I know there have been a lot of recipes here and not much in the way of the smallholding or garden – my excuse is that I have been working a lot and it has been raining ALL THE TIME!
Let’s start with the successes. I have a lot of cabbages in the garden so we are mainly eating cabbage at the moment. One of my favourite things to do with cabbage is make a cabbage, cheese and bread stew – sounds a bit yuk, but actually is fabulous and brilliant comfort food. It is also really good with a little pancetta in it. As luck would have it the pancetta I started to make on my birthday (see here) was ready to be used. So on Sunday I decided to make this stew especially as I had some leftover cheddar and mustard bread – double cheese.
Cabbage, bread and cheese stew: cabbage shredded (any kind is fine), left over stale bread in slices or chunks, chicken stock (could use vegetable), grated parmesan and cheddar or any cheese really, sage or rosemary, some pancetta or streaky bacon (cut into small pieces) and a few anchovies (you could miss these and the pancetta out and make it vegetarian – I have done this too and it is still nice), olive oil
Parboil the shredded cabbage in the stock then remove cabbage (keep the stock) and put in a bowl. Gently fry the pancetta or bacon with the anchovies in some oil or fat (I used home-rendered lard) – then add in the sage ripped into pieces. Pour the pancetta/anchovy/oil/herb combination into the bowl with the cabbage and mix.
Then layer up the dish. Put some bread at the bottom, put on some cabbage and some grated cheese, more bread, cabbage and cheese – make sure there is bread on the top layer and then sprinkle over some cheese. Pour over some olive oil – a generous amount. Then add in the stock until it nearly comes up to the top of the bread. Put the lid on and cook in an oven at 180C about until golden and delicious. Put a tray underneath it to catch escaping juice otherwise it will stick on your oven!
This was utterly delicious and a huge success (I think), but what of the epic fail. Well, I am going to mention this in a small font and hushed tones so James won’t notice.
The pancetta looked good – really good….
I sliced some off and diced it – it all looked good. However, the pancetta had been tentatively involved with the fly incident (see here) before I got my wonderful gamesafes – see here. A fly had laid some eggs on the fabric I wrapped it in. I carefully wiped the pancetta with vinegar and checked it – it all looked good. It looked fine when I took it out and made the stew. I put the rest in the fridge.
Later that evening I found a maggot in the fridge – I squished it. I then found another – and another on the board that the pancetta was on. I unrolled the pancetta and found a couple more. Oh god – totally awful – I rubbed it with vinegar and left it. I did manage to sleep that night despite wondering if I had poisoned us both – we were fine. We also ate the rest of the stew the next day – obviously it was fine and I don’t like waste. The pancetta I used had also come off the end and I had chopped it and there was no sign of wiggly things. However, over the next day the odd maggot kept appearing from the pancetta – I know, this is so disgusting. Now I have read that if there are a few maggots on your cured meat (say on prosciutto) you can pick them off and cut off the affected area – what about if they have been living inside? On Monday night I dreamt about maggots. I hate to see my first pancetta go to waste, but I had to make a decision – I couldn’t take all the worry about maggots. So, the dogs are in luck – there are no more maggots – not that I think they would mind – the meat isn’t that salty, so they will get some really good treats after they work over the next few days.
I, of course, am rather despondent, but it won’t happen again as I now have my gamesafes which will keep my meat free from flies. I am also thinking of converting a fridge into a place to hang my cured meat – thank you Ike for the great idea – yet another massive learning curve, but I reckon if I don’t try these things, I won’t get good at them – better that I learn about flies now than in the future.
N.B. Ike has a great series of videos on YouTube documenting how he made his own curing chamber from a fridge – see here for the first one.
N.B. Every time I cut the dogs a bit of meat, I look at it and think it looks and smells really lovely and I want to eat it – but I don’t want anymore bad dreams!