Category Archives: Poultry

Travel

Its been a while. I’ve been on a couple of little trips and as always I’ve snapped away.

Scotland-Inverness

The beautiful highland cattle.

Africa-Morocco

A happy butcher.

France- Somewhere

I always love the range of butchers shop fronts in France. They seem very welcoming to me, I took lots of pictures but wont bore you with them all.

Horse Butcher.

Foie Gras Farm-France

Its been a little while since my last post but I’m back on the blog so keep your eyes open. Bacon Jam etc…….

Charlie the Butcher.

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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

Verjuice – my special ingredient

OK- time for me to share a little secret with you !  It might well be the next big thing !

Verjuice (from Middle French vertjus “green juice”) is a very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes. Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze.

Picking green grapes for making verjuice. Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474). Paris Bibliothèque Nationale.

It was once used where modern cooks would use either wine or some variety of vinegar, but has become much less widely used as wines and variously flavoured vinegars became more accessible. Nonetheless, it is still used in a number of French dishes as well as recipes from other European and Middle Eastern cuisines.

The South Australian cook Maggie Beer has popularised the use of verjuice in her cooking, and it is being used increasingly in South Australian restaurants. Take a look at her website.

Maggie Beer's verjuice

Verjuice is first and foremost a flavour enhancer, adding richness and flavourful complexity to all your cooking with its balance of gentle acidity and sweetness.

Verjuice is also an elegant, delicate alternative to both vinegar and lemon juice and can be used in larger quantities than either of these in cooking. It adds zest to your food, avoiding the sharpness of both vinegar and lemon juice and therefore, does not mask flavours but rather enhances them.

It heightens the flavours of any fish, chicken, game, red meat, vegetable and fruit dishes. It is ideal for deglazing, dressings, syrups, sauces, marinades, gravies and reductions. It has an affinity with nut oils, e.g., walnut, hazelnut and peanut oil and emulsifies well with olive oil.

Range of verjuices from Verjuice UK

It isn’t always easy to get hold of but it is stocked in Harvey Nicholls Food Halls and after a bit of persuading I think that some Waitrose stores may have it on their shelves.  An alternative is to order it direct from Verjuice UK, new on-line supplier of South African sourced verjuice.

For all my meat fans I will suggest a seasonal recipe but the real deal is …….

Deglazing with Verjuice

Set aside your roast/fries/grills and any vegetables that you have cooked with the meat.
Remove excess fat from the pan, leaving approximately 1 teaspoonful. Over a medium heat, add 225 ml verjuice and using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits, incorporating them into the verjuice.

Bring to the boil and reduce until jus begins to coat the spoon. Add stock or water to thin if necessary and stir in a knob of butter for richness and shine.

Tip: Resist thickening the jus.

Now, thanks to Maggie Beer, here is a recipe for you that uses verjuice to deglaze.  It will be just right for the autumn.

Pheasant with grapes and verjuice

Ingredients (serve six)
3 young pheasants
1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g chilled, unsalted butter
250 ml verjuice
250 ml chicken stock
2 handfuls of grapes

Method

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 240C. Remove the second joint and wing tip from the pheasant and cut through the skin around the thigh to free the legs a little but do not remove them completely.

Step 2
Squeeze a little lemon juice into the cavity of each bird and season with the salt and pepper. Melt a little of the butter in a frying pan and brown the birds gently on all sides until golden brown

Step 3
Arrange the birds in a baking dish allowing the legs to spread.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over, then cover and rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Step 4
Deglaze the baking dish with the verjuice and boil vigorously. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half, then beat in the remaining butter to finish the sauce.

Step 5
Less than a minute before serving add the grapes to the sauce. Carve the breasts and legs, pour over the sauce and serve immediately.

Charlie the Butcher


Wishing you a happy christmas

The meat madness is over, almost finished up at Borough Market and I’m off to the Isle of Wight for Christmas, with a turkey cooked in the aga, a Mrs Kings Pork Pie and a side of smoked salmon I’m sorted. Wishing you all a wicked Christmas, and a great new year.

Charlie the Butcher.

