Magnus’ parents bought half a deer the other week and we were lucky enough to get a few cuts from them. In addition to some minced meat, which went into a really tasty meat loaf, and organ meats we also got one shoulder and one chuck steak.
The venison shoulder we decided to cook in the Schlemmertopf together with turnip and celeriac.
After chopping the turnip and celeriac into semi-small pieces we put the shoulder and vegetables together in the Schlemmertopf, seasoned with bay leaves and black pepper, and added a jar of venison bone broth.
We cooked the venison in the oven for almost five hours, but at almost too low a temperature, 120 °C. It turned out really nicely though, but not as tender as it could have been if we had dared turning up the temperature slightly.
As a side we steamed white cabbage and enjoyed it all with a click of butter on the top together with a branch of fresh rosemary. Not the most appealing presentation maybe, but it tasted wonderful!
Recently there was campaign on this pretty leek in our store, so we bought a few of them. And of course, one of them had to be used with our favorite meat, the oxtail, in a stew! A simple one with only allspice and bay leaves as seasoning together with the leek and a red onion.
The stew was served with kale, radishes and a mash of turnip and swede. Vegetables of the season!
Boeuf tartare is definitely one of our top ten dishes. Not only is it such a wonderful dish in terms of textures and tastes, but it is also quite easy to modify and get an almost completely new dish, only by changing a single ingredient. One other thing is that the dish really highlights the best of the food and brings out the natural flavours of each ingredient. This makes it crucial to have great ingredients from good sources to have the possibility to really enjoy the dish.
This time we had organic minced meat from Gröna Gårdar, which is a cooperative of farms from around Gothenburg with only organic and grass-fed meat. The other ingredients were chopped brown onion, dijon mustard, a raw egg yolk and elderflower capers (!). The elderflower capers we picked up during our visit to the Street market in Gothenburg the other weekend. They were really wonderful to taste, small capers with a hint of elderflower even though it was really elderflower berries rather than capers.
On top of that our black home grown tomatoes have finally been ready for harvest. We found two that were not half green and half black, not too bad. We have been afraid that non of the tomatoes would be ready before the winter, but we were happy to have that fear cleared out of the way. They tasted really nice as well. A huge plus!
Together with the boeuf tartare we also had a small green salad and some oven roasted turnip and carrots.
For the first time in a while we also enjoyed a glass of red wine to the dinner. The Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon went really well with the meat and the capers. Smooth with strong hints of plum, chocolate and red berries as well as some hints of licorice. Light but deep taste which lingered semi-long.
Last week at the butcher’s Cecilia picked up a lot of goodies, including pork loin.
The difference from one cut of meat to an other can be huge. We discussed it somewhat over this dinner and came to the conclusion that we vastly prefer well marbled cuts compared to the cuts which are otherwise considered nice, like filets. The absolutely best thing with eating grass-fed all organic meats is really the taste of the meat. These pork loins have a wonderful taste of wild flowers, which is definitely not something one could taste in a cut from the supermarket. Or at least not the ones we have here in Sweden.
As a side we prepared three types of vegetables for the oven. Since Cecilia has decided to do carb counting to try measuring the amount of insulin needed for each meal we kept the three types separate in the ovenware.
Once the veggies were cut into sticks of about equal size we seasoned them with Herbs de Provence, black pepper and topped it all off with some neutral coconut oil to bring out all the flavours as well as adding some crispiness. We have probably not been too clear with that in our previous posts, but we almost always use neutral coconut oil when cooking, so when we write coconut oil that is usually what we mean. However in desserts, cakes, stews or soups we do enjoy using virgin coconut oil with taste. Just a side note. Hopefully you had that all figured out by yourself. Most veggies would probably be nice with some coconut taste as well, but it might get dull to have everything tasting coconut after a while…
The veggies were put into the oven at 225 °C for slightly less than one hour. While waiting we started to fry the pork loins in our cast iron pan.
The cast iron pan is definitely one of our favourite tools in the kitchen. That should come as no surprise by now, but the trick is really to have patience and fry at reasonably low temperatures. Our stove goes from 1 to 9 and we very seldom use higher power than 6 when frying. Only when cooking, woking or stir frying would we use any of the higher settings. Using low heat not only helps avoiding burning the meat but it also keeps it juicier and frankly makes the whole cooking experience so much more enjoyable. Rather that having to be on full alert for having the pan at too high temperatures one can chop veggies, lay the table or be elsewhere occupied for a short while without being anxious for spoiling the food.
With regards to spoiling food that was what we almost managed to do with the veggies this time. They were left in the oven just a tiny bit too long, or possibly at a few degrees to hot. They did taste good, but they also look a bit fringed. Again it is just so much better to let the cooking take its time, but when one doesn’t have two hours to spare waiting for some veggies to get slow cooked in the oven it might be a price that at least we are willing to take every once in a while.
