Friday, October 25, 2013

Gloomy Sunday

Watching Tom Kerridge on the telly, you can see how he got to be the size he is, but it is refreshing to see a telly chef who still clearly loves his grub, and also loves sharing his love with the rest of us. Too many cooks on the telly now are jaded and repetitive from having been on for donkeys years, or aren't really cooks at all. I love the way Rick Stein goes to far flung places and tells us that this is what he loves, cheap grub, prepared in a shack by a peasant with a camping stove and battered tin can. You won't find his love of simplicity in any of his Padstow establishments, not when the bill arrives, anyway. Old Tom tells us he loves simplicity as well, but he doesn't really, and he certainly doesn't favour frugality, but he doesn't pretend that he does, so that's OK.

I'm attempting a bit of frugality myself, and I'm not being very successful. Last weekend I did Tom's duck, which has left me feeling a bit ambivalent. The duck was expensive, there wasn't much meat on it and it was a bit of a faff at the end, but was probably worth it, coz it was nice, and I did manage to stretch it out to two meals, more than that, actually, thinking about it. I haven't had much experience cooking duck due to the expense and lack of meat on the bleeder, and it has never been very successful......it's impossible to carve the bastard, for a start. On this occasion, I followed Toms instructions and then looked at a video on how to successfully carve it, and it was OK……I managed to get the breasts off in one piece and then carve those nicely, so, for once, it actually looked edible. It tasted, really, really nice, but I was still left with some doubts about it. The problem I had was that I can feed 5 of us and still have leftovers with a chicken, or a lump of red meat; this dear duck only fed the two of us.

Thinking about it though, it ended up good value. Me and the Mrs only had the breasts, which was enough. There wasn't much meat on the legs, but what there was, I stripped and chopped and turned into a stir fry, albeit a stir fry heavy on the veg and noodles, for the kids. I also followed Tom's recipes for potato pancakes and braised lettuce to go with the duck. The pancakes turned out really well, and there were loads of 'em, and the letuce was nothing short of a fucking revelation. I also knocked up some saffron spuds that I had seen Rick Stein do on Saturday Kitchen and they were also a bit special.............so, I had loads of leftover pancakes, loads of leftover spuds, and loads and loads of delicious duck fat. I had pancakes with poached eggs on Sunday for breakfast, then fried a couple more up for a snack before bed, then, the other night, I had lamb chops, accompanied by the last of the pancakes and the leftover spuds, fried very gently, for a very long time, in a load of duck fat. I also stuck a load of green veg on, just for appearances sake, and it was bloody belting. So, although the duck was dead, and there wasn't much meat on it, I managed. from the one meal I cooked on Saturday, to make 3 other biggish meals, a breakfast, and some snacks. Hat's off to Tom.

The cheapest meal I have had in ages was on Sunday: an Ottolenghi,which is a bit surprising because there was no faff involved and it was frugal, neither of which you would associate with him. A couple of boxes of free range chicken portions, a load of spuds,and several onions into a big pot and then a load of soy sauce, pomegranate mollases, mango chutney, ginger, and a couple of other bits and pieces. That was it, all in a pot and into the oven for 2 hours. Bloody delicious.

All this marvelous duck fat reminded me that I am defined as a man with a chronic illness (although I don't feel like a man with a chronic illness) and I am also obese (although only just!) so I should be a bit more mindful about the shit I scarf down. All through the summer I had been really good, or, more accurately, less bad than usual. I invented a cold porridge concotion that I had for breakfast every day, in place of my usual bacon butty, which gets wolfed down in the car en route to my labours. I can't pretend it was delicious, but it was edible, and very cheap, and, possibly, healthy; but it took a bit of getting through, and you most definitely can't eat it while driving.

The last few weeks have seen me revert to the bacon butty in the car, much quicker, much nicer as well, to be honest. This is bad, I have to acknowledge that. Next time I keel over, I will deserve no sympathy. I keep telling myself that I shall go back to the cold porridge, and I will, one day.
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