#433 Stuffed Pork Tenderloin


I hardly ever buy or eat prime cuts these days, going instead for the underused bits and bobs of cows, sheep and pigs, so it’s nice to have the excuse to indulge myself for this blog entry. The tenderloin is the fillet cut of a pig and runs down the length of the spine. These fillet cuts are very tender because the muscle controls the posture of the animal and is not used in high stress activities such as locomotion, toughening it up.

The pork tenderloin is less used in English cookery compared to its cow and sheep equivalents, but I think it is the best value of the three, they are pretty substantial, cheaper by the pound and not as prone to drying out in the cooking process these days now that British pork can officially be served medium.

Jane reckons that the best way to eat this cut is to roast or braise it, so here is her recipe which also involves ham and bacon! A porky trinity and no mistake. There’s also the unusual inclusion of crumbly Lancashire cheese. Pork, ham, bacon and cheese; that’s all of the major food groups, right?
Take two pork tenderloins and trim away any fat and sinew with a sharp knife, should there be any, then slit them lengthways, but not all the way through, so that you can open them out. Now beat them with a tenderiser or a rolling pin until they are much wider and flatter.
Next prepare the ingredients for the stuffing: take two large slices of ham and shred them finely, thinly slice three ounces of Lancashire cheese, then blanch eight sage leaves in boiling water for one minute, then half them. If you prefer, you could strip some thyme leaves and use those instead of the thyme, the bonus there being that no blanching is required.

Scatter the two opened tenderloins with the ham, then the cheese and sage (or thyme). Close and then tie with string and brown them quickly in a little butter.
Now, slice two large onions and scatter them on the base of an ovenproof dish and lie the tenderloins on top. Adorn them with two rashers of streaky bacon each, then pour over a quarter of a pint of brown sherry, Madeira or port.


Roast for 45 minutes at 190C.

Remove the tenderloins and keep them warm. Strain the juices and reduce them in a pan if you wish – I found there was no need, but it did need a seasoning with salt and pepper.
Remove the string from the tenderloins and serve immediately with the sauce and some seasonal vegetables.


#433 Stuffed Pork Tenderloins. Well this was a good one, though I did mess up a little bit as I forgot to beat out the tenderloins, and to tie them, AND to brown them in butter. Nevertheless, it was still delicious, though a little dry (probably because they weren’t tied up). Oh well, I can’t be expected to be perfect all the time, now can I? I’d certainly recommend you give it a go, though I’d check them after 30-35 minutes to see if they are done. The sauce – like most of Jane’s – was delicious. I give it a solid 7/10.

Chapter 8: Stuffings, Sauces & Preserves – Completed!

Well folks, another full chapter is complete!

This was a bit of an odds-and-ends one which was full of revelations for me because it covered a large area of cookery even most chefs don’t bother with these days.
#272 Melted Butter

It’s rather difficult to reflect upon what Jane thought directly, because Chapter 8 is the only one that does not benefit from a written introduction. It was obviously an important area for her though, as she really looks towards under-used ingredients and uses a variety of techniques, so it’s well worth having a look through yourself.
#343 Oyster Stuffing
I – unsurprisingly – split the chapter into the following sections:
8.1: Stuffings (5 recipes)
8.2: Sauces (19 recipes)
8.3: Preserves (21 recipes)
Giving a total of 35 recipes. Click on the hyperlinks to see my review of the individual sections.
The chapter scored an overall mean of 7.6, the highest score so far for a completed chapter, fuelled by three recipes receiving top marks and a lack of total disasters. For those who care (and I know none of you do), here’s a little bar chart showing the mean scores for the chapter as a whole and as separate sections with standard deviation bars.
The five Stuffingrecipes are absolutely delicious, with #343 Oyster Stuffing being one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Growing up in a Paxo household meant I simply did not know how good a simple stuffing could be.

The Sauceswere diverse and delicious, the simplest – #306 Mint Sauce – being the best, but there are other great recipes, such as #272 Melted Butter and #432 White Devil Sauce.

#109 Quince Comfits
There’s a huge variety in the Preservessection too, with Jane avoiding the obvious things like raspberry jam. Instead she uses ingredients like cornel cherries, medlars and sorbs, so you can make preserves you are very unlikely to find in any store or farmers’ market. There is variety too in the types of preserves; jams, jellies, chutneys, sugars, comfits, candies and liqueurs all make an appearance. #397 Herb Jelly is one of my favourites, as is #46 Rich Orangeade, and I have never found a better, or more simple, (#24) Seville Orange Marmalade recipe.

