The Drunken Butcher Sous Vide Supper Club

19 Jan

I love and loathe January in equal measure. Nothing is more tedious than hearing people wax lyrical about the paces they’re putting their digestive system through, and how their John Wayne style walk is everything to do with the squats they did last night and absolutely nothing to do with the festive chafe they’re still experiencing. The only things more tedious is dieting itself, and whilst I never partake fully in the mass January purge, I do love to indulge in a little resolution making, setting out my stall for the things I want to experience and enjoy throughout the year.

Life is just too short (and dieting largely unsuccessful) to strip away the small and consistent pleasures that food brings, which is how I found myself at a supper club before January’s joys and miseries were barely off the mark. The fact that frequenting the supper clubs of Manchester sits high on my New Year to do list is no coincidence, and happens to be one of the happy – and hopefully very achievable – habits I hope to keep.

Supper Club – Sale Style

A supper club, I believe, is the perfect way in which to enjoy food. Blogging last year saw me chasing down sparkly new restaurants or hovering round canapé tables fighting my fellow fat-fingered bloggers for the remaining Char Sui Bao. Constantly taking pictures or circling a room is in no way conducive to meeting people and having a lovely conversation over a delicious meal or socially relaxing bottle of wine – one of the main reasons I set up shop in the first place. Supper clubs, on the other hand, afford that very experience, and for that alone, I love them.

The Drunken Butcher

The Drunken Butcher

Cue the Drunken Butcher, who is fast becoming a stalwart of the Manchester supper club scene. Having first stumbled across him at a pop up down at The Liquorists gaffe, where his meaty inclinations met the bar consultant’s proclivity to create beautifully paired cocktails, I quickly fell in love with his porkfiteroles (cough) and found myself determined to taste more. Over a year later, after many informal soirees at his Sale-based gaffe and testing out each and every one of his kitchen gadgets, I was invited along to see what wonders could be conjured with his latest toy, a sous vide.*

Sous Vide Mackerel with Apple and Lovage Puree

Sous Vide Mackerel with Apple and Lovage Puree

Having previously feasted on deep fried tempura battered bacon and heavily smoked saddle of venison courtesy of Iain’s (his actual name) tinkering, a noticeable step change took place in our meat-obsessed friend’s output. The water bath method of cooking turned our dear butcher tender, and the usual blood lust that accompanies the generous meat mountains that Iain lays out was replaced by a seven course supper of (mostly) fish, elegantly plated and served to me and the seven other food fans and bloggers in situ.

Sous Vide Super Power

Fresh fillet of mackerel with apple and lovage puree fell apart lovingly, and the sous vide treatment afforded the meaty monk fish and sea bass main – swimming (soz) in a heavily reduced fish soup served with a refreshingly light lemon and fennel salad – a luscious melt in the mouth quality. Duck breast, scored then seasoned and cooked slowly for four hours at 54°C, shows just how tender and flavoursome this style of cooking renders its ingredients, lightly seared and plated with a rich Cavolo Nero sauce to finish up.

Sous Vide Duck Breast and Cavolo Nero Sauce

Sous Vide Duck Breast and Cavolo Nero Sauce

Iain’s truly distinctive style shone in the home-cured smoked salmon, contrasted beautifully with a tart cider apple brandy and a little heat from the accompanying horseradish sauce. The applewood smoke permeated the Kilner jar it was presented in, administered using another nifty tool from the sous vide range, and made for a potent, intensely moreish pot of food, though no more so than the duck confit, which couldn’t have been more Drunken Butcher than if he’d lasered his logo on it.

Home Cured Smoked Salmon with Apple Cider Brandy

Home Cured Smoked Salmon with Apple Cider Brandy

Duck leg, salted for 24 hours then vac packed with goose fat (hurrah) and constantly cooked at precisely 63.5°C for up to 48 hours – all before roasting (to reheat), shredding and topping with mash – made for the cleanest yet most disgustingly decadent duck confit I’ve ever experienced. Meat cooked confit this way would see me the happiest and most lard-arsed lady ‘til the end of my days, and if weren’t for the threat to our most beloved NHS, I’d give it a damn good go.

To Sous Vide or not to Sous Vide?

Delicate, wholly flavoursome on account of cooking in its own juices and brightly hued due to the gentle application of constant heat, without doubt, sous vide turns out its ingredients beautifully, and in the hands of someone as creative (and talented at sauces) as The Drunken Butcher, makes the food fun to eat and wantonly moreish too.

Sous Vide Confit Duck

Sous Vide Confit Duck

Would I want to spend precious meeting and eating time working out it takes an hour and a half to make a custard base at 80°C – as mastered for our spiced red wine poached pear dessert with home-made cinnamon ice cream – or sous vide a piece of rib eye steak that then required finishing off as traditional in the pan? No, even if the beef had given up all resistance to canine intervention, and the smoothness of the ice cream rendered dessert a dream.*

Life might be too short to sous vide too, it turns out, but never too short to go supper club (or restaurant) where they make good use of one.

* I wouldn’t mind that Polyscience smoking gun though. I have my heart set on home-made smoky old fashioneds, people, and lo and behold, I have a birthday coming up (hint, hint).

Iain was gifted his the smoking gun by industry suppliers Sous Vide Tools (already being in possession of a sous vide). The food was not gifted, and like the good bloggers we all are, admirably coughed up for the delicious food Iain waited around an age to cook. We were grateful; Iain was remunerated. All is well in the world. 

2 Responses to “The Drunken Butcher Sous Vide Supper Club”

  1. Iain Devine January 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I think it was the foul language and even worse laundry & behaviour that necessitated my departure!

    Thanks for the lovely write up Lauren x

  2. Melanie Devine January 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    thanks for a wonderful review of my son’s cooking – makes me wonder why I let him leave home!!

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