Best steak ever and a bit about ageing.

This is not really a story about the Deli Truck, but what follows was such a wonderful foodie experience I have to share this with all and sundry.

We all know that ageing beef is what brings out the flavour and the quality of the meat. We also know that the only form of ageing is dry ageing – hanging in a temperature and humidity controlled cool room for up to 60 or even 100 days, with cool drying air circulating around a large prime cut of beef. Wet ageing in a tough plastic bag, with the air pumped out, is quite simply a revolting way to “age” beef as it has no contact with the air and so relies on anaerobic bacteria to tenderise the meat, which at times, can taste sour and watery.

But very few butchers dry age these days because during this very slow process, the cut of beef looses up to 20 percent of its weight as water evaporates away. This is what makes it more flavoursome and deeply red-brown in colour. Of course the water that evaporates, as far as a butcher is concerned is profit evaporating as well, as the weight of the cut decreases. This is the reason so many butchers will not dry age.

But on the few occasions that I have eaten properly air dried aged beef (I like it at about 40 days) it is a true revelation. The raw meat actually smells sweet, the all important fat is white but translucent and the entire cut has a wonderful nutty cheesy flavour and the good bacteria has done its job and slowly broken down the connective tissue and produced a super tender very very tasty steak.

The next thing that happened is that a few steak houses in the USA (notably David Burke’s Prime House in Chicago) started ageing their beef in cold rooms with a wall of Himalayan salt bricks stacked to the ceiling. This had a couple of profound effects on the beef – firstly the salty air being circulated around the large fridges has a slight anti-bacterial effect which means the beef can be aged for a longer time and secondly the salt produced a stronger drying effect and bizarrely a sweeter piece of meat. Recently a small number of UK meat producers have decided to salt dry as well.

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The beef ageing cellars at David Burkes Primehouse in Chicago. These ageing rooms are stacked with Himalayan Salt bricks.

So onto my special beef day – Late last week my foodie wife came home from a pre-Christmas visit to Fortnum and Mason with a 1 bone prime rib cut of beef from shorthorn cattle, off the Glenarm Estate in Northern Ireland. But here’s the revelation, the Glenarm Estate has started to age its beef with Himalayan salt bricks. This is not just sophistry – salt ageing really works. The beef smelt sweet and fresh with a slight mushroomy cheesy nose. The meat was dark and the fat translucent.

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Prime Rib from shorthorn cattle on the Glenarm Estate in Northern Ireland. This piece has been aged in a salt room for 28 days.

It was such a special piece of meat that I didn’t want to mess it up by overcooking, so I seared on top of the stove on all sides then put the pan in the oven at 180 for about 8 minutes. I put a temperature probe into the meat and pulled it from the oven when the core temperature reached 50 degrees. With a normal, supermarket, wet-aged, flaccid bright red steak this would be too rare – but in this piece of meat (after a 20 minute rest) this proved spot on. The ageing process had, to my eyes, part cooked the beef already. This was a wonderful special treat and a truly exceptional piece of beef. Well worth the trip to Fortnums to track down.

It’s also very expensive – this piece cost close to £30 pounds – but like all good things, you dont have to have it every day. I would gladly cut my red meat intake down to 5 or 6 times a year (instead of twice a week) so I could afford the best – and this is it.

NOTE: if you are well versed in cooking steak and use the finger prodding method to feel how it is done – you may have to change your methodology with meat like this. I found with this cut that the meat had lost so much water due to the ageing process that when prodded it felt very firm at all stages of cooking. So when it was very rare (checked with temperature probe) it felt almost well done. Something to be aware of….

NOTE: Always ask your butcher if his meat has been dry aged or wet aged in a bag (called the cryovac method) if it has been wet aged don’t buy it, but kindly ask if he can get dry aged beef. The more people that ask the more opportunity we have for getting better quality meat.

 

 

An atmospheric wedding on a windswept nature reserve in Kent

This had to be one of the most atmospheric weddings we have catered for. The venue was Kingshall Barn on the windswept salt mashes of the Elmley Nature reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. The clients and guests are all committed lovers of wildlife and choose a perfect spot for their nuptials. On the day of the wedding even the local cattle were trying to find a place to hide from the stormy winds that blasted across the flat salt marshes. It was like stepping back in time – we half expected Dickens to walk past and nod a reserved good afternoon as he wandered though his favourite Kent landscape.

A large number of guests stayed overnight – Glamping on the grounds.

