Tuesday, 14 December 2010


When I studied French as a schoolgirl fortyharrrrumph years ago, I learned the word chair which means "flesh" - as opposed to "viande" which means "meat". There's a squishyness to "flesh", a sort of voluptuousness that isn't in "viande". Our butcher Laurent Poupeau sells what he calls chipolatas and are labelled saucisses maison. These are delicious bangers speckled with pork meat and herbs. He also sells chair - sausage meat. We buy this in bulk and stash it in the freezer in 250g packs. You can make all sorts of things with chair. Here's a couple to be going on with. Both go well with pasta, rice or a baked potato.
Chair meat balls
One pack, defrosted, makes a dozen tasty meatballs, just by splitting it into lumps the size of a walnut and rolling them into balls. Drop the balls into a boiling pan of your favourite sauce, home-made or out of a jar, and cook for about 20 minutes, turning them occasionally to make sure they're done on all sides.
Chilli con chair
This is just an adaptation of my favourite chilli recipe - actually vegetarian! Fry some chopped onions and garlic till soft. Add a tablespoon of ras al hanout* and a teaspoon or less of cayenne. Stir once, add the chair, break it up with the back of a spoon. Add a couple of chopped sticks of celery if you have them, a chopped red or green pepper and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Add a tin of red kidney beans, liquid and all, or the equivalent quantity of home cooked beans with their cooking liquid. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for an hour.
* If you don't have the North African spice mix ras al hanout, of which more in a later blog, use two teaspoons ground cumin, a teaspoon of ground coriander and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric. These along with chilli are Madhur Jaffrey's indispensible curry spices and also the main ingredients of yellow ras al hanout! There's a touch of a few other things which make ras al hanout special.

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