly cooked or when they have been cooked in something with more taste. Some vegetables do not work well quickly cooked, such as potatoes, maybe with the exception of chips. Other don’t work well when overcooked as they loose texture and take on most of the introduced flavours. For the last item think of a dish like ratatouille. It’s great if each  ingredient is cooked to a bite and in different pans. It is more likely that the dish will become stewed, soft vegetables in a garlic and tomator sauce.

Over Christmas I had some time to work on developing dishes which held their own flavours, kept crunchy and had some additional surprises. The choice was cauliflower, often comes with a good cheese sauce but soggy vegetables. I had a flash back to a pickle that my grandmother used to make, using cauliflower. Now we could do something different to this but without the sharp vinegar taste. I also wanted a little surprise, so went for an Indian idea that could work well with a stronger cheese sauce.The vacuum packing process means that the liquids have no place to go but into the vegetables. Full flavour and lots of crunch.

If you have access to a vacuum packing machine, this is simplicity itself, maybe your local butcher could . Heat a small amount of ghee in a pan, when hot add; a pinch of mustard seeds, the same of onion seeds and a quick shake of asafoetida. As the mustard seeds start to pop remove from the heat and quickly add a small dash of white wine vinegar. Cut a head of cauliflower in florets and include some of the white stalk in similiar size pieces. Put the cauliflower into a vac pack bag and pour over the cooler contents of the pan. Then vacuum pack.

Make up your own cheese sauce, as thick or runny as you want it. Once you have the consistency, add the contents of the bag and allow to heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer to an oven proof dish and top with bread crumbs. Under a medium grill until golden brown.

 

This was the runner up entry in the recipe competition that Brown and Green ran over the summer.

Adam Whittaker’s Staffordshire Huntsman’s Pie uses premium quality Staffordshire ingredients to make a rich pie which certainly has the ‘wow factor’ – perfect for a family special occasion, and ideal when the preparation is also shared and enjoyed together.

Prep time: 1 hour plus. Cooking: 1.5-2 hours. Serves 6-8

For the filling:
250g smoked venison
250g smoked pigeon breast
1 bottle of beer
250g washed potatoes
250g parsnips
250g carrots
2 table spoons beetroot chutney

For the water pastry crust:
450g plain flour
2 table spoons caster sugar
1 free range egg. lightly beaten
100g cheddar style cheese, grated
200ml water
60g butter
100g lard

For the bacon jam:
500g smoked bacon
4 cloves garlic
tabasco, to taste
1 medium onion
3 table spoons brown sugar
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey

To make the bacon jam:
1. Fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned, cut into small peices
2. Fry chopped onion and garlic in the bacon fat on medium heat
3. Transfer bacon, garlic and onion to a heavy based pan, and add remaining ingredients
4. simmer for approx 1.5 hours, adding a cup of water every 20 mins
5. Cool slightly, then blend till finely textured

To make the filling:
1. In a little oil fry chopped venison and pigeon till browned
2. Add chutney to the pan and simmer
3. Boil all vegetables and mash together
4. Add 3/4 bottle of beer to the meat and chutney mixture, simmer until alcohol cooks off
5. Remove meat mixture from pan, and deglaze with remaining beer
6. Allow to rest

To make the pastry:
1. Mix flour and sugar together
2. In a well in the centre pour egg
3. Put lard, water and butter in a pan, heat gently till fat has melted and water boils
4. Pour mixture into the flour, stirring, till it forms a dough. Add grated cheese.
5. Knead until smooth, then roll.
6. Line a buttered baking tin/pie dish with the pastry, reserving enough for the lid

Putting the pie together:
1. Alternate a layer of meat mixture, and a layer of mash – 2 layers of each in the dish
2. Top with a thin layer of bacon jam
3. Pour over remaining liquid from deglazing pan
4. Top with pastry lid
5. Brush lid with beaten egg, and pierce several hols in the pastry lid
6. Bake at 180 degress celsius for 1.5 – 2 hours
7. Test if done by using a knife inserted into the centre, blade should be hot, pastry should be golden brown
8. Serve hot or cold, with a choice of salad or vegetables

Adam recommends….

…the following Staffordshire ingredients for his recipe, all available from Brown and Green at Trentham Estate

Staffordshire Fine Foods smoked venison and smoked pigeon, Lymestone Brewery beer, Kitchen’s at Horsley Beetroot and Cracked Black Pepper chutney, Hasbean Indonesian Java coffee, Staffordshire honey, Bertelin Staffordshire cheese.