Sorry for the just slightly longer post than usual. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed our reflections.
You can read about the making of the hangi itself in the previous post. After having the food in the hangi for slightly less than three hours we noticed that the temperature in the pumpkin started to decline. It had then reached 69 °C which was slightly below our trial run that we did in the oven at home, where we concluded that a temperature of 90 °C was definitely sufficient. We left the food in the pit for another 40 minutes however, at which point we made the call that the food would probably be done and that if we left it in longer we would eat food with nice texture but which would be cold.
Uncovering the hangi
When deciding that the food was ready we uncovered the hangi. The method we have devised for this, after some trials now, is to fold the burlap towards one of the sides of the pit and then roll it off that side. Then we lift the sheets one at a time to avoid any spare dirt to fall in on top of the food.
The wire baskets with food are then lift up from the pit and placed in a wheelbarrow for handy transportation to the dinner table.
Serving dinner with the hangi vegetables
Together with the hangi vegetables we grilled some venison topside and tomatoes on the regular grill. We also picked some herbs from the garden and made a herb salad as well as some herb butter.
So, how was the vegetables this time? They were almost perfect! Really, really tasty and just perfect al dente. The Hokkaido pumpkin couldn’t have been better. The whole turnips however would have required a slightly higher temperature to bring them over from hard to nicely al dente. The white cabbage was also a delight!
How to improve the hangi
We feel that we have found the recipe for success, but there are still room for improvements. The key elements that we have identified for making the hangi a success are:
Make a large fire with a lot of fire wood and keep it burning for at least three to four hours.
As soon as the fire has started to be stable place the large rocks on top of it. Don’t be afraid for them falling down and extinguishing the fire. Rather make sure to add sufficient with fire wood in order to keep the fire going anyways.
Use a large amount of stones to capture as much heat from the fire as possible and keep them on the fire for as long as possible to accumulate as much heat as they can carry.
When the stones have captured enough heat and the fire starts to burn out, quench the embers with water until there are no other heat sources but the stones themselves.
It should be mentioned that the stones that we use tend to crack due to the heat. Ideally one should use volcanic rocks, but that is slightly difficult to find here in Sweden (surprisingly, right?). They will still get the job done and cook the food, but one might have to go for a hunt for new rocks every now and then, since it is just quite inefficient to place small rocks on the fire. Both because they can’t take as much heat and because they are much more difficult to remove from the hangi once it is finished.
After spending quite some time discussing the results from our previous tries we think we have reached a reliable method to capture enough heat without any of the vegetables turning into charcoal.
First of all, we have tried making the hangi with less firewood and thus smaller fires as well as with smaller amounts of stone, but with no success. The stones do get really warm, but they need to be really close to the fire and the fire needs to be really large and hot for enough heat to be created and transfered to the stones.
Transferring the energy to the stones
This time we started off slowly with a small fire that we gradually built up with more and more wood and logs. We also added a lot of relatively large rocks. In total we had the fire going for almost six hours.
When we deemed that the stones had captured enough heat and when the fire started to burn out we first poured some water on the ash in order to remove any embers that might destroy the food and the sheet and burlap by being too hot. The stones themselves contain a lot of heat, but they also release that heat slowly and over a longer period of time, so as long as there are no direct sources of heat left in the pit there are no problems with the food being turned into charcoal.
Extinguish the embers to avoid too high temperatures
Once the embers were extinguished we spread out the stones in the pit and put the food on top of them. The next step is covering the pit with soaked sheets.
Covering the hangi
To keep the sheets from moving or collapsing onto the food we fasten them with some stones in the corners. We have also deviced a wooden grid to help support the burlap with all the dirt. This also helps when removing the burlap after the hangi is finished.
After covering the hangi pit with the burlap and the dirt we were ready for the wait. This time we have also got a thermometer with a cord that we use to gauge when the food is done as well as to monitor the heat so that we don’t destroy the food.
Oxtail is our favorite meat, it’s so tender and the bones gives a lovely gelatinous broth afterwards. Let’s share one way to cook it! Use organic ingredients for the best taste.
Oxtail stew with root vegetables
Oxtail from the butcher
Salt & pepper
Apple cider vinegar
Chop the veggies and garlic and place in the bottom of a pot that can fit into the oven. Not all the celeriac may fit, but that’s fine. We prefer our Schlemmertopf clay pot. Add the oxtail on top, add the seasoning and sprinkle with some apple cider vinegar.
Put the lid on the pot and leave in the oven at 175°C for a couple of hours. When finished, remove the veggies and the dripping into a saucepan together with the celeriac that didn’t fit into the pot. Cook until the fresh celeriac is soft and than mash slightly with a blender.
With this recipe I also share one of my “secret ingredient” things; green pepper together with cardamom seeds! You need to try it!
Enjoy your meal and don’t forget to save the bones for a bone broth!