Washing my hands this morning at the kitchen sink, my stomach rumbled and surprised, I burst out laughing.
“Yer man Devlin’s not playing with the full deck any more – he’s laughing at his gut.”
Be that as it may, but the reason the gastric eruption made me laugh was because, though it shames me to admit as much, I hadn’t heard the rumble in quite a while.
You may remember from last week’s ramblings that a certain monsieur from warmer climes had visited. During his week-long stay, Jean Charles had all-too-briefly brought Corsica into my kitchen and I can honestly say I had never been culinarily happier. Is ‘culinarily’ even a word? It is now.
Anyways, as well as all the gastronomic gifts he smuggled over from la Corse, JC also done a goodly amount of cooking, a development which was just fine and dandy in my world. As well as the pot-au-feu (we’ll come back to that presently), he also fired up an immense ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta, a home-made tiramisu, the best crepe recipe ever and a shepherd’s pie made from oxtail meat, the broth from the pot-au-feu and some fine Irish potatoes which I lovingly steamed then puréed via butter, milk, lots of seasoning and sour cream.
“My mouth is watering so much I can’t even blow on my dinner otherwise the slabbers would be flying outta me.”
That was a certain member of the household (who shall go unnamed) when the oxtail shepherd’s pie was served up accompanied by a splodge of red sauce and a glass of red wine.
Suffice it to say, the pie was exquisite beyond belief, perhaps due to the fact that the meaty element had been lubricated with some of
the deeper than deep pot-au-feu broth.
Made from scorching the oxtail pieces and a selection of vegetables (as you can see in one of the pics), the key to the pot-au-feu, JC explained was give the meat, garlic and onions and good charring. Initially, to my untrained eye, he looked to have overdone things but I shouldn’t have been concerned and it’s a technique I will surely repeat as the evenings draw in and more soups and stews arrive as balms for the soul.
Another component of the pot-au-feu was the humble leek, although in this case JC used six.
These were steamed atop the broth and other components for the three hours it took to complete the stock.
I had been keen to snaffle these soft delicacies when they were still warm but I wasn’t permitted. JC had a better plan, he informed me and it turns out he was right.
The following night as l’heure de l’apéritif arrived, the soft leeks were given, to my untrained eye at least, the most surprising treatment. Each leek was wrapped in an enormous slice of thick ham and then topped with a thin but well-seasoned béchamel sauce and an ungodly amount of grated Gruyere cheese.
These went into a hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes and the result you can see in one of the other pictures. Sweet, deeply savoury and yet unendingly moreish, they were possibly the highlight of the week – which is really saying something considering how much perfect charcuterie we put away.
As well as the epic cook nights at home (also included were venison burgers from Baronscourt, a Mexican night and posh dogs and chips) there were also three trips to restaurants (more burgers, fish pies, oysters and fish tacos).
So now, dear reader, you might understand why I laughed when my stomach rumbled. It had been a rarefied sound of late – elusive to the point of extinct.
Still, as much as I revelled in having Corsica brought into the kitchen (and with cooking duties reduced), I am now looking forward to a more lighter diet – lighter being the operative word.
Although there is still the small matter of the freezer packed full of shepherd’s pie leftovers and the ricotta and spinach pasta.
Another notch on the belt it is, so.
‘My mouth is watering so much I can’t even blow on my dinner otherwise the slabbers would be flying outta me’
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