Category Archives: Fat

How about a goose ?

Before being overtaken by turkey, goose was the preferred choice for the Christmas lunch table in England and more recently there are signs of it making a bit of a comeback. Goose meat is richer and darker than turkey. It has a higher fat content, but a lot of the fat melts away during cooking leaving deliciously tasty and succulent meat.

Although not cheap, goose makes a wonderful treat for any special meal. In addition the goose fat collected during cooking makes the best roast potatoes and is almost worth the entrance price alone. Goose has a wonderfully rich, buttery flavour, bordering on the beefy, thanks to its grass diet. It’s certainly a fatty bird, but don’t let that put you off – the flavour is worth it.

The common domesticated goose is a descendant of the greylag goose (Anser anser) still found in the wild in Ireland, western Scotland and some other parts of Europe The most popular strain of commercial goose is the Legarth, a white-feathered bird with a high meat-to-bone ratio. This breed is very well-suited to free-range grazing. The Embden is another white variety that shares similar characteristics. Geese, by their very nature, are all free-range, but some will, of course, be better reared than others.

Free range Legarth geese

HISTORY

Geese were bred in ancient Egypt and goose liver was loved by the Romans. Goose has always been important in French cuisine where it plays a key part in traditional dishes such as cassoulet, confit d’oie and foie gras.

In Victorian times, the homes of the poor often had open fireplaces for heat and cooking but not with ovens. So many families, like the Cratchits in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, took their Christmas goose or turkey to the baker’s shop.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, first edition 1843

Bakers were forbidden to open on Sundays and holidays but would open their shops on these days to the poor and bake their dinners for a small fee. Dickens mentions Master Peter Cratchit and the two younger Cratchits going to fetch their Christmas goose from the bakers.

Bringing home the Christmas goose

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone, — too nervous to bear witnesses, — to take the pudding up, and bring it in….. from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens first published by Chapman and Hall on 19 December 1843.

Christmas dinner at the Cratchit's

TIPS
BUYING
Fresh geese are available from specialist suppliers and quality butchers. You may need to order in advance, particularly around Christmas. Geese are quite big-boned and so choose a larger bird than you would a chicken (allow at least 750g per person). Having said that, smaller (younger) birds are the most tender, so two small geese are preferable to a single huge one.

Choose plump-looking free-range birds.

STORING
Keep refrigerated, giblets removed, for 2 or 3 days.

PREPARING
Scoop out any excess fat from the cavity and put aside for roasting potatoes. Rinse the goose inside and out and pat well dry. Prick the skin to enable the fat to be released during cooking (try not to pierce the flesh) and rub the skin with salt and pepper.

Place breast side up on a rack over a roasting pan. Roast at 220°C for 30 minutes followed by around 2½ to 3½ hours (depending on size) at 180°C. Baste the goose every 20 to 30 minutes and remove the fat that accumulates in the pan or it will smoke furiously (the fat can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or frozen). If parts of the goose seem to be browning too quickly, wrap them in foil.

The goose is cooked when a skewer in the thickest part of the thigh reveals clear juices (the flesh may still be slightly pink). Remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes or so before carving.

Charlie the Butcher

Panko scotch egg

I love scotch eggs. They bring back fond memories of my childhood at mate’s birthdays, motorway service stations and pub gardens in the summer. But it’s a very un-cool food to admit to liking. It is deep fried and not that healthy for you. But as a treat food you can’t beat them, and with the English summer here or around the corner it’s the ideal picnic snack or cricket tea filler.

What is it ?  and who first made them ?  well………………

With my usual detective hat on, my work is complete and my results are :

A scotch egg is simple. A hard-boiled egg with a sausage meat casing covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

History. Well it does have a nice little story behind it. Once upon a time at Fortnum and Mason in Picadilly, London they made the first scotch egg to sell in the amazing food hall they have there. For all the record books that was back in 1738.

There are a couple of different ways to make them some people use quail eggs, duck, goose or even an ostrich egg has been used. So get yourself an egg and make a scotch egg.

Ingredients

  • Five free range eggs
  • A pack Panko bread crumbs, the best crumbs to use, trust me.
  • Flour
  • One egg for coating
  • Sausage meat about 1kg
  • Smoked bacon bits 200g
  • Salt and pepper

Step 1
Take a pan of salted cold water and place the eggs in. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 9 minutes.

Step 2
Collect all the ingredients, sausage meat and bacon bits in a mixing bowl, egg wash in another, flour and panko crumbs in the others.

Step 3
Get the oil on, use a deep fat fryer and heat to 180.C

Step 4
Peel the eggs under cold running water.

Step 5
Flour the eggs, you do this so that the sausage meat does not stick to the egg.

Step 6
Wet your hands, it’s easier to control the sausage meat. Place the egg in your hand a work a sausage meat covering all around the egg, make sure you cover it all.

Step 7
Wash the egg with the egg wash.

Step 8
Rub on the panko bread crumbs, make sure you cover all of the egg. This is what gives the egg the crunch.

