We have had good weather here this last week and that has turned my thoughts to lighter meals that require a minimum of cooking or meals that can be eaten cool or cold. Today I am going to be talking about sousing, as it requires very little work to prepare and is at its best when eaten cool.
I find sousing can really balance up drier meats such as coney, chicken or even quail or tuna. It can be eaten with soused vegetables as a main course or can be used to liven up salads. Just a sprinkling of a bit of soused quail, chicken, coney or tuna can add a little protein to a salad and the oil and vinegar liquid works as the dressing.
So just what is sousing?
For those of you not familiar with the term a dictionary search would give the following meanings:
- To make soaking wet; drench.
- To steep in a mixture, as in pickling.
- To make intoxicated (Slang).
- To plunge into a liquid.
Given that this is a culinary blog let’s go with the second option, although if you like wine with your meal the third option might also be valid!
Sousing is one of the oldest techniques and was described in William Harrison’s book of 1577 called “Elizabethan England” as:
“except it please the owner to have any part thereof baked, which are then handled of custom after this manner: the hinder parts being cut off, they are first drawn with lard, and then sodden; being sodden, they are soused in claret wine and vinegar a certain space, and afterward baked in pasties, and eaten of many instead of the wild boar, and truly it is very good meat”
As for the recipe today, it uses quite a bit of olive oil and this can be expensive. Nevertheless I would recommend you buy the best you can as this is what gives the dish much of its flavour. As this dish works better with a slow simmer, you can pack the ingredients tightly into the pan. The ingredients don’t need room to move around and you can get away with using less oil than you might initially think.
The other key ingredient is the vinegar. I needn’t tell you that the more vinegar you add the sharper the final taste. The quantities I have used in this recipe are obviously the ones that suit my palate, and I don’t find it too acidic. Nevertheless please feel free to change the proportions of the oil and vinegar mix to your own liking.
This is “slow cooking” at its best. Just relax and let it simmer slowly for a couple of hours until the flavours have infused and the meat is just coming off the bones. I am lucky enough to have a wood fired stove. There is nothing better than reading, or listening to music with a good glass of wine by my side….. only having to move from time to time to add another log to the fire. The other good thing about the wood fired stove is that I scavenge the wood from the local area. As I scour the tracks and mountains for disused pallets and other timber I leave the countryside cleaner than I find it and I get a free heat source for my troubles!
So probably enough rambling from my side, let’s get into the recipe.
Soused Foul or Game
200ml Olive oil
75ml White wine vinegar
1 sprigs Thyme
2 Whole garlic cloves
1 Small Onion
1 Bay leaves
6 Pepper corms
Quail, Chicken, Coney, Tuna
Put the meat of your choice and the vegetables of your choice into a saucepan. The ingredients mentioned above are what I tend to use, use it as a recommendation but feel free to change as you see fit.
As it will be cooking for a while I tend to cut the onion into about 8 sections using the base of the root to hold the sections together. I also cut the carrots into large pieces. The garlic goes in whole.
Choose the herbs of your choice. As I tend too cook meat that was hunted in the hills around here I tend to add in herbs that can be found naturally around here too.
Put all the ingredients together and cook slowly until the meat is tender.
Serve warm or cold.
So, if last week’s recipe was a little complex, this one couldn’t be simpler. Just pop everything into the one pan and let is simmer away until done. Please feel free to let me know how you get on via the comments section of the blog.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge