#NationalGrilledCheese day was a salivating moment in our office! It was time to put together the ultimate in cheese toasties.
The cheese choice ended up being simple, a delicious Comte. Characterised and loved for its aromatic richness, this cheese requires outstanding milk! Comte cows are exclusively from two breeds of cow, Montbéliarde and French Simmental. They are free to feed on a natural grass diet, and then in winter months moved to stables where they are fed locally harvested hay. This wonderful combination help maximise the delicious nutty aromatic flavours.
The meat filling, well really, what else could we put to compliment the delicious nutty aroma? Our phenomenal Iberico Jamon Asado. Pre-cooked this pieces of meat is a masterpiece in itself, but sliced and encased in melted Comte Cheese it is something else entirely!
Iberico Jamon Asado, comes from our wonderful suppliers De Raza. They raise, feed and manage the production of the Iberico Pigs throughout the south west of the Iberian Peninsula in the regions of Extremadura, Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha. Here the pigs live in the dehesa land which is full of cork and holm-oaks, it is this that gives the pigs such distinctive flavour and characteristics.
Iberico Pigs are very distinctive with small heads and large jowls and snouts, their hind legs on the other hand are very long and descending, thin looking but don't be deceived they are extremely strong. As animals they are long and wide slightly indented and extremely muscular, although agile and free moving. Medium sized with a well proportioned belly, showing good growth and development. They live in groups and look harmonious and lively. Because of all the above, they make pretty delicious ham!
Our Iberico Jamon is precooked and ready to slice. You can either eat it cold straight from the fridge or slather it in marmalade and roast it. Anyway, before I get distracted with Christmas Ham recipes back to the job in hand, toasties! With the filling sorted, I picked some Sourdough fresh from Gails, the smell brought me in. Being Coeliac I can't enjoy that gorgeous taste any more but the smell still transports me to a happy place.
Slices of sourdough, with a kiss of salted butter on each side, a slice of Iberico Ham and then a pile of grated Comte Cheese. Butter the outside and toast, either the Croque Monsieur way in a fry pan ensuring all that sumptuous butter turns the bread golden brown and glistening, or on a Sandwich Grill.
The result crisp golden brown slightly salted crust of bread on the outside, nutty flavour of soft Iberico ham, topped off with the gooey aromatic flavour of the melted Comte. Heaven in a mouthful!
There are moments that I revel in the use and ability that social media plays in business, the connections forged by glancing at an image or 140 character snippets of information. Friend requests and a few hearts and re-tweets later its like you are old acquaintances sharing in each others lives and pinnacle moments.
We met Tabl in that exact way, a company who help people set up their supper clubs, scrap that, they go above beyond putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Having had so much success doing exactly the above in the Brighton area they are now in London, ready to kick the capital in gear.
A few exchanges of tweets and emails later we were asked to be at an event they held for food bloggers to mingle, eating and drinking comes naturally to these wonderful people and the room was testament to that. We lucky enough got to have a mingle and a wander around the room, tried some of the greatest Indian food, tea flavoured popcorn, made some desserts and tasted some delicious wine.Quite something I can tell you
The space the event took place in was stunning, mood lighting gorgeous mix of wood, glass and metal. Phenomenal! We wanted to get everyone to try something mouth wateringly good, and that they would keep coming back for. Trying to look at different cuts, something you wouldn't connect to the dish served it suddenly became clear...Wagyu Chuck Flap!
Wagyu Chuck Flap is a cut from around around the shoulder, when from a grass-fed cow this cut would be used for long slow cooking as it is very lean and quite robust. People would also use it to ground up for burgers.
Luckily for us Wagyu Chuck Flap is completely different! With a delicious bite but tender enough to cut and cook as a steak, with no wastage! Yes you heard correct, no wastage. We had used it before as an alternative to Striploin steaks, the flavour was phenomenal and had more of a bite, but still that glorious Wagyu flavour. Previously making Tartare we have used the Picanha, but it was time to really test the versatility of the Chuck.
It went down an absolute treat, mixed with the gorgeous flavours of Japanese cooking and served with some delightful spicy mayonnaise for an added kick. The best part it was all gluten free!
