Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Trotter Gear, by Fergus Henderson

If you like pies and stews, and if you like adding that little bit of extra flavor to your hearty winter meals, then you should always have a jar of trotter gear in your fridge.

What exactly is Trotter Gear?
Trotter Gear is a rich gelatinous stock made out of pork trotters.

By adding Trotter Gear to stews, sauces or soups they become richer, creamier and more flavorful.

pig's trotters - they are in fact good for something.

I know, some of you may be grossed out by this, but I share Fergus Henderson's opinion of using all the parts of an animal, rather than just picking favorites or the best looking ones. 
A piece of steak to most people does not appear to be disgusting, at all. But pig's ears, bone marrow or beef tongue are? In the end you are eating parts of an animal, whether it is a filet mignon, trotters or gummi bears.

Don't get me wrong. I would never force someone to eat something they don't feel comfortable with.
In fact, I would have a hard time eating eyes for example. Actually, I don't think I could at all...

But I do think that by being aware where your steak and BBQ-ribs come from (a whole animal with eyes, a heart, organs and, yes, feelings) it allows you to respect and appreciate (animal) life and therefore your daily piece of meat much more.

So, here is what you need for Fergus Henderson's recipe of his so-called "Healthy Jar Of Trotter Gear":

pigs' trotters (all hair removed) 6
onions 2, peeled
carrots 2, peeled
celery 2 sticks
leeks 2, split
garlic 1 head
thyme a bundle
peppercorns a handful
Sercial Madeira ½ bottle (Sherry works fine, as well)
chicken stock enough to cover the trotters


Shave the trotters! You want to get rid of all the stiff hairs...

Place the trotters in a large casserole. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes then drain. This removes the initial scum given off by the trotters. 

Now place the blanched trotters in the pot with the vegetables, thyme, peppercorns and Madeira and cover with the stock. Cook for at least 3 hours until the trotters are totally giving. At this point, strain the cooking liquid and keep. 

After 3 hours the pig's trotter has mutated into an alien and is ready to get pulled apart...

When the trotters are cool enough to handle (but don't let them go cold, as they become much harder to deal with), pick all the flesh, fat and skin off them tearing the skin to shreds. 

I love pulling all the flesh, skin and fat off the bone

Add to the cooking liquid, seal in a jar and refrigerate. 

You now have trotter gear – giving, wobbly trotter captured in a splendid jelly.

For more information on Fergus Henderson and how to eat the whole beast check out his books
'Nose To Tail Eating: A Kind Of British Cooking' and 'Beyond Nose To Tail', as well as his restaurant St. John in London.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Duck Breast With Winter Spice Rub And Maple Syrup Glaze

If Wil and I were to create a hitparade of meats, beef would be No.1 directly followed by duck  at second place, game ranging somewhere in the middle...
Anyways: DUCK!
We've been eating so much duck breast lately and have constantly been trying to perfect our cooking method.
Oh, how much I love duck!

We served the duck breast on arugula salad.

Preparing a duck breast is pretty simple.

First thing to do is to throw on the broiler in your oven cause we want to crisp up the skin in the end.
Now prick the skin of your duck breast with a fork. The easiest way to do this is to lift up a section of skin with two fingers and push one of the fork tines through the lifted skin horizontally. That way you avoid damaging the meat.

After you have pricked the breast skin several times rub with salt, pepper and/or a spice rub. You can be completely creative in this. Given that christmas is approaching we decided to rub it with a mix of ground cinnamon, clover, salt, pepper and crushed juniper.

Heat up the pan to the lowest temperature possible. That would be 1 on our oven.
Now place the breast skin-side down in a pan. Greasing the pan is not necessary, but if it makes you feel better, you can slightly grease the pan with olive oil...
It is very important that the temperature stays low. We don't even want to hear a sizzle!
We just want to let the breast sweat out all the unnecessary fat. Sear for approx. 20 minutes.
Flip the duck breast and sear on the other side for 3 more minutes.

Remove all the surplus fat from the pan by draining it into an empty jar. 
Slightly brush the skin with some maple syrup, honey or orange jam (approx. 1-2Tbsp)

Now put the duck breast skin-side up in the top shelf of the oven and let it broil on high upper heat for about 2-4 minutes. Watch carefully because the skin will easily burn.

Pull the duck breast out of the oven and let it rest for about 6-10 minutes. Then slice and serve.
The duck breast should now be perfectly medium to medium-rare!



While the duck breast is resting, you can make a nice quick sauce from some of the remaining fat and spices in the pan.

Just add some red wine (and broth if you have some) and some mustard powder and let reduce over medium heat until thickened. Season with salt, pepper and other spices if necessary.