"I LOVE food - I never eat anything else!" - the immortal words of the great Tommy Cooper.
I remember peering from behind a curtain in my chef's whites, watching him during a cabaret appearance at The Savoy (in the days when cabaret was a regular feature in the Savoy), when that one-liner was used, and even now it remains permanently transfixed in my own repertoire.
Food is, and probably always has been, a very popular topic of conversation.
One of my customers asked me the other day what my favourite meal had been.
Put on the spot like that I tried to remember, and the first thing that sprung to mind was when I had, many years ago, a truly memorable dish, Ris de Veau a la Creme, (Calves' sweetbreads) in a
restaurant overlooking the Dordogne river in France.
The interesting thing here is that if you ask a chef about his particular food preferences, offal is often the first choice.
The term offal, sometimes referred to as the fifth quarter, covers a whole host of products.
The most common perhaps are liver, kidneys and tripe.
But what of oxtail, pigs' trotters and another personal favourite of mine, Tete de Veau (perhaps best not translated!).
These are all very nutritious and wholesome dishes, although perhaps not as popular with today's clientele as they were in the middle of last century. They don't know what they are missing!
This week, I think it would be best to share a recipe for arguably the most popular offal, calves' liver.
Calves' liver with pancetta and parsnip mash
Ingredients Serves 4 [25cf] 300g sliced calves liver [25cf] 8 thin rashers of pancetta [25cf] 150g peeled and roughly chopped potatoes [25cf] 350g peeled and roughly chopped parsnips [25cf] 2 tbsp olive oil [25cf] 150ml beef or veal stock [25cf] 100g peeled and finely sliced red onions [25cf] 25g unsalted butter [25cf] salt and freshly milled pepper Method [25cf] Boil the potatoes and parsnips together in salted water until soft.
[25cf] Mash or sieve and blend in the olive oil, adding seasoning as required. [25cf] Meanwhile, cook the onions in the melted butter, until soft and slightly caramelised. [25cf] Add the stock and simmer until reduced by half, season to taste. [25cf] Place the pancetta on a wire grill, and dry out in a moderate oven, for about 20 minutes, until crisp. [25cf] Lightly season the liver and grill for about two minutes on each side in a hot grill pan, leaving it slightly pink in the middle. [25cf] Arrange the liver on top of the mash, place the crispy pancetta on top, and surround with the gravy.