The recipe for our Tartare is as follows
Firstly defrost the Wagyu Beef, the key is to keep the meat as cold as possible. You want to use around 800g of the product. Our Chuck Flap comes 2 pieces to a packet, so use one piece. Slice the product into half centimetre thick steaks. Then you want to cut into thin strips and then cut the strips down. So you end up with half centimetre cubes roughly.
Have a bowl of ice with another bowl on top ready to put the chopped meat into, this will help keep the temperature of the meat down.
In another bowl add in the ginger, spring onions, juiced limes, oils, mirin and sake. Taste and see what you think, adjust if you want to buy adding more of either the lime or mirin. These will either increase sweetness or sour element. Stir and add into the meat.
Mix up the meat and sauce until well combined. Now you want to taste and add in the Soy sauce or Tamari. Add small amounts and build as it can quite easily become over salty.
We served up our Tartare with a choice of Wasabi Mayonnaise or Sriracha Mayonnaise.
You can use this recipe as a great base and add in other ingredients such as fresh chillies into the Tartare, or crispy slithers of garlic on top. You could even serve the Tartare on Shiso leaves, work great as presentation and you can actually eat them! Enjoy!
A fourth and final pie of Pie week consisted of one of our favourite products, Diced Wagyu Fillet. As we don't like to waste anything in this place we use the tail ends of the fillet which wouldn't produce nice thick even centre cut steaks and dice it up, the result a delicious morsel of Wagyu which you can use for a variety of things. With the more traditional pies happening at the beginning of the week it was time to tantalise those taste buds and get everyone thinking, and boy did we do that. Keeping with the main theme of Wagyu Beef which is obviously the Japanese flavours it gave us a perfect opportunity to play around with the delicious umami tastes.
To create this gorgeous pie we used the following
Defrost the Diced Wagyu and bring up to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking. In a bowl mix together the diced wagyu and sesame oil and a pinch of Maldon Salt.
Heat up a deep based saucepan and seal off the diced Wagyu in batches to ensure you don't boil the meat. Remove the meat into a bowl and cover.
Slice the Spring Onions thinly at an angle and sweat off in the saucepan.
Add in finely chopped Garlic and Chillies. Depending on how hot you like food keep the seeds or get rid. I kept one Chillies seeds and there was a warmth to the dish.
When they have all sweated down add in the Sake and boil rapidly until reduced.
Add the Wagyu Beef back in and then add the Mirin, Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce. Taste it here and see how it tastes, you may need to add in some more Soy Sauce.
Reduce the heat and let simmer for around half an hour. Let cool, I left it overnight and used it the next day. This develops the flavour of the mix much better.
In a pie dish you want to lay out 4 pieces of the Spring Roll pastry so they over lap in the middle but is a lot of overhang.
Using a pastry brush lightly brush each sheet with egg wash. After putting the pastry and making sure there aren't any gaps on the bottom, add in the Wagyu mix.
Using the overhang of the pastry, loosely fold over the top. Using the other 2 sheets of the pastry brush with egg wash and then tear into strips. Place the strips loosely on top as well ensuring all the meat is covered.
Cook in a preheated oven at 180C for 12 - 14 minutes of until the pastry is golden brown. Serve and watch your guests go wide eye whilst they enjoy the fantastic flavours wrapped up in crisp pastry.
Taking this week to a more traditional place, it was time for a Beef, Ale and Mushroom Pie...and gosh was it a good'un!
Using our delicious diced US Grain Fed Beef Brisket, which works perfectly for the low and slow cooking. Mixed with some delicious Black Sheep Ale and a variety of mushrooms we had a strong feeling this was going to be a good day.
Firstly pull the beef out of the freezer the night before you want to cook the pie mix up. Bring the Beef and Bacon to room temperature half an hour before you want to cook as this will give you a better result. Put the dried Porcini Mushrooms in a deep bowl and cover with boiling water, allow these to soak for 20 minutes. Whilst the mushrooms are soaking, heat a large saucepan, season the beef with salt and a little oil. Seal off the beef in small batches to ensure it doesn't boil. Put in a bowl and cover with a plate until needed. Dice the onions and sweat off in the pan, halfway through add in the garlic minced. Add a drop of the Ale to de-glaze the pan and so the onions can soak up all the deliciousness. Add in the sliced and quartered Carrots and cook for 5 minutes or so to get some colour. Add in the Porcini mushrooms then sprinkle over the sugar and flour. Stir until browned and all the juices have been soaked up. Tip back in the meat and any juices left in the bowl. Followed by the rest of the bottle of Ale, add in the 2 Beef Stock Pots and the liquor from the mushrooms. Don't pour out all the juices from the mushrooms as there may be grit at the bottom. I left a centimetre or so in the bowl.