We set the Deli Truck up in the lee of the barn to protect us from the elements as much as possible. We ended up having to put the salads and condiments buffet table inside the barn, as our famous coleslaw was trying to make a break for freedom in the wind. We produced for these clients a particularly complex menu, mainly due to a large contingent of vegetarians and vegans. We produced a selection of off menu items as well, including sea bass sandwiches and halloumi burgers.

But the photos tell the story the best. It was a great day with really fun and enthusiastic clients.

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The great barn at the wedding venue at the Elmley Nature reserve in Kent.

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The Bride and Groom at the Deli Truck

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Speeches in the Big Barn as the after ceremony party begins to warm up.

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We loved the wedding cake – very of the moment and now. Forget those boring old wedding caterers, this is all so much more fun and relaxed.

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Many of the guests stayed until the following day – glamping on the Elmsley nature reserve – what fun.

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Some of the multi coloured mixers at the bar

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The Menu for the wedding. The Deli Truck stayed open until late so guests could come back again and again if they wished to – and many did.

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Those damn cows. Looking for shelter on a blowy cold day. This is part of the Elmsley Nature reserve

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The Deli Truck

The best chocolate brownies for 170 people

You would not believe the ingredients needed to make our famous chocolate brownies – especially if its for large numbers. We get asked time and time again why our brownies are soooooo good. It’s simply really – the quality and quantity of the ingredients. We use only the best chocolate, butter, coco and  free range eggs. Below is part of the ingredient list for brownies for 170 people for a wedding reception in London.

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Some of the ingredients for making Deli Truck Chocolate brownies for 170.

For this recipe (for 170 people) Miri uses three different chocolates. All up 32 bars. Half the chocolate in this recipe is Lindt 70% cocoa solids for a bitter dark taste. Followed by 8 bars of Green and Blacks 39 % cocoa solids milk chocolate, and 8 bars of Lindt Milk chocolate. Then their’s the heart stopping amount of butter – 4 kilos, and 64 free range eggs, then flour and 1.25 kilos of coco powder. We always serve this with lightly whipped Amaretto cream, for this amount we will use a bottle and a half of Disaronno just for the whipped cream. In our small kitchen it will take around 6 hours to prepare and bake 8 large trays of brownies. We have found over the years that the taste gets better and deepens if you cook the brownies 48 hours before they are to be eaten and then store in an airtight container.

Feeding the grape pickers at the Squerryes Estate.

“Hi Dennis and Miri, Thank you so much for today.  The food was delicious, you really pulled the stops out.  All feedback was positive, seriously brilliant!”  Alisoun Hunter, Westerham.

“Thank you to all of our members and friends for helping with our harvest on Sunday. Food from  was the icing on the cake!”   The Squerryes Estate.

“A mention for the delicious pulled pork that greeted pickers!”  John Mobbs @GreatBritWine

A great day at the Squerryes vineyards in North Kent as professional pickers mingled with the “Friends of Squerryes” to pick some grapes, catch up and indulge in Deli Truck food.

These grapes will go to make the Squerryes Court award wining Methode Champenoise sparkling brut -with a perfect blend of 45% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir & 20% Pinot Meunier.

A strict rule, that guests had to pick grapes before they could have lunch from the Deli Truck was roundly ignored from the beginning. It was a great family day with many of the children loving the grape picking.

The estate asked us for good hearty food offerings to feed both the professional pickers and the “Friends of  Squerryes” pickers and their families. Our legendary pulled pork, gourmet hot sausage in a brioche bun and chocolate brownies with amaretto cream went down a treat.

As you can see we were truly in the middle of a paddock and like many of our events we are completely self sufficient with our own generators, onboard fridges, freezers, gas grills and hot water.

Also a special thank you to John Mobbs from the highly acclaimed Great  British Wine website for some of the photos (the good ones) on this post.

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The Deli Truck amongst the vines on a beautiful autumnal day @squerryes estate. With some of the “members of Squerryes” pickers enjoying their hard earned Deli Truck lunch. (photo – John Mobbs)

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The Deli Truck at the great grape harvest at the Squerryes Estate in Kent. Feeding the grape pickers and friends of the estate.

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The Deli Trucks famous 10 hour smoked pulled pork sandwich. Photo: John Mobbs

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Grapes ready for crushing @Squerryes Estate

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The deli Truck @Squerryes estate vineyards in Kent. getting ready to feed the grape pickers. (Photo: John Mobbs)

 

Rewarding buffet for charity

A wonderful charity evening at Herons Park in Lydd raised over £8,000 pounds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity (#royalmarsden). With black tie and cocktail dresses the order of the evening was glamorous and fun, with raffles, prizes and of course food from the Deli Truck. We donated out usual fee to this much respected and hard working charity and produced a buffet that went down a storm.

