Smoked Mackerel Sourdough with Fried Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato & Grape Ketchup

This weekend is perfect for making my Green Tomato and Grape Ketchup. It’s so versatile, use it as you would your regular ketchup (excellent in a bacon sandwich) and perfect with smoked mackerel. Give this really quick and simple dish a go for a healthy lunch or quick supper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 green tomato
  • coarse polenta for dusting
  • salt and pepper
  • glug of oil
  • slice of sourdough bread
  • butter
  • rocket
  • smoked peppered mackerel fillet
  • green tomato and grape ketchup

Method:

  1. Slice the tomato, dust the slices in seasoned polenta and fry gently until soft and starting to brown, drain on kitchen paper.
  2. Toast the sourdough, slather in butter, top with rocket leaves then your fried tomato. Break your fillet into pieces and place on top of the rocket then drizzle with the ketchup.
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Pig’s head terrine with edible flowers and crispy pig’s ear scratchings

Whilst the process of making pig’s head terrine (also known as brawn or head cheese) may not be for the squeamish, sometimes in order to make something beautiful you have to get your hands dirty.

The idea of combining pig face with flowers is not simply a visual one. Although using the violets does make it look very pretty I wanted to use the flowers of herbs such as sage, thyme, chives and parsley to create little bursts of intense herbal notes through the dish.

I had a look online for various recipes, but none of them really worked for me in terms of flavour so I turned to Fergus Henderson‘s Nose To Tail Eating as a rough guide and decided to make it up as I went along using whatever I had to hand in the veg rack and garden.  £3.30 worth of meat from the butcher made 2 big terrines. Bargain.

Washed thoroughly and in the pot ready to go

My butcher provided me with 1 split pig’s head (£3) and 2 trotters (30p).

Ingredients:  Makes 2 terrines

Stock pot:

  • 1 pig head
  • 2 trotters
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 leek, cut in thirds
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 2 onions, quatered
  • 2 bulbs garlic, halved
  • handful of fennel seeds
  • tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 6 sage leaves
  • stems from a bunch of parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • handful dried sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lapsang souchong strands

Then:

  • bunch of chopped chives
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped fennel fronds
  • saffron strands
  • chive flowers
  • sage flowers
  • thyme flowers
  • parsley flowers
  • violets
  • Halen Môn salt flakes
  • freshly ground pepper

Method:

1: Rinse the head and trotters thoroughly and remove the ears (if you are making the crispy pigs ear scratchings) and clean the wax out (I have a little brush that’s only reason for existing in my kitchen is to clean the wax out of severed pigs’  ears) then put in a massive pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil, lots of scum will rise to the surface. Drain of water, refill pot with fresh water, add the rest of the stock pot ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Head, ears and trotters at the bottom then veg and spices added

2: After about 2 hours remove the 2 ears and set aside to dry thoroughly.  Continue to simmer the head and trotters for about another 2-3 hours or until the flesh is starting to fall away from the skull.

3: Remove the head and trotters and set aside. Strain the stock through a sieve ( I usually do it a few times) to remove all bits and return to the pot and reduce by about two thirds. Taste and add salt and saffron.

4:  Remove meat from the head.  How much of the head you use is entirely up to you.  I only had 2 terrines to fill so used the meat and skinned the tongue and used this too but some use the snout and fat also.Chop your meat and combine with chopped herbs and black pepper.

5: Line your terrines with cling film and place a few violets and chives on the bottom.  This will of course become the top, it makes it look pretty. Add your meat then fill with reduced stock. Bang the filled dish against the worktop a couple of times to get rid of any bubbles and make sure your stock gets to the bottom. Cover with cling film and chill overnight to set.

6: The following day just gently turn it out, admire your amazingness then make some toast, slather it in butter and top with your terrine.

Pig Face and Flowers version 1 with less flowers

Crispy Pig’s Ear Scratchings:

These are seriously good! Once the ears were cooked in the stock I just treated them as I would when making regular pork scratchings.  Just whack the oven on full, make sure the ears are completely dry (they will be really sticky though) then using sharp kitchen scissors cut them into strips and put on a grill tray over a roasting tin, sprinkle with Halen Môn salt, cook until crispy and serve with a kickass dip.

Next time I make them I will probably braise the ears in a chinese broth first if I’m not making a terrine at the same time.

Dip:

  • Chopped coriander
  • chopped mint
  • chopped chilli
  • 1 red onion, microplaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • Thai fish sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Filipino spiced vinegar
  • lime juice
  • Tony’s Ginger and chilli sauce

Spicy fried chicken wings

I had intended to make this recipe with chicken feet, I used to love them when I lived in Hong Kong but have never tried them over here.  I asked Paul, my Meat Man if he could save me the feet from his lovely free range roosters when he killed on Wednesday.  Turns out though that free range chicken feet are far too mucky to use really, he said they were just way too nasty as his birds, despite having all that lovely space to run around in always choose to go and play in the muck heap. “Unfortunately you need feet from chickens kept inside all the time” he said, not my thing ( and my 3 ex-battery farm chickens would guilt me out too much) so he gave me a few kilos of chicken wings instead.

Now the humble wing happens to be my favourite bit of the chicken.  Glen always gets a very good deal when I roast the Sunday Rooster – I get the wings and a thigh and he gets the leg and breast. So many butchers just throw the wings in the bin, madness. When I worked at the butchery I saw so many beautiful plump free range wings being chucked in the bin before I could get to them, and they were beautiful Fosse Meadows chickens too, not cheap by any means!

Anyway I now had several kilos of wings for the freezer so I decided to experiment a bit.  I like my wings really crispy, almost burnt really, so decided to try deep frying them.  I played around with trying different coatings of egg, cornmeal and flours but the best way was just plain. This way the sweet flavours of the crispy skin were allowed to shine so I settled on poaching then frying and covering in a spicy sauce. It seems like a lot of work for fried chicken but I wanted to use the same method as I would have for the feet.

Ingredients:

  • chicken wings (I like to joint mine)

Poaching liquor

  • big pot water
  • salt (depending on how much water you use, but I used about 3tsp)
  • sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
  • a few star anise
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • a few peppercorns
  • fresh ginger (sliced)

Spicy Sauce

  • 2 heaped tablespoons Chinese chilli, ginger and garlic sauce (hot)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet thai chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1tablespoon Oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee is my favourite)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese preserved black beans (squashed with a fork)
  • 100ml stock (I used jellied ham hock stock that I had leftover in the fridge but chicken would be perfect too)

Oil for frying.

Method:

  1. My wings were frozen. Put all you poaching ingredients in a big pot, add your wings and slowly bring to a simmer until just cooked through. Reserve a bit of the liquor for later. Drain the wings and plunge into a bowl of iced water.  The skin will start to separate from the meat and bubble up.  Drain, pat dry then arrange in a single layer on a tray and put in the fridge for an hour to dry out.
  2. Put all your sauce ingredients into a pan and heat gently, taste and add more heat or sweetness depending on what you fancy, if it seems too thick you can add some poaching liquor.
  3. Fry the wings in hot oil until crispy then drain on kitchen towel, put on your serving platter and drizzle with the sauce.

They were all kinds of wonderful and best served with cold beer and plenty of kitchen towel!