Food: Paxton’s Tower Lodge

Well, I promised you a post devoted to the food I made on our holiday, so here we are.

WARNING: CONTAINS MEAT. Please turn away if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or just a bit squeamish.

Whilst we ate a lot of junk (mainly sausage sandwiches, crisps, service station chocolate, and the metre of Jaffa cakes that Ben’s nephew & niece gave him for Christmas), there were a couple of beautiful creations, made by my own fair hands. OK, those were also fatty piles of calories, but hey, we were on holiday, and it was cold!

First up, I made my own spin on eggs Benedict. So much a spin, in fact, that you can’t really call them eggs Benedict. An English muffin, a slice of fried middle bacon, a fried egg, and a glob of creamy parsley sauce. We had three each (champion!! Did not need to eat anything until 9pm that evening)

OK, looking at that, I do feel a leeeettle bit sick. But they were amazing, I swear to god.

But let’s cut to the chase: there is only one real reason I wanted to write this post, and that reason is PIE.

I did, in fact, make the pie of a lifetime. Ben says it was the best thing I’ve ever cooked, and I will have a hard time EVER topping it. This makes me a happy housecat. But what made it so good? It all comes down to Kennington farmers’ market…

Every weekend, there is a farmers’ market outside the big church in Kennington, and just down the road lies FWR, the bike shop where Ben gets all his bike repairs done. So, one afternoon, nearly a year ago now, Ben was in Kennington having has bike looked at, and he decided to pop to the farmers market. Needless to say, he came home with three pheasants, a duck and a rabbit. Thankfully, they were all plucked and gutted.

Well, two of the pheasants met their end in the oven over the following weeks, but the final pheasant, and his two other woodland friends, remained in the freezer for many months. Then, a couple of months ago, I decided enough was enough, and chopped them into little bits.

Let it be known that I would be a pretty poor butcher.

However, I’d make a fairly awesome pie chef. I fried up the chunks of game with some cubes of black pudding, then threw in some roughly chopped garlic, a glass of red wine, a good glob of chilli jam and about half a pint of gravy (just for good measure). I let the gamey stew simmer away for about 2 hours, tasting and throwing in herby loveliness along the way. And then? I stuck it in a tupperware box and straight back in the freezer. D’oh.

But then Paxton’s lodge came around. I packed my tupperware box of game stew and a roll of puff pastry (ready made – what do you think I am?!) and on our last night at the cottage, it was only an hour of preparation until pie loveliness. I kept singing “I don’t think you’re ready for this pieee” at Ben (in the style of Destiny’s Child, as you do), which may have gotten annoying, but there we are.

Before pie could be assembled, of course I needed to make some sides. I had some basic ingredients at my disposal, so peeled some potatoes and carrots, and boiled them separately. The potatoes went straight into a tray of hot duck fat, and into the oven at about 180 degrees C. The carrots went into a roasting tin, with “rustically” chopped brown onions, a whole bulb’s worth of peeled garlic cloves, some chopped chillis and lashings of olive oil. That tin went in alongside the potatoes.

And now, the piece de la thingy, Landmark Pie. Easily done: big glass dish, pie filling in, topped with puff pastry. I pricked the top with a fork to let some steam out (as you do). Into the oven. 45 minutes later, this is what we were left with:

Think all that is too much for two people?

Think again.

This pie was nearly a year in the making. Truly epic. I miss it already.

The diet starts today.


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