Thursday, 17 January 2013

Chitterling?

This term I've taken shopping to a new level, by minimising the time I spend in supermarkets. Yes I still use them but now only for the cupboard basics, chopped toms, plain rice etc. This means all my meat is from the local butchers, and how I forgot the smell of butchers.
With my weekly budget of £25 stretching to three meals a day and snacks/cider, I need to be frugal. For instance this week I bought a rolled and boned (probably in the opposite order) shoulder of pork. This was the same price a pork "chunks" in my local Morrison and far superior. One item on the cooked counter caught my eye though Chitterling.

I had to ask but chitterling is apparently the intestines of, in this case, a pig. Vacuum packed and cooked they looked similar to sweetbreads but much richer in colour, so I had a chat (the bonus of a butchers) and two gents suggested eating a) with salt and b) with vinegar. So for lunch I had made a ploughman's style spread and sliced up some chitterlings on the side.
Certainly not for then squeamish they definitely look like intestines, but look closer and the flesh is more of a cooked ham. With an extremely intense pork flavour that borders on offal but isn't quite they were delicious. Definitely better with salt on a piece of fresh brown bread they are extremely moist, and soft (I need to ask but I assume they are just boiled).

Since my first taste I now have some more waiting me in the fridge which I'm planning a stew with (I think the texture will make them melt into a slightly thickened sauce) but it also turns out they are extremely rare. Please tell me if I'm wrong but from what I've found they are still eaten in some parts of America and the south west of England.

I'd love to know if anyone else has any uses for them (their odd shape makes them intriguing to use) perhaps a traditional recipe? But I'd say this is another food on the road to the now clich├ęd "nose to tail" eating experience and one which may not be found in Mayfair restaurants!

UPDATE: Chitterling don't last very long, two days in the fridge after first eating i went to cool in a stew and the rancid smell was, well, rancid! And ive not seen them in the butchers since!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

How easy it is not to post...thank goodness for TV

Oh how easy it is to say I will post more often, I believe it was in 2011! One hell of an Olympic experience behind me and I've made the decision to attempt to enroll In a culinary college....just this pesky engineering degree to finish first. So while in the process of saving a small fortune how can I maximise my free time to still progress forward. Enter TV chefs.
 
Clearly Nigella isn't a chef (have you seen her chop) but after some painful revision watching pretty food on TV can't help but to inspire. Maybe just one classic recipe or method a week can help my repertoire. Having watched Great British Bake off and Brendan's incredible knowledge, an 8 plait loaf it was. I know this is really just a fancy plain white loaf but it looks cool and is fun, and definitely worth the pain that is plaiting. Enter the dodgy photo of the spoils:
 
Taken from the good end!
And what to next? Pork pies I think, although my newly acquired pasta machine e has only had a few goes. Any recommendations for basic skills or classic recipes? Anything that can interrupt an afternoon of Thermofluids and can be shared (used as bribery) in student suburbia.
And maybe this is where TV chefs who think we all eat scallops every Tuesday come in, aspritional inspiration. So on with reading as many schools prospectus' as possible and in the meantime taking over a cosy (read pokey) students kitchen!
 
Only the whole of baking, classic french and what seems like £2million to go. Any shared experiances of culinary institutions would be greatly appreciated. I think I'll have time for the pork pies after all.
 
For now...
 

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Welcome to London Town


So…it’s been a little while since my last post and I'm going to take a new approach; more often and quicker!


Firstly then, I’ve moved to London which from a food point of view is fantastic. Living near the Billingsgate Fish Market, on my first weekend off I couldn’t resist getting up early (buying begins at 5am) and going. If you live in London and haven’t been, you really must go. The traders are far friendlier than I imagined (although some don’t take too well to haggling) and the whole market is filled with more public than the wholesaler only impression I had, which makes it much easier to shop.

The range of fish is incredible and to be honest overwhelming. The wholesale nature of it means prices are extremely low (I paid £12 for 3 whole wild sea bass) but to get the best value you need to buy a ‘box’ of fish so be prepared to stock up the freezer.
I also fell for the lure of a trader and bought 1.5kg of razor clams. Having never bought or eaten the before I couldn’t resist and took the squirming clams home in my rucksack! After some quick googling I cooked them simply in some white wine and then fried them, quickly in some butter for colour. They were delicious and the fun of an early Saturday at the market was well worth sleep deprivation.

On the clams themselves, there isn’t much guidance online on what bits to eat. They come out in a y-shape muscle. One side is clearly the main eating muscle and was bout 1 ½ inches long, but the other had the appearance of the internal organs. I didn’t fancy risking that side but it did seem that I threw away over half of each clam? If anyone knows what I should have done is that would be greatly appreciated!

In future I will definitely be buying a fish guide so I have a better idea of what I want, and to avoid the situation of not really knowing how to cook what I’ve bought.

So a quick ramble on the fish market…if you can you must go: it’s like nothing else. Get an idea of what fish you’d like and know what It weighs as everything is sold “per kg” and I did find myself unsure of what that meant in terms of fish!

