Monday 24 September 2012

Hopping for a Heavenly Experience!

Morning beer lovers, I’m super-excited to announce details of my latest collab and how we are launching it.

It’s called Green Goddess and I have once again teamed up with Ilkley to make a slightly bonkers, but hopefully belting, beer.
Collecting the fresh Sovereign hops at the Charles Faram Hop Walk
The beer is named Green Goddess as an obvious reference to the green hops in the beer but also helps highlight the gloriously soft Yorkshire water the brewery uses, with a nod towards the Roman goddess Verbeia of the River Wharfe, which runs through Ilkley,
The process for making this beer started a little unusually, in that the day before brewing I found myself on a train to my second hop walk in a week*
Myself and a bevy of brewers, ate a truly delicious buffet lunch before listening to Mr Hop himself, Paul Corbett of Charles Faram about the UK harvest, which is actually looking surprisingly healthy, my new hero Dr Peter Darby of the Wye Hops research and development facility and the wonderfully passionate Alison Capper, who is subtly overhauling the British Hop Association – which was all very enlightening.
After this, and a mosey around to see the bines and some traditional hop stringing demonstrations, we jumped in the car and drove up to Ilkley (trying not to be lulled to sleep by the soporific effect of the hops) to brew the next day.
The lovely people at Ilkley had sourced some La Chouffe yeast and so, alongside the brewster Harriet, we set to work creating what I hope will be a truly heavenly beer.
As is usual with me, you won’t be surprised to hear that there are a few surprises in the beer, and this time I wanted to add some Szechuan peppercorns, to help underpin the spicy nature of the yeast and bring a little ‘oomph’ to proceedings and also Nigella seeds (also known as Roman coriander, which chimes nicely with the reference to the historic connection we’ve chosen for the name!), for their slightly bitter, lemony aspect.
So, where can you get it? Well, we’ll be launching it on October 3 in London and it will be sitting on the bar alongside my previous Ilkley collab, Siberia, and the brewery’s new, luscious but low ABV, golden beer called Dinner Ale, which is a celebratory brew of the beautiful Nelson Sauvin hop.
Details of the launch venues and timings we’ll be there, at which point Green Goddess will start pouring, are:
Red Lion, Leytonstone, E11 - 5.30pm- 6.30pm
Tap East, Westfield, Stratford - 7pm-8pm
Old Red Cow, Smithfield, EC1A - 8.30pm-9.30pm
The Rake, Borough Market, SE1 - 10pm until closing
*The first hop walk being courtesy of Shepherd Neame, which I thank profusely for a lovely 24-hours of hospitality and you should check out the Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight website here for more info on that very cool idea.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Never Was a Cornflake Girl

