Mouth to mouth

If you haven't done the ham thing for Christmas, try tongue

It is difficult to know what to eat after the Christmas revelries - apart from, of course, turkey curry, sprout and parsnip layer bake, and fried Christmas pudding ...

Seriously, though, if you are going to have a swanky dinner party you might want to offer something a bit knock-out and stylish. Or great platters of braised meat or roasted game, big pies, and things such as moussaka or lasagne could be more fitting. If you haven't done the ham thing for Christmas, have it now, or even better, try tongue.

Salted ox tongue, served hot, is one of the most unctuous of meats. Jonathan Meades, in his restaurant column, often refers to it as "fondant". And when tongue is good, that is a perfect description. It also lends itself well to a gathering of folk who wish to eat and drink with gusto. I cooked some recently at home in a dinner for six, simmered together with a hunk of salt beef. The two thick red slices on each plate managed to bring out the right gustatory exclamations: "Mmmm"... "gosh"... "oh, lovely"... and one quiet "cor".

However, of the two slabs of meat, it was the tongue that won all requests for seconds.

For a surprising moment, it seemed as though no one had ever eaten boiled tongue before. But perhaps it was all to do with not expecting to eat it at someone's for dinner.

I will certainly do it again, because it is the easiest of meats to keep hot for ages without spoiling. The Cumberland sauce can also be tended on a low light.

The herb pate is much easier to make than it sounds - a long list of ingredients does not necessarily mean "difficult". It is more of an assembly job, really. It has a bit of tongue in it, too, so if you wish to serve the pate as a first course, omit the tongue and up the quantity of ham or bacon.

Salted ox tongue with Cumberland sauce, serves 8

1 salted ox tongue, brought to the boil in unsalted water and drained

3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthways

6 small onions, peeled and stuck with 4 cloves

6 beautiful sticks of celery, peeled and cut in half

3 bay leaves

2-3 sprigs of thyme

8 peppercorns

Cumberland sauce

2 oranges

2 lemons

1 jar redcurrant jelly

150ml/ 1/4 pint port

1 large knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 tsp English mustard powder

1 tsp arrowroot

watercress

Put the previously blanched tongue in a roomy pot and cover with water to a depth of about 2in. Simmer gently for one hour, removing any scum as it forms on the surface. After this hour, add the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns and simmer for a further hour. To check whether the tongue is cooked, insert a skewer through the thickest part of the meat; if there is no resistance, the tongue is done (Depending on its size, a tongue can sometimes take a further half-hour.) Keep hot, along with the vegetables, in the cooking liquor until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Thinly pare the rind of both the orange and lemon, cut into very thin strips, blanch quickly in boiling water, drain and rinse under cold running water. Dry on kitchen paper and reserve. Squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon and put into a non-reactive saucepan. Add the port, jelly and ginger, bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and then pour back into the same (cleaned) pan. Mix the mustard and arrowroot together with two tablespoons of water until smooth. Add to the port/jelly liquid and whisk together thoroughly. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until shiny and thickened. Stir in the reserved orange and lemon rind and keep warm.

To serve, take the tongue from its liquor and remove the skin with a small knife (it will peel off easily). Slice the tongue as thick or as thin as you like and lay onto a heated platter with the vegetables gathered around the edge. Pour over the sauce and garnish with a big bunch of watercress. Buttery mashed potatoes are the only thing to eat with this.

Pate aux Herbes, serves 8-10

I remembered this pate from the days of Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk, when it was Robert Carrier's country seat to his acclaimed Islington restaurant in Camden Passage. However, after scouring all - or I thought all - of his many cookery books, I never managed to find the recipe. Then, a couple of years ago, I was eating at the excellent Marsh Goose restaurant in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, whose innovative chef, Sonia Kidney, told me (in her delightfully throw-away manner) that she had been putting it on the menu on and off for ages.

She kindly furnished me with the recipe, and I have finally found the original in Carrier's book Food, Wine and Friends (published 1980) from his television series of the same name. Here, he cooked dishes for celebrity friends as diverse as Bianca Jagger, Liv Ullmann and John Cleese.

I have taken the liberty of making a couple of changes. As I would personally find the rosemary in the original recipe too assertive, this has been substituted with tarragon. And in place of the two tablespoons of powdered gelatine, I have instead used four leaves of leaf gelatine, which is now easily available and better quality than powdered - although I have to wonder whether it is actually necessary to use gelatine at all, as the minced pork and four eggs should set the thing with ease.

450g/ 1lb lean pork, minced twice

40g/ 11/2 oz butter

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

450g/ 1lb spinach, stalks removed, washed and dried thoroughly

175g/ 6oz fresh chicken livers

25g/ 1oz butter

100g/ 4oz cooked ham, cut into 1/4 " cubes

100g/ 4oz piece of flat pancetta or good quality streaky bacon, skinned and cut into 1/4" cubes

100g/ 4oz pork back fat, cut into 1/4 " cubes

100g/ 4oz cooked ox tongue, cut into 1/4" cubes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped basil

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp chopped chervil

1 tbsp chopped tarragon

4 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

150ml/5fl oz double cream

4 sheets of leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water until floppy

very thin strips of pork back fat, or equally thin rashers of pancetta, for lining the pate dish

In a large pot, fry the onion in the butter until soft. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted and tender. Drain in a colander over another pan to collect any juices. Allow to cool, and then squeeze out all excess liquid with the back of a wooden spoon or ladle. Strain, and then simmer this liquid until it measures no more than about two tablespoonfuls, and leave to cool. Puree the squeezed spinach/onion mixture with the reduced liquid in a food processor until smooth. Add the minced pork to it, but only process to mix rather than puree it further. Tip into a roomy bowl.

Trim the chicken livers of any sinew and green stains and quickly fry in the (25g/1oz) of butter until just coloured but very pink within - bouncy to the touch. Tip onto a plate to cool.

Now mix in the ham, bacon, pork fat and tongue with a wooden spoon, together with the garlic and herbs. Beat in the eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cut the cooled chicken livers into 1/4 in dice and add these to the mixture, too. Melt the gelatine over a low heat with a tablespoon of water and stir in, along with the cream.

Pre-heat the oven to 325F/170C/gas mark 3. Line a 1 litre/ 2 pint capacity pate dish with the pork back fat or pancetta, leaving a generous overhang around the rim. Fill with the pate mixture and give the dish a few sharp taps on a chopping board to settle the filling and disperse air bubbles. Fold the overhang onto the surface and smooth off with a spatula. Cover with foil, or put on the lid if the dish has one, and place in a deep roasting tin. Fill with hot water to come to at least three-quarters of the way up the outside of the pate. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then turn down the heat to 300F/150C/gas mark 2. Cook for a further 35- 40 minutes, or until a skewer, inserted into the middle of the pate, is hot when touched to the lips. This, by the way, is the best method for testing whether pates and terrines are cooked.

Remove from the roasting tin and tip away the water. Return the pate to the empty tin and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut a piece of thick cardboard to fit the shape of the pate's surface and wrap in foil twice. Place on top of the pate and weigh it down with two or three tins. Leave like this until completely cold, then store in the fridge.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pate and tip out onto a board. Cut in slices and serve with hot buttered toast and cornichons

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all