Badgering the Brigade
Every day can be a battle for survival for rural pubs with kitchen brigades badgered by stringent new health and safety rules, efficiency plans and budget drives while under pressure to produce the best food to keep the customers coming.
But now that chef Mark Fletcher, of the appropriately named Badger Inn, has enlisted an ally in the Essential Cuisine range of stocks and sauces, he believes he can meet any challenge!
Back in 2006, The Badger Inn was closed only to be renovated and re-opened by experienced landlord David Hughes in August 2011. David’s mission was to return the oak-beamed, 18th century pub in Church Minshull in Cheshire to its former glory and a major factor in determining whether or not he would succeed rested on Mark’s shoulders.
Recruited from Nunsmere Hall, twice voted County Restaurant of the Year by the Good Food Guide, Mark’s brief was to overhaul the menu to include favourites like home-made fish and chips as well as highlight fine dining choices such as braised beef Bourguignon and slow-cooked rolled shoulder of pork wrapped in black pudding with an apple sauce and cider jus – dishes that rely heavily on an excellent stock to make them work.
Says Mark, who works only with seasonal ingredients: “Historically, I have always made my own stocks, but in a pub, the traditional method of reducing stocks by boiling them overnight is no longer sustainable. Basically I needed a solution to allow me to create amazing stocks without the time constraints and financial implications.”
Mark discovered the Essential Cuisine stocks shortly after. He explains, “It halves the time it takes to make a classic veal, beef or chicken stock or jus, while giving me just the right depth of flavour. They have the taste and performance of a finished, kitchen-made jus, with a clean flavour, mirror-like sheen and viscous texture, which is exactly what I want from my sauces.”
Mark, who now serves around 100 covers a day rising to 150 at weekends, is also impressed by the stocks’ versatility. Mark explains, “I’ve discovered that because the stocks are powdered they are easy to add at any stage of the cooking process, so they make great flavour enhancers. I sprinkle some of the mushroom stock in my stock when making my mushroom risotto and use the chicken stock to season roast chicken. When I’m doing steamed cous cous, I add some of the veg stock and I also use it to directly season vegetables. It is far more forgiving than salt and the best range of ready-made stocks I’ve found.”
The product has a 12 month shelf life and offers a superior yield of 50ltrs per 800g tub (approximately £15). There is no need to refrigerate after opening and each tub is colour coded for easy recognition. New Halal Society-approved versions have just been added to the range.
For more information on the Essential Cuisine range and samples, call 01606 541 490, email email@example.com or visit www.essentialcuisine.com. For more on The Badger Inn, visit www.badgerinn.co.uk.