23 – Banana Appeals

bananas

I’ve been experimenting recently with cooking a few things which most normal chefs would just discard. And one of my successes has been the banana peel. And next month will see one or two of my new inventions hit the Sausage menu.

It’s funny how popular this has been with some of my sous chefs and even my head waiter, Gordon. Not only have they embraced the concept of using up all the banana skins in new recipes, but they have even taken away some of the more stringy parts of the peel for “our own experiments” as Gordon explained to me. Certainly there has been a lot more laughter in the kitchen since they started. And a lot more smoking breaks. And some of the chefs who I am sure used to smoke cigarettes are now smoking roll-ups. Good for them, I say.

Some of this is what you can expect from our new menu now or over the coming months:

  • Banana peel curry. The peel is an amazing addition to a classic Indian curry, and adds a unique sweetness and texture.
  • Deep fried Banana Skins: sliced very thinly and with a secret selection of spices, and a ginger ice cream. Delicious.
  • Banana skin huts: I won’t tell you more yet – but they are something to behold.

I tell you, other chefs will be copying me in no time. Hashtag food trend.

18 – New Menu for February

It’s the start of the month and so as usual we have a new menu. We don’t change everything on it, some of the old favourites remain (The British Rail Experience, Roast Roadkill and others) but we try to freshen it up every month as the seasons change.

This month, the new dishes include the following:

  • Appetisers: Deconstructed Soup and Pearl Necklace – the latter comes with seafood all over your plate.
  • Mains: Roast Dinner Puréeall the taste of a roast meal complete with vegetables & gravy
    but puréed into a drink (chicken, beef or pork); and The World’s Most Expensive Fish Fingers (I’ll be expanding on that in a later post).
  • Puddings: Simple Crème Brûlée (as I recently blogged about); and Apricot and Vanilla Sticky Fly Paper – this is a wafer thin sugar-wafer, twisted in long loops, with apricot and vanilla seasoning, and a few spots of nutmeg for the effect of reality.

You can see the whole menu here.

We’ve also got a special Valentine Day menu, which we will announcing soon. Definitely not to be missed for you lovers.

11 – Auf Wiedersehen, Pets

guineapig-3-ways

We’re introducing a new way of eating at the Smoked Sausage today. And to help us, we have a guest chef for this week only: Luis Romero, from Lima in Peru. Why? Because this week, we are serving guinea pig – three ways. But that isn’t all. And in fact, that isn’t the main story. Because what we are doing is giving our customers a bit of extra choice, as follows:

You know how when you go to some restaurants, if you want to order fish, then you are taken to a fish tank and asked to select which fish you want? Well, that’s what we are doing. Not with fish of course, but with the guinea pigs.

Yes, we have set aside a decent size cage at one end of our restaurant, where the guinea pigs will be able to run around, eat their dandelion leaves and carrots and generally have a nice time. (And they do make cute, squeaking noises). But when a customer wants to order our guinea pig dish, then they will be guided to the cage and they will select which one they want to eat. Plenty of choice too: we’ve got Abyssinian guinea pigs, Himalayan, Sheltie and, of course, short-haired. And all raised within 20 miles of the Sausage. It’s the ultimate provenance.

Pretty nifty, eh.

Although, as you might guess, it has got the animal rights activists and the Daily Mail up in arms. We’ve already appeared under headlines such as “You Inhuman Guinea Pig!” and “Christoffel’s Crazy Cavy Cookshop!” as well the more predictable, “Auf Wiedersehen, Pets”.

But I don’t know why. As I said, it is common for restaurants serving fish to do this sort of thing. And the Peruvians do it all the time: the cavies run around their homes and when they want one for the pot – bang – they are just swept up and in they go. Neither does it seem to be the guinea pig per se which the activists/national rags are complaining about (although a few of them clearly don’t like the idea that we are eating what they only perceive as pets).

And it’s about time that a restaurant did something like this if you ask me. So many people seem to agree these days that we as carnivores must know more about where our dinners are coming from and how the meat reaches our plates. It’s not as if you have cows that kill themselves or chickens which wring their own necks. So whilst we obviously couldn’t ask customers to select their own cow for their meal (not because I wouldn’t do that, it just isn’t practical in a kitchen garden), downsizing it to a guinea pig is an easy and lucid way to show the implications of their decision making to the diners. Hell, the animal rights folk should be applauding me because I am presenting so clearly what they perceive as barbarism. If it is then people won’t do it.

So we’ll see. Let’s let the customer decide. If they want to eat guinea pig then they can select it – literally – and all will be well.

And it is bloody delicious, by the way. Even if I do say so myself.

8 – Rabbit: Head to Tail

Taking it Apart and Putting it Together Again

rabbit-slicedFor the second episode of my TV series, Christoffel Cooks, the TV company asked me to cook “something different”. As if my Roast Roadkill which I cooked in the first programme wasn’t different enough. But I bit my tongue and agreed.

