#279 Apple Sauce II

I still had sausages left over from Harrison Hog Farm – I ate half of them with Crempog Las and wanted to the give the rest the Grigson treatment. I could have gone with toad-in-the-hole or something, but I’d done that already. Luckily I spotted this apple sauce recipe which can be served with sausages (as well as pork, salt pork, duck and goose). What made me want to do this recipe is that allows one use sausage as the meat in a Sunday dinner rather than a roast meat which can be a pain to do if there is a lot going on in the day. So it’s good old sausage and mash for dinner.
The recipe asks for Cox’s Orange Pippins, Laxtons or James Grieve apples. These are not available in America (as far as I know), and so for any Northern Americans amongst us (and I know there are several), go for Mackintosh apples instead – they have the tart mealiness of a Cox’s Pippin.
There are several apple sauce recipes in English Food and I have now hit a bit of a brick wall – the remaining recipes all use Bramley’s seedlings which can’t be found in the USA, and I haven’t been able to find an appropriate alternative. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!
Roughly chop 12 ounces of apples – no need to peel or core them. Add them to a saucepan along with a strip of lemon peel and 3 ounces of water (by weight!). Cover and simmer until soft. Pass them through a sieve into a bowl, forcing the apple flesh through to produce a smooth puree. Return to the saucepan and simmer quite briskly until the puree thickens and starts to spit and bubble a little. Stir in an ounce of butter and season with pepper and a little salt, but only if the butter was unsalted.

#279 Apple Sauce II. A slightly strange sauce this. I liked the fact it was unsweetened – bought apple sauces are far too sweet I think and they don’t always do a good job of cutting through the rich, greasy meat it’s usually served with. The butter enriched it but didn’t make the whole thing sickly like I expected. A good sauce, but nothing to write home home about! 5.5/10.

#265 To Cook Salt Pork and Hams, Part II: to Eat Cold

Living in Texas means that there a lot of Mexican people (seeing as Texas was once part of Mexico, until the USA nicked it). Many Mexicans mean much pork is eaten. In England we eat loads of ham and bacon and sausage, but we’re not very exciting when it comes to other ways of eating it. Indeed this is reflected in English Food: there are just 8 pork recipes in the Meat chapter, yet there are loads of pork in the cured meat section. This is one of them of course – there is a whole variety of pork cuts that are familiar and unfamiliar to me. I saw a small leg and though it would be great to make my own salt pork seeing as I have the brine tub on the go at the moment. I have already done similar things from the book, like the Bradenham ham and the hot salt pork.
Noone seems to cure anything in England anymore – I can understand it of course, but brining meats is much more common here in the US – the Thanksgiving turkey got a good brining the night before from Joan last month. However if there is a cheap leg or loin going spare at the supermarket or butcher, it would be put to good use by being added to the brine tub rather than the freezer until it’s is needed.
You can use leg or loin for this. I have already gone through how to prepare and boil the salt pork or ham in a previous post. When it is cooked remove from the stock and allow it to drain and cool down enough for you to remove the skin without scolding yourself. If the meat has been deboned, then it needs to be wrapped in cling-film and pressed overnight (as I did). Toast some breadcrumbs and press them into the meat. This will be easier if the meat is still warm, though if you had to press it, there is no open than to do it when it is cold. Keep the whole thing wrapped up in clingfilm or greaseproof paper in the fridge and slice it up thinly for salads and sandwiches.
It’s important to remember that when you make these hams, you get a delicious ham stock. Use it to make some pea and ham soup (recipe here).
#265 To Cook Salt Pork and Hams, Part II: to Eat Cold. I think I must be getting better at these things because the salt pork was very moist and nicely salted. The trick seems to be to have the merest simmer when cooking it – in fact I turned the heat off completely for the final half hour; the cooking liquor was hot enough to continue to cooking process. I have been shaving bits of and eating it with mustard, pickles and sourdough bread. Very good! 7.5/10

