Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Saffron, a Recipe and M de Malle

Having discovered Saffron Gin recently I was surprised to learn that you can grow saffron here in the UK. England was a major saffron producer in the 14th century during the reign of Edward III. The price rocketed as saffron based medicines were thought to protect against the Black Death. It's thought that the saffron came to England via Rhodes as the Moors introduced saffron to France in AD 732.

Saffron was cultivated throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and south Cambridgeshire as well as Essex. The town of Saffron Walden got its name as a saffron growing and trading centre. Its name was originally Cheppinge Walden and the name was changed to show the importance of the crop to the local area; and today the town's arms feature crocus blooms.

During the 16th and 17th centuries many people holding a small amount of land planted saffron as a cash crop. You can still see vestiges of our saffron producing past in place names such as Saffron Hill in East London, where the plant was grown for over 500 years. British saffron was produced at a farm in Wrexham in north east Wales up until the late 1990s but now many people are growing it themselves. Apparently the flavour of home-grown saffron is mellower and richer than that grown in a hotter climate. Suttons sell the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, and it can survive well here as it is tolerant to summer heat and winter cold.

Saffron has a strong perfume and a metallic, honey-like taste that some people say reminds them of sweet hay. The recipe that I thought would go best is Rabbit With Saffron but if you don't want to use rabbit you could use chicken.

Rabbit with Saffron

1 large rabbit cut into pieces
10 saffron threads
4 small leeks
30 cl dry white wine
20cl single cream
1 chicken stock cube
Dijon Mustard
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Chop the leeks into small strips (I like to use the green as well as the white parts). Brown the rabbit pieces in a mixture of oil and butter. Sprinkle the rabbit pieces with flour. Add the wine, 20cl of water and chicken stock cube. Then add the sliced leeks. Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for one hour.

Then, in a bowl, mix the cream, mustard and parsley together. Add the saffron. Pour the sauce into the pan containing the rabbit and simmer for 10 minutes at very low heat.

This will pair beautifully with M de Malle. It's a lovely wine: bold, brilliant green tinted gold with hints of white blossoms, passion fruit, quince, spice and a good burst of lemon acidity. M de Malle is made in the Graves vineyards of the Sauternes Second Growth Château de Malle, owned by the Comtes de Bournazel who have 400 years of wine making experience – it really is wine with a touch of class! It's also good with chicken, duck, pork, feathered game such as guinea fowl and pheasant, salmon, seafood, creamy pasta dishes and soft cheeses.



lostpastremembered said...

I really had always wanted to grow saffron crocus when I had a garden but never got around to it. Pity, they bloom in fall unlike the other variety and now you have my interest piqued when you say our northern climes produce a different flavor... I think I will get some to try! Lovely recipe, Sue.. thanks for your lovely comments on my blog.

Sue said...

My pleasure Deanna :-)

superchick said...

do you think champagne is a well publized hype?

Sue said...

I think that a lot of the brands benefit from spin and hype but I am talking about Cristal etc here. The smaller producers make great Champagnes but you hardly see them outside France, which is a real shame.

Nick went over earlier in the year and visited some producers who are unheard of over here. Their Champagnes were known locally and bought by savvy French people in the know. Nick bought some of these Champagnes back and will be putting them on his site soon.

Like most things it's the big boys who have the budgets to spend on advertising and marketing and the little guys get squeezed out!

expert contabil said...

Hmmm this recipe looks so delicious and nice and i think that fits perfect with my taste and in my opinion is a very easy recipe, so i think i will try it. Thanks for sharing.

Sue said...

Thanks! Hope you enjoy the meal :-)

superchick said...

yes thats true but I think a lot of people who like sparkling wines should consider spumante olver champagne