I suggested rabbit, but before I could explain the full concept – not as you will have ever seen it cooked before – my co-presenter, Ainsley Harricot was laughing and scoffing that rabbit was about as different as Neapolitan ice cream.

At this point, I took the producer to one side and suggested I cook it without Ainsley being aware of exactly how I was doing it. That way, he would eat it “as a customer would see it”. The producer liked that idea.

Cue carte-blanche pour moi.

I started by making some black jelly and put it in the fridge to set. More on that later.

Then I set about the rabbit, skinning it carefully, removing the nose, feet, ears and tail and putting them to one side. Then I gutted it and fried the heart, kidneys and liver in a wine reduction. (The liver is a real delicacy!) I cut up the meat from the body, fried it with shallots and baby vegetables and minced some of it to make a tartare. Then I wrapped the fur back around the cooked meat and, along with the ears, sewed it up with invisible cotton. Before (almost) finally scooping out the rabbit’s brains and eyes, seasoning them, adding a pinch of paprika and placing them back where they had come from. To complete the effect, I stuck the rabbit’s feet back under its body, using edible glue, and the bobtail back on its rear end.

Then the pièce de résistance: you may have noticed I did not replace the original nose. Instead, I retrieved the black jelly and using a modelling knife, placed it where the rabbit’s nose had been. Thus, every time you moved the rabbit, the nose wiggled as if it was still in a Sussex field and not on an exquisite dinner plate.

Done. Rabbit: cooked and re-assembled it so it looked as good as new. Nose-to-tail eating at its most extreme. Especially the nose.

Then I served it to Ainsley.

As I said, he hadn’t been told what I was doing so he didn’t know what to expect as he tucked in. He ate the main meat, got through the offal and, to be fair to him, tried sucking the feet. I didn’t encourage him to eat the eyes; I thought that was a step too far – after he gagged on the brains. There were also these pitiful cries emanating from him every time the rabbit’s nose wobbled. Before it fell off onto his plate.

Could be interesting to see what sort of response this programme gets when it airs.

7 – Interview with the Gecko Hunter

One of our most popular dishes is our Amazonian Gecko, and I have been asked where we source our ingredients. So it was fortuitous that the latest edition of Huntin’ Monthly magazine has an interview with our supplier, Steve “3 fingers” Jackson.

Here is a copy of that interview.

geckohunterinterview

At this point, I would like to point out that Steve has never visited the Smoked Sausage to try my Amazonian Gecko so I don’t know where he ate it. Maybe in the Amazon over an open fire or something. Because I promise you, if he had eaten my version then he would not be calling it shit. Not unless he wanted to become Steve “2 fingers” Jackson.

2 – Roast Roadkill

My PR Manager doesn’t think my first TV programme went well. Something to do with the dish I cooked. She says I chose badly. I chose it especially because it is one of our key dishes which shows what the Smoked Sausage is all about: Roast Roadkill. It’s ethical, fresh (in a dead sort of way) and extremely sustainable. One could even say it’s compensating for all the cars on the road which are causing all those deaths. (Carbon offset?) They’re the ones those animal rights lot should be complaining about: those careless drivers – not the chef who uses the by-product. It’s already dead, people!

What I will say is that, unfortunately, I hadn’t got the best cut of roadkill for the programme – I was hoping for pheasant, deer or even badger. In the end I had to settle for half a fox (don’t ask what bits I could use) and what is best described a slice of ‘pie. Magpie. But I did add cats ears as garnish. One of my personal favourites.

Sadly also, the hot lights in the TV studio, and the time it took to make the programme, meant that the smell wasn’t the usual perfume of meat and veg which I serve up… And, okay, we did have to cut the bit when a maggot crawled out of one of the saucepans. But hey – this is what you get when you practise cooking on the edge. What did they expect? Gary bloody Roads? (Isn’t that what I gave them anyway…)

I have to say that Ainsley was quite the professional – laughing all through the serving, well, most of the serving, and slapping “my” fake sous chef on the back as he tasted the food. He wasn’t smiling so much when he tasted it himself – his face indicated that he was quite taken aback at the flavours I got out of the fox.

Then one of the cameramen was sick on the producer’s shoe, and one of the make-up girls refused to make me up after lunch and someone forgot to check Ainsley was okay after he seemed to choke on the maggot, so we had to wait for him to get back to the studio floor. Honestly, if this was the States then they would be quite calm about all this. Deer, moose, bear, elk – it’s all eaten there. If you find it on the road, eat it.

And if it was a David Attenborough programme and you saw another animal eating it then it would probably win a frickin’ bafta.

I hope they still commission the second episode. My PR manager isn’t so sure.