Pork loin in mead

Roast loin of pork with mead reduction and honey roast vegetables



The origins of mead are truly ancient and is almost certainly one of the (if not the) oldest, of alcoholic beverages with archaeological evidence dating back at least 4000 years in China and 2000 years in Europe. It is essentially a wine formed from honey and is known for its sweetness, its medieval charm and its ruthless hangovers. The latter is unsurprising given the large number of complex sugars which in turn break down into skull-breaking complex ketones.

My inspiration for this dish came from my recent visit to Hampton Court Palace – a must visit for fans of Tudor and Jacobean history. The tourist restaurant served good food including a decent beef brisket. What caught my eye was the advertisement for the mead and honey cakes on sale as a specialty product. It was delicious. Honey mead and seeds made for a great combination.

Given the popularity of red wine, Madeira and port reductions, it did seem logical to try a mead version of this technique. What I found was that mead is quite a subtly flavoured drink and I needed larger starting volumes of the alcoholic beverage than I usually use. In fact I doubled it. The result was a silky smooth, creamy, honeyed jus that was difficult to stop dipping in the spoon for tastings prior to serving. This beautiful sauce compliments pork excellently. I hope you enjoy making it.

Each tenderloin serves 2 people comfortably.

For the sauce

1 rack of pork ribs, separated
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 mls) water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
10 black peppercorns
1/2 cup (125 mls) Madeira
1 cup (250 mls) Mead
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock/water
3 tbsp golden sultanas
1/2 cup (125 mls) double cream

Heat the oil in a stock pot and sauté the ribs until they brown. Deglaze with the water. Allow the pan to sizzle again then transfer the bones to a warm plate. Add the vegetables and peppercorns and continue cooking until they become caramelised. The water content of the vegetables will deglaze the pan. Deglaze for a third time with the Madeira. Once reduced to about a quarter, add the mead and reduce by 1/3. Add the chicken stock/water and simmer, frequently skimming impurities from the surface. Simmer for about 3 hours. Strain the liquid and reduce it in the pan by at least 1/2. Add the sultanans. Add the cream and reduce to the required consistency.

For the tenderloin

1 tenderloin of pork (for 2 people)
5 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to180C/350F/GM4. Season the tenderloin. In a large pan, sear the tenderloin on all its surfaces. Transfer the tenderloin to a baking sheet and then cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the tenderloin into thumb-width slices.

For the honey glazed vegetables

Carrots, peeled
Turnips, peeled
Heads of garlic, halved
Parsnips, peeled
salt and black pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp honey
5 sprigs rosemary

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/GM4. Place a baking tray with the oil into the oven. Boil the root vegetables in salted water for 5 minutes and drain. When dry, season them well with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the hot baking tray with oil from the oven and place it on a hob on a moderate heat. Sauté the vegetables in the hot oil. when slightly browned, transfer the vegetables to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tray of vegetables from the oven, coat them in the honey, add the rosemary and return them to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Arranging the dish

Plate out the tenderloin segments and the honey roasted vegetables with some grapes. Spoon out the mead reduction and serve.

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Guinea fowl in Madeira and sweet pear reduction



 

The Christmas meal should be a special occasion and is a great opportunity to lavish your guests with food and wine that would be reserved for special occasions. Goose is a very traditional British festive dinner meal although turkey has surpassed it in popularity. I have used guinea fowl and have enriched it with a creamy sweet pear flavoured Madeira reduction. This recipe serves four people. Merry Christmas!

For the Guinea fowl

2 whole, prepared guinea fowl cut into pieces, skin intact retaining carcass bones

1 .5 oz (50 gms) unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

2 turnips, chopped

1 leek, chopped

1 cup (250 mls) chopped mushrooms

10 black peppercorns

1 cup (250 mls) Madeira

1 cup (250 mls) pear juice

Sauté the carcass bones and the other guinea fowl pieces in the butter. As they brown, add the vegetables and peppercorns and stir until they begin to caramelise. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and reduce the liquid by half. Add the pear juice and close the lid. Cook on low for about an hour.

