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.

Prime Rib, Salt cured beef, Deli Truck, Catering, Kent catering, wedding catering

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.

Aged Beef, catering, Deli Truck, Kent catering, wedding catering, wedding

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.

 

 

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.

Deli Truck, charity, buffet, catering, catering in Kent, street food, food truck,

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

 

Deli Truck, Charity, charity dinner, Deli Truck, catering, caterer, street food,

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

Charity, buffet, Deli Truck, Catering, Catering in Kent,

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.

Portioning_miri_WR

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.

Pre_Service_briefing_WR

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

Den_portioning_WR

MEnu_A4_WR

The Menu

Marrow_2_WR

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.

Dessert_posset_wide_WR

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.

pudding_closeup_WR

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.

Truck_people

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.

A3_Route66_Hanna_Menu_WR

Girl_boy_eat_burger

Burger2

Salads

Queue_trcuk_yellowTruck_Queue

Queue_truck_Bales

A glittering farm house “shared birthday” in the Weald of Kent.

Our host wanted an unforgettable shared birthday party – a 50th for his wife (she looked 35) and a 21st for his daughter. The venue was fantastic – a series of barns and outside dancing areas with an enclosed courtyard area for covered dancing and partying. Our client also wanted a fun festival feel to the event with a number of food trucks sited beside the main barn.

Deli Truck, catering, venue

The Venue four hours before the party begins

Our client wanted pre dinner nibbles for his 130 guests – so we started our preparation for the evening producing 500 individual canapés. We always make our canapés fresh, just minutes before they are needed, so they don’t wilt or loose their crispiness and flavour.

Deli Truck, canapés, wedding

Dennis preparing canapés on site for 130 guests.

Deli Truck, canapés, catering

Piping Mackerel Mousse into Vol-au-Vente cases. very yummy – these disappeared very quickly.

We also supplied a whole Jamon ham for the party which we carved as requested by the guests – this was a big hit as you can see below. We worked with a very professional party organiser for this event –

Thank you for your kind words and importantly for doing such a wonderful job with the Deli Truck.  It has been such a pleasure to work with you over the weeks.  Your enthusiasm and knowledge left me in no doubt the catering would be a huge success.   The Deli Truck looked gorgeous and the food was delicious.  Thank you Dennis and Miri. I do hope we get the chance to work together in the future.”  Lizzie Smith

Deli Truck, Coleslaw, catering

Queue for the Deli Truck beside the whole Jamon – cut for clients on request. Beside is mini tubs of coleslaw.

Deli Truck, catering,

Menu card for a joint 50th and 21st birthday party in Kent – supplied by the Deli Truck

Deli Truck, Catering, Jamon ham,

Dennis Carving Jamon Ham off the bone guests

Deli Truck, caterers, Kent

Four very happy guests at the Deli Truck

Deli Truck, catering, kent

Queue outside the Deli Truck – Late night after dancing and drinking for a second helping of our specialities.

Deli Truck, catering, Kent

Guests deep in concentration wondering what to order at the Deli Truck

Deli Truck, catering, kent, food truck,

The Deli Truck on site in the Weald of Kent

Del Truck, food truck, catering, Kent, weddings

Preparation still going on – What a great idea – to turn an out side courtyard into a dancing tent with an ancient Olive tree centre stage. A magical room.

Deli Truck, Catering, Kent

Ready for service in a magical position just outside the main bar.

Sweet applewood for smoked pork

A new source of sweet sweet smoking wood – one of the limbs of our very old apple tree at Deli Truck HQ, finally decided to break off under weight of this years crop and dropped into our track. Miri, showing her skills with the chainsaw, cutting it up to use as wood for our smoker. Will give a very sweet delicate flavour to our pulled pork.

Miri with chainsaw chopping applewood.

Miri with chainsaw chopping applewood.

Skinning and trimming Fresh Salmon

The day of the big party has arrived and this morning we have been skinning 7 full salmon fillets and trimming to make a sensational Salmon en Croute with Nori and Serrano Ham. This should provide around 60 portions, with an average of 8 to 9 portions per filet depending on their size.

Del Truck, catering, salmon

Skinning the salmon fillets, trying to have as little wastage as possible

Salmon skinning with completed salmon in the background

Salmon skinning with completed salmon in the background

Deli Truck, Salmon

A really good Salmon Skinning knife helps make this sometimes very difficult job easy. There should be very little waste after the skin has been removed.

Making an amazing choc-tastic chocolate mousse, with cherry brandy and morello cherry jelly

We have just finished making 60 “individual chocolate mousses on top of fresh raspberry, morello cherries, and cherry brandy jelly” The jelly base was made from the juices from the morello cherries and about half a bottle of Cherry brandy – in that mixture we have added fresh raspberries and morello cherries – so a very fruity and adult flavoured jelly base – with home made chocolate mousse on top. Takes 3 blocks of chocolate for very 12 servings of Mousse.

Morello and raspberries in cherry brandy and sugar waiting to go into our mousse dessert

Morello and raspberries in cherry brandy and sugar waiting to go into our mousse dessert

Melting the chocolate

Melting the chocolate

Adding egg white to the chocolate, egg yolk and cream mixture

Adding egg white to the chocolate, egg yolk and cream mixture

The end result - Chocolate mousse over a morello cherry and cherry brandy jelly studded with fruit.

The end result – Chocolate mousse over a morello cherry and cherry brandy jelly studded with fruit.

Cooking up our simple version of Peperonata for a big party

One of our party clients wanted an informal day but some fairly formal food as a lot of the guests were coming from culinary school in Switzerland for her party. They clearly wanted different salads, instead of the usual, for their gourmet guests. We suggested our own home grown lettuce and leaves for a green and red salad, the leaves to be picked on the day of the event from the Deli Truck HQ garden. We also suggested an old favourite from the south of France – a fabulously simple red pepper, fresh basil and garlic salad with a side of anchovy fillets.

deli truck, peppers, catering

Stacks of Peppers ready to be prepped for the grill

We char the peppers under a very hot grill, then in batches let them sweat in plastic bags, so the burnt skin just brushes off. It’s wonderful at this stage how the peppers completely change flavour to a deep nutty richness. They also start producing their own oil, we just add a bit of extra virgin olive oil to help things along, oh and fresh garlic of course. And with many many peppers to do – this will be a half day bake and make – but the smell at Deli Truck HQ is worth the effort. I personally don’t think there is a better smell than peppers being charred. 

Deli Truck, catering< peppers

The peppers after 10 minutes under a very hot grill

deli truck,

The blackened skins being peeling off the peppers

Peppers getting a big slurp of extra virgin olive oil

Peppers getting a big slurp of extra virgin olive oil

And the final result - peppers with Garlic on the buffet. We made 150 individual pieces of peperonata they all disappeared with in 45 minutes.

And the final result – peppers with Garlic on the buffet. We made 150 individual pieces of peperonata they all disappeared with in 45 minutes.