Henderson's Relish - Sheffield's Secret Weapon

Henderson's RelishOnce in a while you come across an ingredient that is so superb that you have to write about it. Sheffield's Secret Weapon, Henderson's Relish is one of those. How it managed to slip my attention when I spent 9 months of 1975 in Lodgemoor Hospital in Sheffield, I just don't know. It's superb, and well worth seeking out.

At first glance and taste you'll probably think that it's a copy of Lea and Perrins famous Worcestershire sauce, but you'll soon realise that it's subtlety different - not so harsh and aggressive a taste. Whereas Worcestershire sauce can dominate, Hendo's compliments.

Henderson's relish is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

As to its manufacture? Is it made in a factory on Parkway Rise, Sheffield, or does it drip from seams in the local coal mines as suggested by my Yorkshire mate . Now, I like to think that it comes from a secret well situated under the old Lodgemoor Hospital clock-tower and that's why the clock-tower was left standing when the hospital was demolished!

In any case, it's available from numerous shops in the Sheffield and North Derbyshire area and nationally at Morrisons Online or other online suppliers.

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My First Sous-Vide

I promise, I will post more ham and sausage recipes, but I've been 'under the weather' and Pauline's hands have been bad again. As soon as she's back on form, or I can find someone else in the family to do the bits I can't, I'll get a few test batches on the go. In the meantime...

Cooking "Sous-vide" - at a low temperature in a water-bath - is a great way of cooking. In my position, it's less dangerous, doesn't require a lot of manual dexterity and is fairly fool-proof.

Here's my first attempt:

Sous Vide Steak

I cooked it at 57°C using a large slow-cooker with an external thermostat that I've had made up. The steak was vac-packed and cooked for a couple of hours or so. The temperature is such that it can't overcook, it's only ever as hot as you want the meat to be.

It was superbly tender, but cooked a little too much for me. Next time I'll try cooking it at 54°C; this should allow for the slight 'over-run' in temperature that occurs when the thermostat turns off.

After a hour or so in the water-bath, the steak was put into a little oil, in a scorching hot pan, and seared on both sides.

It was served with a large salad, grilled tomatoes and a few new potatoes. Yes, I'm still on the flamin' diet!

Rip Van Who?

I'm sure I can't be the only 'silly blogger' who goes to sleep one day, and the next time they look it's over a month since they posted the last load of codswallop on their blog!

So what's happened in the meantime? Well the horse-meat scandal is still going on... ...and on... ...and on; added to that, we're told that they've been putting naughty things in our sausage! Not only that, but some bright spark, no doubt funded by tax-payers' money, has proved what was already obvious to all but the most stupid of people: if you eat things that are known to be bad for you, you may not live as long! That said, given that everything that tastes nice seems to be bad for you, maybe people who avoid them, don't actually live longer, it just seems longer!

Better news is that the great forum at sausagemaking.org has had a full overhaul and update of its software. It's shortly going to have a cosmetic update as well. Thanks must go to forum member Vagrays, and the forum owners web-designer Andy, for these changes. If you're interested in curing or making sausages, smoking meat or fish, or just want information about how to make these goodies, get on over there and join in. They don't bite...

One of the reasons I've not written much is that I'm on a diet and so we're just not eating the amount of sausage and cooked meats that we used to. Combine that with the fact that Pauline does so much already, helping me in my daily life, and that I need her help more and more nowadays when I make anything, and you'll see why I try and keep things to the minimum. That said, I have been working on some new recipes, albeit mainly 'in my head', but with a bit of reading, online research, and a few drafts and revisions of previous unpublished trials.

At the moment I'm working on a Cumberland sausage made to the standards in the Cumberland Sausage Associations successful PGI application; well, apart from where they'll be being made, that is! I'm also looking at making a lamb Merguez sausage, whether it'll be like the true North African ones, or of the French variety, which I've at least had the advantage of tasting, remains to be seen. I'm also hoping to 'tinker' with my Polony recipe, which I've never been 100% with, and with my smoked Polish sausage, which has an aftertaste that I'm not keen on. I also bought a load of minced turkey that was 'going cheap' (make your own joke up and insert it here...!), so there'll possibly be something with turkey. I may even follow my own advice for once and make a Leicestershire version of turkey, feta and spinach: maybe turkey, spinach and white Stilton? We'll see. Whether they all happen next time around, remains to be seen.

