So I've just finished picking some fresh thyme into my suet pastry, ready for baking around some beautiful braised beef.
And, yes, I know all about the blood pressure, thank you!
But, sometimes, only suet pastry will do. You see, pies, being pies, demand suitable pastry, as its such a important part of the pie.
I'm going to bake tonight's pie. Why bake?
Because the filling is pre cooked, and the pastry will go nice and crisp.
If we cook the filling, from raw, inside the pastry, as in our world famous lamb "roly poly", then I would steam it, for 5 or 6 hours.
And, I think, that then it becomes a pudding, not a pie!
As much as I love them, and I do, there's not much I can do to make them a bit more modern.
How about coq au vin?
A brilliant dish, from France, where else, involving a cock, some wine and lots of time.
The reason its such a well known dish is because it works, on every level, so well.
Great for dinner parties, as it can, in fact should, be made in advance.
It involves killing your cockerel, saving it's blood ( yes really), and all it's other bits and bobs.
Joint the bird, marinade in good red Burgundy, and then brown and braise, with the usual suspects of smoked bacon, mushrooms, button onions and often carrots are added.
Then the fun bit.
Get a young English chef, yes me, to spend ages rubbing the cockscomb with salt to remove all the skin, and then add to the braise, along with the kidneys and testicles.
Finally thicken the sauce with the reserved blood.
What a waste of bloody time that was, I'm telling you, cockscombs are pretty bogus!
Nowadays its normally made with a good free range chicken, but I thought I could do something a little bit 2011 with it and now its going to make an appearance on the East Lodge dinner menu.
Right then, are you ready?
We bone out the legs and marinate them in reduced red wine for 24 hours. A chicken mousse is made in the usual manor. After browning the marinated legs, they are braised with a mirepoix, left to cook down and the meat is flaked. Mixed with the mousse it is rolled and cooked again, this time in the water bath, to set the mousse. This allows the leg to be sliced and glazed when required.
We also brine chicken thighs, and then confit them in duck fat. Again mixing with a garlic scented chicken mousse but this time cooked in the oven on a low steam setting. Pressed, this is then coated in parsley breadcrumbs and warmed up.
A garnish of smoked bacon lardons, baby onions and mushrooms are served, but these are not cooked in the sauce but sauteed and added later. I've also made a silky smooth cauliflower puree, only because I think its goes so well with the rich chicken. Oh yes, a very good red wine chicken sauce is also served, but along side, after all this is not supposed to be a wet dish.
Remember, I'm trying to keep the flavors the same, but present the dish in a modern way. Some steamed potatoes, rolled in garlic and parsley butter are also served on the side. I think a soft green lettuce salad would also be a perfect side dish.
So, there you are, "coq au vin" and it doesn't take some poor guy hours, rubbing bits of a cocks head in salt, to make it appealing!
Right thats it, I'm off to finish off my dinner over here at the East Lodge development kitchen (Shottle Branch) so I'll let you know how it turns out, but so far its looking alright!
See, I can do the simple stuff as well!
So, I'll tell you about our two new steak dishes next time, perfect for all this Argentine Malbec I appear to have aqquired!
Who knows, I'll be tangoing before long as well!