Bursting with pride, I opened the small foil parcel and pushed it across the counter towards Fred. It was a slice of my first old fashioned pork pie.
Fred sampled the meat.
"Good texture. Did you make the pastry yourself?" He tasted the thick crust.
"Yes, we did."
"When you next make the pies put a little of the seasoning mix for the meat into the pastry. Then the pastry won't be such a contrast to the meat. Sage and pepper is a good combination."
"What do you think of the jelly?"
"Good. Did you use the trotters?"
I nodded. Fred ate a little more of the meat and beamed.
Monday is the day when Fred butchers his carcasses. So it's a great day to buy breast of lamb, pork hocks and trotters. Fred lifted a large bag out of the fridge.
"I've saved you two pork hocks and trotters."
He heaved the bag onto the counter, it was marked "Smokey" in large letters - my new name.
Salami is my next project. I am going to try two different methods. Air dried and smoked. And two different recipes. One with loads of wine and one that contains good bacteria - acidophilus. Most recipes recommend shoulder of pork but I want to use hocks. I'm sure that they'll work well for the sort of country salami that I imagine Danny and I guzzling in a few months time, when we have perfected our recipe.
"Where do you think that I can buy acidophilus powder in Newmarket?"
Fred looked up from the breast of lamb that he was boning for me.
"You could try the chemist or that health food shop in the Rookery."
"Can I buy the casings from you?"
"I make sausages on a Thursday. The casings arrive dry and I soak them for a couple of days. You can have my left overs. How are you going to get the meat into the skins?"
I'd though about using a plastic pipe, sliding over the casing and pushing the meat through with a plunger. Fred was politely unimpressed.
"Use a large funnel, the long bit a similar width to the casing. Then press the meat through from the reservoir at the top."
This sounds a brilliant alternative to investing in a sausage making machine. On Thursday evening it might be a different story.
"I don't want too much salt."
"Are you going to use garlic?"
"I think it would be good don't you?"
"If you are going to use garlic cut the salt right down." Fred wrapped the breasts of lamb and the bones carefully in a big bag and looked up.
"Did you know that garlic contains salt. Onions don't but garlic does. So many people don't twig that if you toss in garlic you are adding salt and they oversalt the dish."
I had no idea about this. On a quiet Monday afternoon, Fred Fitzpatrick is worth visiting for the tips alone.
I have the pork hocks, the promise of casings. I eventually found the acidophilus powder in the health food shop, Holland and Barret. The capsules break open and, viola, salami making can commence.
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