Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Now You'll Think I'm Offal

Just when Fergus Henderson was making all the headlines with his brilliant book The Whole Beast/ Nose to Tail Eating from his highly regarded restaurant St. John in London, Melbourne was losing a culinary icon in the form of Alf Paulet’s extra-ordinary offal stall in the butchers’ section of Victoria Market. Paulets’ little shop was a beacon for lovers of what the Italians call the fifth quarter. I am saddened by how we worship the foreign but let the local slip off the radar without so much as a parting farewell?
The Culinary Cringe that Cherry Ripe said Goodbye to so eloquently I’m afraid is back-big-time.

Monday’s class was a meeting of the true believers. Quietly they came to feast on the unmentionables. If you are afraid of eating organs please leave now.
We started with some crepinette or caul the membrane that lines the outer layer of the stomach, in this case from a pig. Caul is pure fat in lace form, perfect for making a parcel of oxtail braised with root vegetables, served with baked beetroot and a few pomegranates to add texture and acidity this had to go on early.
The sweetbreads of veal went on next, blanched in lemon water to be pressed and peeled and served with wild field mushrooms that one of the true believers has brought with them. We added a little soaked porcini and the sauce was quite something, velvet with a nutty texture from the thymus glands.

The duck giblets were next on, these are pure solid muscle and I decided to cook them as a rendang inspired by a recipe from Sri Owen they were to be eaten last with some good Harcourt cider as a cleanser. Veal liver was skinned and sliced and a lemon juice/orange juice/stock/cream reduction was begun. Quickly seared served pink with a small watercress salad. On it went with Devilled Kidneys using a very old recipe that used only black pepper as the spice paired with slow cooked shallots in sherry and stock. Pickled Ox tongue with horseradish sauce provided a little light relief before the lambs brains in a Parmesan crust with wild rocket and capers.
The Turkey livers had been poaching at 70 C in duck fat and truffle these we had with an anchoiade [you know the one] and some crusty bread.
If you think we were overdoing it I assure you it all came in small tasting plates with lots of cooking, drinking and much discussion between each course. A Pollocksford Pinot held it all together. The rendang indeed put a spark to the end of the set served with a sharp Vietnamese style salad of perilla and pear.
It only needed a short hit of Morello Palinka to settle our own offal.

Since Alf Paulets departure from the market most of the offal came from Leo Donati across the road from Watson’s in Lygon Street it makes a good quinella.


Thermomixer said...

Sorry to have missed this class - one of my favourites. I had Calvin Schwabe's book out yesterday checking out some info.

It is not a favourite with the majority, but with food costs the "quinto quarto" may be making a more prominent appearance on the menus. Hopefully that won't drive up the prices for these treasures.

I remember Philippe at Tasting Australia explaining to Anne Willan how to "piss the kidneys" after cooking.

keep up the great work

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

So without vet?ting Phillipe, how do you P the kidneys?

Thermomixer said...

What he did was put a large warmed plate down on the bench, put a smaller one (warmed saucer or so)upturned on this and then place the cooked kidneys on to allow the "piss" to drain off.

He was asking after you yesterday. I said that he & T, along with TT and us should organise to come down for a Sunday lunch. We agreed that it was a grand idea. See you again soon - maybe for snags.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

I think he was taking the Piss.
Lost in translation.