Pheasant, liver and a rude awakening

A couple of Saturdays ago, I had made plans to have some of the chaps round for dinner. It would be an all male affair and I was keen that the food reflect this. Having watched Braveheart only a few days before (which unbelievably Laura, 26, had never seen), I could not think of a more suitable theme than Scottish.

I also wanted game to play a part. Another forbidden meat group during our midweek cooking, a dispute I often cry freedom from as I cut into yet another chicken breast.

It didn’t take me long to find the perfect recipe. One that I envisioned garnering sagely nods of approval in a dimly lit room, around a table strewn with empty glasses, heroic tales and half-baked banter.

Golden Pheasant & Chicken Liver Hash, with a Rack of Lamb and Pearl Barley Risotto

Golden Pheasant & Chicken Liver Hash, with a Rack of Lamb and Pearl Barley Risotto

It so happened that the Saturday coincided with us house hunting in East Dulwich so I took the opportunity to drop in on a butchers that I have often admired from afar but never actually been inside. William Rose Butchers on Lordship Lane.

Even though the queue was fairly sizeable (and having been back I realise now that it is every Saturday), to say I was not disappointed would be a serious understatement.

Can you spot the pale ghost of Lordship Lane?

Can you spot the pale ghost of Lordship Lane? (hint: its not the ginger kid)

Not only was the selection top drawer, the meat enticing and the produce all locally sourced but the real winner for me was the service. Incredibly helpful, friendly and (despite it being absolutely rammed) still very much up for a chat. Very different from our local butcher Moen & Sons that I’ve fallen out of love with over the two and a bit years I’ve lived in Clapham.

After some pootling around houses and down potential roads, we ducked into The Palmerston (top pub) for a swift half, me clutching my pound of flesh.

The food that evening I thought turned out rather well with the pearl barley risotto packing the surprise package. Creamy, cheesy and with a bit of al dente chew that tends to get lost a little in a lot of regular riced risottos when they are overdone even slightly.

Have to say the pheasant and liver hash with a twist of bitter marmalade at the end really reminded me that Christmas wasn’t far around the corner.

Piccalilli (no matter how delicious and homemade) does not go with cheese. Fact.

Piccalilli (no matter how delicious and homemade) does not go with cheese. Fact.

We finished the meal with a cheese board and a bottle of port (sure). I imagine this caused Dyson’s cursory nap minutes later in the lounge. It was a carbon copy of about a year ago when he fell asleep in exactly the same position and fell foul of exactly the same fate.

This is after having his mouth smeared by a chopstick covered with Pain 100% Hot Sauce. My favourite bit is when he tries to drink the candle…

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Maneesh Flat Bread with Baba Ganoush / Chunky Chilli con Carne

Laura (girlfriend and occasional fussy eater) hates minced meat and lamb. Minced lamb, don’t even go there. If I ever suggest eating mince, I get a face that looks like I’ve just asked her to swallow slug pellets. Apparently its the texture.

I, on the other hand, think mince is one of the greatest comfort foods available to mankind. Spag bol, shepherd’s pie, chilli, lasagna, moussaka, meatballs, tacos etc. Needless to say, its a bone of contention and I frequently find myself, like a thief in the night, rustling up a bolognese sauce if she’s ever away for a weekend to get my fix.

As hideous things like Quorn substitute don’t even bear thinking about, I’ve been forced to do some bobbing and weaving to find some of the favourite recipes above, but adapted for mince-racists. We had some marked success with this Cheese and Bacon Lasagne but I’ve been meaning to make the title dish (Chunky Chilli con Carne) ever since I had it at a mate’s house a while back. The key to the dish being its use of chunks of braising steak rather than mince.

I’m aware I haven’t mentioned the bread yet and that this is rather arse about face as its in the photo above. I made these two dishes separately, the bread and dip for a (slightly laborious) Saturday afternoon snack and the chilli for a slow-cooked Sunday dinner, but in retrospect I think they’d partner really well as a starter/main for a shindig.

Browned stewing beef - is there a more promising sight?

Browned stewing beef – is there a more promising sight?

But back to the chilli if I may. I normally find Ramsey’s recipes a little on the arduous side for home cooking as they involve too many ingredients/steps. However, this one was pretty straightforward and bloody delicious.  I’d say its more of a cross between a beef bourguingon and a chilli as it uses half a bottle of wine. Ramsey wants you to use Pinot Noir (flash bastard) but I just dumped in some Gallo left over from having people round the night before (cooking minesweeping = classy).

Coriander creme-fraiche offsets the cayenne pepper like a TOWIE reem

Coriander creme-fraiche offsets the cayenne pepper like a TOWIE reem

I like my spice and this was pretty bang on. If you prefer things a bit milder, I’d put less cayenne in the beef marinade to start with though. Critically, it passed the Laura taste test and I have to say it was much better than a regular CcC, although is more of an effort.

Baba ganoush - the poor man's caviar

Baba ganoush – the poor man’s caviar

Apparently (according to Paul Hollywood) Maneesh bread has been around for thousands of years in the Middle East. I can see why they persevered with it. Its bloody tasty.  Hollywood has put the recipe online here.

Likewise with the Baba ganoush, quick/easy to make and full of flavour.  Just roast some aubergines and mash it up with salt, plenty of garlic, tahini, parsley, lemon and oil. Job done.

I did have a bit of a mare with this though as by the time I actually finished the bread/ganoush I only had time for few mouthfuls before going out for dinner. It was fairly rank reheated the next day. Eat it fresh and don’t store it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to sneak a lamb chop before Laura finishes watching Revenge…