#380 Gooseberry Sauce for Mackerel

After the rather wet start to the summer, I was beginning to think that this year’s gooseberries were never going to arrive. Then we had that glorious stint of hot weather. Now we have so many gooseberries and other soft fruit, we barely know what to do with them. Well here’s one thing, just as mackerel is in season. I like Jane’s introduction to this recipe:
On May 26th, 1796, Parson Woodforde [we have met him in the blog before, see here] and his neice, Nancy, had for their dinner ‘a couple of maccerel boiled and stewed gooseberries and a leg of mutton roasted’. In other years, they were not so lucky; the gooseberries did not always ripen for the arrival of the first spring mackerel.
Ms Grigson’s recipe is a very simple one indeed:
Begin by topping and tailing 8 ounces of gooseberries and then melt an ounce of butter in a pan. Add the gooseberries, cover with a lid and cook until soft. I love how they go from vivid green to an almost straw-yellow when heated.
Use your wooden spoon to crush the berries on the side of the pan to form a rough purée, you could, if you are so inclined, pass them through a sieve to produce a smooth sauce. I don’t see the point in these things normally; it’s not like gooseberry seeds are particularly offensive.
The tart flavour of the gooseberries is cut with either ¼ pint of double creamor béchamel sauce. I went for the latter for health’s and money’s sake. Taste the sauce and add a little sugar, if needed, don’t make it sweet like an apple sauce for pork.
That’s it! Very simple and not just for mackerel either, but other oily fish, roast duck, pork, lamb, veal and – no surprises – goose.
#380 Gooseberry Sauce for Mackerel. A triumph of good, simple cooking. The creaminess of the béchamel did a great job of wrapping its way around those tart gooseberries, so much so that only a pinch of sugar was required. I could eat it all on its no problem! 8.5/10

#379 Kidneys in their Fat

Another recipe from English Food that appeared at my pop-up restaurant last month. These kidneys were served alongside fried sweetbreads as an accompaniment to a roast saddle of lamb. The idea here being a way of introducing some offal into the meal, but making it an optional extra so that anyone that was squeamish did not have try it. I must say that they went down very well, with most of the guests opting to ‘excavate’ their own pink kidneys from their crispy fat. A brave lot they indeed were.

This recipe is close to Jane’s heart: ‘[A]lmost the first dish I learnt to cook on arriving in Wiltshire…[it] was a particular favourite of my husband’s.’

This is a very simple recipe. Ask your butcher for kidneys still covered in their suet, when you arrive home trim away any big chunks so that the kidneys are covered with about half an inch of fat. It won’t completely encase them, so when it comes to roasting them, make sure any bare kidney faces downwards, or use the fatty trimmings and cocktail sticks to cover the gaps.
Arrange the kidneys on a wire rack over a roasting tin and bake them in a hot oven – 230⁰C – for 20 to 30 minutes. Check them after 15 though. The perfect kidney will be hot and pink, so if still a little too red and bloody, leave for a few more minutes. For some stupid reason, I forgot to take in picture of the pink kidneys within. Sorry folks!

Serve the kidneys straight away with roast lamb, or as a first course with brown bread and mustard.

#379 Kidneys in their Fat. As an offal fan, I was really looking forward to this one. When done perperly, the kidneys are mild, sweet and juicy, it is only when overcooked that they take on that mealy texture and overly-metallic tang. The trouble is that there is such a tiny window between cooked to perfection to overdone. If you get it on the button, however, they are a simple and delicious treat 8.5/10