Food and wine
Dear friends, welcome back to The Mayo News food and wine rant after a mini-break during which Cabot’s Source restaurant has closed for the winter. It has been an opportunity to bring the horns in and hibernate, and of course to eat and cook loads of food! A big well done to all you harvesters who used the period before winter to put away jams, pickles, chutneys and of course those sloe gins!
Cooking is all about trying and learning things. I find the best way is to chat among friends and have never been one for exact measurements! Why not try some new food today? Although its winter, there is still much to be excited food-wise.
In terms of seasonal foods, mussels are back, big time. Putting on more body weight after their summer breeding season, they are one of nature’s delights: Pull off the hairy ‘beards’, scrape off any barnacles as best you can, and simply drop into hot oil. The shells will open and let their sea water contribute to the sauce. Add chopped shallots or onions and garlic of course, as well as a dash of white wine. Remember, keep it simple. Serve with parsley in top. Avoid cream, it’s unnecessary.
The game season is now open, and it’s definitely worth trying some pheasant breast, even if only for the first time. Put the pheasant breast in the oven, wrapped in bacon strips, for 20 mins, then add cider (yes!) to the baking dish. Cover, then cook further 50 mins. Don’t let it dry out (can do with less time). If you want to make a sauce, take off some cider, boil to reduce it, fry onions/shallots in butter, add little sugar, a teaspoon of flour, stir, then add cider and a little crème fresh. A tip-top sauce easily done!
Also in season is celeriac. This is one ugly looking veggie! It is big, knobbly and hairy, so may scare the regular shopper. But clean up and cook this big brute, and you will be transported into an amazing world of delicate creaminess. It has a sweet nutty texture; pure seductive sexiness. Oven-roast it the farmers’ way in chunky rings or thick fingers.
Brussels sprouts can be pan-friend with bacon and crème fresh. Alternatively, steam or boil them and sprinkle some nutmeg over them.
Some wine with that?
A delicious rich, ripe Italian Valpolicella (€14.99 from Cabot’s, 098 50546) will go well with your pheasant.