Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A word from Peter Watson - how to debone the bird, roll it and stuff it!

Every now and then its good to be reminded that the simple things in life are ever the most elegant and if you doubt that, look no further than great designers like Chanel. My reminder came in the form of a dish that was written by a fave Italian cook, Giorgio Locacelli, resident of the UK but raised in Lombardy Italy where his uncle had a restaurant and he was, from an early age surrounded by food and cooking. Locacelli is regarded as the finest Italian cook in the UK food scene. He is outwardly, fanatic in regard to method and style, but then, as ever with Italians, passion overcomes making his cooking and food a pure delight.

 I have a chicken in the fridge... not unusual I hear you say and you would be right, but the point was I guess that I was sick of roast chicken, over grilled chicken, done the BBQ chicken thing last week, so something new was in order. I began by plunging into the depths of memory and decided that I would debone the chicken, stuff it and..... step in Giorgio! He suggested that a stuffing of mushroom and truffle with fresh herbs would be stunning, further that to poach the chicken and serve it with some cappilletti (little hats filled with ricotta) cooked in the broth in which the chicken was poached, would be stunning. He was right.
let me walk you through the method for deboning. For a definitive method, I would advise you to consult with Mastering the Art of French cooking by the indomitable Julia Child, however it is not all the difficult requiring most of all a very sharp knife, and my much loved small Shun paring knife which I still keep in its original box and sharpen lovingly before each performance. I am also known to become very agitated should anyone use my knife. Call me anything you like, but there are some things that are sacred.

 There is little point in going through this whole performance for a chicken less than free range organic, so make sure that you have a chicken worthy of your efforts. I would also suggest that you remove it from the refrigerator some hour or so before you intend to start, having the bird at room temperature is easier. I also prefer to lay a tea towel over the chopping board to prevent slippage. If you have some issues with both hygiene and with fear of the knife slipping, then a pair of kitchen cloves could be desirable.

Make the first cut straight down the back bone, god I hope that you will all know the difference between the breast bone and back bone, the breast bone is where the breast fillets are located, the back bone is the 'bottom' of the bird. So the first incision is from vent to neck, straight down the back bone. The next steps are simply to carefully pare back the flesh from the carcass, detach the wing bones and the drum sticks (this can be done by snapping them off the carcass or by cutting in the joint itself) and leave them in place for the minute. Pare carefully on each side until you are left with only the breast bone, now carefully begin to detach the breast bone, this is the one place that you may make a big mistake ... it is thin tissue and so requires some care.

 To remove the wing bones, first cut off the last two sections of the wings, leaving you with just one bone. Run your knife right around the bone just below the point on the bone that connected the wing to the carcass and begin to pare the flesh down. It is very simple and at the end, just pull the bone out. The leg bone or drumstick is a little more complex as you will have two bones per leg to deal with, but the principal is the same.

 This will leave you with a complete skin intact chicken, all flesh in place. Roll it up and put in the fridge to await the next step. Place all the bones into your stock pot, including the wing tips, add an onion, a carrot or two a couple of stems of celery, cover all with some cold water and begin to make a delicious soup/stock... this will take 60 minutes. My trick here is to do this in the base of my Chinese steamer and to then steam/poach the chicken over the stock, thus I also get the advantage of adding the flavour of the cooking chicken to the soup and the chicken is bathed in delicious steam. Win win all round.

The stuffing is easy... I chose not to follow the Giorgio plan with truffles, mostly because I did not have any on hand, but to extemporise a little. I choose some fresh mushrooms, some dried porcini and in fact ham, you could of course use proscuito. I start with one of my retail ready stuffing mixes.

Peter Watson Sage and Red Onion stuffing
2 tblspns of milk
1 tblspn butter
200 grams of ham or proscuito, chopped but not too finely
150 grams of Swiss Browns that are chopped but again, not too finely
50 grams dried porcini, soaked in some hot water (don't waste the water, add that to the chicken stock) chopped, again not too finely
salt and pepper
egg is an option, I am not a lover of 'dense' stuffing so I prefer to not use one, for those who want to have a cold slice terrine like finished dish, then add one egg.

Place Peter Watson Sage and Red Onion stuffing mix in a bowl. Soften the butter and add it along with the ham and mushrooms, work this through with your fingers, try and not 'compress' it. Salt and pepper to taste.
Lay out the boned bird and cover the flesh side with the stuffing, leaving 2.5 cm along the outside edges (not the neck or bum end, just the sides) and pat the stuffing down, not hard. Now simply draw the two sides together and form a roll. Using kitchen twine, tie up the bum and neck ends first to prevent leakage of the stuffing and along the rest of the roll, four ties to hold it all together.

