Monday, December 18, 2006

Recipes for Christmas

Gorging for two days on meat that tasted like a kiss. It sounds pretty corny, but I have not tasted beef like this before. I also don’t completely understand how this good but not unusually so roll of topside acquired the soft texture and sweet, bloody flavour that it did, as I thought I had overcooked it at one point. It was in for almost 40 minutes, and didn’t particularly ooze much blood while resting on the board. Its caramelized surface was encrusted with a thick rough layer of black pepper and mustard, through which you could just make out the shiny channels of juice keeping each fibre compartment tender and moist.

For some reason I wanted to eat fine food this weekend, some port and red wine in there to help me get the festive spirit that I need so badly to survive. But I didn’t want anything too fussy as I intended to free-up my wintry Sunday afternoon while also eating early en masse like a civilized and well-functioning family unit. So we began with the world’s simplest turnip soup, made by sweating turnip dice in a heavy pan and then pouring over a litre or two of hot vegetable stock. This stock I had made the night before, with oranges and fennel and sage and rosemary in addition to the usual aromatics, and left overnight with some raw shallot skins to sharpen it up. I garnished it with parsley oil, parsley, butter and coarsely ground black pepper. Plenty of Maldon and some sesame seed bread.

And then, in amongst the screams and cries of a child and an infant as they stuck raisins up each others’ orifices, I dished up a standard but swanky pile of soft, pink meat next to a small square of potato and horseradish cake, some shredded and steamed spring greens and a pool of glossy port sauce. The cake was simply some slices of tattie over which I had poured a mixture of warm cream and creamed horseradish sauce (really hot fresh stuff) and baked for half an hour. The sauce began with the boiling of a chopped shallot in port until it had reduce by two thirds, to which I added a tub of best beef stock and left to reduce by half along with a tight bundle of thyme, rosemary and parsley to freshen things up. It was boring but unbelievable. The meat tasted almost human, and had a texture the likes of which I have never experienced. I don’t understand this meat.

But no matter. Tonight we dined again on it until stuffed: more soup followed by more meat and more tattie and more greens and a thick mustardy gravy reclaimed from the base of the roasting dish with more wine, stock and cubes of ice-cold unsalted butter. It looked the same and has made me feel the same: like a fat carnivore.

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