Food: Executive Relief, April 2002

Easy posh dinners for people who value their time. This menu from Alistair Chandler.

Virginia Hume

Topics Politics

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This menu from Alistair Chandler.

Parsleyed Ham (Jambon Persillé)

Boudin Blanc with caramelised apple

Strawberry Cream

Parsleyed Ham/Jambon Persillé (serves 4 plus)

‘This is traditionally served at this time of the year in Burgundy. It is simple and can be prepared up to 10 days before you want to serve it. In Burgundy a whole ham is cooked, but as we are only cooking for four, use half a ham. This will serve four well, and leave plenty over for lunch next day.

‘Make sure the ham is from a good butcher. The quality of the ham makes all the difference to the end product.’

Half a lightly cured ham, about 2.5kg; 300ml Chablis or Aligote wine; 1 calf or pig’s foot, split; 250g veal bones; 1 onion; Bouquet Garni; 6 black peppercorns; small leek, trimmed and split; 2 stalks celery; 1 carrot; 3 shallots, very finely chopped; 2 tablespoons (tbs) chopped fresh parsley; salt and freshly milled pepper

Ask your butcher how long you need to soak the ham. If in doubt, soak it overnight in cold water and change the water at least once while soaking. To cook, put the foot, the veal bones and the ham in cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the foot, bones and ham and rinse under cold running water.

Singe the onion over a flame to colour it. Put the ham, foot and bones into a large pot with the Bouquet Garni, peppercorns, onion, leek, celery and carrot, 250ml wine and enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for up to 3 hours until the ham is tender and comes apart easily. Skim the water every so often to keep it clean and add more water if needed. When the meat is cooked, leave it to cool slightly. Then carefully lift out all the meat. Remove all the skin and bones.

Boil the liquid to reduce it to about 75ml, and taste it. It should be rather pleasant by now. Pull the meat apart with forks and mix into it the remaining wine, shallots and parsley. Throw away the Bouquet Garni, peppercorns and cooked vegetables. Strain the cooking liquid (cheesecloth is traditionally used for this) and taste for seasoning.

Put a layer of meat in a terrine or whatever serving dish you wish to use. Spoon over a little of the liquid so that it is barely covered. Let it cool. Repeat with more layers until the meat is all used up. Cover with the remaining liquid. Cover and chill. It will set in about 3 hours. Keep it in the fridge. The longer you leave it the better the flavours will develop, but use it within 10 days. Serve it in slices at room temperature with crusty bread.

Wine suggestion: Chablis or Aligote

Boudin blanc with caramelised apple slices (serves 4)

‘Boudin blanc is a long chicken and veal sausage. You can sometimes buy them with added truffles, and this is even better. This dish needs to be prepared the day before, but is very little bother. The only difficult bit is getting a decent boudin. Then there is about 10 minutes’ work to do on it the next day, just before serving. You can get boudin from a few good butchers in Britain, and increasingly from farmers’ markets when they include French farmers. Otherwise, pick one up on a trip to France – it will freeze. Your boudin blanc should weigh about 1kg or a bit under. Sometimes they are divided into smaller sausages – this is not a problem, just follow the recipe the same as for one long sausage.’

1 whole boudin blanc; 30g butter; 1.5 litres water; 750ml milk; 1 carrot, diced; 1 onion, diced; 1 leek, finely sliced; 1 stalk celery, finely sliced; salt and pepper; 2 dessert apples (Cox’s are good, as are Pink Lady); unsalted butter, melted; caster sugar for dipping the apple slices


Bring the water and milk to the boil in a large pot, along with the vegetables, some salt and pepper. Turn the water down to simmer, and add the sausage. Cover the pot and poach for about 30 minutes. Do not let it boil or the sausage will burst. Take off the heat and leave the sausage in the liquid overnight to cool. When you are ready to serve, drain the sausage, heat the 30g butter in a large skillet or frying pan and fry the sausage over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, until it is hot throughout.

Apple slices

Peel, core and slice the apples into rounds. Dip each one in the melted butter, dip into the sugar and shake off the excess. Grill under quite a high heat for a few minutes each side until they turn golden brown. Serve with the sausage.

Wine suggestion: Sauvignon Blanc

Strawberry Cream (serves 4)

‘This is from Elizabeth David who says, “This is the most exquisite cream which can be made with raspberries, or most beautiful of all, fraises du bois. This recipe comes from a dictionary of French cooking of the period of the Second Empire”. I think it is simply perfect.’

275g strawberries; 275ml double cream; 1 egg white; 3 tbs caster sugar

Reserve half a dozen strawberries. Hull the rest and sieve them to a pulp. Whisk the double cream and fold in the stiffly whisked egg white, then the strawberry pulp. Add the caster sugar. Stir in the remaining strawberries (I like to chop them up slightly first). Elizabeth David says, ‘Serve piled high into a shallow bowl’, but I put it straight into 4 wine glasses to serve.

Wine suggestion: Sauternes or Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise

Shopping List

Half a lightly cured ham, about 2.5kg

1 calf’s or pig’s foot, split

250g veal bones

1 whole boudin blanc

2 onions

Bouquet Garni

black peppercorns

2 leeks

1 small head celery

2 carrots

3 shallots, very finely chopped

fresh parsley

salt and pepper

2 dessert apples (Cox’s, Pink Lady)

1 small pack caster sugar

275g strawberries

1 pack unsalted butter

750ml milk

275ml double cream

1 egg

Chablis or Aligote

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauternes or Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise

Executive Relief: The rules

If you love good food and entertaining, but have better things to do than pore over recipe books, make lists, and then spend half a day in the kitchen with cooker, children, and smoke alarm competing for your attention, then you might be in need of Executive Relief.

Executive Relief features dinner party menus, with simple recipes designed to take minimal time and effort – while reaching the standard you would expect from a good restaurant.

You are invited to share your dinner menus with spiked readers. The recipes do not have to be original – they just have to be good. The best, as judged by my dinner guests, will get a bottle of champagne. Simply follow the rules below, and send your recipes to:

1) There should be at least three courses, only one of which needs to be cooked on the day of the dinner.

2) It should not be too fiddly or difficult – nothing that requires balloons, spun sugar or blowtorches.

3) You should suggest a wine for each course.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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