Also if anyone has any recipes for Razor Clams please share them as i have some frozen to deal with!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Mutton Dressed as Lamb

One food campaign that, certainly for the last 10 years, keeps popping up is that of the eating and availability of mutton. However many celebrity chefs and farmers have lended their name and support to the issue this Easter (when lamb is at its most prevalent) the vast majority of people will be unable to source mutton and most likely be unaware of it.

From a welfare and agriculture point of view sheep in the UK are tough and this has prevented the need to implement intensive farming. Within any flock however, not all lambs are slaughtered and this leads to mutton which in the 21st century is often the farmers and butchers treat. If consumers were to demand and purchase mutton the effects on these farmers would be monumental creating a whole new market in one which is increasingly becoming a seasonal fare.

So, why do we not eat mutton? The reputation is that mutton is the ropey ageing sheep which the farmer has decided is too old to keep so may as well be slaughtered for mutton. This just isn't true; as simple as that. Traditionally lamb is in its first spring/summer, hogget in its second and mutton its third onwards. In fact in centuries past the main sheep’s meat eaten was mutton. Any good sheep farmer will have simply cared for his “mutton” for a longer period in time than his lamb. This extra age requires more consideration when cooking as the meat is tougher but the rewards are worth the extra cooking time. Having recently cooked mutton for the first time (in a Caribbean mutton curry for the record) I’d describe the taste a more intense lamb flavour with an edge of gaminess or simply really tasty!

So then, for the sake of the British sheep farmers, British sheep and our taste buds I can heartily recommend getting down to the local farmers market, buying your mutton and planning a few hours in advance a slow cooked meal to discover a lost British classic.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Morals Of Meat

For my first foray into blogging I’ve decided on the topic that is closest to my heart. It is one that has been written about hundreds of times before but I believe one that every meat eater should at least consider. So here is my tuppence worth on the morals of meat which I will try to keep short and expand on some points in later blogs.

As a carnivore (or vegetarian in the case of dairy) in modern society you or I are indirectly condoning the slaughtering of the animals used to produce the meat products we eat. As a bye-product of this comes the acceptance and agreement of the methods used in the husbandry of these animals. I personally do not have a problem with the idea of eating meat and also fully appreciate the views of vegetarians, vegans and others but I do believe that the husbandry and general well-being of the animals should be of critical importance.

The rise of mass-produced, intensive and industrially raised animals had led to a dramatic decrease in living-standards of the animals fuelled by a large consumer desire for cheap meat. In writing these now fairly well-known points I realise that those who read this will more-than-likely already have their own stance on this and herein lies the issue. With no disrespect meant, the common consumer does not wish to and will not consider these issues when purchasing vac-packed cuts from the supermarket. In some cases these people do not even care to be reminded that the “product” they are purchasing is even an animal.

So, what can be done? Could the government introduce higher basic standards removing processes such as battery chickens or intensive dairy herds? Possible but unlikely seems the outcome of that argument. As always in business it is a case of demand. The 30% of meat bought out of supermarkets will largely be bought by concerned and knowledgeable customers at local butchers but even this does not guarantee animal standards. I believe that the more knowledge is put out into the public domain the better. This can be from schools to TV chefs (who I think do a good job in initially raising awareness).

The end of the matter is that it is a personal choice. However, the more people that pose the questions the more consideration people will give to it and hopefully more people will fall on the side of well-cared for and considerately produced animal products.

As side note my personal stance on this subject is currently changing dramatically. While I have always been an advocate of free-range chicken and eggs (not eating anything else for years) I currently am unsure about the state of other animals. Ideally I would love to visit these intensively reared pigs for example to make my own mind up and likewise visit an intensive milk producer. It is this last point that bothers me most though and can be summarised as follows: Where do I, as the “concerned” (as I put it) consumer, draw the line? Having recently read Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “Meat” I have re-evaluated the position of this line and begun to live by the less quantity and more quantity philosophy he puts forward and as such am eating good quality meat, but less frequently. 

Please comment and discuss these issues as I realise that the topic grows and grows the more it is discussed but that is, after all, what I feel we need to do.

The Student Foody

Thursday, 24 March 2011

What Am I and This Blog About???


As a first time blogger I felt a little introduction post was in order!


So, to answer the first part of the title, I am The Student Foody. I’m a university student who would actively describe himself as a foody. I love all things food, from learning about the production of ingredients, to cooking, eating out and all things in between. I also have a few fairly large views on the ethics of the food we eat in today’s modern society (but I’ll save those for a real blog!).  

As a student I think the way I view food may differ slightly to those of household cooks and professional chefs and therefore I hope to share some of these and hear back from you all on them. For me a key part of this is hearing what other people have to say on the issues I discuss. If we are all open minded then a good debate on a passionate topic does nothing  but good and if it gets us all thinking then I’d say this was a success.
So please enjoy my humble offerings, comment and follow and enjoy your food.

The Student Foody J