Monday, 6 February 2012

Dessert island Dish


At this time of year our thoughts turn to warmer climates and images of paradise

At a recent dinner table while eating a classic French dish cooked that evening by a French national I happened to pass comment that "this would be my "Desert Island dish" and then a thought suddenly came to me- a blog post or series of posts could be in the making.
I would base "my idea" on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs. The original concept asked castaways to choose eight records, a book and one luxury item to take with them to the mythical desert island.All well so far, Feeling an excessive pride in "my grand design" I thought I better tap these very same words into Google.Within seconds I discover I have lost all my credit. Back in April 2001 in the first issue of Observer Food monthly a series had been launched under this very title. Each month they asked a chef to choose five ingredients they´d want if they were stranded on a remote island, and what they´d cook with them.Luckily, the island has a wonderful herb garden and its own olive grove. The rest was up to them.The list of castaways included among others Ruth Rogers founding partner of the River Cafe in London, Richard Corrigan of London Soho´s Lindsay house, chef of scientific extremes, Heston Blumenthal, Mary Contini of Edinburgh Deli Valvona and Crolla, and Chinese Chef Ken Hom.So wiping the smug grin off my face I decide to continue but maybe change the slant. I decided on allowing myself to increase the ingredients allowance to eight.I would include a book, and my love of music would need to be addressed in some way. My only other innovation would be to include the menu for my last supper, assuming that I was never rescued.
I would love to be stranded on a tropical island. My perfect island would have lots of sandy beaches and rocky coves. The water would be clear, warm, and "Tudo Azul"- azure blue.
 I would swim, lounge about and hopefully have time to read. I absolutely love swimming, I love lying about doing nothing and I love sun and heat.Finally I would find the  time to put a fitness regime in place.
I grew up in the country so have fairly romantic notions of what a remote life could be. Growing up almost as an only child my siblings left home when I was still a baby so by force of circumstance I learnt very quickly to be happy with my own company ( an arrogant little cozinheiro I hear you say) but I am  naturally gregarious, always being forward in coming out and talking to strangers. Boredom has never featured in my vocabulary so how long would it take me to get bored? Oh about 30 years I would say, long enough see my lifetime out. I am quite a contemplative soul, so this kind of abandonment would be a great exercise. I´ve always had a childlike inquisitiveness of what surrounds me, and how I can use what is there to my best advantage. I´d use most of the time to experiment with food. I love playing with diferent flavours so this would be a whole new experience for me.
My father taught me how to garden and grow vegetables, and my mother taught me how to cook, and my recent introducton into foraging would put me in good stead for the challenge ahead. I´d be good at gathering but I´m not so sure about the hunting bit, but could soon learn to fish and would be more than happy to live forever on a diet of fruit and vegetables.
Eight Ingredients: 1Rabbit,1chicken,2pigs
cous cous,avocado,Dijon mustard,soya sauce
Book:     Honey from a weed,Patience Gray

Luxury item: My set of chefs knives
Drink:   Sancerre
Desert Island dish:  Lapin a la moutarde
Last supper if not rescued:  Sea bass with thai flavours

Rabbit in a claypot
(coelho a cacadora no tacho de barro)
My desert island dish would have to be adapted to
the restraints of desert Island cooking so my first compromise would be
to cook the dish in a claypot.The dish would be cooked in a more Portuguese style than its French counterpart.I have written the recipe in astyle that is workable for a normal domestic kitchen.

1x1.5kg wild rabbit
1.5litres stock
14 cloves garlic
125g pancetta Toucinho or smoked bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 onion finely chopped
8 picklimg onions
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1 small button mushrooms
20g butter
freshly chopped parsley
small tub of whipping cream

MARINATING PASTE
1tablespoon Dijon mustard
1tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon light soya sauce
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
Separate the back legs of rabbit into drumsticks and thighs.Remove forelegs and neck and trim off belly flap.Set neck and belly flap aside.Cut saddle into 4 pieces.If you are not a castaway this can be done by your butcher.To make the marinating paste, combine all ingredients.Spread paste roughly over the rabbit pieces.Cover and set aside.Simmer the stock for 1 hour with neck and belly flaps from the rabbit,then strain and reserve.Pre heat oven to 160C Finely chop 2 of the garlic cloves and cut pancetta into 5mm wide strips.Heat half the oil in the clay pot on the stove top and carefully brown the rabbit pieces.Try not to move them around too much, you don't want to dislodge the marinating paste.Transfer the meat to a dish while you deglaze the pot with the wine. Tip these juices onto the rabbit pieces.Heat the remaining oil in the pot and brown the bacon onion and chopped garlic cloves for about 5 minutes,then return the meat to the pot with the pickling onions.
Add a little salt and pepper,then pour in sufficient stock to barely cover the contents of the pot.Press a  buttered piece of baking paper onto the contents,then cover with a lid and bake for 1 hour or until tender.

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