valentine

With Valentine’s Day approaching and steak being the order of the day, the quandary of what to serve with it got me ruminating on when a sauce becomes a jus becomes a gravy. Purists would argue that a sauce is a separate concoction, added at serving. Cut and dry examples like Béarnaise or the Riverford retro stilton sauce would support this and, at a pinch, the rule does stand close scrutiny. But when it comes to stock-based sauces, the line is clear in theory, but distinctly fuzzy in practice. Centuries ago the juices from lesser meats (shin for example) were used to supplement those from the roast. These days most of us pour the fats from the roast, deglaze the pan and then boil hard to reduce to a thickened consistency. Sauce or gravy? Savvy, I call it, and I tend to adopt the same method with steak after allowing it, and the pan, to rest and cool for a few minutes. Although, much as I like stilton sauce, I would rather eat fillet steak with something more viscous that really sinks into the meat. If you don’t feel like splashing out on fillet steak for Valentine’s Day, the stilton sauce from this fortnight’s recipes will go well with chicken breast, pork chops or tenderloin.

This fortnight’s small boxes include turkey burgers. This is a result of the pre-Christmas bad weather and cancelled orders. However, I’m not apologising: proper turkey is a fantastic meat for processing (Bernard Mathews was right; he just turned the wrong turkeys into the wrong products). We are experimenting with a smoked ‘turkey bacon’ in the farm shop; I reckon it will make a great carbonara. That is one for the future, but turkey burgers and bangers really are good.

Lastly, the papers have been full of inflationary tales. Parasitic commodity speculators and demand from our oriental cousins has resulted in animal feed prices going through the roof (20%+ increases over the last few months), which has resulted in increases in pig and poultry prices. Because of this we have had to set a small price rise. We have kept it to an absolute minimum, with box prices increasing by 4-5%. I believe many conventional alternatives have been even harder hit. And we have also launched a brand new ‘quick and easy’ box at just £29.95, to provide simple midweek suppers for families.

Ben Watson