Garnishes

For the garnishes I have used par boiled and seasoned roast potatoes, Roasted onions and turnip and sautéed pear slices

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pumpkin parfait1

Pumpkin parfait with walnut ice cream, sweet black sesame sauce and walnut praline



The origins of the traditional Jack-o’-lantern have largely been lost in the midst of time and surprisingly they are relatively absent from literature. Vegetable carving is an ancient practice. In 17th century England and Scotland, turnips were carved into grotesque faces and, to resemble a will-o’-the-wisp, were illuminated from within to mimic the glowing lights seen across peat bogs – and with terrifying effect. Without doubt, the pumpkin has been imported from North America. It is larger and in some ways more versatile than the turnip for designing Jack-o’-lanterns. Its flavour is also versatile as a sweet or savoury dish. I hope you will agree the pumpkin is not just for halloween.

For the pumpkin parfait

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup (60 mls) caster sugar

14 oz (400mls) condensed milk

2 cups pumpkin flesh, simmered in water for 20 minutes and puréed

4 leaves of gelatine, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes

Set a glass mixing bowl above a boiling pan of water. Add the egg yolks and cream in the sugar. Gently add the condensed milk, mixing all the time. Be careful not to let the mixture  exceed 60C/140F else the yolks will split. Squeeze out water from the gelatine and add the softened gelatine to the mixture and stir. Sieve the contents into another container. Fill a pipe mould with the pumpkin mixture and refrigerate.

For the walnut ice cream

⅔ cup (180 mls) walnuts

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup (60 mls) caster sugar

1 cup (250 mls) double cream

1 cup (250 mls) milk

Soak the walnuts in cold water for an hour. Lift them out of the water and using a coffee grinder grind them into a smooth paste. Add some of the soaking water if necessary. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and cream them together, Bit by bit add the cream and milk then add the walnut paste. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze in a container.

For the sweet black sesame sauce

1/2 cup (125 mls) black sesame seeds, soaked in 1/2 cup (125 mls) water for 24 hours

1 tbsp honey

2 sheets leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes and squeeze-dried

2 tsp sesame oil

Warm the sesame seeds with the water in a pan and add the softened gelatine. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend. Sieve the mixture into a squeezey dispenser.

For the meringues

3 egg whites

5 oz (150 gms) caster sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartare

Prehaet an oven to 260F/130C. Using a clean mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to whip the egg whites. As they become white and glossy, continuing with the whisking process, add the sugar little by little then add the cream of tartare. Continue whisking until the mixture forms stiff peaks when lifted. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Transfer the mixture with a piping bag and plain spout attachment, pipe out small mounds of the mixture onto the parchment. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

For the walnut pralines

1/2 cup (125 mls) split walnuts

1/2 cup (125 mls) sugar

Place the walnuts and sugar in a pan and heat on a hob until the sugar has melted and the walnut halves coated. Allow to cool.

Plating the dish

Push out the parfait onto the plate from the pipe mould. Arrange the meringues, pralines and sesame sauce around the plate. I have used clotted cream and mint leaves for decoration. Finally add 2 quenelles of the walnut ice cream.

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9

Catalan Lamb Ballotine



 

The numerous swine farms of Catalonia make this region the main source of pork in Spain. Not surprisingly, the menu in Rousillon, the historic capital of the region is replete with pork-based dishes. Although a principality of France, some major influences are Spanish and Arab. Globe artichokes are popular in the region and indeed I would have loved to use baby versions of them in this dish. Without a doubt the dish can be enjoyed more in the Belle Époque setting of Perpignan, the city where Gaulish chieftains met to consider Hannibal’s request for a conference.

The dish combines the wonderful flavours of lemon, rosemary, aniseed and honey. It works well as a spectacular Sunday lunch. One large lamb shoulder will feed 5 – 6 people. It is absolutely imperative that you use lamb of excellent quality or the texture of the shoulder will be wrong. Most supermarket acquired lamb will not suffice for this dish.

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Prepare the lamb shoulder

Flatten one large shoulder of lamb using a rolling pin. Flatten it into a rectangular shape and if necessary, trim the edges

For the stuffing

4 oz (120 gms) finely diced lamb (use excess lamb from the shoulder trimmings)

4 oz (120 gms) chopped streaky bacon

1 oz (25 gms) chopped almonds

leaves of 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp grated lemon peel

1 slice of fried bread

Ground black pepper to season

Combine all the ingredients into a food processor and process for a short time until the mixture forms a course paste. You do not want the stuffing paste to be too smooth.

