I’m not sure I can adequately convey the reservation I felt going into this class, let alone the dread of knowing that I was going to have to taste the meals I was about to make from ‘Fancy Meats’. I can assure you, they don’t rate as ‘fancy’ in my book. Whereas I couldn’t be described as a ‘picky eater’, offal is my kryptonite. The only offal I have ever enjoyed is duck or goose liver, in the form of Foie Gras, or chicken or duck liver, in the form of Pate’. Apart from these exceptions, for me, offal = awful! The lesson for week three of meats included; Goat Curry with Minted Yoghurt, Lamb’s Liver Escalopes with Onion Rings & Garlic Mash, Devilled Kidneys on Puff Pastry with ribboned vegetables, and Pan-fried Veal Medallions wrapped in Prosciutto and Sage.
Goat meat is very lean but it’s tough and needs a long cooking time. We used the cheaper cut of shoulder and cooked it under a cartouche in the oven for 2 – 2.5 hrs. The meat needs to be covered with liquid, in this case water, to ensure it is evenly cooked. A good tip is to use an appropriately sized pot for the amount of meat you are cooking, you don’t want a large pot for only a small amount of meat as you’ll end up with the wrong ratio of liquid to meat. The goat meat came already prepared and the curry blend was done in one large batch for the entire class. I’ve previously enjoyed Goat Curry but found the curry paste in this one had too much clove flavour for my liking, it wasn’t balanced and overpowered the other spices. Water was used rather than stock so as not to detract from the key flavour, which is the spice blend, and it was checked after an hour to ensure there was still sufficient liquid for the second hour of cooking. This was the first dish to go in the oven, due to the time required to cook, and was the last dish to come out. By the end of the class we had run out of time, so there was no plating, the curry went straight into the take-away containers with steamed basmati rice and the raita to sell at the college shop.
The preparation of the liver and kidneys were completed by chef. Before class he soaked the meat in cold water, refreshing the water several times, to remove as much blood as possible. In class, he removed the connective tissue and any sinew and cut the liver into escalopes and the kidney’s in half.
Whereas I don’t like the taste of either of these so called fancy meats, I think using as much of the animal as possible is important, both from an ethical and sustainable perspective. Having said that, the sauce for the Devilled Kidney’s was delicious, as were the pillows of puff pastry and ribboned vegetables cooked in butter, which was served along side. The accompaniments to the liver, the garlic mash and onion rings, were also very nice, but not enough to mask a flavour of which I am not partial.
For the veal dish, which was more or less a Saltimbocca, Chef trimmed & portioned the veal short loin. Each portion was flattened with a meat mallet, a few pieces of sage were placed on the medallion before wrapping it in prosciutto and again beating it (recipe below). The cooked veal was served simply with freshly made tomato sauce, remembering that the lessons are more about getting right the elements of a dish rather than making a complete dish. I think some type of steamed green & the garlic mash served with the liver would be nice accompaniments for the veal and tomato sauce.
Finally, an update on my practical ‘service placement’. Remembering that the placement I have is with a kitchen which caters for functions, so far, I’ve worked on a BBQ, which was cooked to order meat, fish or chicken, served with salads, vegetables and chips, and a Seafood Buffet for 120 people. For the BBQ I cooked the deep-fried fish & chips, made the side salad and plated. For the Seafood Buffet, I did multiple jobs including garnishing the seafood cocktails and deep-frying some of the elements of the hot section; the chips, crumbed whiting and salt and pepper squid. Also, all the usual activities such as, replenishing the buffet as required, packaging and storing food, cleaning etc. There were two chefs working on the seafood buffet, and both generously shared valuable information as I worked beside them. Apart from the oysters which went flying of the platter I was carrying when I went through the servery door into the dining room, it went pretty smoothly. Two down & twenty-eight to go.
An Italian dish which combines tender veal, prosciutto and sage, also known as Saltimbocca. Serve with a simple tomato sauce, wilted garlic spinach & roasted potatoes or any vegetable or salad of your choice.
- 400 g Veal short loin medallions – 2 x 200g
- 4 slices Prosciutto
- 4 leaves Sage, fresh
- Salt, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
- 50 gm Flour, plain
- 40 ml Olive Oil
- 150 ml White Wine
- 200 g Onion, brown – fine dice (3mm or 1/8 inch)
- 1 clove Garlic, crushed
- 1 400g Tomato crushed, tin
- 20 g Tomato paste
- 40 gm Olive Oil
- 20 g Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 pinch Sugar
- 100 ml Veal Stock (optional)
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 pinch Pepper
- .5 bunch Basil leaves, fresh
Prepare the veal. Using a meat mallet pound out the veal medallions between cling wrap until thin. Season and add 2 sage leaves to each medallion and wrap each in 2 slices of prosciutto. Place back in plastic and pound out again.
For the sauce. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened – not brown. Add the tinned tomato, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Taste and season. Add half of the stock (or water) and the basil leaves. Simmer for 30 mins. If the sauce is too thick add more stock (or water). You can either strain for a thiner sauce or leave as is for a more rustic one.
Flour the veal and shake off excess just before cooking.
Heat the pan and then add the oil. Pan fry the Veal, if it starts catching add a little more oil. You are looking for a little bit of colour but not too much. When cooked, deglaze the pan with white wine. Watch it as the veal is lean and thin and you don’t want to over cook,. Set aside to rest for 5 mins under foil.
Serve the veal with the tomato sauce and your choice of vegetables or salad.