Rub the roll with a little oil add a bit of salt and pepper, place in the top half of the double boiler and steam over the stock for 50 to 60 minutes, not at a harsh boil, but on a gentle heat. At the end of one hour, check that the chicken is cooked and wrap the roll in foil that again you have oiled slightly, place to one side.
 Here I have to confess that I did not make the Cappilletti, but I did buy the best I could. I am so glad to have that off my chest.

Strain the stock and remove as much of the fat as possible, there will be a bit, chickens are quite fatty. Place the strained stock in a pot and bring back to the boil, add your home made Cappilletti and cook, mine took about 14 minutes. 

To Serve slice a piece or two if that's what you want, place in the middle of a pasta bowl, surround with 10 or 12 cappilletti and cover with a good ladle of the delicious broth, scatter a little fresh parmesan or grana padana over, test for salt and pepper and enjoy. I have to confess that I did have some crusty bread with this and gave thanks.

Locacelli is to be thanked for a reminder that such simple delights, requiring nothing more than moderate skill, attention to detail and fresh ingredient are enough to produce a meal of great excellence and perhaps, its time that we took stock of our cooking lives and embraced with passion, the concepts that have driven food and cooking in countries like France, Spain, Italy and Greece for years and which, in so many ways we have either lost or are in danger of loosing or being swamped by too much food choices or ingredients we neither understand nor in some ways, relate to. 

If you are the more visual type - there is a good Deboning Video on UTube.

Peter Watson December 5, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Brine your turkey for Christmas.

Peter Watson says we simply must brine the Turkey for better flavour and moist texture This is his recipe which also uses the divine stuffing mixes which we sell so many of each Christmas.

You must start the evening before with a fully thawed bird. It will need to be submerged in the brine solution and preferably kept in a cool or refrigerated situation for up to 8 hours. A large bird will need a very large pot or bucket. This solution should be enough for a 5kg to 8 kg bird.

3 litres of Vegetable Stock or chicken stock
375 grams of table salt
1 cup sugar (brown is best)
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 litre of iced water
Bring stock, salt, sugar and herbs to the boil, allow to cool then add the iced water to cool completely.
You will need a clean bucket that will easily hold the turkey with the brine. Place the brine into the bucket.
Wash and dry the turkey and lower the bird breast first into the bucket making sure that the cavities are filled with the brine. Place something on the bird to keep it below the brine solution. Place the bucket into the refrigerator over night, or no longer than 8 hours. If the refrigerator is otherwise occupied, consider using a chiller or even a styrene box. Remove the turkey and dry it completely. When cooking you will need to allow for the fact that a brined turkey will cook faster.

Cooking the Turkey
Stuff your turkey in both the cavities, being careful not to overstuff the main cavity of the bird. Use a  combination of pork mince (with fat) and one of the Peter Watson stuffing mixes; Prune and Apple, Apple Red Onion and Sage, or Cranberry, Walnut & Thyme (Gluten Free). The neck cavity can be well stuffed, it may also be an advantage to bind the stuffing mix with an egg.
The quick method:
The accepted norm is to allow 20 minutes per kilo and then add an hour. In the case of a brined bird, it would be as well to check the bird after 30 minutes. Please preheat the oven... turn it up full and when you put the bird in to roast, drop to 180 celsius for the cooking time. 
The slow method:
Peter's secret... since most of us have a ham for Xmas and will remove the skin and glaze the ham... keep the skin and place it over the turkey to allow the ham fat and skin to act as a baster and a way to keep the moisture in. Cover the bird with aluminium foil. Preheat your oven to 140 celcius and cook slowly for 4 - 5 hours (depending on the size of the bird, if smaller, 3 - 4 hours and then remove the foil and turn up the heat to 180 celcius, cook for 45 minutes, remove the ham skin and cook for another 10 - 20 minutes till golden. (The ham skin if crisp, is quite delicious!!)

Peter likes to roast the bird on a bed of root vegetables with loads of fresh herbs and a good slug of orange juice. (This makes for a stunning gravy.) 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tasmanian saffron - more precious than gold.

Terry & Nicky Noonan gave up their secure jobs on the mainland and moved to Tassy in 1989. They were keen to make a living from the land, but with only three sloping acres, they needed a small crop that could be hand harvested and easily shipped. Shopping one night they came across a jar of imported saffron, which at $14 for 125g became the seed of their inspiration. In 1991, after mountains of research and preparation they imported 5000 saffron corms (stem bases) from Europe, and became Australia's first producers of Saffron.

