Originally, I had planned on doing a Cuban meal this weekend. However, I am a fickle being and decided on the spot Friday afternoon that Cuban was not what I was in the mood for… I went off tangentially from a desire for a scotch egg and developed an English meal consisting of Scotch Eggs, Cornish Pasties (both savory and sweet) and creamed cabbage with bacon. Mmmm, bacon. I have to thank Gary Rhodes for this one, once I set upon the idea of a scotch egg and a Cornish Pasties, flipping through his New Classics led me to the Creamed Cabbage with Bacon which suited me just fine.
This meal was equal parts nostalgia leftover from my family’s time in Oxfordshire and a product of my own predilection for things involving meat and potatoes. Oh, and did I mention bacon? As anyone that’s ever discussed food with me can attest to, I hold it as a universal truth that anything can be improved with the addition of either bacon or chocolate. However, adding both to the same dish would probably not work out so well. But, I digress. Bacon… mmmmmm.
The Scotch Eggs: I decided that this would not be quite right without me messing about a bit with it. I decided to go with chorizo instead of standard sausage on the eggs, both from personal preference and hey, I’ve got three weeks until I pull up stakes and shuffle off the immoral coil. It’s all about the cabinet cleansing and using what is available.
So, for the three scotch eggs, bring a large pan of salted water to boil and add in four room temperature eggs. Yeah, I said four… you absolutely have to test the eggs for doneness and the best way to do that is obviously to eat one. So, add in one extra egg for your little chef’s treat, confident in the fact that you are doing it to ensure your final product is cooked to perfection. Boil the eggs for 7 1/2 minutes and turn off the heat. Let the eggs cool slightly and then run under cold water. Shell the eggs and rinse to remove any stray bits of eggshell. Meanwhile, dice up a shallot and cook until translucent in a bit of butter. Mix this with three links of chorizo, casings removed.
Add a pinch of mace, 2 tsps or more of fresh sage and the zest of a lemon. Mix well by hand, its very visceral and satisfying. Coat your three eggs in a thin layer of the sausage mixture, pressing gently to get a nice even layer with no breaks. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or so to set the eggs. Bread the eggs by coating in beaten egg and rolling in bread crumbs. Two passes through makes for a better crust, just try to not make too much of a mess. Deep fry for about 6 minutes until golden brown.
Slice in half to serve, warm or cold according to your preferences.
Cornish Pasties: Reading the history of Cornish pasties, I learned that originally the crust was to be hard enough to withstand a drop down a mineshaft. I personally aimed for something a little lighter and flakier, if you recreate this recipe yourself, try not to drop them any large distance, they will likely not survive. However, if carefully transferred from baking pan to plate, they will taste pretty damned good. There is open debate on if the ingredients for a pasty should be cooked at all prior to filling. I took the middle ground on this and while all my vegetables were added simply sliced and raw, I seared the beef on both sides before chopping it for inclusion in the filling.
Take a 1/2 pound of a relatively nice cut of beef and salt and pepper both sides. Sear in a hot pan to seal each side, not enough to cook through but simply brown the surface. Slice into bite sized pieces and mix in a large bowl with one diced potato, one diced onion and a diced parsnip. Add salt, pepper and sage to the mix and set aside. Make a pie crust from 1 1/3 cup of all purpose flour, 8 tbsp butter, 1/8 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of salt and 2 -3 tbsp of ice cold water. Cut the butter into the flour with the other dry ingredients until the mixture starts to come together in a rough crumb texture. Add just enough of the ice water to make a workable dough. Knead well and then roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut rounds from the dough using a small plate as a guide. As I made 2 savory and 2 sweet pasties, I of course made four rounds. Layer these on a plate with a little dusting of flour to prevent them from sticking and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup of frozen peaches, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of sugar and the zest of a lemon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until most of the liquid is cooked out of the fruit compote. Cool mixture.
Fill the pasties with the savory and sweet mixtures, two apiece, leaving a 1/4 inch border clear to allow for a good crimp around the edge. Cut small slits into the upper surface of the pasty to vent steam during cooking. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes, until the pasties are nicely browned. Serve and enjoy.
Creamed Cabbage with Bacon: This recipe is dead simple and extremely tasty. I am always struck when the simpler preparations turn out this good, again this was a dish that I just couldn’t stop eating, there were definitely no leftovers… using the pan that you seared the beef in, melt a knob of butter and sweat down a large thinly sliced onion. Using the same pan as the beef allows for all that delicious fond to impart a great flavor to the dish. Once the onion is softened and slightly browned, add in three sliced of chopped bacon. Cook until the bacon is almost done. The original recipe called for the bacon to be cooked crispy separately but I opted for the single pan method. Add 1/2 a head of shredded cabbage to the pan, stirring well to distribute the tastiness of the bacon and onions. Cook down until the cabbage begins to soften and then add about a 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Stir well and cook down until the cream develops into a lovely sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and serve nice and hot.
This was a great meal with really satisfying leftovers. I look forward to trying these in the future, probably with turkey sausage to appease my wife but I am sure that it will be tasty nonetheless.