Crimbo and cocktails

Well it’s that time of year again, peace and good will to all men, lets face it two impossible concepts. Firstly the peace bit, while we all wish for it, realistically it ain’t going to happen while there are twits with guns who don’t think you should be allowed to have a point of view and secondly because its very hard to wish good will on the twits with guns. But there are nice people in this world and I went for a walk with one of them on Christmas Eve, namely my pal Nick. I was taking Millie for a walk over at Castle-upon-alun and parked up by Nick’s house just as he was about to take his dog Bella for a walk, so we went together (safety in numbers as there are twits with guns in Afghanistan don’tcha know). The weather has been so wet the past week or so that the river Alun and every other river in the country have burst their banks and flooded their surroundings, well we got down to the river the day after the worst (it was approximately 1.20m lower than the day before).

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Right then Christmas dinner, we had pheasant. I think Pheasant Grenoble Is one of the tastiest pheasant dishes there is:

Right make a stuffing of 300g of chopped walnuts, 250g fresh breadcrumbs soaked in milk and squeezed, 120g fine pâté (suit yourself which one), a glass of cognac, one beaten egg and salt and pepper. Stuff two pheasants with this.
Heat 50g of unsalted butter in a heavy casserole dish and really brown the pheasants all over, put a couple of strips of nice thick bacon over each bird, add a large chopped onion, large copped carrot and a bouquet garni to the pan and pop into a hot oven for about 35 to 45 mins until really coloured, then cover, reduce the heat and cook for another 45 mins.

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Remove the bacon from the birds but leave it in the pan, remove the lid and pop back into the oven for another 10 mins, remove from the oven and flame with a glass of cognac. Remove the birds and let them rest, meanwhile add some flour to the pan juices etc and mix in then add some (either potato, carrot, pea etc) water to the pan and heat to thicken, stirring all the time, strain (if you wish) and serve as a sauce/gravy.

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Serve with game chips, roast parsnips, carrots and peas, I also did boiled potatoes and a red cabbage dish (more another time).
This dish deserves a really good French red.

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Well son of Angry Cook had a cocktail shaker for Christmas, so far I’ve had both gin and vodka martinis, a whiskey sour, a Bloody Mary and a mojito, keep em coming.

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For Matt and the shady characters

Last Saturday saw the gathering of The Foundation, a very secret and insidious organisation that casts its shadow on a group of well placed young men in sensitive positions. The organisation is a well kept secret only known to a few, it has annual meetings that (as far as can be discovered) end in drunken debauchery. I have to admit I was instructed to prepare a dish for the general consumption of the membership, believe me you don’t turn these fellows down. So I produced a beef and ale stew.

Ingredients:
1 large carrot finely diced
2 onions ditto
1 whole stick of celery ditto
2 thick rashers of dry cured bacon ditto
2 lbs of best skirt beef ( no fat) cut into 1 inch cubes
A good squirt of tomato purée
1 bay leaf
1 bag ( linen) of bouquet garni
1 bottle of brown ale
1 pt good beef stock
1/2 lb button mushrooms
A sprig or two of parsley finely chopped

In a medium sized heavy casserole, sauté the carrot, onion, celery and bacon gently until they start to turn golden/amber stirring occasionally, (don’t let them stick to the bottom of the pan) turn up the heat and add the beef, stirring all the time to ensure it browns all over and mixes thoroughly with the carrot etc. when the beef is nicely browned and sizzling add the squirt of tomato purée and mix in.
Let this cook on a lower heat for a minute or two, add the bay, bouquet garni, lots of black pepper and half a teaspoon of rock salt and mix in, again let this simmer for a minute or two.
Turn up the heat and add the bottle of ale, bring up to temp and then let it simmer until it reduces by about a quarter. Add the beef stock bring to the boil, add the parsley and pop the whole lot into a medium to low oven for about 2 hours maybe more (check) add the mushrooms for the last 10 minutes adjust the seasoning and serve with roasted winter root vegetables.

I’m afraid I couldn’t post up any photos as the Foundation forbade it.

I hope to post again soon if the foundation allow it.

I’m off to the loo now as they’ve given me permission.

Lamb stew and stuff

Well to begin with let me just say sorry to my many millions of readers for taking so long to post this blog, in my defence I have to say that it is the shooting season and that takes first place (actually I haven’t had anything to say, ain’t done any special cooking and couldn’t be arsed).
The season so far has been quite good except for the weather, it’s been too damned warm and too damned wet. A group of pals and I went down to Devon for a days shooting on the pheasants, it was fantastic, really high birds and very testing. If you want a really good day get it touch with Richard Goodburn at Hembury Castle.
My son Joe is a big meat eater and is particularly partial to a steak or six, well I recently got two steaks from Garry that defeated both of us.

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They were extremely tasty but just too big, Millie was glad of that.

I’ve noticed that there are even more adverts using the term”for free” it really does get under my skin.

I cooked a lamb stew this evening, it’s really easy and very tasty especially on a cold winters day. Chop up (not to small) a large carrot and two onions and gently brown in a very small amount of oil.

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Cut two lamb neck fillets into large chunks and add to the browned carrot and onions with a good sprinkle of dried rosemary.

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Brown the meat (really brown the meat) add a bay leaf, salt and lots of black pepper (when you think there’s enough black pepper add a lot more) and about a pint of stock, I used chicken stock as I didn’t have any other anyway lamb stock tends to taste fatty so I don’t use it. Cut two large carrots into thick rounds and add to the stock. Simmer this for 15 mins or so, add a good scoop of fresh chopped parsley and then pop into a medium to low oven for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

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It’s important not to use much oil in the frying process as the lamb will add fat and you don’t want it tasting fatty, you can thicken the juices with some flour just before serving if it needs it.

I’ve got quite a few ducks and pheasants in the freezer so a gamey time will,be had for the foreseeable future. Speak soon.