Tas-Saff is now a thriving commercial saffron producer and has developed a network of 50 growers throughout Australia and New Zealand, all producing premium grade Saffron to meet the worlds demand for Australian saffron.Their journey has not been without many trials, which have taught them to spread the risk over many farms in many locations.

Saffron is the world's most expensive spice first cultivated in 2300BC in Kashmir. It was valued as a spice, a dye and for its  medicinal properties.Saffron is the most commonly adulterated, copied and misrepresented spice. As saffron was traded like gold in medieval times, saffron forgers were buried alive or burned at the stake.

Saffron is still expensive because it is incredibly labour intensive with processes which cannot be mechanised. In order to extract 1 kg of saffron from crocuses, the stigma's of almost a quarter of a million flowers must be hand picked, dried and bottled. "It takes about an hour to pick a thousand flowers" says Terry. For 45 days in Autumn the delicate purple crocus flowers appear in the morning and must be picked quickly to get the newest and freshest flowers before they wilt in the sun. The stigmas are nimbly twisted from the flower by hand, then dried for two hours before being packed into tiny 100mg glass jars which hold the stigmas of 20 crocus flowers.

The Noonans small packing and processing facility is carefully climate controlled and all processes require gloved hands, netted hair and fine tools more suited to a jeweller. The quality of their handling of the precious spice is one of the many factors which make their Saffron premium quality. Tas Saff Saffron is HACCP certified, Extra Category 1 Saffron and has been accredited to SQF 2000 - the worlds leading food safety and quality management standard.

The high quality means that Tas-Saff saffron goes a long way - far less of it is needed in your cooking. Each stigma is whole and un broken, so to achieve best results Tas Saff saffron should be infused in liquid for 24 hours to get the best flavour and colour. Saffron has been described as having a woody, honey-like, oaked-wine, tenacious aroma, and bitter lingering, appetite stimulating taste. Saffron is high in anti-oxidants.

gershgoods distributes the gourmet retail packaged 100gram vials in display boxes of 12 units, and two foodservice sizes in1gram and 5gram bags.

Saffron Rice

  • 50 - 100mg Tas-Saff saffron
  • One and a half cups of Australian long grain rice
  • 20 grams butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of quality chicken stock
Remove lid from Tas-Saff saffron vial and fill with almost boiling water.
Leave to infuse for 24 hours.

Use a heavy saucespan with a tight fitting lid.
Prepare saffron as per instructions below.
Heat butter and oil in a deep saucepan and cook onion until soft without colouring.

Add rice and cook for a further minute, stirring all the time to ensure the rice is well coated with butter and oil.
Stir in approx. 3/4 of a cup of stock then add your saffron infusion, stir and mix well.

Add the remainder of stock ensuring that all the saffron is rinsed out of the cup.
Stir well, then cover tightly and cook gently for 20 minutes.
Remove lid and stand for a few minutes to let steam escape.
Turn rice with a fork to fluff up and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A night with Tetsuya

On a Tuesday night in August, the gershgoods team arrived at Tetsuya’s restaurant in Kent St Sydney for a private demonstration of the many uses of his fantastic range of retail products. The team were excited, and there were some who only expected a sous-chef to give the presentation. They were delighted to be greeted by Tetsuya Wakuda himself, and after introductions and a glass of Bollinger Champagne he began.

Firstly he encouraged the staff to be creative with their cooking - using the Tetsuya's dressings as a base for their own recipes. He explained how vinegar is useful for bringing up the flavours of food and that Nori vinegar freshens flavours of other dressings when mixed together.

He showed his technique for perfectly cooking Wagu beef, which he served with his own Tasmanian wasabi mustard. He also prepared Smoked ocean trout with Rice Vinegar and wasabi, Kingfish Salad with Salad Vinaigrette, and Venison with Honey Rosemary Dressing. He explained that the Dressings can be used as a versatile ingredient, not just for salads and that Honey Mustard and Tasmanian Pepper Berry dressings are ideal with gamey meats.

The gershgoods team were truly engrossed, and have learnt new techniques and applications, which have extended their own culinary horizons. So now they are inspired and enthusiastic to share Tetsuya’s tips with you and the new ways to use the Tetsuya’s retail products.