#427 Roast Guineafowl


Guineafowl originate in Africa and were first bred for meat by the Ancient Egyptians and was very popular in the ancient world – there is an infamous Greek dish called mattye where a guineahen would be killed by a knife plunged into its head via the beak. It would then be poached with lots of herbs, and its own chicks! They seemed to fall out of favour for a good while before being reintroduced by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century.

These days, guineafowl are more popular in France than the UK, being a popular ornamental fowl in farms, small holdings and rural households. They double as an excellent guard dog; getting very vocal at any approaching fox or indeed, postman. ‘The first time I saw guineafowl, they were humped along the roof ridge of a French farmhouse’, says Jane in her introduction to this recipe. I have similar memories from my science days when I would go on the annual field trip with the zoology undergraduates of Manchester University to the foothills of the French Alps, where guineafowl would toddle about decoratively with their black-and-white suits, blue combs bobbing, like a little fat harlequin.

I think guineafowl are delicious, they have a mild gamey flavour, lying somewhere between chicken and pheasant. It’s often braised as it has a tendency to dry out when roasted. In this recipe however, dryness is skilfully averted by covering the fowls with bacon or strips of pork back fat and the use of a good sausagemeat stuffing. Because of its gaminess, it is often served with the trimmings associated with roast game, such as game chips, #123 Bread Sauce and #114 Quince Jelly. See #122 Roast Pheasant for more on the subject.

Get hold of two guineafowl, both weighing 1 ½ to 2 pounds. Sit them on the board to get to room temperature as you get on with the stuffing.

Remove the skin from four ounces of good quality sausages (go to butcher who makes his or her own or make your own: see #415 Cumberland Sausages). Break up the meat and add the rest of the ingredients: a heaped tablespoon of breadcrumbs, one tablespoon each of brandy and port, a heaped tablespoon of chopped parsley, a crushed clove of garlicand salt and pepper.  If you are lucky enough to find fowl with their giblets, find the liver, remove the gall, chop and add to the stuffing.

Mix everything well but keep things quite loose – you don’t want to compress the stuffing, as it will turn out stodgy. Divide it loosely between the two birds.

Now prepare the birds themselves by laying six rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon over the breasts and legs. This stops the birds from drying out in the oven. Again, buy good quality dry-cured bacon, not the cheap stuff that shrinks shedding its added water as white milky froth. Instead of bacon, you could use thin slices of pork back fat; it’s certainly cheaper, and it probably keeps the birds more moist, but doesn’t taste half as good. Pros and cons innit?

Put them in a roasting tray and pop them in an oven preheated to 220°C. Fifteen minutes later, turn down the heat to 200°C, and leave the birds roasting for 30 minutes. At this point, remove them from the oven, take off their little porky jackets and dust them with well-seasoned flour. Baste and pop back into the oven for a final 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the birds and keep them under foil on a board whilst you make the gravy in the tin they were roasted.

Get the roasting tin over a medium heat and pour in a glass of port (2 to 3 fluid ounces, approx.). Use a wooden spoon to scrape the delicious dark-brown almost burned bits from base of the tin. Add ½ pint of stock – again, if there were giblets in the birds, you could make giblet stock, otherwise use chicken stock. Reduce this mixture down until you have a small volume of intensely-flavoured gravy. Don’t strain it and lose all those nice burnt bits!

Carve the guineafowl and serve with the gravy and bacon. Jane recommends serving it with #262 Chestnuts as a Vegetable. We served it with the food that was in the house: roast carrots, quinoa and some lovely indigo-dark purple kale.

#427 Roast Guineafowl. I feel so lucky to have things like this just hanging about in the freezer! The cooking method laid out by Jane was spot-on, as she usually is when it comes to roasting (however, see #359 Rabbit and #393 Hare); meat was lovely and moist. The gravy too was delicious, and the stuffing well-seasoned with a good garlic hit, making it taste very un-English; it must be based on a French farcemeat from one of Jane’s many trips to the country. Very, very good: 9/10

#362 Braised Wild Duck with Apricot Stuffing

Gadwall ducks
This recipe requires a couple of wild ducks – any will do, Jane does not give specifics. There are only three kinds to choose from – mallard, widgeon and teal – this was not always the case, there used to be many legal game species of duck and waterfowl. The list includes shovelers, gadwalls, pintail ducks, shelducks, mergansers, swans, cygnets and moorhens. Some of those species are still shot for food in other European countries.  
Moorhen
 Iwent for widgeon, which is of a middling size with each feeding one to two people. I had never eaten widgeon before and was looking forward to it after the delicious mallard recipe I cooked last Christmas (#323 Salmi of Game). The widgeon is a relatively common duck, though being much less gregarious than the ubiquitous mallard they are easily overlooked as they hang around in the centre of the lake alone or in small flocks. If you are using the tiny teal, I would use three or maybe four for this recipe.

