That bit of luxury on Boxing Day!
Leftovers into luxury with Steven Mercer, Head Chef at Neston.
For me, a good French onion soup is one of life’s great pleasures and boxing day seems to me a perfect time to make it. You have a bit of thyme (sorry anyone who knows me will know I had to do that), a good stock and hopefully, some left over bread and cheese. Fill the house with the smell of fried onions.
You will need the carcass from the Christmas day Turkey, the other stock ingredients so, onions, carrots, thyme and garlic for example, a big old bag of brown onions, butter, slosh of vinegar, glug of sweet sherry, yesterday’s bread and a nice melting cheese
To make the stock, add the ingredients above and fry it all off for a few minutes in a little butter and then cover with boiling water. The key here is to bring it to the boil, but only have it ticking over, it must not get to a rolling boil or the fat will end up in the stock instead of sitting on the top so you can skim it off. You want to keep skimming it from time to time and it will take at least 3 hours, 4 is ideal.
Whilst this is all happening, you want another pan and simply add a bag of onions, peeled and thinly sliced with butter. Go nice and slow to start with, you don’t want to burn the onions, just very gently soften them over a couple of hours. They’ll start to go brown, that’s what you want, they want to look dark brown but not burnt. At this point simply add a slosh of your favourite vinegar and reduce a little. Now raid the booze cupboard, you are looking for something sweet, port is good, but the king here is pedro ximenez. Its one of the greatest spirits of all. It’s a sweet sherry from the south of smell and almost tastes of caramel. Then cover with your Turkey stock.
To finish this you want to top it with some cheese on toast. The french would say gruyère which is epic, but any cheese that melts nicely without going too oily works (I would avoid cheddar for this very reason).
For me an amazing lunch for boxing day.
The Castlemead Turkeys from the butchers at both Neston & Hartley are amazing and definitely deserve having their leftovers treated with love and respect.