For the lamb ballotine

Fill the centre of the lamb with the stuffing. Carefully roll the shoulder and sew the edges together to form a cylinder. Don’t make the ballotine too tight else it will burst as it is being cooked.

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Completing the dish

12 new potatoes, peeled and boiled in salty water for 5 minutes

6 small apples, peeled and cored

6 small pears, peeled and cored

6 apricots, peeled and stoned

6 peaches, peeled and stoned

6 figs

Heat 6 tbsp olive oil in a large casserole pan. Gently place the lamb ballotine into the hot oil and brown the skin all over, rotating the ballotine gently. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 60 minutes. Add the part boiled potatoes, gently stir the potatoes around the lamb, close the casserole lid and cook for a further 15 minutes. After a further 10 minutes, add all the rest of the ingredients and close the lid. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Place the ballotine on a serving platter and display the fruits around it. Serve the ballotine as slices.

Ox cheek

Slow cook ox cheek with foie gras, sauté pear, port and red wine reduction and parsnip crisp




 

Take a portion of fibrous meat, marinade it and slow cook it with stock. The result is an intensified flavour with meat that melts in the mouth. The jus is intensely flavoursome. Slow cooking has enjoyed somewhat of a revival…and for every reason. My friend Steve from the Brookfield Farm butchery in Aston offered me some ox cheeks. I grabbed them off him. They are perfectly sized and keep their integrity during the slow cook process. This dish is very much a main course and should be enjoyed with a spicy red wine. New World Shiraz, Merlot, Ganache or earthy St Julien will compliment it. This is a recipe for four people. Modify the amounts as necessary if you’re catering for more or fewer people.

For the ox cheeks

4 ox cheeks

5 tbs olive oil

1 veal knuckle sawn into 2 inch (5 cm) slices

1/2 cup (125 mls) water

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped

1 stick celery, chopped

2 turnips, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

10 black peppercorns

1/2 cup (125 mls) port

1 cup (250 mls) red wine

4 cups (1 L) beef or veal stock

 

In a large casserole pan, sauté the ox cheeks in the olive oil until they are browned. Transfer them using a slotted spoon to a warm plate. Add the veal knuckle slices to the pan and brown them on both sides. Remove the bones and transfer them to a warmed plate. Deglaze the pan with the water. Continue heating until the pan begins to sizzle then add the vegetables and peppercorns. Stir the contents of the pan until the vegetables become caramelised. Deglaze the pan for a second time with the port. Reduce the port by a half then add the wine. reduce the contents of the pan by one third. Transfer the ox cheeks, knuckle bones and contents of the pan to a slow cooker and cook for 4 to 6 hours.

For the parsnip crisps

These can be made ahead of time. Peel a medium parsnip and using a mandolin, make thin slices (taking great care not to cut yourself). Season the slices with salt. Sauté the slices in a mixture of 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp sugar. Once browned, transfer them to a toast rack to cool down. Try to keep them apart from each other as they cool.

For the wilted kale

Just prior to plating the dish, sauté two handfuls of kale in butter until it softens but does not brown.

For the vegetable garnish

Prepare shallot hearts and baby chantenay carrots by peeling and cutting. Sauté them in butter until just softened.

For the sauté pear

Peel, core and slice the pear and sauté in hot butter until browned on each side.

For the foie gras

Prepare the foie gras by separating the lobes, removing any membranes and deveining the centre. Using a knife that has been warmed with hot water, cut the foie gras into 1 inch transverse slices. Gently cross hatch the surfaces of the slices. Place 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a metal skillet and heat under a moderate flame/heating level. As the butter begins to sizzle, gently add the foie gras slices and sauté each side until they are golden brown.

For the Port and red wine reduction

Carefully transfer the cooked ox cheeks to warmed plates. Strain off the liquid in the slow cooker into a pan and reduce. Be vigilant here as the correct reduction point suddenly happens. The jus is ready when it develops a sticky consistency.

Plating the dish

Spoon out some jus centrally on the plate. Add a layer of wilted kale, then pear slices then add the ox cheeks. Top the dish with foie gras a sprinkle with sea salt. Add the garnishing vegetables on islands of the jus. Garnish the dish with a parsnip crisp and parsley.