You can just see how juicy this is, sorry about rubbish pics and general carnage of plate!
I am afraid that headline will only mean something to those of you of a ‘certain age’ but, hopefully, for those of you who get it it’s raised a nostalgic smile (for those who don’t understand the reference, hit iTunes and search for Tori Amos, if nothing else, the Armand Van Helden mix Professional Widow has stood the test of time immensely well...).
Anyway, I digress, back to cornflakes… they were never a favourite, even though my beloved granddad would feed them to me. I was always a Rice Krispies fan (loved that snap, crackle & pop) but when I heard of the concept of cornflake ‘fried’ chicken I was intrigued!
Ever since visiting Yardbird in Miami, I’ve become a little obsessed with the whole fried chicken thing, so new variations on a super-crunchy outside had me hooked.
However, what I didn’t realise was that this was supposed to a healthy version of fried chicken cooked in the oven, which (naturally) I completely ignored, and went ahead and fried anyway!
I’m not going to lie, this is a multi-stage process but - oh my - is it worth it when you sit down to indulge! I am not saying you can’t oven cook this, I’m sure you probably can, I’m just one of those people that doesn’t bother with half measures.
To whit, I am going to offer some advice based on the no half measures mantra; making your own buttermilk using lemon juice or vinegar is simply not as effective as buying the proper stuff, I’ve tried on numerous occasions and, frankly, it’s rubbish in comparison.
I’m afraid that the pictures are of my first attempt and not the more successful second, because I was so excited to get in there and eat it, I forgot to take pictures of the finished article. But, no matter, because I’m pretty sure you guys are smart enough to get the general gist of things!
Beer & Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken w/Cornflake Crust
Another truly dreadful pic that makes it look burnt, it's really not! Sorry about my lack of camera skills!
Sharp knife
Chopping boards
Large non-metallic bowl (needs to hold about 3l of liquid)
3 bowls suitable for flour, egg and bread crumbing your chicken
Pestle & mortar
Small frying pan
Deep fat fryer or wok
Large, deep saucepan
Food processor
Slotted spoon
Cooking thermometer
Cooling rack
Baking tray
Kitchen roll
Cling film
Ingredients - for brine/cooking liquor:
1 free-range chicken butchered into eighths or 8 sizeable chicken pieces, skin on
600ml buttermilk (got mine at Sainsbury’s)
2 bottles light summer ale, I used Bath Ales Wild Hare
2 white onions
4 celery sticks – roughly chopped
2 carrots – roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves – smashed
Bunch of thyme – bruised with back of knife
Bunch of oregano - bruised with back of knife
1 jalapeño (or hotter chilli depending on preference) – pierced in several places
5 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I used Bart’s)
2 tbsp smoked paprika
250ml brown chicken stock
4tbsp sea salt
Groundnut oil
 Stage 1:
  1. Warm pan to medium heat, soften onions, celery, carrot for a few minutes, then add garlic
  2. After another minute add the Cajun seasoning and paprika, when they start to become nicely aromatic, deglaze pan with chicken stock and pour into the non-metallic bowl
  3. When cooled slightly add beer, then buttermilk and whisk well, pop in freezer to cool
  4. Place chicken pieces into cooled mixture, cover with cling film and place in fridge overnight
 Stage 2:
  1. Take your bowl of chicken out of the fridge for at least half an hour
  2. Get a large pan, big enough to take the chicken and the liquid and pour it all in
  3. Bring to a temperature where bubbles just break the surface, cook for 15 minutes – check internal temp of chicken has reached 75 degrees C
  4. Allow to cool in cooking liquor
  5. When just warm still, remove from liquor and place on some kitchen towel and return to fridge
  6. Discard liquor
 Ingredients - for the frying stage:
250g breadcrumbs (I use granary bread because I like the nutty crunch)
75g cornflakes
3tbsp Cajun powder
1 tbsp finely-chopped thyme leaves
2tbsp Chipotle hot sauce (I used the Wahaca one)
2 large eggs
100g cornflour
1 litre of groundnut oil
 Stage 3:
  1. Using your thermometer in a deep frying pan or wok, heat your oil to 175 degrees C and turn your oven on to a low ‘keep warm’ heat
  2. Using a  food processor, pulse the cornflakes until roughly chopped and mix with breadcrumbs, add 1tbsp of Cajun seasoning and set aside
  3. Mix the flour, thyme and remaining 2tbsp of Cajun seasoning
  4. Roll chicken pieces in just the seasoned flour and then gently lower into hot oil in batches
  5. Allow to just brown and remove immediately to fresh kitchen towel
  6. Whilst chicken is cooling slightly, whisk your hot sauce into your eggs
  7. Line a baking tray with kitchen towel & put a cooling rack over the top
  8. When all your pieces are done and at a heat where you can hold them, re-roll in flour, then egg mix and finally breadcrumb/cornflake mix
  9. As you crumb each piece, lower it immediately, gently and away from you, into the hot oil
  10. Cook one or two pieces at a time (depending on size of your pan) and then, when they are golden brown, put on cooling rack and pop in oven to keep warm/rest
  11. Repeat until all your chicken is cooked and in the oven resting/draining
  12. I served this with corn on the cob (I first boiled, then dried, brushed with unsalted butter and then popped this in a dry pan to get a bit of smokiness on it) and home-made coleslaw but your sides are your business!
 To Drink:
It’s an American classic, so you can’t not have an American beer with it! I’d just been sent some Fordham to try and the Pale Ale wasn’t a bad accompaniment, but I did find myself wanting something a bit bigger, so an Odell IPA or a Bear Republic Racer 5 would go nicely.
p.s. My attention has just been drawn to what the song I referenced in the headline was about, I was completely ignorant of this and did not mean to be glib in any way, it was just a pop culture comment, will now be making a donation to a charity that fights this kind of ignorant practice post-haste!

p.p.s Said donation now made to @OrchidProject

Eggstra, Eggstra!

