Mr. Beater has had his first trip out onto the marsh and returned with a brace of mallard, which means it is time to share one of our favourite dishes. This is proper stodge! The original recipe came from a book called ‘Cajun and Creole Cooking’ by Carol Bowen. I’ve adapted it slightly (not least because we never have Vermouth in the cupboard because it’s just something we never drink)
I love this one because it’s surprisingly quick to throw together, but the end result is good enough to serve to guests. Surplus cream (you need double and single cream for this recipe) can be poured into coffee, poured over a seasonal fruit crumble, or you can whip it up and decorate your rodgrod!
What is a rodgrod? A rodgrod is something I discovered when looking through a pile of old cookery books when my mother had a cull of her books. Mum and I tend to root through charity shops in search of cookery books instead of buying magazines, but unlike magazines, they tend not to get recycled! Anyway, more of rodgrod later – back to Louisiana Duck.
Set the oven to 220 degrees.
You will need:
8oz self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon of Cajun Spice
6 floz single cream
That lot makes the biscuits. The recipe suggests you place the flour, spice and butter in a food processor and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. If, like me, you really couldn’t be bothered lugging anything electrical out of the cupboard just for that, you can just as easily put the flour and spice in a big bowl and grater the butter into it, then roll up your sleeves and squidge it about until it goes crumby.
Next, add the cream and squidge / process again until it becomes a soft dough. Wrap the dough in foil and chill for half an hour (or as long as it takes to make the filling) in the fridge.
For the filling, you will need:
1 tablespoon of oil (really, it doesn’t matter what kind as long as it isn’t engine oil)
1 tablespoon of plain flour
1/4 pint of duck / chicken / vegetable stock (again, don’t stress – just use what’s in the cupboard)
2 tablespoons of dry Vermouth (for some reason, I have always used dry sherry because that is what was in the cupboard at home when I first made this as an intrepid teenager) Again, don’t rush out and buy a bottle of Vermouth if you don’t intend to drink it, or make shedloads of Louisiana Duck with Biscuits, or throw a 1980s party.
2 tablespoons of butter
1lb of duck (or goose, or pheasant, or chicken…) The original calls for cooked meat, but it is just as easy to start with raw breast, cut into thin strips.
2 rashers of bacon, rinded and chopped (chorizo is lovely too)
2 tablespoons of chopped red pepper (or any colour of pepper!)
6 tablespoons of double cream
3 spring onions (or shallots, or about a tablespoon of chopped normal onion)
To begin, make a roux. Don’t panic here: it may well go all lumpy and odd-looking at first, but once you add the rest of the liquid and stir, it will be fine.
Make the roux by heating the oil in a pan and adding the flour. Cook gently for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly with a very small whisk, if you have one. Gradually, blend in the stock and alcohol to make a smooth sauce. If you are very unlucky and your sauce is still lumpy even after lots of stirring, it doesn’t matter that much, because it’s all going to get mixed up with the meat and the cream.
Next, heat the butter in another pan and add the duck, bacon and pepper and cook until well-coloured if it’s cooked meat, or until the raw meat has changed colour and is cooked through (hence the very thin strips – think stir fry) If you have the sort of casserole dish that can sit on a ring on top of the oven too, then it’s as well to use this to cook the meat in because you can go on to assemble the whole dish in it and then pop it in the oven.
Stir in the sauce, cream and onion and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Either pour into a shallow pie-dish, or just remove the casserole pan from the heat.
Roll out the dough to about half an inch thick and prick all over with a fork. Cut out rounds of about 2 inches in diameter and arrange them in overlapping rows on the filling. Brush with milk to glaze and bake for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden.
When cooked, the biscuits puff up and look like little scones, but taste delightfully stodgy, especially with the creamy filling.
Rodgrod is something I came across in a book called ‘Home Harvest’ by Pamela Westland. It was published in 1986, but it has a really 1970s feel to it, with all kinds of ideas like lemon balm hair rinse; sage and egg shampoo; angelica leaf tea and meat loaf with lovage (which conjures up some very odd images!)
Sadly, there is no explanation as to how rodgrod got its name, but we enjoyed it with this summer’s modest harvest of red currants and strawberries (and because it contains cream and chocolate flake)
9oz strawberries (hulled)
4oz caster sugar
1/2 pint of water
2 bay leaves
1/4 pint of whipping cream
1 chocolate flake bar
Put the fruit in a blender and blend to a puree. Sieve to remove the bits.
Stir a little into the cornflower to make a smooth paste.
Put the remaining puree into a pan with the bay leaves and bring to the boil slowly. Blend the puree with the cornflower paste and stir over a moderate heat until the puree thickens and clears.
Remove from the heat and remove the bayleaves.
Pour into 4 desert dishes to cool (which may take some time)
Decorate with piped cream and flake!
What sort of person would eat rodgrod? Maybe people like this:
All together now, “Two, four, six, eight – Labrador! Pickers-up travel in convoy all the time!”
FInally, a special recipe for midges. Take a good helping of minosa hydrating facecream (which up until yesterday, I loved) and wait until the Keeper shouts ‘hold the line!’ Make a beeline for the poor beater who is standing right on the edge of a really boggy bit (yes, there are plenty of boggy bits, featuring bog aspohdel, sphagum, bog rosemary and cranberry on a well-managed grouse moor: those tempted to sign any silly petitions please take note) and feast!
The next course is Mimosa hydrating face cream and Skin So Soft – mmmm – cocktails!
Finally, wait until the beater has succumbed to spraying proper insect repellent over her entire face and hair, before divng in for pudding.
The best time to do this is when the beater has a young dog out and is trying to encourage the pup to sit and wait at the start of the drive, or when the line is stopped. You can dine and be entertained by the sight of a spaniel trying to join in with the beater’s frantic attempts to wave you away with her cap, scratch frantically at her face and neck and attempt to stand still and give a clear signal for the dog to sit and wait. As one gundog trainer of repute likes to say, bodylanguage is everything when training a dog!
That was me on the moor yesterday – lunch for hundreds of midges. Never mind – it’s good to see there’s plenty of life in the hills.