Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Pig: Liver pate; Rolled Spleen; Braised Head and Champ

Friday 21st September 2012


The Year of Living Dangerously / Return of the Spleen

Offal Club seems to have gone through somewhat of a transformation over the last year. We have always been a fairly low key, underground sort of club. A few friends getting together for a bit of grub, perhaps a culinary challenge, plenty of wine and finish of with some video games. Invites sent out last minute meaning only a few attendees. All in all quite close to our original thoughts of being the Offal version of Fight Club: "You don't talk about Offal Club!". When the blog started, it allowed us to document our recipes and favourite moments. Although it provided a little publicity, avoidance of pictures of ourselves and our surnames ensured anonymity. Things began to evolve as the blog drove us to ever greater culinary challenges. After all, how could we declare ourselves serious Offaliates if we didn't try everything: tripe, thymus, pancreas, testicles, head cheese, brain; they all  proved to be equally delicious.

But then, a year ago, came Spleengate. Better planning meant numbers had had swelled to hitherto unseen proportions. Our growing maturity had lead to post-offal video games being replaced by quality card games (such as Shithead and Arsehole) and, as numbers increased, metamorphosing into actual dinner party conversation (or at least a fine mix of piss-taking and offal innuendo). Extreme Offal was here to be enjoyed and we tucked into the Spleen. The silence was palpable. We desperately tried to water down the overpowering flavour with lashings of couscous with the growing realisation that we were not quite as hardcore as we had previously believed. Finally Jason, unable to contain himself any longer, put voice to what we were all thinking: "I don't think I can finish this....". The Spleen had defeated us. All, that is, except for Jock, who uttered the immortal line "Well I really like the spleen....the ironic thing is I hate couscous".

And then came the media. The BBC wished to film us and we would have to forego our anonymity. Their strict time deadlines meant the only potential chef for the evening was Simon C's wife Lisa. Being a women, of course, meant she was not allowed to sit down to enjoy the "all male dining experience" that the Beeb was hoping to film, so she was relegated to feeding herself, her children and the entire camera crew with various testicular delights in the kitchen. In recognition of her services to the Club, that were so clearly above and beyond any call of duty, we felt it was only fair to make her a member and invite her to the next outing. Sadly, a prior engagement meant she began her Offal Club membership, like so many others, with an Excuse. However the precedent had been set; we were now an "almost" all male dining experience. So when Amy Oliver came knocking asking if she could do a story for the Times, it seemed only fair to get her and photographer Fabio along to the next meeting, as honourary members.

So the stage was almost set for tonight's extravaganza, we just needed a menu. A friend of ours had been offered the offal of 6 home reared Gloucester Old Spot pigs and would pass this on to us. Jason declared he would make pate for the starter and Fergus Henderson's signature dish, Braised Pig's Head, for the main. But with memories of our defeat at Spleengate still painful in my mind and faith in my culinary expertise shattered, and having salivated over loving descriptions of Fergus's Rolled Pig's Spleen, I declared "make sure you get the Spleen". Jason tried to prevaricate, scarred as he was by our experience. "I'll cook it" I told him.

As Amy will no doubt wish to describe the evening in her article, I shall leave all further descriptions to her save one. Fergus once again proved his culinary genius. At the end of the Spleen course, apart from one notable exception, our plates were clean. Spleen is back on the menu. So, while Jason may be forever doomed to remain a lightweight, the rest of us have our self-respect.

Chefs: Jason, Simon, Howie

Venue: Jason's

Member's present: Jason, Simon, Howie, Dan, Jon, Mark, Jock, Joby, Amy, Fabio.


Pigs Liver Pate with Home-made Piccalilli

The pate came from Ray Smiths recipe via Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall via the Guardian:


with the addition of a fresh herb coating (rosemary, oregano flowers and parsley, courtesy of Cliffs extensive herb garden).  Served with Piccalilli from Jamie's Great Britain cookbook.



Pig's liver pate
And with home-made Piccalilli



Rolled Pig's Spleen

From Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking.

The inspiration for this dish came from a fellow offal blogger who had tried it out and describes it so well that there is little further to add save our own piccies:


Flensing the Spleen
With Seasoning

A Little Sage...


...and some Smoky Bacon

Rolled and Ready to Cook


Is that a Swiss Roll?


Rolled Pig's Spleen with Red Onion and Gherkins
The Money Shot


A Shot of Bloody Mary

Vodka, Tomato juice, Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce, Celery salt, Lemon juice, bartended by Howie






Braised Pig's Head

From Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly.  Served with Irish Champ also from Jamie's Great Britain (although the two Irish members were adamant it was English Champ!).


A Close Shave




Yin and Yang


Treacle Tart

Also from Beyond Nose to Tail, prepared by Chef Howie.




Quote's of the Night: 

"We can't do 6 courses, I don't have enough plates!"
"I was not impressed when there was a pig's head on the ironing board"
"It's about fine dining, not a freak show"
"Remember, ladies don't spit."
"We are having a shot of Bloody Mary. Made from? Mary."
"My sister introduced me to clemato"
"Anything that is purple and has veins I tend to avoid as a foodstuff."
"It tastes like eating out Michael Howard"
"Howie: You should get Simon to cut it in half using his surgeon skills...Jason: To be honest its more of a DIY job than a surgical job, and his DIY skills are f**king wack."
"I draw the line at shaving its ears, it's not like it's on some hot piggie date."
"That kitchen was like Silence of the Pigs..."

Excuses of the Night:

"I'm just off to Portugal"

Where do we go from here?

Across the road to Jon's


The Last Word

Lets leave it to Fergus, via Amy...