This morning I put on a lovely piece on Wiltshire cured oak smoked ham which we will use for salads and sandwiches over the next few days.
Once the ham is brought to the boil I will skim the the surface add some bay leaves peppercorns and maybe a star anise then simmer it before placing in the thermal insulated outer container where it will cook without power for around 4 to 5 hours.
I need the inside to be 72ºC for it to be perfectly cooked.
4 Hours Later:
The gammon was 1.6kg and would have taken 2hrs in the oven at Gas Mk 5 – 375ºF … it took 20 minutes simmer and 4 hours cooking without power.
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In the December issue
Growing under cover, sausage making, make stilton cheese at home, what to do in the garden, great recipes, and much more.
For more information on the magazine go to City Cottage.
My good friend Paul Peacock from City Cottage has been using his Mr D’s Thermal Cooker for making Stilton cheese.
Paul says: “This is a halfway house between making a soft cheese and a hard cheese because it is more involved than making a crumbly cheese like Cheshire.
The most important thing about this cheese is the temperature control. Many hard cheeses call for a temperature increase to something like 38C (100F) and some Stilton recipes call for this too. In order to keep it simple, we have chosen to ripen the milk at 35C (95F), and hold the renneting stage at this temperature too. There are a number of ways of doing this. You can play around on the top of the cooker, turning the heat on and off every fifteen minutes or so. You can wrap the cheese making vessel in hot towels, all kinds of things. We have chosen to use the Mr D’s Thermal Cooker, which in a way is an enormous Thermos which simply holds its temperature.
You can make just short of a gallon of milk into cheese, which is enough for my needs, and it can be used to cook curries, stews, bake bread – all kinds of dishes!”
This gives the cheese its texture and creamy flavour. Just add an ice cube to the milk. Leave for 2 hours so the bacteria get on with their jog: Firstly to add acid to the milk which makes it easier for the rennet to do its work. Later in the process the bacteria will be adding flavour and changing the texture of the cheese. At the same time add your blue mould. This is Penicillium roqueforti, and you just need the tip of a knife. Stir in.
After two hours add the rennet, one drop per litre, five per gallon. Stir in well and leave until the curds are formed which should take couple of hours.
To test the curds check to see if they have a clean break by putting a clean knife into the cheese and twist – the curds should break.
Then cut up the curds into cubes and leave at 35C (95F) for another hour or two.
Ladle the curds into the cheesecloth – which is in a colander, inside a bowl – just to catch the whey. I salt the cheesecloth as an extra precaution against infection, but you can spray with vinegar. Leave to drain overnight – I hang mine from a hook.
Press your cheese to remove extra whey and then mill the cheese.
Milling is where you break up the cheese and rub the curds lightly between your fingers. break up all the cheese and then salt.
- Cheese salt is salt without iodine, and this is used to keep the flavour and also to allow the starters to grow unhindered. A teaspoon and a half is enough for cheese made from a gallon of milk.
- Knife in the salt and then pack into a mould with a follower. This is a number 5 mould.
- Press for a few hours more to give the cheese a shape and remove any whey that the salt brings out. The cheese will be quite wet, so be careful when handling.
- Remove the cheese and rub the outside to keep its shape and remove cracks.
- Then sterilise a skewer or a knitting needle and pierce the cheese – about 15 on the top and the bottom.
- Thence add your cheese to a sterile box on a cheese mat.
- Turn the cheese every day, it should mature in a week, and then continue for a month, but you can eat it after 10 days.