Friday, 17 July 2009

The Plum of Life - Sweeter the Older it Grows

It’s been a strange week. Swine flu is sweeping London, sadly with more fatalities than expected, which puts in mind questions of life and death, making the most of what one has, maybe even daring to think of precious times one can lose. It’s also been a week for looking back, I fear I might be the last person on earth to discover Friends Reunited and in doing so, and at last being reunited, I feel some things never change, for instance, I seem to still be bucking authority, will I never grow up, and do I really want to?
Tonight we consoled ourselves with fine wine and dining, fiddling as Paris burns perhaps (coincidently, Dan ‘s combo is called Nero, I must suggest this as an upcoming album title!).

This recipe uses everything fresh and seasonal from the garden.

Duck Legs with Drunken Plums
Tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
4 large duck legs
2 ounces of speck /pancetta
2 tablespoons of minced herbs : rosemary, sage, thyme and winter savory if available.
2 teaspoons of herb salt (homemade mix of celery seed, lovage seed and fennel seed ground in a little salt is good)
12 new shallots
2 small new leeks
12 large juicy plums
1 bay leaf
2 cups of Prosecco or dry wine wine
1 shot of Brandy or Grappa
1 cup of chicken stock

Marinade the skinned and de-tendoned (is that a word?) legs in a mix of oil, vinegar, herbs and herb salt for a day. Fry speck, shallots, and leeks carefully not to brown too much, followed by the drained and dried legs. Remove and keep warm. Deglaze with the strained marinade, brandy and wine. Add chicken stock and return duck and vegetables to the pot adding plums. Cook in very slow oven for two to three hours. Enjoy (while you still can!) with Barolo or a nice Barbera D'Asti and a side of podded baby broad beans. Wishing you all good health in these infectious times.

Above plum 'Early Rivers' photo taken two or three weeks ago. Early Rivers (Rivers' Early Prolific) is a small, deep purple skinned plum with a golden-yellow coloured flesh. It has a very rich flavour, and can be used for both eating and cooking, making an excellent flavoured jam. The plum can be a little sharp early in the season, but as it becomes very ripe it becomes very sweet.
Raised in Sawbridgeworth, first introduced in 1830


chaiselongue said...

Oooh this sounds good! I shall have to try it. We picked a lot of plums from our neighbour's garden last week and I preserved some by making plum sauce to have with duck, as I once had in a Portuguese restaurant. It's a great combinatiion of flavours so long as it's not too sweet.
Regarding epidemics, crises, etc.... all we can do is enjoy ourselves while we can!

Magic Cochin said...

I love Rivers plums - that sharp flavour and deep rich colour! My Grandmother grew them commercially and my first job was near Sawbridgeworth and I realised I drove past the Rivers Orchards site every day. It's now a BUPA hospital.

Sadly my Mum's last Rivers tree died the other year and I haven't tasted a Rivers plum since. Enjoy yours this summer.

I'm looking forward to my Cambridge Gages.


Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Well it's pretty much duck central ici.

Those plums 'll cut through the duck meat and all washed down with lashings of barolo!

That herb salt is a nice touch by the way.


Phoenix C. said...

You're not the last person on earth to discover Friends Reunited - I haven't been on it yet!

Your words have reminded me of how precious life is - and the importance of using one's talents and not worrying too much about money.

Woodland Fay said...

Many thanks chaps and chapesses for your interesting comments.
chaiselongue - will be looking out for that plum recipe on your wonderful blog
Magic Cochin my Greengage has no fruit this year, seems to be bi-annual, but the Early Transparent Gage is weighed down. You must try to plant an Early Rivers Prolific we had 100 pounds off our last year and if this drizzle doesn't rot them, this year could break that record. Worth it for nostalgic reasons alone for you.
Rob, book has arrived, looking forward to a good read!
Phoenix C. I think it is only worth worrying about things one can change, now if only I could take my own advice!
Thanks all, regards, F