Wood pigeon

With no close season wood pigeon is a fantastic source of game all year-round. But they are best between late spring and early autumn when they have been on the farmer’s crops. They are quite pricey, I got four breasts for £6.60 from Ferness Fish and Game at Borough Market the other day but they are great. If roasting, place some streaky bacon on over the breasts and roast for 20-25 mins at 200c. Remove the bacon for the last 10 mins to fully cook, allow one per person. Thats a simple way of roasting them. I’ve also had them on the bbq!  Give them a go if the weathers good. I like to tart them up a little in a winter salad. It’s easy and well impressive.

Warm winter wood pigeon salad

Ingredients

  • 6 pigeon breasts 6 people for starter or 3 people as a main.
  • 2 thinly sliced raw beetroots
  • 1 pack of lambs lettuce
  • 1 Pomergranate
  • Olive oil, pepper and salt

Stage 1
Season the breasts.

Stage 2
Fry in a pan until plump to the touch about 2 mins either side so they pink in the middle.

Stage 3
Put the lambs lettuce, beet and pomegranate on the plates.

Stage 4
Finish the breasts and slice, give each person one breast for a starter or two for a main dish.

Stage 5
Enjoy with a good glass of full-bodied red.

I think the crunch of the raw beets and the pomegranates popping in the mouth with the gamey pigeon is all a winning recipe. Give it a go….

Charlie the Butcher.

Cheats canapé Caesar Salad

I love holding dinner parties for my mates. I like to provide a good old spread with lots of grub and wine glasses full. It’s always nice to offer my guests some canapés as they arrive to kick-start the evening. This particular canapé came from my old man who is the king of canapés. It’s a twist on the classic Caesar Salad and it doesn’t disappoint. It is ideal for a pre Christmas dinner party canapé. Caesar Salads have been around since 1924, invented by Caesar Cardini an Italian born Mexican who served it in a kitchen in Tijuana. I like to serve each individual salad in a leaf of gem lettuce. It’s very easy, tastes great and always impresses. I have made a cheats easy way of making them and it only contains basic ingredients.

Ingredients

  • One free range or organic skinless chicken breast sliced thinly
  • Mayo,  3 large desert spoons worth
  • Salt and pepper a twist of each
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Two gem lettuces
  • A pinch smoked paprika
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Croutons

Step 1.
Fry the chicken breasts and season them with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Step 2.
Take the outer leaves off the gems and wash.

Step 3.
Mix the mayo, lemon juice, shaved parmesan and paprika for a little kick and colour. Taste to check as it may need more lemon juice or seasoning.

Step 4.
Add the chicken to the mayo and mix.

Step 5.
Spoon onto each gem and serve.

You could also add an anchovy which would add some extra richness to them. I buy my parmesan from Elliott of the Cheese and Ham Co at Borough Market. It’s great stuff, I eat it straight from the cheese box.

Charlie the Butcher.

Goose fat

With the goose getting fat and Christmas orders flying in at the market, it is time to get the store cupboard up to stock. Goose has become very popular over the past years but it has been around since 2500 BC and it is where we get the delicious fat from. Years ago the fat was never given to you when you bought the bird from your butcher because it was exported to France and other countries with a different culinary tradition. But times are changing and people are becoming more aware of its delights.

It was the great Elizabeth David, who is responsible for bringing French food into the British home, that was also responsible for saving goose fat. In an article in House & Garden (1958), she describes how to cook a goose and writes, “The fat from the bird should be separated from the juices and poured off into a bowl, for it is very valuable for frying.”

So the revival of the goose fat began. It is great melted and spread over roasting potatoes, it gives them the crunch and the full meaty flavour. It is easy to store, just keep the jar refrigerated as it is a solid fat and becomes fairly liquid at room temperature. It solidifies between 16°C and 22°C and has a melting point between 25°C and 37°C. Goose fat has a high burning (or smoke) point which means foods can be cooked at a high temperature without the fat burning or breaking down making it ideal to use for roast spuds. It is also great for confits, chips, frying onions, and even melted and on toast mmmm …….. It is available from delis, butchers shops and other decent food shops priced around £3 – £5 per jar,.

Treat yourself and enjoy.

Charlie the Butcher.