A sample recipe:

Wagu Beef with Tasmanian Wasabi Mustard
Take beef cold from the fridge, do not raise to room temperature before cooking. 
Do not season the meat before cooking.
Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in non-stick skillet on full heat. 
Seal beef to make a crust, blot up fat with a paper towel as it is released during cooking.
Rest in oven at 75C for up to 2 hours.
To serve, reheat beef on surface.  Slice thinly and season with salt & pepper.
Serve with Tetsuya’s Wasabi mustard on the side of plate.
The Tetsuya's range of retail products is a top-seller over Christmas, with the Soft Smoked Ocean Trout Sides topping the list of things you must have. Pre-orders close 30th September - so order today!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perfect Pangkarra Pasta

Pangkarra Pasta is truly unique for many reasons.

Firstly there is the heritage of the primary ingredient - Durum wheat grown on a farm in the beautiful Claire Valley, South Australia. This grain is lovingly grown by the Maitland family, the fifth generation to farm the land since they arrived in South Australia in 1866. Using sustainable farming techniques and organic fertilisers, the family produce premium quality grain which is way too good for the bulk market. They store the grain on the farm in chemical-free storage facilities, then traditionally stone mill it, which ensures the wholegrain flour that is produced retains the natural flavours of the grain.

Then there is the pasta making techniques. When the pasta is made, it is extruded through bronze heads - creating a rough surface texture which allows the pasta to better hold sauces. The hand crafted pasta is then dried at low temperatures in controlled conditions. They do this because pasta which is dried too quickly can become hard and glassy.

Then there are the health benefits. Wholegrain pasta is not the same as wholemeal pasta. Wholegrain retains all the goodness of the whole grain of wheat. This means it is high in Thiamine (B1), is an excellent source of antioxidants & phytonutrients, and has a low GI. Pangkarra pasta is also low in fat and sodium, and an excellent source of fibre.

Then there is the flavour. The team from Pangkarra flew up to meet us last week and took over our warehouse kitchen to give us a tasting and educational. They simply cooked the pasta until al dente, drizzled it with quality olive oil and tossed it through with sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach, garlic, butter and a pinch of truffle salt. We were all amazed by the delicious nutty flavour and divine texture. It truly is in a class of its own.

Even Maggie Bear loves Pangkarra Pasta.
"Pangkarra definitely embodies the slow food philosophy when you consider that it is the wholegrain milled traditionally and the pasta made with the slow drying that makes such a difference to texture and flavour,” Maggie said. “The family should be very proud of their pasta. I really loved its flavour and texture.” Maggie Beer.

Gershgoods is excited to distribute the following Pangkarra Pasta products to quality food stores in NSW from mid August.

Wholegrain Fettuccine
Wholegrain Spaghetti
Wholegrain Linguine
Wholegrain Penne

Keep a look out for Pangkarra Pasta popping up in all your favourite foodie magazines.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We're turning 180 Degrees

gershgoods loves to support companies that produce all natural delights and this one is a cracker. Pun intended. 180 Degrees started in New Zealand producing premium quality crackers using all natural ingredients and New Zealand butter. Now made in small batches here in Australia, the 180 Degrees Oat Crackers range is specifically designed to accompany fine cheeses, fruit pastes, dips and spreads.

The boutique cracker comes in four varieties including Walnut Oat, Natural Oat, Hazelnut Oat and Chilli Pepper Oat. The 150g retail box is designed to catch the eye when on the shelf, each flavour in a different colour, so it is easily identified. These delicious small crackers have a shelf life of one year and come in cartons of twelve. After tasting them all it is difficult to decide on a favourite, but as each cracker flavour marries well with different cheeses, we didn't need to. Thankfully we found suggestions on the side of each box, which helped us to choose what we would eat with what. 

Walnut Oat with Roquefort, Stillton, Pecorino, Fromage de Chevre, parmesan, Gouda, Camembert or a creamy blue.
Natural Oat with Camembert, Gruyere, Brie, Parmesan, Cheddar, Feta, Gouda or creamy blues.
Hazelnut Oat with Gouda, creamy blue cheeses, Jarlesberg, Emmental, Pecorino, Camembert, Gruyere and Brie.

Chilli Pepper Oat with aged Cheddar, Edam, Emmental, Pecorino, Camembert, Gruyere, Brie and Provolone.
180 Degrees Oat Crackers will be in stock for delivery early August.  
Call the gershgoods office on 4759 1100 or email Luke Walker on sales@gershgoods.com.au

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Medlow Gels Promotion for August

Get your orders in now to take full advantage of this Medlow Fine Gels promotion for August.
Contact the Gershgoods office on 4759 1100 today.