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Pan seared loin of venison on wilted kale with sweet red vermouth reduction, parsnip purée and roasted garlic



Autumnal food is so exciting. There’s so many warming foods available at this time of year to adorn the plate and tantalise the senses. Red vermouth is not only a beautiful cocktail mixer but also a fabulous basis for sauce reductions using juices from the meat. Root vegetables are definitely on the menu at this time of year. The creamy parsnip purée could easily be substituted with celeriac. Kale, chard, thyme and watercress give the dish colour and balance.

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Duck and smoked cod roe

Pan seared duck, smoked cod’s roe foam, Madeira truffle sauce



Perhaps I was inspired from the time I plunged leftover roast duck into a tub of taramasalata. I wasn’t able to perform this act of culinary barbarism only once and ended feasting on a whole tub of the piscine dip and the complete remains of the roast. The combination of the saltiness of the cod’s roe and the meatiness of the duck was delicious. I have used the fruit of the caper bush (capparis spinosa) as a garnish. They are distinguishable from the flower buds of the bush known as capers.

For the Duck jus

1 uncooked duck carcass chopped into pieces

2 tbs olive oil

2/3 cup (150 mls) water

2 onions chopped (including some brown outer skin)

1 stick celery chopped

2 carrots peeled and chopped

1 swede peeled and chopped

9 oz (250 gms) button mushrooms, chopped

5 oz (150 gms) shiitake mushrooms, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2/3 cup (150 mls) Madeira wine

15 black peppercorns

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 litres chicken stock/water (see appendix on stocks)

In a large stock pan, sauté the duck bone pieces in the olive oil. When the bones have browned and have started sticking to the bottom of the pan, add the water scraping the juices clinging to the bottom. This is the first deglazing process. When the water has evaporated and the pan begins to sizzle, commence the second deglazing by adding 150ml of the chicken stock and again scrape off the juices at the bottom of the pan. As the pan begins to sizzle once more, add the stock vegetables, the water from the celery, carrots, swede, mushrooms, leeks, garlic, seasoning and herbs deglazing the pan for the third time. Cook until the vegetables have become lightly caramelized. For the fourth deglazing, add the Madeira and reduce it by about two thirds. Add the peppercorns and thyme then the rest of the chicken stock (enough to cover the bones). Bring the sauce to a simmer but do not boil to avoid clouding of the sauce. As the contents of the pan warms, carefully remove the fat and impurities that rise to the surface of the pan. Continue the gentle simmer for 90 minutes whilst regularly skimming the surface. Strain the sauce into a small pot. Avoid squeezing the vegetables as this may force impurities into the sauce. Reduce the sauce until it has a gelatinous consistency with an intense flavour.

For the duck breast

First of all, flatten the duck breast with a rolling pin. Dry the skin with kitchen paper. Rub salt into the skin to aid removal of moisture. Season the breast with some black pepper. Score the skin very carefully with a sharp knife in a criss-cross manner being very careful not to penetrate the skin to the underlying muscle. Place breast skin side down on a cold skillet. Heat the skillet on the hob and sauté the breast in its own fat under a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Check periodically that you are not burning the skin. Turn the breast over and continue cooking for another 6 minutes. Take the breast out of the skillet and onto a warm plate to allow to cool for about 8-10 minutes.

For the foam

3 inch (8 cms) piece of smoked cod’s roe

2 fl oz (60 mls) cream

2 fl oz (60 mls) milk

1 tsp lecithin granules

1/2 tsp xantham gum

In a blender, combine the ingredients and blend to a sturdy foam.

For the Madeira truffle sauce

2  tbsp unsalted butter

1  tbsp shallots, finely chopped

½ cup (125 mls) Madeira

1 cup (250 mls) demiglace ( or highly reduced veal or beef stock)

½ tsp cornflour dissolved in 1 tbsp water

Salt and black pepper seasoning

1  large black truffle, finely chopped

1  tbsp Cognac

In a skillet, soften the shallots in the butter for about two minutes then deglaze with the Madeira. Reduce the liquid by about 2/3 then add the demiglace, cornflour and seasoning. Add the truffles and Cognac to the boiling liquid and simmer for a minute. Serve quickly.

Plating the food

Cut the duck breast into cubes. Lay out some jus and add the cut breast. Using a syrynge, add the cod’s roe foam and Madeira truffle sauce. I have used softened peach pieces as garnish. I have also used sautéed caper berries.