two interesting things happened in the last couple of days.
we got our first grass-fed meat box from wellhungmeat.com. they left it with a neighbour downstairs as it came while we were at work. a lovely woman, freda at number 41, but she now clearly thinks we're mad. she put a note through our letterbox that just said: 'i have a box of meat for you'. it's not often you get one of those.
the monthly medium-sized box contained lots of different cuts from different animals: some chicken wings (i already seeing a lemon and cracked black pepper watching-a-movie-with-a-beer kind of a snack coming), a couple of veal steaks (it's time to buy some parma ham), some diced veal, gammon steaks, a couple of big joints (lamb shoulder and beef topside), some sausages, mince, and a few steaks.
the other thing is that i had the annual health check paid for by work. i know the theory behind my choice of diet should be right but it's still quite something to see a proof of how it works.
after a year of eating more fat than even in my life - chicken skin, pork belly, fatty bits of bacon, bottles of olive oil and enough nuts to cause a thousand indigestions - my body composition has changed quite radically. my body fat has dropped by stonking five per cent to 20%, while on paper i have only lost 2kg. i know i've done a bit of exercise this year but nothing as much to produce that kind of difference to the amount of lean mass. and all without ever being hungry or feeling like i am depriving myself of something.
so there you go - eating fat does not make you fat.
incidentally, my cholesterol is more or less the same (the good is just as good, the bad is marginally higher) and my triglycerides are still tiny. my glucose has also dropped but that was the least surprising bit. and all of this after a week away in turkey, eating more rubbish than usual and drinking beer.
obviously, these two bits of news together required an orgy of red meat as a response. i've been thinking about burgers a lot recently, ever since i saw a post on one of the food blogs about some pork and chorizo ones - and that's what i nearly made as i had some chorizo in the fridge. but in the end, i went down the spicy route and added lots of chilli, garlic and coriander and accompanied them with some home-made mayonnaise. i used half pork and half beef to make the burgers - mainly because that is what i had but i'd say this would probably work better with pork as it's fattier if you had to choose one or the other.
i served the burgers in enormous vegetable stacks - a couple of washed and dried spinach leaves at the bottom, topped by a juicy field mushroom, sliced ripe tomato, more spinach, battered aubergine, then burgers and finally the mayo. it was awesome - the pictures don't do it justice.
makes 8-9 small patties
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
1/2 young garlic head, stalk and all, chopped as finely as possible - you can use a small clove of normal garlic instead
2 small red chillies, chopped very finely
2 stalks lemongrass, soft inner leaves only, chopped very finely
1 lime leaf, crushed
2 generous handfuls of coriander
a few basil leaves
mix all the ingredients together and combine well with your hands. make around 8 or 9 small patties - i make golf balls first and then squash them down to the right size.
heat a little bit of oil (or none if you're using 100% pork) in a griddle pan, then fry the burgers on relatively high heat for five or so minutes, turning a few times. you're looking for a nice crust on both sides. then turn the heat down and allow them to cook through. check one after a while - if it's pink in the middle, it's not done. you don't really want to eat raw pork.
if you want to stack the burgers with various vegetables as i did, chuck a couple of field mushrooms on the griddle pan at the same time and cook till soft and juicy. you can do the aubergines at the same time (in a separate pan, obviously!) - just slice lengthways, dip into beaten egg and fry in hot oil.
1 egg yolk
50ml walnut oil
50ml olive oil
a large handful of basil, chopped finely
2tbs creme fraiche
a squeeze of lemon juice
in a food processor, put the egg yolk, the mustard and 1tsp of the oil. whizz for 20 seconds, then slowly start adding the oil. be patient and don't rush it. carry on drizzling it in until it's all incorporated. you'll end up with quite stiff mayonnaise.
transfer it to a serving bowl, add the chopped basil, the creme fraiche and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. season, then taste again and see if it needs more lemon or salt.