I Love Meat

Ha! That got your attention, didn’t it. Well, I guess it’s not 100% true yet, but I am become increasingly keen on it. Meat that’s properly cooked, that is (it’s not hard to get right, but on the other hand it’s very easy to get wrong).

Yesterday I cooked my first ever bit of meaty meat – some lamb’s liver. I fried it in butter for a couple of minutes either side, which I reckon would have been perfect (I was guessing completely), but I was a little worried that it might still be raw in the middle, so I chucked it in the pan for a little longer. I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t too bad, still had a tinge of pink to the centre, but I reckon if I’d taken it out when my intuition told me to then I’d have been pretty much spot on. Deglazed the pan with a swirl of red wine and used that for the sauce. Ate it pretty much on its own, just a little salad in a side-bowl. I haven’t eaten liver since I was five or six – I remember it being my favourite meat, even though everyone else I know seemed to hate it. One bite and that old familiar musty blood/iron taste came back to me. A bit overpowering at first, but after a night of ruminating on it I started to love it again, in my mind at least. Gill won’t touch the stuff though.

Today I roasted a duck. A whole gressingham duck. First bird I have ever cooked in my life. I was very nervous, as I hadn’t a clue where to start, but I delved into a couple of recipe books, delved about online, and pieced together what seemed to be the best duck-cooking tips I could find. Chief among these was Nigella’s, to boil the duck first. So this morning I stuck the duck in our biggest Le Creuset casserole dish along with a load of boiling salted water. simmered it, covered, for half-an-hour. Then I lifted it out carefully (with a cradle of wooden spoons), wrapped it in a tea-towel to dry it off, and cooled it for the rest of the day (rather than stick it in the rather full fridge, I just carried it upstairs where, due to the ongoing building work, the heating’s been off for yonks and it’s barely above zero. I also put it near the de-humidifier, in the hope that it would suck out a little more moisture, something which I gather helps make the skin come out crispy.

I then started on the sauce – Delia Smith’s Confit of Cranberries. A gorgeous cranberry/orange smell permeated the house for the rest of the day.

This evening, I whacked the fan oven on at 220°C, gave it a chance to get fully up to heat, and put the dried duck (sprinkled with Maldon salt) in on a big tray, and started parboiling some potatoes. After 10 minutes I stuck them in with the duck. Another 40 minutes and the lot was done. I know I should have rested the duck for 20 minutes or so after taking it out of the oven, but I couldn’t be arsed. I started carving bits off it (something I cannot do to save my life) and tucked in. It was awesome, perfect – if I do say so myself (actually, Gill said it before me). The only time I’ve eaten better duck was when Guy had some Chinese crispy duck at Zen . The flesh was tender, not in the least dry (though a hint more pink would have been nice), and the skin was as crispy as anything that comes out of a Golden Wonder packet. Ate it with the potatoes and confit, plus some steamed brocolli and cabbage and a glass of red organic Rioja. And now, a couple of hours later, I’ve got that lovely warm ducky taste in my mouth that tells me that was a really good meal.