The Deli Truck worked to a very tight budget as the organisors and the Deli Truck wanted as much money as possible to go to the charity. We produced three hot dishes for 150 people – A Thai Sticky Pork belly served with freshly steamed rice, a Chicken Cacciatore with a robust home made tomato sauce and loads of mozzarella, and a Texas style 100 percent beef chilli. We also made three fresh salads, a cheese course with terrine, fresh fruit and of course a vegetarian option of stuffed peppers as well as many other tasty dishes.

Three cheers to Stacey Christensen the organisor of the event and Hanna Tarrant the manager of Herons Park for a fun evening that raised so much money for a very worthy cause.

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The Deli Truck Buffet at the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity Event.

 

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Cheese and Terrine on a Deli Truck Buffet for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

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A simple buffet for charity in Kent

Private party in grand home

From the Hostess to her guests, the morning after: “Hi everyone, Thank you all for your messages today. We had such a fab evening, so lovely having everyone here. J and I managed to sneak off around 2:15am, leaving the hardcore Michael Jackson fans in full thriller mode. I want to thank Dennis and Miri so much for catering for us last night. The menu was perfect and the courses were absolutely delicious. They both put so much time and effort into last night and it showed. Anyone planning an event must check out www.delitruck.co.uk, from deli truck to fine dining, I think everyone will agree, it was perfect.  See you all for the next one”
L & J,  Brasted, Kent

From a guest: “Such a fabulous evening, there were a lot of laughs and probably a lot of sore heads on Sunday. Thanks Dennis, Miri, the food was delicious!”  Vicki C-S

Our first private sit down dinner party of the 2016 season was a spectacular event – with guests  enjoying a lavish menu in a wonderful house. We were asked to produce a menu using quality ingredients for a group of “meat loving” foodies who all love their food and great parties. We were lucky that the hosts kitchen was large with much bench space for plating up, cooking and preparation. The dining room where the guests were seated on two large tables was a short walk from the kitchen down a front hallway. All in all, for in-house private catering, it doesn’t get better than this. For the event we had three staff in the kitchen and two servers in the dining room including a professional mixologist on the bar who double up as a waiter.

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Plating up the entree of hot smoked salmon (smoked over oaks and apple wood) on a pea and wasabi puree with asparagus and broad beans

The main course was Prime Rib-Eye roasted and then carved into single steak sized portions. We decided to cook the rib-eye American style, very low and slow, to maintain moisture and when cooked medium the pink was right through the joint. This does take exacting timing, when you are cooking meat at 100 degrees and then wanting at least 45 minutes resting. Two complete ribs were seared at a high temperature than placed in the low ovens 4 hours before service. Every ½ hour we basted in Marrow oil and took an internal temperature reading. At just over three hours in the oven the internal temperature of the meat reached 63 degrees. We retrieved the meat from the oven and rested under foil for  a hour. During this time we made fresh Béarnaise sauce and the marrow gravy, whipped up egg whites and them added to the already seasoned carrot puree for the carrot soufflé.

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Pre service briefing with the two wait-staff and kitchen staff in the hosts amazing kitchen.

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The Menu

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Scraping the bone marrow out of 8 large marrow bones. The marrow oil in the bottom of the pan after roasting was collected into a syringe and injected into the middle of each full rib-eye. The marrow chunks were  warmed with the roasted pan juices to made an incredible sauce for those who wished to have more than the home made béarnaise sauce.

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For dessert we were asked to do do something simple and refreshing – so we choose a home made lemon posset – which we made very tart and lemony. We dusted with corn flowers and crystallised rose petal – and served with a lemon biscuit and our home made crystallised lemon skin.

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The Deli Truck at secret beer festival

The owner of this pub is not big on advertising – in fact the Old House at Ightham is perfectly named – with no signs and no overt advertising this is just like an Old House.  It’s almost invitation only as Nick the Publican is holding a small (but perfectly formed) beer festival this week-end. The Deli Truck will there on the 29th of May from midday to 10 pm,  and we will be selling our favourites.

