Artisan foods not only taste better, they’re also normally traceable from source to plate. Three expert food producers share their serving tips.
Robert Didier of Orchard Pigs
Former London restaurateur Robert training under the legendary Raymond Blanc, and in 2003 decided to move his young family away from London to North Wales, where he set up Orchard Pigs. The company make and sell their own bread, cakes and puddings, but are best known for their beautiful ‘tractor wheel’ meat pies. The name refers to the shape of the pie, made from pastry pinched around the filling.
“I used to raise my own rare breed pigs for the pies,” explains Rob. “Now, I source most of the pork from other local farmers – I not only know where that animal’s come from, in most cases I know its name and what it looked like! I’ve been a chef since I was 11, and I make up all my own recipes, such as the Toulouse pork pie, and the pork pie with a Stilton crust. Our top sellers vary a bit depending on where in the country we are – the traditional pork pie always goes down well, as do the game pie and the apple and cider pork pie. If we’re anywhere around Manchester, the pork and black pudding pie’s always very popular!
“All our pies are made by hand with all natural ingredients, and made with my special recipe hot crust pastry, which includes eggs.”
As a pie expert with 10 years in the business, what are Rob’s tips for enjoying the perfect pork pie?
“Always let your pie come up to room temperature before you eat it – it brings out the flavour. I’d also recommend a good pickle on the side, and a glass of cider – you don’t need anything else.”
Rob’s pies are available from selected stockists and country fairs, or online at www.orchardpigs.co.uk. Prices start at £2.20 per pie.
Marnie Dobson of Chestnut Meats
Marnie and husband Tim specialise in goats’ meat, and Marnie’s keen to emphasise the benefits of this slightly unusual foodstuff.
“Goat meat is very low in fat, even lower than chicken, making it very healthy,” she explains. “We’ve been in the business about five years, and over that time people have definitely become braver about trying it, although men seem to be braver than women! The problem is that a lot of people are put off on holiday, eating strong-tasting stewed goat. The young goats that we use don’t have a ‘goaty’ flavour at all – it’s a very subtle taste, something between beef and chicken. A lot of people can’t identify it at first. Goat’s traditionally cooked slowly, but as we use young, tender meat the cooking time’s much quicker. We also do a range of goat sausages and burgers, which suit today’s modern society much better in terms of convenience – and they’re still more healthy than other meats.”
Marnie’s top tip for eating goat meat?
“You can just treat it like pork,” she says. “Try to grill burgers and sausages rather than fry them, to preserve the health benefits. Goat goes well with tomato and mango based sauces – we recommend Tomato and Raisin Achar and Mango Achar, from Gurkha Fine Foods.
Marnie and Tim’s products are available from www.chestnutmeats.co.uk. Prices start at £1.75.
Michael Price of The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse
“What’s the best way to smoke a kipper? Carefully!”
Michael Price, director of The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, is passionate about his product. The herring are caught in the North Sea, and gutted, salted and cured before smoking. They’re then threaded onto bars and hung in the smoking cabinet, a large wooden box that looks a bit like a wardrobe. Michael adds a tray of oak and beech wood chippings, as oak on its own gives too strong a flavour.
His company gets through 30 – 40 tons of fish a year, and have been awarded gold taste awards for both their kippers and their smoked eel.
“I’d absolutely encourage people to try smoking their own fish at home – you need to construct a smoking box, but then it’s very straightforward. It’ll take them 2 – 3 days to smoke properly, and you need to change the tray of chippings a few times. They’re ready when they have a lovely golden sheen, and you can see the oil coming out.”
Michael’s tip for enjoying your kipper?
“Grill it for two minutes on either side. Add a knob of butter – you don’t need anything else – and you’re in God’s pocket.”
Buy Michael’s kippers online at www.kippersbypost.com. Prices start at £4.99.
By Sara Walker