As today I was able to announce that I’ll be compering the awesome Scotch Egg Challenge at The Ship on the banks of the Thames at Wandsworth on September 25, I thought I’d post my own modest offering.
I am, as they say, a bit of a bugger for a good Scotch Egg; when made fresh I think they are best served slightly warm and with a runny yolk, which is always a gamble when you can’t see what’s going on inside when you're frying it, but it’s worth a whirl nonetheless, and I think I’ve pretty much nailed it with this method.
Personally I like it with a good mustard mayonnaise or sauce to dip them in, but some people prefer some brown sauce - Daddies, HP or posher is, of course, down to you!
I do specify the type of black pudding in the recipe, but if you can’t get hold of Bury black pudding then try it with any other you can get your hands on, but do try and make sure it’s got a good ratio of chunky fat in it, it’ll help make your Scotch egg an unctuous thing of sheer beauty.
p.s. Sorry about lack of picture of my offering, some bugger has nicked my camera and that’s what the pictures of my gorgeous eggs were on :( So instead I shamelessly nicked this image from David Constable's blog Forever Eggsploring, he's the curator behind this competition and had the hard job of whittling down the entries along with the Ship guys & gals!
Equipment:Sharp knife
Large, non-metallic mixing bowl
Medium bowl
Small saucepan
Fine sieve
Kitchen roll
Slotted spoon
Cling film
Medium frying pan
Deep pan suitable for frying, wok or deep-fat fryer
Dishes suitable for flour, egg & breadcrumb process
Pestle & mortar
Chopping board
Ice cubes (not strictly equipment but worth flagging up!)
100g granary breadcrumbs
50g plain flour
3 medium eggs (at room temperature)
2 tbsp milk
100g room temperature sausage meat (I used Duchy Organics but a good pork sausage, skinned, should do it, or ask your butcher for your preferred type)
50g room temperature Bury black pudding, finely chopped
100ml traditional bitter, I used Black Sheep Ale (you may not use all of it)
½ red onion, very finely chopped
½ tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
½ tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
½ tsp ground chilli flakes, crushed further in pestle & mortar
1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1litre of groundnut oil + a little for frying
Small knob of unsalted butter
At least two trays worth of ice
  1. Put pan of water on to boil
  2. Meanwhile, very gently fry your onion, pepper, chilli & herbs until onion just softened in the butter with a little oil added
  3. Place in sieve over some kitchen towel to drain, put in freezer to cool
  4. Place two eggs in boiling water for five minutes and then plunge straight into bowl of iced water
  5. Take your onion and herb mix out of the freezer; rub your hands with a little groundnut oil and squidge into the black pudding and sausage meat (it’s joyously mucky this bit!) and slowly add your beer, making sure you don’t make too sloppy a paste and that there’s still bits of whole black pudding in the mix
  6. Pop in fridge for 10 minutes to mingle and become a touch firm
  7. Take a foot long piece of cling film and oil it lightly, place half your meat mixture on it, lightly flour your carefully peeled egg and then use the cling film to mould the mixture around the egg
  8. Repeat with other half and return to fridge for 10 minutes to firm up slightly
  9. Whisk together your egg & milk, put in a dish and, in two other separate dishes put your breadcrumbs and flour
  10. Heat your oil, in your large pan or deep-fat fryer to 170c
  11. Remove your ‘naked’ Scotch eggs from the fridge, unwrap and dip in flour, then egg/milk mix and then breadcrumbs, repeat the egg and breadcrumb steps at least once, I tend to triple dip mine as I like a really good crunchy coating
  12. Using your slotted spoon, lower the eggs gently into the oil and fry for approximately seven minutes, turning occasionally
  13. When the eggs float they are done
  14. Place on kitchen towel to drain and as soon as you can handle them without searing your fingertips, cut in half and serve with your sauce of choice – or just by themselves, your choice!
Beer Accompaniment:I am a big fan of a really good traditional pint of British bitter with these; I like the rest of the bottle of Black Sheep with them (if it lasts through the cooking process, which is unlikely) but have also found Fuller’s Chiswick, Young’s Bitter, Sambrook’s Wandle (in bottle that is, still not a huge fan of the cask) and have even found that a more robust ESB will go well. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that a mild would also be a belting partner, something like Moorhouse’s Black Cat for example.