The daily news bulletins describing the horrendous state of the UK and world economy are understandably alarming and soul destroying. Belts are being tightened and the pennies counted but something positive has come of the monotonous monetary doom and gloom.
More and more people (myself included) are turning to cheaper cuts of meat and the resurgence of offal related recipes. Nose to Tail fortnight (in association with Sustain) kicks off in May to celebrate this and top chefs will be encouraged to use meat more thoughtfully and less wastefully and diners persuaded to experiment and branch out into dishes with less favoured - but no less flavoured (see what I did there) - meats.
I know that a lot of budding amateur chefs have been cooking all sorts of animal bits for some time, however this is somewhat new to me. My reaction was always the same as most people's is now. Mention a cheek, tail or tongue and their look turns to disgust, repulsed that anyone could put such a thing in their mouth. (The temptation to wade in with Tulisa related jibes is almost over powering - but I shall resist). A familiar retort is, 'if I didn't know what it was, I probably wouldn't mind'. When a friend recently sampled my Ox Cheeks in Plum Porter (scroll down and you'll find the recipe) they remarked that it tasted better than most expensive cuts they had tried. This may of course be the Porter - not the Ox.
Don't get me wrong, I do sometimes baulk when prepping. Making the afforementioned, the removal of facial hair (the animal's not mine) was a little disturbing but it was all worth it in the end. The key also was that my mate (he used to be known as the Beer Investigator but now goes by the name of Panna Cotta Price - but that's a whole new blog!) supplied me with enough cow face to feed my whole street - for just 2 quid.
I'm not sure I could eat the whole animal. As I write, Serious Eats have just posted a recipe that to be honest, sounds and looks horrific - Fried Pig's Ear Salad. A recent gift also endorsed this. Fergus Henderson's 'Nose To Tail Eating' (watch him shave and cook a pig's head) contains some fantastic recipes however Cold Lamb's Brains on Toast and Rolled Pigs Spleen really don't set my taste buds gushing.
I can honestly say that the ox cheeks have been a welcome revelation to me and have been used in a chilli and a curry since. For this my thanks to Panna Cotta Price. I shall keep going and attempt the whole animal. If you don't think about what it is you have put in your mouth you probably won't regret it. Tulisa?