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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

As well hung for a sheep as for a lamb

There are occasional campaigns to revive the British tradition of eating mutton, but they never seem to get very far. This doesn’t seem too surprising, given that the British seem to value tenderness in lamb far above flavour, although that may also explain why the mutton stalwarts continue to fight the good fight.
Having spent years failing to find lamb in the UK that carries the savoury depth of flavour that a Wicklow sheepfarmer’s daughter considers a prerequisite, I was very open to conviction on the subject of mutton.
My first foray, an attempt at Irish stew, was disastrous. The flavour was no more than ok, and the meat was almost inedibly tough. Given that I was trying out recipes for a buffet, this was an important consideration!
But this week I wandered into ├╝berbutcher the Ginger Pig to enquire about their advertised butchery courses (watch this space for further details!), and was tempted by a display of cubed Swaledale mutton, hung for 28 days and advertised as perfect for curry.
I chose a Rajasthan recipe (based on the fact that this was the only recipe I could find for which I had all the ingredients in the kitchen) which involved a teaspoon of whole cloves and a dozen dried chillies.
This ferocious dish cooked for about an hour and a half, reducing the spices to a fabulously rich, thick gravy, and I’m happy to report that mutton was precisely the right meat to stand up to this abusive treatment.
Despite looking worryingly sinewy when it went into the pan, the mutton had turned into tender chunks with a rich meaty flavour that was not overpowered by the curry sauce.
Only the fact that there is something irredeemably wrong with my rice let the meal down. Originally I assumed it was just bad karma that meant my rice wouldn’t cook right, but now I think it’s just too old. I will buy some new rice and report back on whether my karma improves.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My new motto

This delightful Italian deli gives the impression to the casual customer that it is most interested in salami and different hams (to great effect), and the counter of cheese at the back can seem like an afterthought. However, take a step back and it's clear that the owners have a fine sense of priorities.
I'm not at all sure that I know what this means, but it feels like my kind of motto.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Choices, choices

I have mentioned my favourite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, before, and I may even have written about the difficulty of choosing between the different editions available. There is now a new version,, but the reviews don't convince me that it's worth getting one sent over from the States specially.
This review doesn't mention that there is also a UK version of the 1997 edition - but if you're that knowledgeable about the Joy concordance, you also know that it's not worth the pounds sterling.