Go freezer foraging.
FOR THE last few weeks, we've been desperately trying to make room in the freezers for the upcoming gluts of summer fruit.
Looking out at the driving rain I'm wondering if we're going to get one of those summers like we had last year.
Remember, the one with so much rain that we all nearly floated down across the Bay of Biscay? I do hope not. Of course, lots of the fruit, if we're able to pick it, will make its way onto the menus at the new caf, but I can guarantee that this time next year, I'll be thinking of things to do with a kilo of blackcurrants. Still, it's always nice to have a dig around. The wonders of clearing out of the freezer, especially when you get to the seventh circle, deep below the surface, are manifold.
You so quickly forget things when they go in, and so it's like a Time Team-style archaeological dig when you get rooting around in the depths.
What was in the lucky bag this week, you ask? Well, I found a couple of kidneys and a nice piece of veal. As luck would have it, the freezer sits next to one of the many shelves upon which sit my vast library of cookery books, collected over the years.
One of my favourites, given to me back in the 90s by a Swiss friend of my dad, is Marianne Kaltenbach's Cooking In Switzerland. It's a beautiful tome, bound in red gingham, and with pages artificially dotted with grease-marks, like an old, oft-used kitchen reference.
Every now and then, there are notes, printed to look like handwritten amendments in blue ink.
It's charming, but more importantly, it's a wonderfully definitive guide to the varied dishes from all over the country, from the classic fondues and raclettes, to the more esoteric dishes you have to look hard for in the distant cantons.
The minute I clapped eyes on the spine of the book, I knew the destiny of the veal and kidneys; one of the most popular dishes in Switzerland, the famous Zrcher Geschnetzeltes.
Not an easy one to say, especially after a few refreshments, it essentially means 'finely-shredded, Zrich-style' and is a delicious rich ragout of sauted wafer-thin shreds of veal, button mushrooms and lots of cream.
A few variations exist, and I always like to add a few slivers of kidney to my geschnetzeltes, and my freezer foraging had paid off, big-time.
For this dish to remain authentic, you'll need to buy veal, but you could use pork or perhaps even turkey escalopes.
I understand that many people are a bit squeamish about the whole matter of veal, and I'd never advocate the use of crate-reared animals, but it's quite possible to find English ethically-reared ros veal, and so I've listed a couple of good suppliers below.
There is a flavour to good, well-reared veal that is unlike anything else, and for a genuine Geschnetzeltes, you really should make the effort.
A cursory look at the ingredients for this dish will tell you that it's not for the diet-minded.
There's a lot of dairy and protein going on, so you may want to alleviate the dish with a side order of fresh vegetables (I had lots of asparagus, desperate to get as much in as possible before the season ends!) or a big bowl of nice crisp salad.
The Swiss adore lamb's lettuce, and a big bowl of that would be great here, very simply dressed. Starch-wise, the Swiss like to accompany this with r|sti or wide noodles. Aprons on!
www.heavesfarmveal.co.uk www.bocaddonfarmveal.com www.aubreyallen.co.uk Stephen Jackson's Zrcher Geschnetzeltes (serves 4) For the Sauce 600g veal steak 200g veal or lamb's kidneys, cored and trimmed 125g butter 1 large onion 300g small white button mushrooms 200ml dry white wine 200ml chicken stock 250ml double cream Juice of 1 lemon For the Noodles 4-500g good-quality dried tagliatelle or pappardelle A little butter A handful of curly parsley, very finely chopped FIRST, set a large pan of well-salted cold water on to boil for the pasta.
Slice the veal into thin ribbon-like shreds.
Do the same with the kidney. Finely slice the mushrooms and the onions.
Heat half of the butter gently in a wide saut pan, and fry the onions very slowly until they have become completely soft and silky.
Remove from the pan, leaving as much butter as possible, turn up the heat and add the mushrooms.
Saut the mushrooms until well coloured and add to the onions on one side.
Heat the rest of the butter in the same pan, and, when it's bubbling well, throw in the sliced veal and saut quickly, allowing the meat to caramelise around the edges.
When the veal has cooked, quickly throw in the sliced kidney and cook for a few minutes, before pouring in the wine and allowing it to reduce to almost nothing.
While this is reducing, pop the pasta into the boiling water. It should take about 11-13 minutes, while you finish the veal.
Add the stock and the cream to the pan, and bring to a simmer.
Add the mushrooms and onions back to the pan, and cook the whole dish for a few more minutes until you have a rich sauce, about the consistency of single cream.
Add the lemon juice, season, and keep warm.
Garnish with a good handful of fresh chopped parsley. Drain the pasta, and serve immediately.
* FREEZER FIND: Stephen Jackson''s recipe for Zurcher Geschnetzeltes, one of the most popular dishes in Switzerland