A three course meal courtesy of Prince Charles, sort of.

Published on Foodepedia on 13th September 2010:

You may remember that back in September 2009, Waitrose and Duchy Originals joined forces in a partnership deal which gave Waitrose exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and sell Duchy Originals products. Duchy Originals was the brand set up by Prince Charles in 1990 to promote organic food and farming, and also to help protect and sustain the countryside and wildlife. A year later, Duchy Originals from Waitrose has finally hit the shelves so I got hold of a couple of products and tried to make an easy meal out of it.

As a starter, I had a beetroot soup with dill. I’m not a big fan of beetroot. It’s partly because I’ve had one too many beetroot and mustard mayonnaise sandwiches, it’s a strange combination I know but you have to spice up a boring sarny some how. But mostly it’s because beetroot seems to stain everything it touches. So when faced with this vibrant pink concoction, it was a little bit daunting. As it turns out, the soup tasted more like a tomato soup than beetroot and it was also surprisingly spicy. The kind of spice you feel on your tongue when you’ve just eaten raw garlic rather than hot peppers. With some warm garlic bread, it would have made quite a nice lunch. As it was, it didn’t quite tantalise my taste-buds.

For main I got some pork Cumberland rings and fresh beef gravy. Interestingly, the Duchy Originals from Waitrose range didn’t have any potato based products or anything that looked like it could accompany the sausages. That means no Dauphinoise potatoes, no rosties or even any sort of vegetable mash. Not that you would consider having these sausages as simple bangers and mash. These sausages are thick and wholesome, made from “prime cuts of free range pork shoulder”, British and organic of course. It’s the sort of produce where so much care has been taken to make it that you feel like you have to use it for something wildly exciting.

In the end I decided that the best way to treat these Cumberland rings was to make a sausage pie. All it took was one onion, one leek and one carrot softened in a pan with the sausage meat. Ten minutes later it was in the pie dish with half of the warmed gravy poured on top and ready rolled puff pastry pulled across for cover. Half an hour or so later, I got myself a tasty pie with some mighty meaty gravy to pour on top. And it was really good pie, if I do say so myself.

The sausage meat was nicely seasoned and not too peppery so it was perfect for the pie. The leek helped but what really made the pie was the gravy. I’ve never had gravy so meaty and flavoursome – it was like all the flavours of the meat had been distilled into this rich sauce. And unlike some gravies, it wasn’t heavily salted either which made it all the more surprising that it had such a distinct taste. This could be the gravy of choice for future pie making ventures.

I had high hopes for the monmouth pudding as a desert but perhaps I had placed the bar too high. Although the pudding tasted good, it wasn’t moreish; and it didn’t really round off the dinner, but rather, it felt like a snack on the side. Perhaps it just needed something extra like a little pouring cream.

By purchasing a pack of each product, with some cupboard ingredients thrown in, it was pretty easy to put together a three course meal for two hungry people or four light eaters. Although it wasn’t completely hassle free, mostly because of the lack of accompaniments to the Cumberland rings, it did offer a good opportunity to be creative. All in all, the meal was nice and afforded quality in terms of taste and value for money.

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