Yule have a smokin’ good time
Fancy learning how to cure and smoke for the festive season? Then why not head to the legendary River Cottage where expert Steven Lamb is waiting to teach you
IF YOU want to learn how to brine your own turkey and make your own festive ham, what better place than at the fantastic cookery school at River Cottage HQ, which nestles on the Devon/Dorset border.
This festively-minded course is perfect for anyone wanting to create something really special for the table this yuletide. The day is led by meat and curing expert Steven Lamb, who has been a popular River Cottage staple from the outset. As well as learning butchery skill basics and key techniques, attendees will leave brimming with the knowledge needed to create such delicacies as glazed ham, smoked salmon and pork and orange salami, all of which are making me feel both festive and peckish just writing about them.
“Curing and smoking is not just for Christmas,” Steven says. “It’s a culinary tradition that stretches all the way back to the beginning of cookery, but it is totally accessible to anyone willing to enjoy the craft — whether they are a keen domestic god, goddess or fascinated foodie.
“The techniques that unlock the sweet, savoury, spicy and smokey notes of some of our favourite products, such as bacon, prosciutto, salami and gravalax, are easy to grasp. Once you’ve mastered the simple, traditional, ancestral ways to innovate good ingredients, you will begin a journey that will increase your knowledge of food. The techniques that include dry curing, brining, fermentation and smoking engage you deeper than simply cooking because you have to tap into the ancient skills.”
It is worth pointing out that Steven has been working closely with Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall for the past 10 years, representing the well known training school both at home and abroad, so you just know that this course is going to be very good.
“Steven Lamb and I go back to the early days, when River Cottage HQ was a scrubbed-out cow barn with a second-hand kitchen rammed into a shed next door,” Hugh explains. “Steven’s knowledge is as broad as it is deep, and that’s why he’s in such high demand.”
The experience comes with all the high quality and fun trimmings you would expect, including a tractor and trailer ride up the hill to start the day, a local and seasonal lunch served in the UK’s most famous farmhouse and lots of refreshments and additional culinary treats along the way.
“All of my courses are hands on and practical, which gives a deeper learning experience. The main intention is to get people feeling confident and inspired,” Steven adds. “On this specific Christmas version of the Curing and Smoking course, people will learn how to make their own bacon [which they might like to lattice over the brined turkey, also covered], or they could make pigs in blankets from the sausages we create on the day. Perhaps they would just want to add their home- cured bacon to the festive pork liver pate doused in cider apple brandy. For the really adventurous, we make cured, cold smoked sides of organic wild salmon, so pair that with a salted, drained yogurt — perfect for Christmas Day breakfast. We also cover coppa and bresaola as these classic cold cured meats make any buffet board standout. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a complete yuletide feast without a cooked, smoked honey glazed gammon.”
The course is led by meat and curing expert Steven Lamb INSET: Curing and smoking is not just for Christmas — it’s a culinary tradition