20 July 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the English

Pardon this poorly titled review of two English culinary items, both sampled last night. First off is the bad...blue Stilton. I should have known better, given that the last time I sampled blue cheese (gorgonzola) I found it so disgusting I had to eat random items of food to expel the acrid, moldy taste from my mouth. Likewise, I found this cheese to be eminently inedible. There are those who love it, who sings its praises, who unjustly crown it "King of English Cheeses". To me, I'll stick with the venerable Cheddar, which in its aged and mature form is quite complex and delicious. Other great cheeses include Wensleydale (a new favorite), Cheshire, and Double Gloucester.

But onto the good...Cheshire Pork and Apple Pies. I diced up a pound of lean pork, added a couple diced rashers of bacon, and seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, a healthy amount of sage, and a dosage of cream sherry to moisten. Then I diced up two Braeburn apples (I'd have rather had Cox's Orange Pippin, I'm sure, but hey, I'm stateside, and these are good apples) and rolled out two pastry crusts. I layered the pork alternately with layers of apples, and then finally dotted the top layer with a tablespoon or so of butter. I drizzled a tiny bit of apple brandy over each one (just, well, because) and folded the pastry over on itself and sealed it. Brushed it with beaten egg to glaze and vented the top with a knife...then into the oven for an hour.

It was quite good! Very interesting, a definite change of pace from other meat pies, most of which have a formula predominantly of beef/lamb, onion, and potatoes or other veg. I might go a little bit easier on the sage next time, and maybe sweeten the apples with a dusting of brown sugar, but on the whole it was great. Another obscure discovery of English cooking. Cheers to my wife for putting up with the experimentation.

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