Season with salt and pepper, add in the Bay Leaves and Thyme. Give the pot a good stir. Bring the pan up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for an hour and a half, covered, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. In a frying pan brown off the Bacon lardons until crisp and then add in the sliced mushrooms. Remove from the heat and let the mushrooms cook through with the residual heat. Add a splash of water just to get those nuggets of flavour from the lardons up. After the beef has cooked remove from the heat and add in the bacon and lardon mix. Stir and allow the pot to cool over night to use the next day. The pie can either be cooked with the mix at room temperature or cold, it doesn't really matter which. I did it from cold. Liberally butter and flour a pie dish, trim the pastry up leaving a lip on the sides, add in the pie mix with a slotted spoon as you may have more liquid than needed. The meat should pile up just over the top of the pie dish. Pour over enough of the beef mix juice to half way up the pie dish. Brush the edges of the pie with water and place the other sheet of pastry over the top. Pinch the sides together, make 2 incisions in the middle of the pie to let out steam. Do feel free to decorate the pie. Mix an egg and cover the top of the pie liberally, this will ensure the pie goes a gorgeous golden brown colour. Place the pie in a preheated oven at 200c and cook the pie for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve up with extra gravy and a side of buttery mash potato.
Up next Kangaroo and Red Wine pie...
British Pie Week has got us thoroughly engrossed! Cooking and baking and seeing people enjoy what's been made is fantastic, and namely one of the reason I for one cook. Luckily for me our office is full of 22 hungry people, all the time no matter if they've just eaten a meal or not. Up first was to cook some Iberico Pork, I scoured high and low for a recipe that might work for this but not be a regular pie. Looking to push the boundaries and blur the idea of "pie" just a touch. I had in my head a vision of those sweet little Empanadas you get in Tapas restaurants.
I found a delicious sounding recipe from a blog called Loves Food, Loves to Eat, so credit to Amber for the bases of what we did! The ingredients:
Firstly defrost the Iberico Plumas and Chorizo overnight and bring to room temperature half an hour before wanting to cook them. Remove the Chorizo from there skins and pull apart so it looks like mince. Heat a large pan that can go in the oven, and add the Chorizo. Keep breaking it apart with a wooden spatula, very much you like would with mince. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan. Cut the Iberico Plumas into 3 pieces, season with salt and a touch of oil and sear on either side, just to brown off. Remove these from the pan and put with the small nuggets of Chorizo. In the same pan reduce the heat, add a touch of oil and sweat down the diced onion. Half way through add in the chopped Garlic. Pour over the Cider, a huge puff of steam will come off the pan, so be careful! Using the wooden spatula scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the deliciousness from the meat mixed into the cider. This really enhances the final flavour of the dish, the more flavour the better! After the eruption of steam, and all that scraping of deliciousness, add in Vinegar, Tomato Puree, Molasses, Mustard, Sugar, Cayenne, and Oregano. Stir all together and bring to a simmer. Put a lid on and place in a preheated oven at 180c for 2 hours. Once cooked remove from the oven and using two forks shred the meat, after shredded mix thoroughly and it will soak up all that delicious sauce.
Now, I cooked this first part up the night before it was needed, so used the mixture cold. Although I'm sure it would work just as well if warm. Using a sheet of Shortcrust Pastry (hold my hands up I used shop brought) cut down the middle length ways, and then cut 6 equal rectangles. I using the cheese put a thin square on the pastry off centre but leaving an edge (to fix the otherside of the pastry) place a dessertspoon of the pork mixture on top. Dab water on the clear edge and fold the pastry, corner to corner. Using a fork crimp the sides down and make a small cut on the top to allow steam to release. Cover liberally with egg wash. Cook in a preheated oven at 200c for 20 minutes, or until gorgeously golden brown, and probably oozing slightly with cheese! I served them up with Potato Salad and Coleslaw. They would work great served cold as well especially on a picnic with a nice cold bottle of beer or even cider. I made a total of 12, but had enough mix for about 18 if not 20.
Up next is the US Grain Fed Beef Brisket, Ale and Mushroom Pie...