I'm naughty really, I forget that there are people who don't know how to cook to any degree, and would appreciate recipes and instructions for the things we make everyday without thinking. I'll try to remember to take photos and put the recipes online. One I did take a picture of is this filled Yorkshire Pudding:

Filled Yorkshire Pudding

I was somewhat surprised to be asked for the recipe, as it's just 'Yorkies'! To save me having to use my brain twice in one day, I'll quote what I wrote on the forum:

I'll measure it next time, but my 'diet' version's roughly:
3oz plain flour (3-ish heaped tablespoons)
1 egg
about 7fl oz milk (semi-skimmed in this case)
S & P
(non-dieters can use 2 eggs)

Plus leftovers from Sunday dinner.

I mix the flour, eggs, and about ½ the milk and whisk till smooth, then add the rest of the milk. The mix wants to be the thickness of double cream. I used a silicone baking dish pre-heated until really hot in an oven set to 190°-200°C, before adding the mix; using silicone means that you don't need to add fat. If you cook it in a tin you'll need very hot lard/dripping to cook it in.

It's not low calorie by any means but the one in the picture, in a 20 cm (8 inch) tin, used about 2/5 of the mix - about 200 calories. To be honest, using half the mix would make a better job, the sides would be higher, but you'd be looking at 250 kcal. Note: calorie figures are 'ish'.

Now I'm eating less bread as I'm trying to lose weight, I've started to make a slightly different style of bread. I needed a loaf that wasn't too high in fat, but which keeps well - I'll write more about that another time though.

Busy, Busy

Over a month since my last post and that was something of a stopgap! It's been a funny month really; a spell in hospital for a quick op and a spell of bed-rest have not helped in either our preparation for Christmas or the frequency of blog posts.

I've been working on a slightly different method of curing. Given that I don't work commercially, it takes a while. You can't base a whole method on just one ham! I will write about this soon but I'm still not 100% happy about using my new system for meat below 2kg. Many home-curers process smaller pieces of meat than this; I want to be sure that the system works for them.

In the meantime, here's a few things that I have got around to doing:

Curing projects

There's Sloe Gin, Damson Vodka, Blackberry Whisky, Raspberry Vodka and Blackcurrant Brandy in the main photo and clockwise the smaller photos show: a Christmas gift of home-made products, a beef joint being 'corned' using my new system, a salmon side prior to being covered in salt and subsequently smoked, and a boned leg of pork being prepared for curing.

Not Again!

Yes, once again I'm laid up in bed. It's a damned nuisance as it puts all my plans back. Even more annoying is that it has meant that I was unable to meet with Robert, an online mate who is over from Canada. It's amazing how the internet creates friendships among people who have never met. I've some fantastic online friends who never fail to amaze me with their generosity. Robert is one of them. I won't embarrass him by telling you exactly how generous he is!

As you'll guess, very little has happened in the curing/sausage-making department. The only thing that we've managed to do is make some smoked back bacon. I would not normally mention it because it's one of those things that when you've already posted the recipe etc there's not much left to say. However, on this occasion things are slightly different as the meat is a cheap loin from the local wholesaler, it's just a larger version of what's sold in the supermarket - it was cured in a 'normal' food grade plastic bag rather than vacuum packed and it was smoked in a kettle barbecue as there's no door on my smoker at the moment.

Smoking bacon

The resulting bacon is still better than the supermarket's and had I not wanted it smoked, no special equipment would have been involved. As it is, the cold smoke generator that you can see in the barbecue only costs around £30 - it's a fantastic piece of kit, one of my best buys. It shows that there's no excuse for not having decent bacon. Make your own bacon, you'll get none of the horrible liquid in your pan that supermarket bacon produces and, like for like, it's often cheaper. If you don't feel confident to make it from scratch, you can always use one of these ready mixed cures.

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