D dunks a pigs tail in an egg mixture, then a bowl of flour, and then a bowl of breadcrumbs. P watches on. Camera swings in on P's face as he speaks:
P: Is there enough breadcrumb?
Camera pans towards D's face as he gives P the side-eye
Camera zooms back on P & D having a face off.
Fade to black
Ok ... our first cook up for the year!!! Excitement!! Well, it would have been even better if we hadn't royally gutsed ourselves by the end of it. Still it was one of our more successful cookups for a long time, and we actually tried a number of new things that I feel made it the closest to the unspoken remit of what our cook ups should be.
The star of the meal or rather the ingredient that pulled all the other elements together was Pigeon. Now at $18 a pop we had to make sure we treated it with respect. I knew that I wanted some kind of berry/fruity sauce to go with it, but ended up opting for a Masterchef recipe of Roasted Pigeon on a bed of Split peas ... modified!
Pigeon sourced from Wangara Poultry and Game
I've been dying to see clarification of a consomme first hand, so convinced P that we should have a consomme for starters, but I did commit the cardinal sin of suggesting that we already had store bought stock in the pantry ... oh well that simply wasn't good enough for our fine bespoked feathered friend, so off to Donati's he went for some bone marrow for the stock, which then led to the suggestion of Bone Marrow and Parsley salad for a side.
I already had my eye on the Colcannon that was on Masterchef and thought that it would be a good addition to the potentially rich, fatty meat of the pigeon, and also something to mop up all that yummy jus on the plate.
In addition, after having crumbed pig's tail at Cummulus Inc, I've been dying to try my hand and doing something with this particular offcut, and found a mustard crumbed recipe (thank you Fergus Henderson for this and the bone marrow salad) online which seems to be one of the more traditional ways of treating this bit of the pig.
We had to get the pigs tails in the oven at the start as it needed a 3 hour slow cook. So after our quick shop, we chopped our first lot of Mirepoix for the day and placed it in a pan with red wine and stock. This formed the cooking base for our lovely little tails to slowly braise in.
Pigs tails resting on a bed of Mirepoix
We then turned our attention to the magic of Clarification: egg whites, crushed egg shells, a stick of carrot, celery, onions (bring on the mirepoix!) and ice went into the cold stock, brought back up to the boil and simmered for another 20 mins. I watched in wonder as a grey foamy sludge formed a skin on top of the bubbling stock. We made a hole in the centre and gently scooped out the clarified stock underneath and strained it through a tea towel. Magic!!! P was very proud indeed.
Mirepoix with egg whites, egg shells and ice
A potful of the Yarra
First straining of the clarified stock
An entire bunch of celery chopped up then went into the strained stock and cooked out a bit longer. Then it was strained again and voila ... the final product - Celery Consomme. It was beautiful to eat, the heady taste and scent of celery is what hits you first, but then the rich beef broth takes over in all its meaty glory ... it may be clear soup, but it certainly is not light.
A whole head of celery
The end result
Consuming the Consomme!!
Onto dessert, yet another variation of the potted cream desserts we seem to keep gravitating towards - Butterscotch Pot de Creme - a dish that P fell in love with when he was the States. Effectively we made butterscotch which we poured into ramikins ready for the oven. It was the Muscovado sugar that really lifted this deceptively simple dish to heavenly heights.
Just out of the oven ... waiting to set competely
Served with cream and a sprinkle of Muscovado sugar
It was time for sorting out the rather phallic looking pigs tails (thats if your dick is ground to a point). They were drenched in a mixture of eggs and mustard, then lightly floured and finally smooshed into some breadcrumbs ... P watched critically and asked .... well you can read it in part of the title of this post. It well and trully earned him the side-eye! Then into the oven to bake for another 20 mins or so.
Gooey and gelatinous ... our tails just out of the oven
Drenching the tails
Browning lightly in a pan and then into the oven for the final cook
Served with M's homemade mayo
The Pigeons were waiting their turn on a bed of ... you guessed it .. Mirepoix. A mixture of gound juniper berries and star anise was rubbed all over their plump little bodies. They were then stuffed with a piece of garlic, a bay leaf and a knob of butter, seared in a pan to brown and then roasted in the oven for about 20 mins, with 5 mins resting time.
Our little pigeons marinading
Roast Pigeon plated
TheVin Santo sauce we made with Port and chicken stock ... wonderfully sweet and rich ... perfect for gamey meats.
We also had the bone marrow roasting in preparation for the bone marrow salad .. well basically bone marrow served with a salad of parsley, shallots and capers.
Bone Marrow fresh out of the oven
Bone Marrow and Parsley salad
If you're feeling your arteries slowly starting to constrict as you read this, well imagine how we felt halfway through the meal. In the immortal words of ONJ it "feels like a heartattack!"
Now this seems to be the new fangled way of preparing potatoes for mash ... no longer do you simply bung them in a pot of boiling water ... oh no ... you now place them lovingly on a bed of salt and roast them in the oven. I believe this gives them the right texture and consistency (I also believe that playing with yourself is called wanking). Colcannon is simply Mashed potato served with herbs and onion. We had to forego the Cavalo Nero, which we substituted with a few bits of chai sim. M cooked these off before mixing it all together. And there's still a bowlful of it left for a few more enjoyable lunches yet.
Mashed potato ... the chefy way
We had to ditch the peas because P doesn't really like them ... man is there nothing he is not allergic to!! So we opted for Asparagus cooked with pancetta to sit the birds on. We couldn't find Cotechino sausage which is what the original recipe called for (some of those so-called italian delis round here should hang their heads in shame!!), so I tore apart a couple of pork sausages and added them to the asparagus mix. And to round off the calvary of sides, just some roasted parsnip and swede.
Its all about the root
So there you have it ... another successful cookup and enough food to feed the extras on a Cecil B Demille set. Next time we cater.
And in honour of our very first cookup for the year ...