Friday, 24 September 2010

Lost in the Larder moves home!

Lost in the Larder has moved home to a self-hosted wordpress site at Be sure to update your RSS feeders. The redirection of will be active shortly but to keep up to date and make sure you don't miss out, go to

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Dorset Charcuterie Company

British charcuterie is pretty scarce these days. You are more likely to pick up some Spanish chorizo or a German salami than dry cured meats from our own fair land. The Dorset Charcuterie Company operate from their butchery and tea room, The Purbeck Larder, on the outskirts of Lychett Matravers in Dorset. Ben and Lee are the young entrepreneurs who have established this business, both trained butchers and crazy about the practice of charcuterie. I went over one morning recently to learn a little more about breaking down a pig and to see the setup out there. I rolled up into the old farmyard and made my way into the converted barn. It was early, seven am, and the boys were already in full flow. This being my first experience in a working butchers I was absolutely mesmerised by all the meat, trays ram-packed full of lamb chops, buckets full of mince, half a cow being chopped up on one bench by Lee whilst Ben made his way through half a pig. I felt very manly stood there amongst the dead animals, blood and blades. I lingered by Ben and the pig and all I could think about was reaching out and getting a good old squeeze of that bum cheek, not Ben's I might add, the pigs. The ham was large and from the side I could see it had a beautiful thick layer of fat surrounding the meat. I breathed deep and let the aroma of dead animal fill my lungs, it was satisfying. Lee showed me round the fridge and I got to see the sheer size of the cow sections, "The cows come from that field just over there, sometimes we go and pick the ones we want out." Lee then showed me through to the curing room where panchetta, coppa and guanciale were hanging. A bucket full of salt sat on the floor with the trotters poking out the top from two large hams."All the pork is from a farm a few minutes up the road." Lee informed me. What is so nice about The Dorset Charcuterie Company, is that they really are just so enthusiastic, the meat as local as possible and the dedication to charcuterie is something which I wholeheartedly believe will become a fantastic alternative to European cured meats. As we wandered back into the kitchen a tall thin man came to greet the boys and gave them a big blue sealed bucket. "Caught these eels for you in the river Piddle this morning." (yes the river is really called the Piddle) Ben and Lee explain to me how when you cut the heads off, that the eels still writhe and wriggle for several hours. Eels freak me out and fortunately they put this to one side to deal with later. Don't get me wrong, I love eating eels, but live, they are too much like snakes for my liking. Victor Borg, of River Cottage fame, does the smoking for the boys down near Kimmeridge and in the fridges you can find packs of smoked eel, smoked pork tenderloin and smoked bacons alongside the offerings of pancetta, coppa, Bath chaps, lardo and nice big fat lardons. It was time for me to take a look at the breaking down of a pig. I have had many adventures with severed parts of the pig but never had I witnessed the dismemberment of the beast into the traditional cuts. Lee was busy and so I merely stood by and watched him do what he does best. It was a surprisingly short process and it has now got me playing with the idea of breaking a whole pig down myself. At around £200 a pig, I don't foresee it happening anytime soon, something Emma, my wife, is thankful of. Before I left Lee brought out a ham which he had dry cured and aged for nine months. Bolted into a Spanish style ham holder Lee took paper thin slices of the ham. The salty fat melted with the heat from my lips and the meat had a flavour that lingered throughout my mouth. I looked up to the rafters to see several hams hanging, some already have names on, pre-ordered for Christmas. The Dorset Charcuterie Company or The Purbeck Larder is well worth the visit. The cured and smoked offerings are tremendous and I know Ben and Lee are always happy to talk you through various process without you feeling a fool for not knowing.

The Purbeck Larder
Bere Farm,
Wareham Rd
Lychett Minster
BH16 6ER

Telephone: 01202 625688

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Crab Ravioli with Chorizo Oil

I'd been invited for dinner and was asked if I would mind making a starter. The thought of getting under someone's feet in their own kitchen didn't appeal to me. I wanted to be in, bang, and out. These Crab Raviolis seemed like a good idea because all the prep was done back at the flat, all I had to do was rock up with my tray of raviolis and drop them in some boiling water for a few minutes. They tasted brilliant, a nice strong flavour of crab meat with the cut of some drizzled chorizo oil and some peppery rocket. I made them quite large using a 10cm diameter cutter so each person got one nice big ravioli with the meat to pasta ratio just right. Pork products with seafood makes me smile immensely, my two favourite things. They work terrificly well together and a favourite in my kitchen arsenal is chorizo oil. A recipe for making some is found here.

