In my last post I blogged about Christmas dinner and the Amuse Guele. In this post I am going to write about a frugal gourmet approach to the remainder of the Christmas dinner savoury courses.
Premier Plat – Prawn Cocktail
I like prawn cocktail and after hitting my guests with crispy pigs ears it seemed only fair to give them something more familiar. Prawns turned out to be a surprisingly frugal choice as I think peoples’ attention was focused on to more exotic fare such as Saint Jacques (scallops) and huitres (oysters), so I bagged myself a little bargain.
Duexieme Plat – Homemade Bresola
Only a little bit of this, Julie made this for me. Essentially marinading the beef in salt, wine and a some herbs for a few days, then hanging the beef wrapped in muslin in the porch. It was to be honest a bit salty so I gave it a soak overnight and it ate perfectly well a couple of days later. I will do a detailed how to for Bresola at some future point, perhaps in the early summer because Julie and I particularly like it with Rocket and Parmesan for a summers lunch.
Back to an Essence recipe, Crispy belly of gloucester old spot pork with surf clams and pumpkin puree, however there are one or two changes that were needed in France as Gloucester Old Spot are a bit hard to come by. Gloucester Old Spot is an orchard pig, and I have recently bought half a Perigord forest pig so the meat was a perfect match. Surf clams where another problem, I live quite far from the sea so even if France you need to take what is available, I opted for fresh cockles. Belly pork you don’t get much more frugal than that but definitely gourmet, as any decent cook or butcher will tell you it is the most flavoursome part of the meat.
The dish is complicated but is broadly in three parts. The belly pork is braised in stock for about 3 hours, cooled then flattened with a weighted board overnight in the fridge. You then simply slice into suitable pieces and fry to crisp and finish.
To cook the pumpkin puree you simply cook your pumpkin with cream, milk and butter, then puree to make a delicious sumptuous puree that could easily be made into an ice-cream.
The third element was the sauce a complicated process in reducing the braising stock, fried pork ribs, Madeira, red wine, flavourings, and the addition of cockle juices from the cockles that have been cooked in white wine. The sum total was an intense dark sauce rich and rounded in flavour, very yummy.
The whole thing is then garnished with cockles and wild mushrooms (Chanterelles).
The food tasted fantastic, the plate however looked like a dogs dinner Never mind, cookery books spend thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours making the food look prefect, but it could of looked better. The old adage we eat with our eyes first is true and is something that I try and get right, c’est la vie.
At this point we decided that an adjourment for an hour or 2 would be a good idea.
I think an adjournment from this post will help to keep the tale of Christmas dinner alive and fresh.