|It's piccalilli folks, but not as you know it|
You may not have noticed from the picture above but within that handsome looking jar of homemade piccalilli, lies slivers of pink and peppery radishes; soft enough, yet retaining just a tiny bit of bite. Which is how all the vegetables should be, when thrown into an aromatic mix of mustard yellow and brine.
It does seem though that my putting radishes into a pickle has also caused some consternation among some well known figures on the food scene. After pinging some Instagram shots out there, of the very same jar (or saucepan to be exact) the notion of radishes in piccalilli was deemed as absurd and foolhardy by some. Alas, when it comes to food and pushing boundaries and challenging perceptions, there will always be the odd naysayer, who just will not budge and go away. Like a fart in an ill-fitting pair of y-fronts, brought on by too much cauliflower.
Luckily the practice of putting these cherry sized roots into turmeric juice has precedence. A certain Mrs Elizabeth Raffald, author of the 18th century smash hit cookbook 'The Experienced English Housekeeper', is attributed as being the first person to introduce the word 'piccalilli' into the English lexicon. Or 'piccalillo' as it was known back then. AND she was a big fan of using radishes too. So if Lizzy can get away with it, so can I.
How do I know this? Well, I looked it up on Google of course. Just to feel entirely justified to have used them, after a small bag had been found lying moribund, in the bottom of the fridge. But you shouldn't feel so sensitive when making it for yourself. Nor should you feel bound by tradition. Lots of different vegetables can be used in piccalilli. Broad beans, shredded carrots, beetroot, samphire, you name it, it can go in.
And either way, the shop bought stuff rarely makes the same impact as batches, boiled and bubbled up on the stove at home. Especially when served with a ham and egg pie (with a bit of tarragon secreted in) for a picnic. Having been cooked out over time, I find it a lot mellower and suffer less with the vinegar sweats; which is an important thing to consider when the sun is beating down.
If I were to put one constraint or restriction to this piccalilli, don't get into the habit of crooning 'Look at the stars, see how they shine for you,' whilst making this. Singing any song by Coldplay is crossing the line and banned my kitchen. If you do that, you deserve all the trolling you get.
Homemade Piccalilli with Ham and Egg Pie - serves 8
For the Homemade Piccalilli
• 2 onions, diced
• 250g runner beans, sliced into thin strips
• 250g cauliflower florets
• 100g radishes, sliced
• 2tsps English mustard powder
• 2tsps turmeric powder
• 300ml Sarsons Malt Vinegar
• 25g corn flour
• 100g granulated sugar
• 1tbsp wholegrain mustard
• 1tbsp sea salt
For the Pork and Egg pie
• Oil, for frying
• 500g pork mince
• 500g cooked ham hock, shredded
• 2 shallots, chopped
• 2tbsp parsley, finely chopped
• 1tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
• 4 hard boiled eggs, shelled
• Salt and pepper, to season
For the hot water crust pastry
• 450g plain flour
• 100g strong white flour
• 75g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
• 125g lard
• 1 egg, beaten
• Salt, to season
For the piccalilli
Place the onions into a saucepan and add 150ml of Sarson’s Malt Vinegar and bring to the boil. Cover and then cook for 15 minutes, until soft.
|A plethora of ingredients.|
Fill a separate saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the cauliflower florets and runner beans and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and cool under running cold water and put to one side.
In a bowl, mix together the mustard powder, turmeric, corn flour and 2 tablespoons of Sarson’s Malt Vinegar to form a paste.
When the onions are ready, pour in the sugar and pour in the rest of the Sarson’s Malt Vinegar and bring back to the boil.
Add the cauliflower and runner beans and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the yellow corn flour paste, salt and whole grain mustard and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally add the sliced radish and take off the heat. The idea is not to cook the radish completely but to let it stew.
Divide the pickle into two sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool. Once cool, keep in a dark cupboard for up to a month.
For the pie
Heat oven to 200C and grease a 1kg loaf tin with some lard.
For the filling
Make the filling by frying off the shallot in some oil until the shallots are soft and translucent. Leave to cool.
Combine the shallot with the pork mince, shredded hock and herbs. Do not add the egg at this point. Season with salt and pepper.
For the pastry
To make the hot crust pastry, put the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter cubes with your fingertips.
Heat 200ml of water, along with some salt and lard. Bring just to the boil and then stir into the flour using a wooden spoon.
When the mixture is cool enough to handle (it should feel very warm) knead until smooth.
Cut off two thirds of the dough and roll out quickly and line the bottom and sides of your loaf tin.
Press half of the meat filling into the pastry-lined tin. Take a thin slice off the top and bottom of each boiled egg (this helps them sit next to each other and makes slicing the pie easier), then place the eggs length ways down the middle of the pie. Add the remaining meat filling and pat it down.
|Ham hock, parsley, tarragon and boiled eggs - a winning combination.|
Brush the overhanging pastry edge with egg yolk. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid and place over the pie. Place the lid on top, press down at the edges and trim any excess pastry off. Make three steam holes in the top of the pie and brush with more egg yolk.
Bake for 30 minutes and reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin before gently prising with a knife and tipping out.
|Piccalilli is perfect for ppppppicnics.|
To serve, carve the pie up into slices and serve on a paper or tupperware plate with a handsome dollop of homemade piccalilli.
|Let the pie cool! That is the golden rule.|
|Yes, those are radishes in there. So sue me.|
|A summer treat.|