Widgeon

Inside the ducks there is a stuffing made with dried apricots from the Middle East. These are not the typical squidgy ones found alongside the currants and raisins in the grocers; they are tiny and whole and dried completely solid with their stones intact. They can be found in any good Asian grocer’s shop.

Once you have procured your ducks and apricots you can get going…

The night before you want to cook your duck, soak three ounces of dried apricots in water. To make the stuffing, remove the stones and roughly chop the flesh of the apricots before cracking the stones to get to the kernels*. Next finely chop enough celery stalksto yield two healthy tablespoons worth and fry it gently in two ounces of butter for about 10 minutes until almost tender. Mix the celery and butter into the apricots along with two ounces of breadcrumbs made from slightly stale bread. Season well with salt and pepper and loosely stuff two wild ducks with this mixture.

Next prepare the ducks’ cooking vessel for braising by placing half a sliced onion, half a teaspoon of thyme leaves and three stalks of celery in the bottom of a deep casserole dish. Jane is quite specific that the celery stalks must from the heart of the head of celery. Place the duck on top and pour in enough boiling water to come about half an inch up the side of the ducks. Pop the lid on and cook in a ‘slow oven’ (about 160⁰C, or 325⁰F) for about an hour. Check to see if you need to top up the water, then cook for a further 30 minutes.

When the duck is ready, remove it and place it on a warm serving plate. Strain the liquor into a saucepan and reduce it to produce a good, well-flavoured sauce. Season and thicken by mashing together a tablespoon of flour with an ounce of butter. Whisk in small knobs of this mixture until the sauce is of the desired thickness. If you like a tablespoon of bitter orange marmalade or redcurrant jelly can be dissolved in the sauce.

Pour some of the sauce over and around the ducks, serving the remainder of it in a jug or sauce boat.

#362 Braised Wild Duck with Apricot Stuffing. I enjoyed the duck and the sauce very much; the braising kept the duck tender and moist and produced a wonderfully flavoured stock. The apricot stuffing was ok, but a little insipid. I think I would have preferred make a forcemeat or sausage meat stuffing that could have been made into balls to surround the ducks. Still, very good, 7/10.

#359 Rabbit

Clarrisa Dickson-Wright was on the telly yesterday as part of the BBC2 series The Great British Food Revival where various chefs and food writers highlight British foods that have fallen out of favour and are in danger of falling completely out of use. Needless to say, I approve. Ms Dickson-Wright’s food of choice was the humble rabbit.

Why has it fallen out of favour? There are two main reasons really – there’s the ‘Fluffy Bunny Brigade’ as Clarissa calls them that couldn’t possibly eat something fluffy and cute. This opinion is fine if you are vegetarian or vegan. Otherwise it’s a great double-standard. Another reason is the association with myxomatosis virus – a deadly bug that killed off 99% of them. It’s under control now, but mud sticks.

I think there are other reasons too: rabbit is thought of as poor people’s food, and people also have a problem with eating wild animals. Well the bottom line is that rabbits are a huge pest (they are not indigenous to the UK) and need to be controlled. In fact they are one of only two official game species, along with wood pigeon, that do not have a hunting season. We are over-run and they must be killed in order to manage the countryside efficiently.

It is for this reason that they are relatively cheap, and because they are wild they are truly organic and free-range and low fat too.

I coincidently cooked a rabbit recipe from English Food the other day. It’s less of a recipe and more of a suggestion really with very sparse instruction. Here’s the full entry:

Wild Rabbit

roast: 1 hour, mark 6, 200C (400⁰F)

serve with: see hare [redcurrant jelly, port wine sauces…]

Here’s what I did to roast the rabbit:

First up is to prepare your rabbit – you should find inside the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs. Remove those. If you like you can chop the liver and use in the stuffing. Instead, I made a little offal kebab from the heart, kidneys and liver. Then I larded the rabbit’s legs, loins and saddle with some thin slices of back fat. You can buy a special larding needle for this job but I used a skewer (it was a bit of a nightmare so I have bought myself a needle for next time). I then seasoned it inside and out and loosely stuffed it with the herb stuffing (see herefor the entry for that) before placing it in a roasting tin with a jacket of back fat. You could use streaky bacon if you’d prefer.

Then it was straight into the preheated oven for an hour.

I had some stuffing left over so I rolled that into small balls and wrapped them in some smoked bacon. I popped those in for the final half hour until brown and crisp.