Our menu will include our top sellers. Our freshly made double cheese/bacon steak burger – our 10 hour smoked pulled pork – our cajun sea bass fillet and our Texas monster beefy chilli dog, with Korean spices.
The Old House Pub dates from the 17th century and is on the Campaign for Real Ale’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The owner of this pub is known and respected for his dedication to real ale, with a continuously changing beer menu from many boutique brewers and some of the big ones as well.

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The Old House at Ightham – no signs, you can easily miss it when you drive past.

This is going to be a real fun day – a relaxed pub, great beer and Deli Truck food. Come and join us at Redwell Lane, Ightham, TN15 9EE, Kent

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This is a great pub – like pubs used to be, with a very dedicated group of locals who love the place.

On our Menu will be our usual favourites – our 8oz double cheese/bacon burger our home made pulled pork sandwich and our sea bass fillet on a panini and a new favourite our Texas style brat sausage topped with beefy spicy chilli – messy but sensationally robust flavours.

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The Old House at Ightham – beer festival Sunday the 29th of May from midday to 10pm.

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Del Truck Texan Chilli Dog

A super fun Romney Marsh wedding

Our first wedding of the 2016 season got the Deli Truck off to a great start for the year. We were asked by the lovely about-to-be newly weds to feed up to 90 people at an outside venue on the windswept but amazingly romantic Romney Marsh. What a great bunch of people – and they appreciated our menu.

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A queue for the Deli Truck on the Romney Marsh

The young couple wanted a “Route66” theme for their wedding and menu so we came up with a mixed menu of Southern US greats.

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Salads

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Our heroic Smoker “Sam” gets some much needed love and attention

Well our legendary smoker has had a really busy year. We estimate we have put over 300 shoulders of pork through our wonderful machine this year. “Sam the Smoker” has had a marathon run over the summer but we couldn’t cook the food we love to make without him.  Sam enables us to bath our shoulders of pork in a rich variety of smoke from different woods, but mainly oak from Kent. So of course “Sam the Smoker” needed some serious end of year maintenance especially after a very hot smoke when one of the original lid hinge welds split.  So out with the angle grinder and welder. Better to fix than have to chuck out and buy another.

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“Sam the Smoker” looking a bit sad and sorry after a crazy year of almost non-stop smoking.

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The broken lid hinge – the weld just popped apart while cooking

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Cleaning up the old broken weld by cutting away the old metal

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Welding

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Welding

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Love the welding helmet, xmas present from a generous wife.

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Cleaning up new weld – it’s a bit ropey but it’ll hold

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Final weld after a quick spray of heat resistant Hammerite paint finishes the job

Deli Truck – “Food on Fire Event” at the Old Fire Station in Tonbridge

The Deli Truck is delighted to be taking part in a special lunch time opportunity at the fabulous Old Fire Station in Tonbridge on Sunday the 8th of November. The wonderful old Victorian era Fire Station, with its iconic two door ground floor entrance has been converted into a fabulous new, exciting and much needed event space for the people of Tonbridge. Already the downstairs “garage area” of the venue has hosted award winning chefs, art exhibitions, commercial launches, PR events and wine tasting evenings.

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The Old Fire Station in Tonbridge can be found at Castle Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BH

The Deli Truck will be producing a special “Memories of the Deep South” menu for this very exciting gourmet food truck event. Our menu will highlight some of our most successful Texas and Louisiana style food including our –

New Orleans style Cajun Spicy Fish served with a jalapeño mayo with a side of home made lime-chipotle coleslaw.

Our famous 8 hour smoked Pulled Pork – intense flavour after hours of smoking over oak wood from the Hendon Manor estate in Kent. Served with our spicy home made BBQ sauce and a side of our home made lime-chipotle coleslaw. See the authentic way we smoke this by clicking here

Our Monster Burger – This burger is well known throughout Kent and it has its own followers who’ll travel miles to eat it. We grind our own beef from Top rump, Brisket and skirt, we add absolutely nothing and form it into a large 8 oz patty. Hits the grill and is topped with two different cheeses and two rashers of bacon, with our home made burger sauce (mayo based) and salad. This is for hungry people only. See how we make our classic burger by clicking here. 

Our legendary Chocolate Pecan Brownies These are made by us a Deli Truck headquarters and served served with an Ameretto cream. For those who may be allergic to nuts we will also be producing our equally rich chocolaty brownies with out the nuts.

You will be able to eat indoors if you wish, so bring your appetites and we really look forward to serving you some of the best Southern Food in Kent.

Note: Some roads around the Fire station will be closed on Sunday the 8th for the memorial Day dedication.  The car park right beside the fire station will be open as normal.