Wylde about....Loss & Legacy.

Wylde about....Loss & Legacy.

 

Donald Hall was an American poet. And a really good one, too. When I was a teenager, I read his poem 'Maple Syrup'. It's about a man returning to his dead grandfather's house, with his wife. 

In the cellar they find a jar of the maple syrup that the old man had made twenty five years earlier.¬†The grandson opens the jar and dips his finger in. Instantly, he is transported back to childhood:¬†'the sweetness preserved, of a dead man'.¬†That poem had a profound effect on me.¬†The notion that we might - after death - live on, through our food, our recipes, and the culinary savoir-faire that we pass on to our children, is beautiful.¬†And it's why I suddenly had something in my eye on Wednesday evening when my mate - and Wylde customer - James sent me the photo above and the recipe below.¬†His French mother-in-law Martine died last Christmas.¬†But when James cooked her 'biche bourguignonne' for his wife - her daughter - and their own daughter last week, the smells, tastes, textures and flavours were such that arguably Martine lived again.¬†That's what I call an 'afterlife'.¬†NickBiche Bourguignonne¬†- or Burgundian venison stew -¬†Martine‚Äôs cooking was absolutely of the Burgundy, and specifically Lyon, region. I always go a bit off piste when I make French food, but this time I cooked chunks of venison shoulder exactly like she would, and the results were fantastic.¬†Toss 800g - 1kg of venison shoulder in a tablespoon or so of flour. Season liberally.¬†Brown it a casserole pan. Use a good glug of sunflower oil because butter would burn, and they don‚Äôt touch olive oil in the region.As it is browning, add 1 roughly chopped onion. If you have a bit of celery, add that too.¬†Soften the onions. Add a load of garlic.¬†Then put in about 350g of roughly chopped carrots.¬†Then fry in two crumbled beef stock cubes. Yes, I know. I never use beef stock cubes, but she insisted. She was right.¬†Pour in two wine glasses of water (so about 350-400ml in total) and the same amount of wine. Decent Burgundy red, or a decent Beaujolais. Not a good one. A decent one.¬†Bring to the boil.Bang into an oven at 180. After about 10 mins, turn it down to 150. I don‚Äôt cover it, as I want it to reduce. So it is worth stirring a bit so the meat at the top doesn‚Äôt get overdone.¬†It‚Äôll be ready in an hour to 90 mins. Be sure to check the seasoning.¬†Martine would have served it with gr√Ętin pate, which is a sort of Lyonnais macaroni cheese. But dryer, and less calorific. I don‚Äôt like macaroni cheese and I don‚Äôt really like the gr√Ętin pate either, so I think it is best with green veg and potatoes.¬†Anyway, it is quite rustic.It works with beef.¬†I think it is better with venison. ¬†

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