#262 Chestnuts as a Vegetable

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the US and Joan and Dave (my bosses) very kindly invited round to their house for the feast (check out Joan’s blog here). As it is was my first ever Thanksgiving dinner I was very excited about the fayre that would be there to feast upon. I was not disappointed: roast turkey and cranberries I knew would feature, but there was also loads of other New World things too: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes plus exciting stuffings and good old Brussels sprouts. In fact it wasn’t that far removed from the British Christmas Dinner, so I was on reasonably familiar territory. The only exception being the mashed sweet potato with melted marshmallows on the top: I am not used to this merging of the sweet and savory in such brazen fashion!
Attending the dinner gave me the perfect  excuse to cook some of the vegetable sides from the Vegetable chapter; not something I often do when I’m cooking a meal from the book as they are sometimes complicated and add rather a lot more stress to the occasion.
Chestnuts as a Vegetable seemed the appropriate choice for the time of year, plus I could make it in advance the night before.  Griggers doesn’t mention anything about the recipe: just a list of ingredients and a method. I assume it is there because we don’t use them as a vegetable anymore and expect she wants us to start doing it again.  But should we?
You will need a pound of chestnuts for this recipe. Begin by nicking each chestnut end to end and plunge them into boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain them and quickly peel them by holding one in a dishcloth or oven glove and using your other hand, remove the shell and skin with a small knife. This is easier said than done; the skin came off just where skin meets back-of-thumbnail. It hurt. I would take Joan’s advice and buy chestnuts that have already been peeled. Anyways, next gently fry a chopped onion and a finely chopped clove of garlic in two ounces of butter, cover the pan and cook until they are soft and transparent. Meanwhile, cut two ounces of bacon rashers cut into strips – use any bacon you like; I used maple-smoked. Also, peel, core and chop two Cox’s pippin apples (these are not around in the US, so I used Granny Smiths as they seemed appropriately tart). Try to not allow anything to burn or brown. Turn up the heat in the pan and add the bacon, a couple of minutes later add the apple. Fry until they soften. Finally chop the chestnuts into chunky pieces and add them along with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Cook until the mixture begins to meld together.
You don’t have to serve this with just turkey – it will go well with pork, salt pork or veal.
#262 Chestnuts as a Vegetable. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I decided in the end that I liked it. I was unsure because I tasted it on its own. However, when it was eaten with some turkey and gravy etc, it really worked. We may not use them as a vegetable anymore, I suspect because the preparation is so tricky, time-consuming and sore! But now that tinned or vacuum-packed chestnuts are easy to get, they really should be brought back – they are part of our food heritage after all. Sweet chestnuts have been actively cultivated since Roman times and can be found not just peeled, but candied and ground into flour. They are absolutely delicious roasted under the grill or by the fire, but let’s try something different this year, hm? 7.5/10

#151 To Cook Salt Pork or Hams: Part 1 – To Eat Hot

After a 5 day wait, the pork I had put in the brine tub was ready for cooking. Jane outlines three different ways to cook your salt pork or ham if you want to serve it hot, but they all start with the same process: simmering in water with stock vegetables.

The first thing to do is to rinse your joint and weight it on some scales. Place the joint in a heavy casserole or stockpot, cover it with cool water and let it come to a boil slowly. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and taste the water – if it’s too salty throw the water away and start again (though it was fine when I tasted mine). For hams up to 4 pounds (2 kilos), cook for 30 minutes to the pound (1 hour to the kilo) plus an extra 30 minutes. However, this can be reduced if the joint is slim. To improve the flavour of the ham, add some stock vegetables: carrot, onion, leek, turnip, that kind of thing. They also flavour the stock with which delicious soups can be made – like this one.

It now depends on how you want to serve your ham:
1. Simply boiled – easy-peasy! Serve it with whatever vegetables or salad you like.

2. Encased in pastry – yes, you heard correctly! Remove before the final hour; encase it in thick pastry, glaze with egg and bake in a moderate-hot oven for an hour.

3. Glaze it. This the one I went for. Remove the ham half an hour before the end of cooking and remove the skin. Criss-cross the fat with a sharp knife and stud the crosses with cloves. Then make a glaze:

Sorry about the shit picture – I’m sure I took a better one than this!

Mix together a tablespoon of French mustard, one of double cream and one of either brown sugar, marmalade or apricot jam (or anything else sweet you like), next mix in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or cloves. Spread this mixture all over the fat. Place in a roasting tin, add a ladleful of the stock to the bottom to stop any glaze from catching if it falls, and bake for 30 minutes at 190°C. When done, remove and let it rest before carving.

To accompany it, make a sauce with the pan juices by boiling them up with some cream, white wine or fortified wine, depending on the glaze you used. I went for cream as I used dark brown sugar.

Serve with seasonal vegetables and glazed onions, Grigson says. However, she also says that glazed turnips go well too. So I made those, plus boiled potatoes and peas.

#151 – To Cook Salt Pork and Hams: Part 1 – To Eat Hot: 7/10. I really enjoyed this – the ham cure was beautifully seasoned and salty and the spiced sticky sugar glaze complimented it perfectly. It was a little dry though, but I have a feeling that I cooked a little too long in the stock though as it was a slim piece of meat. That said, it was still delicious and we all polished it off quick-smart. I think that with a bit of practise at this kind of thing, the scores will quickly creep up to the high 8s, 9s or 10s!