Step 9
Place into the oil, and cook for 9-10 minutes at 180.C

Step 10
Take out, let them cool down and enjoy with salad cream or bbq sauce.

Panko bread crumbs are available in any good Chinese supermarket. If you can’t find them pulse stale bread in the food mixer for a good homemade style crumb.

Enjoy.

Charlie the Butcher.

Dripping cake

Well,  after my earlier blog about dripping and with a Monday off work, it was time to make something with my delicious dripping …. so dripping cake it was.

It is a old traditional English cake and uses dripping instead of butter and eggs. My thinking is that as dripping obtained from a beef roast, it is therefore a by-product of a roast and much cheaper than butter and eggs and once upon a time more common. So a clever spark one day used it and came up with dripping cake or drippers as sometimes called. The cake recipe is very easy and is lovely. So here goes ….

Ingredients

  • 150g brown sugar
  • 90g dripping
  • 225g wholemeal flour
  • 225g water
  • 1 big handful of raisins
  • half a small handful of flaked almonds
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp of bicarb soda

Step 1
Melt the sugar, dripping and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins. Preheat the oven to 180.

Step 2
Sieve the flour, make a well add the dried stuff, then add the dripping mixture.

Step 3
Mix well.

Step 4
Line a loaf tin, add the mixture.

Step 5
Bake for 40 mins or until a knife comes out clean. Then allow to cool on a wire rack and enjoy with butter or clotted cream.

Charlie the Butcher.

T bone

The summer is on its way to South East London, the barbecues are being dusted down and B & Q stores are piled high to the ceiling with them. But the question on people’s lips in the butchers shop in the past couple of weeks has been “What’s the best on the bone steak for the BBQ mate ?”.

Well you have a number of on the bone steak options :

  • Sirloin (I have already written about this cut …. click on Beef in my side bar)
  • Dorchester Rib
  • Fillet
  • T bone steak

….. and this time it is the T bone steak that I’m going to do a little research into.

Well, it contains both the sirloin (strip loin …. left hand side of the vertical bone in my photo above) and the fillet (tenderloin …. right hand side of the vertical bone in my photo above). For the preparation of a T bone joint, firstly the butcher will remove the rump with the fillet head left on the rump and the wing rib taken off. Leaving you the T bone joint. It’s at this point that the desired size of steak can be cut.

But why the name T bone you may ask ? It is because the steak is cut across the joint and appears to be two bones, both of which when they are cut through look like the letter  T. The cut itself  is actually just one bone which is called the Lumbar Vertebra which has been cut through.

History shows that the T bone has been around since the early 19th century. One shady story talks about the steak being born at the Porter House Hotel in Massachusetts, USA. Some steak fans can swear that the T bone ticks all of the boxes with the sirloin and fillet both present in a steak and the buttery fat covering on the sirloin.  But my favourite cuts are the rib eye and the rump, but the jury is still out.

I’m going to let you into a little secret of mine, I’ve cut hundreds of T bone steaks in my life but I’ve never actually had one. The reason being I’m waiting for the first days trading of my own butchers shop and as a reward for the hard work that is going to be my celebration meal. Fingers crossed this happens one day, and it is before the comb over hair and beer belly!

Charlie the Butcher.

Beef dripping

I remember years ago telling my old boss that I was leaving my job and heading up to Leeds to train to be a butcher. He was very supportive and helpful about it, but told me a great story about how his Grandma used to make him “dripping on toast.”  This was one of his fondest memories of his Grandma.

I love how people have stories about meat, normally it’s that steak they had on holiday or the famous three bird roast their mate cooked them. But the stories are always told with great excitement.

So with beef dripping normally chucked away by unaware domestic chefs or often overlooked in butchers shops and supermarkets it’s time spread the love for the “dripping.”

So what is beef dripping ?  You may ask ? Well…………

Basically it i the animal fats that has been running off your roasting joint – either pork or beef – which will also have the brownish looking jelly that lurks on the bottom of your roasting tin. When solidified the lovely brown jelly will form a succulent layer on the surface of your dripping.

It is also a key part in a number of great cooking methods. The classic fish and chips are traditionally fried in dripping as the pure refined dripping has a high smoke point of 280.C and a longer frying life then normal frying oils ……. And who can forget ‘dripping cake’ which is really a type of bread with ingredients that include dripping, flour, brown sugar, spices, currents and raisins.

But it is the “mucky fat sandwich” as dripping on toast is called in Yorkshire that I’m particularly interested in. It is easy, cheap and filling. with just three main ingredients ….. dripping, bread and sea salt. Toast the bread, spread the dripping and add a pinch or two of salt. Job done and the results are great. I like to use a thickly cut white bloomer and Maldon sea salt. But some could say that’s taking to the next level, but that’s me.

The most common brand of beef dripping in the UK is called Britannia Dripping and sold in 500g packs. Highgrove Fine Foods also sell a 500g pack or if you are lucky you may just find it at your local butchers or deli.

Keep a close eye out for my home based dripping adventures.

Charlie the Butcher.