Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thanksgiving – Turkey Day

It’s all getting busy in the build up to Thanksgiving Day on Thursday 25th November with the requests coming in for the traditional turkey, in fact in  USA it is often called Turkey Day.
For us it provides some interesting possibilities for our own take on a Christmas turkey recipe.

'The First Thanksgiving' by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

Traditionally, this famous American feast celebrates a meal held at the site of Plymouth Plantation by the Pilgrim Fathers who settled in Massachusetts in 1621 and ‘gave thanks’ to God for helping them survive a particularly harsh winter.

This celebration occurred early in the history of what would become one of the original Thirteen Colonies that later were to become the United States. Thanksgiving was modelled on harvest festivals that were common in Europe at the time.

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various different dates throughout history. By the mid 20th century, the final Thursday in November had become the customary day of Thanksgiving in most U.S. states. It was not until December 26, 1941, however, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after pushing two years earlier to move the date earlier to give the country an economic boost, signed a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday and settling it to the fourth (but not final) Thursday in November.

But back to the turkey and some suggestions for Thanksgiving and Christmas …

Free Range Norfolk Bronze Turkeys

Nowadays, Thanksgiving is widely considered to be more of a public holiday rather than a religious one, and is celebrated with traditional foods served at Thanksgiving meals. Roast turkey, mashed potato, yams, and cranberry sauce are all favourites likely to be seen on the table, with pumpkin pie an extremely popular dessert.

Every newspaper and magazine will be full of the usual cooking advice so I’ll keep it simple and point you towards what I think are the best ideas ….

Turkey recipes.

I’d suggest that you visit the folks at ChowHound for the full American ….

Nearer to home you should try these great suggestions at Delicious Magazine

Charlie the Butcher

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The Gambia

With the weather turning and the dark nights drawing closer and closer, it was time for a holiday. So off to The Gambia I went. If you fancy a sunny, different, smiley and happy holiday, Gambia is the place to go.
My holidays are always like a “bus man’s holiday” dragging my poor girlfriend along with me I always plan a little meat related trip. When you say Gambia and meat it’s a little different to Australia and meat or the USA and meat. So after a quick thumb through the Rough Guide,  Albert Market in the capital Banjul was the place to check out.
We found a guide and asked him to take us to the meat market, so off we headed through little lanes turning left and right via great spice and fish stalls. We finally got to butchers’ row. It was a buzzing place with lots of shouting and cutting. I got behind the block and to the butchers’ amazement showed off a little bit of skill and also had a great little chat about the trade.
As you can see I met the coolest butcher ever the guy in his shades. I’m thinking it’s the way forward so watch out !

If you are ever in Banjul pop by the Albert Market and have a butchers.

Charlie the Butcher.

British Sausage Week

British Sausage Week

This week is British Sausage Week, held to promote the eating of British reared pork, and you can vote for your own favourite on the website.  There are useful guides to buying prime cuts of pork , as well as a host of recipes to encourage people to cook with sausages.

Incidentally – you thought that Lady Gaga was setting a trend with her meat fashion – think again ……

The Sausage Queen

The word sausage originally comes from the Latin word salsus, which means salted or preserved. In the days of old people did not have refrigeration to preserve their meat and so making sausage was a way of overcoming this problem.

The first sausages were made by early humans, stuffing roasted intestines into stomachs. As early as 589 BC, a Chinese sausage làcháng was mentioned consisting of goat and lamb meat. Around 2,700 years ago the Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey,

“These goat sausages sizzling here in the fire – we packed them with fat and blood to have for supper.  Now, whoever wins this bout and proves the stronger, Let that man step up and take his pick of the lot !”

Epicharmus, who  lived sometime between c. 540 and c. 450 BC, wrote a comedy titled “The Sausage”.  Evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Dry sausage was born as a result of the discovery of new spices, which helped to enhance, flavour and preserve the meat.  Different countries and different cities within those countries started producing their own distinctive types of sausage, both fresh and dry.  These different types of sausage were mostly influenced by the availability of ingredients as well as the climate.

Some parts of the world with periods of cold climate, such as northern Europe were able to keep their fresh sausage without refrigeration, during the cold months.  They also developed a process of smoking the sausage to help preserve the meat during the warmer months.  The hotter climates in the south of Europe developed dry sausage, which did not need refrigeration at all.

Sausages are a result of economical butchery. Traditionally, sausage-makers put to use tissues and organs which are perfectly edible and nutritious, but not particularly appealing – such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat – in a form that allows for preservation: typically, salted and stuffed into a tubular casing made from the cleaned and turned inside-out intestine of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape. Hence, sausages, puddings and salami are amongst the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees.

Basically people living in particular areas developed their own types of sausage and that sausage became associated with the area. For example ……

Cumberland sausage

Cumberland sausage

This is considered to be the meatiest British sausage.  It is a chunky, course cut pork sausage spiced with black pepper, a  few gratings of fresh nutmeg and mace and a pinch each of marjoram, sage and cayenne pepper. It is made in a continuous spiral and traditionally sold by length rather than weight.  Looks very impressive when coiled in a spiral and cooked whole

Lincolnshire sausage

Lincolnshire sausage

Old fashioned herby regional sausage traditionally made with pork, bread and sage, although thyme seems to be creeping in.

Marylebone sausage

A traditional London butchers sausage made with mace, ginger and sage.

Charlie the Butcher