This is a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s book ‘Nose To Tail Eating’, and is something I have wanted to try for quite some time, but I’ve had a lot of trouble getting hold of pig’s spleens. Finally, after waiting about 2 months, a butcher managed to get me some. I have never seen a spleen before, so I was a bit surprised at how long they are, the biggest one was over 45cm.
They had a layer of fat on one side which I cut off, you can see in the photo above where the fat was attached down the middle of the spleen. With the spleen laid flat, it was easy to place several sage leaves along it, then a couple of slices of smokey bacon with the rind removed were laid lengthwise on top. It was then easy to roll it all up and push through a skewer to hold it in the roll.
The spleens were then placed in a casserole dish, covered with chicken stock and into a medium oven for 90 minutes. They were then left to cool in the stock before slicing and serving cold.
Anyone who likes liver will enjoy these as the taste is similar but not as strong. They are probably more like chicken than lamb liver, with maybe just a hint of pork flavour. I would have expected the bacon to overpower the spleens, but it didn’t. I think that is the genius of Fergus, he gets a fantastic balance of flavours. The amazing thing about the spleens is their texture, so soft and creamy, just like a really good pate.
Here’s a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s fantastic book ‘NoseTo Tail Eating’. I think I have only eaten heart once before and I wasn’t overly impressed, it was tough and not particularly tasty. But I trusted Fergus not to write about it unless it was good, so I gave it another shot.
The hearts as I bought them had been trimmed of veins and sinews at the top, but I trimmed off some of the fat you can see in the photo.
The stuffing consisted of 2 onions and 2 cloves of garlic sliced and cooked gently in butter until soft, but not browned. Then I added a large glass of red wine and let this reduce by half. White bread (I used 3 slices) cut into cubes was then added along with salt and pepper.
This was cooked gently for 15 minutes, and then left to cool before several sage leaves were chopped and added.
The hearts were then stuffed to the top and a couple of slices of bacon were tied in place to act as a lid.
My 3 hearts were placed in a casserole dish (with a large potato to keep the hearts upright), and chicken stock was added, not quite covering the hearts. They were cooked in a medium oven for almost 3 hours, then the hearts were removed and kept warm while I reduced the juice from the casserole dish to make a sauce.
The recipe called for this to be served with mashed swede but I forgot and bought parsnip, so I used that instead. The flavour in this dish is great, the heart was tender, with a very fine texture and I thought a slight taste of liver. The stuffing had a fairly strong flavour, but each heart only held a small amount, so it didn’t overpower the other flavours. The taste of bacon complemented everything nicely. And the sauce was strong and delicious, it looks oily on the plate, but didn’t taste it, the only complaint about the sauce was there wasn’t enough of it. Even the potato I used as packing was delicious, picking up the bacon flavour. This was an awesome dish, thanks Fergus.
I have been a big fan of meat pies for as long as I can remember, but as the years go on I find there is a certain sameness to them where ever they come from. Even buying ‘gold medal winning’ or ‘voted Australias best meat pie’ doesn’t really guarantee anything special. So I was thrilled a couple of years ago, while passing through a small town called Lumsden, in New Zealand’s South Island, to find a bakery selling Bluff Oyster pies, which were sensational. A year later, and another visit, and unfortunately no oyster pies. Settled for pork and watercress, which turned out to be just as delicious. So this years trip definately included a visit to Lumsden with the intention of buying one each of everything unusual they had. Of course, as so often happens with my plans, on the only day we could make it to the bakery, it was closed! We pressed on, disappointed and hungry until Gore, where a stop at the Oven Fresh Bakery yielded a very pleasant surprise, a lambs fry and bacon pie. The pie was smaller than the average meat pie, but this was more than made for by the quality. The pastry was light, crispy and delicious, and what can I say about the filling, if you like lambs fry and bacon, this was as good as it gets.
Certainly made up for the disappointment at Lumsden, which I now look forward to visiting next trip.
Another meat I haven’t eaten in a while and when I did I can’t work out why I left it so long. I found an interesting recipe on the internet and modified it a little bit to produce a great liver dish. I took 300gms sliced lamb liver, one large onion, one cooking apple (granny smith) and 2 large rashers of bacon. I coated the liver with flour, salt and pepper and browned it in a pan. The onion and apple were sliced and placed in a casserole dish in layers with the liver and the bacon was put on top. Beef stock was added and the dish with the lid on was put in the oven at 180 degrees C for 1 hour, then the lid was removed for 30 minutes.
With veges on the side, this was another deliciously tasty meal. No one else I know eats liver and they don’t know what they are missing.