Horses for courses

The horsemeat scandal has caused so much talk among his customers that Jermone is considering stocking it at Bouchon in Hexham. So, would you eat it?

There has been so much talk about it, and so much demand, we are seeking a supplier for horsemeat. In France, of course, horsemeat is much loved, and in Paris, there is not a corner where you don’t find a boucherie chevaline – a butcher which sells only horsemeat.

Steak is the most popular use of this intensely flavoured meat, but we also use it for stew, for sausage, and it can be made into mince (as lasagne lovers now know!)

Horsemeat is sweeter and more intense in flavour than beef, it is very tender and very good for the health. It is extremely lean, even from an old animal, as it often is.

I heard years ago that in England you don’t eat horse because of respect for the Queen, who loves her horses. Is this true? Whatever the reason, I have never seen it here and I don’t know if we will be able to source it for the restaurant, but there is a great interest in trying it among our customers, which is great.

In France, we use it exactly like beef, and the only thing you cannot eat from a horse is its tongue, because it is so tough. You can cook it forever and it will never be edible!

My favourite is to have a simple rare steak frites. Come to think of it, I have never seen horse tartare, but it is quite a thought. Watch this space…

Seasonal tips
British asparagus is on its way and I cannot wait! This wonderful vegetable should be simply done, with poached egg and hollandaise. I don’t like to hide the product. If you cook asparagus, it has to taste of asparagus!

Not just for breakfast
Our customers love our salmon confit “croquette” which sings with salmon confit, lemon zest and juice, coriander, dill, potato, coated in flour and eggs and, instead of breadcrumb, blitzed cornflakes! Cornflakes are crunchier and have a sweetness which is wonderful for chicken or fish goujons. People say I have lost the plot – but they don’t use breadcrumbs anymore!

Food hero
This month, my food hero is Warren Butterworth butchers. They are always consistent and our customers ask all the time where we find our meat. Duncan Butterworth, Warren’s son, runs it now, and if people request something special I can just ring and it is here, fresh and always wonderful.

I have just been home to Nantes, where I enjoyed cooking the country food of my home. I cooked sea bass caught by my father, pan-friend with crushed potato and beurre blanc. Beurre blanc is native to Nantes and a fish beurre blanc is served at every wedding there. The most important thing with beurre blanc is to be patient with the reduction. If you make it too quickly, it will evaporate and your shallots will remain crunchy. So make the reduction slow – a good 20 minutes for a sauce for four people. My beurre blanc is shallots, white wine vinegar, white wine, butter and – here’s a chef’s tip – cream, which supports the butter. That is a tip from Nantes, so keep it to yourself, okay?

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