When the hour was up, I took the rabbit out of the oven and let it rest on a serving plate and covered it with foil. I then got to work on making some gravy. I put the roasting tin on the heat and deglazed it with a splash of red wine and then some chicken stock and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly. After it reduced and started to thicken, I took it off the heat and whisked in a couple of knobs of butter to thicken it further and give the sauce a nice shine.

Hey-presto! A roast rabbit!

#359 Rabbit. Well I enjoyed preparing this one and it did look like something from a medieval feast when it was finished. The flavour was good, though it was on the dry side; my rabbit was a young one I think and perhaps could have done with 45 minutes. Nevertheless, a tasty and fun meal to eat, though not quite as good as the rabbit pie. It did make delicious soup the next day though! 6.5/10.

#348 Veal Rolls


Here’s a quickie from the Beef & Veal section of the Meat chapter and I shall Jane Grigson herself tell us what to do for this one:


Allow one large, thin, escalope of veal for each person. Spread it with a thick layer of parsley and lemon stuffing, or herb stuffing and roll it up starting with one of the long sides.

Tie it with thread in three or four places, then cut into three or four pieces.

Brush each piece with beaten egg, dip it into flour and string it on a skewer, one skewer for each person. Grill for 20-30 minutes, preferably on a spit, basting them from time to time with melted butter. Serve them with fried mushrooms and lemon quarters.

#348 Veal Rolls. Well these were a little fiddly to make but not infuriatingly so. I used the parsley and lemon stuffing as I hadn’t made it for a while and I thought it would suit the hot weather we’re having here in St Louis. As much as I like veal, I didn’t find this really worked. I tried to keep the rolls basted and evenly-cooked under the grill, but the whole thing turned out a little dry. I would much have preferred to have had the escalope fried in some butter with stuffing baked in an ovenproof dish served separately. The mushrooms were good though! 4/10

8.1 Stuffings – completed!

Everyone loves some good stuffing – I obviously do because I have come to the end of the Stuffings bit of chapter 8: Stuffings, Sauces and Preserves. It’s not that impressive as there are only 5 recipes and one of those was a sauce. Nevertheless it is the first section that I have finished so I thought I’d give a little reminder and a review. Here are the recipes in the order they appear in the book, with their scores:


Winners: Oyster Sauce and Oyster Stuffing
That’s a pretty good average of 8.9/10 overall, so really do like stuffing! That’s the last stuffing-related double entendre, I promise.

I have to admit, I had never made my own stuffing before for roast meats. I always just used to use a lemon and some herbs to impart flavour into the meat, but now I am a total convert. The oyster stuffing with its accompanying sauce was the highlight of the five; it is so delicious, however with my fast-approaching return to England hot on my heels, I don’t think I’ll be able to afford to make again any time soon. Hey-ho – at least I got the opportunity.
Stuffing the Guard of Honour

The most versatile of the stuffings, at least according to Jane herself, is the Herb Stuffing; she uses it in three other recipes: #305 Guard of Honour, #263 Stuffed Tomatoes and Veal Rolls (not done that one yet!). Certainly that and the Hazelnut Stuffing are used by me every now and again. I have never revisited Parsley and Lemon Stuffing though.

The very strange Hindle Wakes
Although this section only has technically four recipes, don’t be thinking Jane had no repertoire – oh no – there are several dishes that include stuffings not mentioned above, some glorious like the amazing #175 Shoulder of Lamb with Rice and Apricot Stuffing and the frankly strange, like #339 Hindle Wakes (though I have to say I did bake excess stuffing rolled into balls which were pretty good).
So the good lady Grigson opened my eyes to homemade stuffing, but then I realised there were a couple of glaringly obvious omissions. When I think of British stuffing the first that pops into my brain is sage and onion stuffing. I can’t believe it’s left out. Perhaps Jane was mortified so much by the instant Paxo stuffing that we have all eaten at one time or another (I confess to love it!) that she ignored it on purpose. I bet actual real sage and onion stuffing is delicious though I have not even knowingly eaten it. Also, all the stuffings in the Stuffings section are bread-based. Where are all the delicious sausage meat ones? I know they can be heavy, and I am sure they regularly get undercooked in the centre of that Christmas turkey, but I think they are delicious – especially when cooked separately in a tray or as stuffing balls.
I shall rectify this on my other blog, British Food: A History, by finding good recipes for these (and the best stuffing ones from English Food too).

Well I may have finished this bit of the book, but there are still plenty left to go…

Other recipes using stuffing:
#262 Chestnuts as a Vegetable  (can be used as a stuffing)