Hunting down good produce down here is kind of fun. There are hardly any fishmongers in Poole, which is pretty appalling, but I managed to get hold of two Dorset brown crabs from Pete Miles. Pete distributes Othniel Oysters and also owns Storm seafood restaurant in Poole. I arranged to meet him early on a Saturday morning at the back door of his restaurant. Stood in the alleyway I felt more like I was about to do a drug deal than buy some fresh local Crabs, but after a short wait the door opened and Pete invited me in. At the back of his kitchens we went through two big containers of crabs as we rummaged through to find the two largest specimens. Pete even gave me a crab pick to extract the meat out. I bagged the lads up, (I think they were boys) and went home to set about them. I won't tell you how much I paid for the two large brown crabs but I will say that at those prices, I will be eating crab far more often.

You hear a lot of people say that pasta machines usually get used once or twice then sit at the back of the cupboard forgotten. I use mine about once a fortnight and subsequently it doesn't take me very long to knock up some dough, run it through the rollers and clean up afterwards. It really doesn't take that long once you have the hang of it, you could always just buy fresh lasagna sheets if you don't fancy making your own pasta.


This recipe makes 7 raviolis.

200g Tipo '00' flour
6 Egg yolks
1 tbsp Milk
1 tbsp Olive oil

You can still get good results with less refined flour if you can't get hold of any '00'. I've used plain all purpose flour before now.

2 Brown crabs, boiled and picked of all white and brown meat
Salt and black pepper to season.

Some washed wild rocket
Chorizo oil, for a lightly spiced porky pick up.

Place the egg yolks, milk and olive oil in a large bowl and add half the sieved flour. Use two bent fingers in a circular motion to bring it loosely together before adding the rest of the flour a bit at a time. You should end up with a flaky dough with lots of little flecks all at the bottom of the bowl. Tip all this out onto the side and work the dough with the heel of your hand for 10 minutes. During this time you'll find the dough becomes silky and all the small bits will come together. Wrap in cling film and stick it in the fridge for at least half an hour. You've made twice as much dough as you need here. You can use the extra another day for taglietelle or more Raviolis.

Once you have boiled your crabs, remove the flap that covers its bottom and separate the legs and body from the main shell. Remove the gills or 'dead mans fingers' (it is a myth that eating these will kill you but they will upset your stomach and make you need the toilet so make sure you remove them all.) Crack the legs and claws and pick all the fresh white meat. Make sure to pick the body and the sockets where the legs once joined. Now, pick the brown meat and add it to your bowl of white meat. The brown crab meat is where all the best flavour is in my opinion, it's also much wetter so add just enough to bind the white meat together into a coarse, thick paste. Season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt and set to one side. This is also a good point to add a splash of tabasco if you fancy a little kick but to appreciate the full flavour of these fresh crabs I kept it very simple with just salt and pepper. I cracked the crab shells and roasted them along with the legs and set them aside for a crab stock.

Cut your pasta dough into quarters and roll through the largest setting several times folding the rolled dough in half in between each motion. You will see the pasta become much smoother, now run through the machine settings until you have fresh lasagna sheets, I stop at the second the thinnest setting for raviolis. With a 10cm round cutter, cut 12 discs of pasta. I used to use a mug and then cut around it before I had one. With teaspoons place generous sized balls of your crab filling into the centre of the circles and brush water around the edge of the pasta. Place another disc on top and crimp the edges together with your fingers making sure not to squeeze any filling out of the other side and also not to trap air bubbles which could pop and split your ravs. With scissors trim around the ravioli approximately 1cm away from the edge of the filling to tidy them up a bit if necessary. Lay on a flour dusted tray and repeat until all your raviolis are done. Dust with more flour and cover with cling film and leave in the fridge until ready to cook. They will take 3 minutes in simmering salted water.

Dress your rocket in the chorizo oil and form into tight balls. Place a cooked ravioli on top and then drizzle with a little more of the chorizo oil.