Many thanks to Susie at the team at Brown and Green for running the competition and for allowing us to reprint the recipe.

 

This is a fairly quick but certainly easy recipe with smoked pigeon breast.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 cold smoked pigeon breasts
4 slices white bread
1 small bag salad
1 glass red wine
1 tablespoon cherry jam

Method:

Pre-heat oven to GM6 / 200C / 400F

Put pigeon breasts onto a baking tray and into the oven for 6 minutes. Meanwhile toast the bread. Put wine into a pan and warm through with jam, allowing it to reduce to about half.

To serve: Use a round cutter to make shapes out of the toast. Put a handful of salad onto the centre of each plate. Place a toast round onto this mound. On top of that, put the pigeon breast, which has been cut into slices on the diagonal. Spoon some sauce around the plate and you are ready to take to table.

 

British Summer Caldo Verde (c) Girl Interrupted Eating 2011

 

Serves 2

100g of Staffordshire Fine Foods Dry Chorizo
1.5 pints of chicken stock (chicken stock out of the freezer )
1 large onion finely sliced
1 bulb of wet garlic finely chopped ( ro two cloves of regular garlic)
1 large potato roughly chopped
2 large bunches of spring greens leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
2 handfuls of broad beans removed from the pods but not shelled
1/2 a fresh lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Simmer the chorizo in a large chunk in the chicken stock with the onions , garlic & potatoes for an hour at least ( I used my slow cooker on low for a few hours)
  2. Remove the chorizo and cut into chunks , return to the pan and turn up the heat to a medium simmer add the spring greens and broad beans
  3. Simmer for ten minutes serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and ground black pepper.

 

Recipe kindly written by : Girl Interrupted Eating

 

… posh term for getting your testing right

There is an often quoted story about a sweet manufacturer in the USA. After years of being family run, they brought in an external CEO. This guy focused on trying to get the costs down on their most popular product. He started by removing one of the most expensive ingredients. They took a taste test and nobody seemed to notice. Money had been saved and the customers didn’t seem to notice. Another ingredient, no difference, more savings etc. This went on for quite a while and then the company noticed that their product had dropped down the sales charts. The reason was? They never tested each variation against their chart topping original. The result was that they quit cutting costs and went back to their original recipe.

We work on a principle of incremental improvement. A recipe is perfected against a control, which is our favourite version of that product. Any changes are judged against control and if a better flavour is created, the recipe is tweaked. Now because we use raw ingredients and not premade mixes, the flavour is entirely down to us. If we get it right or wrong, there is only us that can hold our hands up.

A very expensive hotel in India employs a chef who makes a kebab with over 110 ingredients. Apparently it is absolutely amazing, the testing however, must have been mind boggling.

 

You know the story, barbecue, lots of friends coming round and you want to spend time cooking on the coals and being a good host? This recipe is for you then. Easy to make and can be done in advance and kept in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1kg new potatoes – diced into 1cm cubes, skin still on
1 small jar of mayonnaise (not all to be used)
10 chives – snipped into 5mm lengths
3 shallots – chopped finely
Fine salt

Method:

Boil potatoes until they can be pierced with a skewer but not too far so that they are fully cooked. With waxy potatoes we want to keep some of that texture. Drain into a colander and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Put into a bowl and add the chives and shallot. Add 3-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise and gently stir to incorporate everything. Depending on how wet or dry you want the potato salad, add more mayonnaise. Season to taste. Clingfilm over top and into the fridge.

 

Perfect with smoked salmon

At this time of year you will find wild garlic in abundance. You can’t help but smell the pungent aroma as you walk through the woods. If you harvest it yourself, it is always best to use gloves and then wash the leaves carefully when you get home. As long as you are not taking the bulb and root, you stay on the right side of the law with regards to foraging.

After you have washed the leaves, stack them up and roll into a cigar. Then chop thinly across the cigar and you have a “chiffonade”. For every 6 leaves or so, you are looking at adding 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. This will taste quite tart now, almost like tartare sauce. To cure that, add a tiny pinch of fine sea salt and maybe a teaspoon of fruit vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

This can be used to accompany smoked salmon or even as a topping for burgers from the barbecue. Ideally, this is made and used fresh as it doesn’t store too well.

 

This is a great recipe from talented American chef, Jason Hill. This an excellent accompaniment to sausages or game dishes. Smoked garlic is a wonderful alternative.

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