06 September 2009

Duchy Originals Cookbook

In 1990, HRH the Prince of Wales founded Duchy Originals. The mission was simple: to highlight British foods that were of the highest quality while being produced with sustainable agriculture. The company was a rousing success.

In 2006, Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler were commissioned to gather a cookbook featuring the farmers and cooks that contribute to the Duchy Originals brand and to highlight their food. In his introduction to the Duchy Originals Cookbook, Prince Charles writes:

“I was particularly concerned by what we appeared to be discarding casually in the name of “progress”, including rare breeds of livestock, time-honored food production methods and any semblance of patience…I wanted to promote a sustainable approach to agriculture…I hope that the Duchy Originals Cookbook will inspire many more people to care about what they eat and where it comes from and, above all, to enjoy and benefit from eating it.”

The recipes in the book feature British products, so there are quite a few game recipes, brambly apples, pigeon breasts, and lots of fresh mackerel. Clearly some of these recipes require living in England or in a very large metropolitan area... or perhaps, in West Virginia.

The recipe for potted venison is sublime.

Potted Venison

500g (18 oz) venison filet, cut in large chunks
250 ml (9fl oz) chicken stock
200ml (7fl oz) port
3 cloves
10 black peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
1 star anise
150ml (1/4 pint) goose fat

Simmer all the ingredients apart from the goose fat together for at least 2 hours, then remove the venison and leave it to cool.

Strain off the stock and return the pan to the stove. Slowly reduce until you are left with about 50ml (2fl oz) of intense concentrate.

While the stock is reducing, shred the venison into strands. Either use your clean fingers or a couple of forks.

Add the shredded venison to the stock, together with the goose fat. Simmer for 5 minutes or so and pour into an earthenware pot.

Press the venison down so that the goose fat forms a layer above the meat. Cover tightly and set in the fridge.

The potted venison will keep for around 10 days before you have broken the fatty seal, but after you have broken it consume within 5 days.

As Prince Charles says, you need patience for this type of cooking. What you end up with is an amazing confection, rich and unctuous and totally delicious. Spread a tablespoon on a thick slice of warm bread and you will be transported.

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