Feast By Three: An Autumnal Gathering
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My childhood was a very happy one. Growing up in a supportive community in Birmingham, each family in our close-knit group mirrored my own – one or both parents immigrated from China to the UK to complete their postgraduate studies and we joined them as young children. In an unfamiliar new country, without the presence of extended family, we naturally became each other's. Every Saturday morning my friends and I (somewhat begrudgingly) attended Chinese school, followed by badminton training and swimming together in the afternoon. In the evening we'd have dinner at home and then all pop round to the same house. The grown-ups played cards while we'd watch movies, gossip and grow up together. Sure it wasn't perfect – we were under constant pressure to keep up with each others' grades and musical/sporting accomplishments – but I wouldn't change a thing.
The families would spend every Christmas break together. Potlucks are one of my favourite memories from this time. Our parents would never share what they'd be bringing... yet magically there were never any duplicates. I loved the excitement of uncovering each dish, the grandeur of all the food on the table together, feast until we could eat no more, and (arguably the best) polishing off leftover the next day. A lot of Chinese food tastes even better as leftovers!
Anyway, that tangential trip down Memory Lane was simply to illustrate the happy connotations I associate with potlucks. Summer passed by in a fast blur, as often happens when you're a wedding photographer, and suddenly it was time for our #FeastByThree autumnal potluck gathering!
Katie made a phenomenal ciabatta stuffing with chorizo, sweet potato and mushrooms; cranberry sauce; a classic pumpkin pie and delicious mulled (and spiked) cider. Supal made green beans with leeks and pancetta; and apple marzipan tartlets. I enlisted the help of #ChefBrudders to make a mixed game Wellington (recipe below), as well as a roast beetroot, goats cheese, walnut and rocket salad, some roast potatoes and honey glazed parsnips, and braised red cabbage with apples.
November was also the month I thought I'd give this "vlogging" thing a go. Here's some footage of Nathaniel and I prepping food the day before #FeastByThree. As I edited these videos, I realised that whenever I'm describing my own actions I use "I/me", but whenever I'm describing Nathaniel's in the kitchen I revert to "we/us". Sorry for claiming all of the credit! This vlog sheds light on the true extent of how much he does for me:
As for the mixed game Wellington recipe, we couldn't find one anywhere online, so the magnificent #ChefBrudders winged it! The inspiration came from an unforgettable rabbit Wellington we recently tasted at The Corner Room, and also wanted to experiment with Nathaniel's newest kitchen gadget – the Anova sous vide cooker. Honestly a game-changer for all our future steaks and meats! For this Wellington, we got a mix of rabbit, venison, partridge and pigeon... all from our favourite butchery Flock & Herd.
1kg mixed game meat
15g dried porcini
500g wild mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
2 banana shallots
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp butter
500g puff pastry
170g chicken liver pâté
Place the mixed game into a vacuum-sealed bag. We don't have a machine so used the water displacement method. Add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme into the ziplock bag, but do not season (as this would affect the cooking process). Let the sealed bag sit in a water bath with the sous vide machine at 50°C for 4 hours, then remove from the bag. Wrap the meat into some caul fat (see the video above for a demonstration). Fry in 2 tbsp butter until all sides are browned. Let it cool completely.
Soak 15g porcini in warm water for 30 minutes, then chop finely along with 500g wild mushrooms, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp thyme and 2 shallots. Sauté these in a cup of vegetable broth in a frying pan, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is gone. Let the mushroom mix cool completely.
Roll out 500g ready-made puff pastry onto a floured surface. Spread the mushroom mix out as a thin layer. Next, spread a thin layer of chicken liver pâté over the mushroom mix. Lay the game sausage over this and roll up all the edges of the puff pastry.
We prepped up to this stage the night before, then let the Wellington rest in the fridge overnight. When ready, pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Cut a few slits into the pastry, brush all over with 1 beaten egg, and bake for 30 minutes until the pastry looks all golden brown. Leave the Wellington to rest for 15 minutes before serving.