Sunday, December 30, 2012

#364 Spiced Apple Sauce

Did you all have a lovely Christmas? I did – certainly when it came to the food. This one is just a quickie, the next post will be more exciting...
On the big day my family decided to go for a roast goose and #180 Roast Beef. Can you believe there is no recipe for roast goose in English Food? There is, however, a recipe for an apple sauce to go with it…
This apple recipe is the final one of four for apple sauce in English Food (for all four, click here), the others have been a little hit and miss; would it be the best? I had high hopes there’s robust spices, brown sugar and sharp Bramley apples and wine vinegar.
Aside from goose, this sauce goes well with salt pork and duck.
Start off by peeling, coring and roughly chopping a pound of Bramley apples. Melt an ounce of butter in a saucepan then add two tablespoons each of water and white wine vinegar before tipping in the apples. Next add your spices; a quarter of a teaspoon each of grated nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. Simmer until the apples form a purée. Add more water if need be. Lastly, sweeten the sauce with about an ounce of soft dark brown sugar. Add more spices if you like (I found the amount suggested perfect).
#364 Spiced Apple Sauce. This was, by far, the best of all the apple sauces. The sauce was a great mix of tart and sweet and there was such an interesting mix of spices that were warming yet totally savoury. The dash of vinegar enhanced the flavours and gave it a moreish tang that really complemented the rich goose. This will be the only recipe for apple sauce I will use from now on. 9.5/10.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#363 Widgeon and Teal

Yet another game recipe – I am trying to get through as many as I canbefore the end of the game season!

I have already cooked mallard a couple of times and happening upon some teal in the butcher allowed me to try a new type of duck, which is a very hansome little dabbling duck (I cooked widgeon for the previous post Braised Wild Duck with Apricot Stuffing). This now just leaves snipe and ptarmigan and I’ll have eaten all the legal game species in Britain.

As for many of the recipes in this section, Jane provides but mere guidance. Here’s the recipe as given in English Food:

Widgeon and Teal

(see Mallard)

roast: 10-25 minutes, mark 7, 220⁰C (425⁰F)

inside: liver mashed with butter, parsley and lemon

serve with: as wild duck [I assume she means mallard here]. On fried bread put under the bird at the end of roasting

The cooking time here is rather vague because of the size difference between the two types of duck.; teal is the smallest duck in Britain and widgeon is of a middling size. I roasted the teal for 15 minutes and stuffed them only with only seasoned butter. There was a thin layer of fat covering the breasts so I merely smeared them with more softened butter. Annoyingly, I forgot to fry the bread. I made a gravy from the juices by whisking a tablespoon of flour into them along with some chicken stock added in stages and a spoonful of redcurrant jelly.

#363 Widgeon and Teal. I am getting such a taste for game these days. These little teal were great – dark-fleshed but not too gamy. There is also something very satisfying about having a whole bird sat on your dinner plate; positively medieval. 8/10

Friday, December 7, 2012

#362 Braised Wild Duck with Apricot Stuffing

Gadwall ducks
This recipe requires a couple of wild ducks – any will do, Jane does not give specifics. There are only three kinds to choose from – mallard, widgeon and teal – this was not always the case, there used to be many legal game species of duck and waterfowl. The list includes shovelers, gadwalls, pintail ducks, shelducks, mergansers, swans, cygnets and moorhens. Some of those species are still shot for food in other European countries.  
 Iwent for widgeon, which is of a middling size with each feeding one to two people. I had never eaten widgeon before and was looking forward to it after the delicious mallard recipe I cooked last Christmas (#323 Salmi of Game). The widgeon is a relatively common duck, though being much less gregarious than the ubiquitous mallard they are easily overlooked as they hang around in the centre of the lake alone or in small flocks. If you are using the tiny teal, I would use three or maybe four for this recipe.


Inside the ducks there is a stuffing made with dried apricots from the Middle East. These are not the typical squidgy ones found alongside the currants and raisins in the grocers; they are tiny and whole and dried completely solid with their stones intact. They can be found in any good Asian grocer’s shop.

Once you have procured your ducks and apricots you can get going…

The night before you want to cook your duck, soak three ounces of dried apricots in water. To make the stuffing, remove the stones and roughly chop the flesh of the apricots before cracking the stones to get to the kernels*. Next finely chop enough celery stalks to yield two healthy tablespoons worth and fry it gently in two ounces of butter for about 10 minutes until almost tender. Mix the celery and butter into the apricots along with two ounces of breadcrumbs made from slightly stale bread. Season well with salt and pepper and loosely stuff two wild ducks with this mixture.

Next prepare the ducks’ cooking vessel for braising by placing half a sliced onion, half a teaspoon of thyme leaves and three stalks of celery in the bottom of a deep casserole dish. Jane is quite specific that the celery stalks must from the heart of the head of celery. Place the duck on top and pour in enough boiling water to come about half an inch up the side of the ducks. Pop the lid on and cook in a ‘slow oven’ (about 160⁰C, or 325⁰F) for about an hour. Check to see if you need to top up the water, then cook for a further 30 minutes.

When the duck is ready, remove it and place it on a warm serving plate. Strain the liquor into a saucepan and reduce it to produce a good, well-flavoured sauce. Season and thicken by mashing together a tablespoon of flour with an ounce of butter. Whisk in small knobs of this mixture until the sauce is of the desired thickness. If you like a tablespoon of bitter orange marmalade or redcurrant jelly can be dissolved in the sauce.

Pour some of the sauce over and around the ducks, serving the remainder of it in a jug or sauce boat.

#362 Braised Wild Duck with Apricot Stuffing. I enjoyed the duck and the sauce very much; the braising kept the duck tender and moist and produced a wonderfully flavoured stock. The apricot stuffing was ok, but a little insipid. I think I would have preferred make a forcemeat or sausage meat stuffing that could have been made into balls to surround the ducks. Still, very good, 7/10.