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Near death experience and red cabbage

By Dave Snowden  ·  December 24, 2009  ·  Cooking

200912241335.jpg After a near death experience this morning (rain falling on frozen ground creating sheet ice throughout village) I am planning to stay indoors for the next 48 hours until life and limb are safe once more. One foot on the step leading up to the drive at 0700 this morning saw me spread eagled on the ground. At times I was on all fours to make it to the drive where gravel at least meant the car would make it to the road. A very careful and eventful journey on un-gritted roads got me finally to the butcher, and thence to Waitrose to gather food for the holiday period and now I am home I have no intention of moving from the wood burner until Boxing Day at the earliest! Either way, for a few days I am moving away from inter-silo knowledge sharing the the evils of NLP. I'll pick up on the cross silo sharing post Christmas but for the moment expect a few cooking blogs of which this is the first.

I always like the rhythm of Christmas. I ordered the Turkey (Norfolk Bronze) months ago, then upped it from 18lb to 22lb when daughter announced that ten friends would arrive for a visit to the country (I suspect we will be expected to play out scenes of a Londoner's stereotypes of Wiltshire life) on the 27th. I have been commissioned to prepare Pheasant Normandy for one day (six brace of pheasants also arrived this morning from local sources) and a rather exciting combination of cold turkey, cream, cheese and spices along with Spaghetti for the other. The latter dish accounts for the increased size. The rest of the shopping included oysters and chestnuts for one of the stuffings, wild boar sausage meat for the other. No sprouts this year by common agreement and they might be called Barry anyway (you will either get that or you will not depending on your reading) so the replacement vegetable is Red Cabbage.

Now while this sounds ordinary, Red Cabbage is one of the great accompaniments to any game and is wonderful hot or cold. Its not to difficult to make. Today's morning task was to start off the stock for tomorrow's gravy and make the Red Cabbage, always best cooked the day before then reheated. The stock was easy, a simple matter of throwing all the Turkey innards (except for the liver, that goes with the oysters this evening) along with swede, carrot, celery, celeriac and swede into a large pot with water to cover. After it boils skim off the scum (thinking of NLP practitioners comes naturally at that point) and then into the bottom oven of the Aga for 12 hours. Strained and chilled that will be used for the gravy tomorrow. I never understand why people don't make stock and anyone who serves Bisto or any ready made gravy at Christmas should strung up by the gizzard.

That done I sliced two onions, four rashers of middle cut bacon and three carrots and fried them until soft. Removed from the heat you then add in a red cabbage, quartered and finely sliced; four cooking apples, peeled cored and slice, four tablespoons of red wine vinegar and six tablespoonfuls of Madeira (or Port). Add in freshly grated nutmeg and a few cloves and then into the top oven for a couple of hours, then the bottom oven for three. (If you don't have an Aga then 4 hours on 300). That done, blend and reduce on the plate then store overnight and heat up just before serving the main dish.

All of that is underway, this evening the Turkey starts. To be ready for 1500 it has to be stuffed and in the oven by midnight, then after picking Daughter up from work it's mulled wine and a good-bad film before starting the bulk of vegetable cooking mid morning of Christmas Day.