Monday, July 19, 2010

Illegal Substances

Day 30

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 5 pounds (201 lbs)

Yes – two days of detoxing did the trick. I’m now pretty sure that the Dukan diet’s primary purpose is to incentivise, rather than to provide a proper scientifically-based weightloss programme. Either that, or it's designed only to inflict misery. I lost those four pounds without blinking simply by giving up alcohol and eating mainly protein.

I say mainly, but in fact I supplemented this intake with some extremely illegal substances: namely new potatoes and fresh peas – both harvested straight from my vegetable garden. I’m sorry Dr Dukan, but I'm now ignoring your absurd suggestion that my diet must have no peas – they’re only starchy when they’ve been left on the plant for too long (or shipped to a supermarket). So these were cooked within ten minutes of picking. With a little home-grown mint, these little beauties were the most delicious thing I’ve eaten so far this year. And, best of all, they made a fantastic risotto primavera on Thursday night. But that was a mistake. I put it down to the party the night before.

Jo and I were so appallingly hungover on Thursday morning that, after we waved goodbye to Josh, we were both craving comfort food. I cooked her Cumberland sausages and mustard mash with onion gravy while I rustled up a risotto for myself. This is how non-diet-friendly these dishes were: (please note, these recipes should not be followed by anyone pretending they're on a diet).

Tom’s Sausages and Mustard Mash Hangover Cure
(not to be confused with recipes for mustard mash made with grain mustard, which are positively disgusting by comparison).

Fry the sausages in a little peanut oil. Just a little.

Meanwhile, boil Maris Piper potatoes (one wife will eat about four medium sized potatoes, depending on extent of hangover). Melt half a pack (125 grams) of unsalted French butter in a saucepan. It looks a lot. It is.

When butter is runny, add a huge glug (about 150 ml) of thick single cream (or thin double cream). Stir and bring to a simmer. Add five heaped tablespoons from a jar of Colman’s English Mustard. Stir – it should be yellow. Add salt and pepper. It looks like an awful lot for a few potatoes. Don’t worry, you wanted mustard mash, and this is the best in the world.

Beat sauce into the mashed up potatoes. They should go yellow and be extremely mustardy.

Onion gravy: 1 red onion, sliced and fried in olive oil and butter till it softens and releases its white sugary yumminess. Add one tablespoon brown sugar and one of red wine vinegar. Add a little veal or chicken stock, or a bit of an Oxo cube. Thicken a little with cornflour if you don’t have time to reduce it completely to a wonderful gooey sweet and sour sauce. Pour over sausage and potatoes. Eat, then sleep.

(NB if you eat the lot you'll have consumed about 1,000 calories – but it cures any hangover, and Jo said she felt better immediately.)

Tom’s Risotto Primavera Hangover Cure

Have about a litre of homemade chicken stock simmering away on stove (or, if you have to, make if from a couple of chicken stock cubes).

Fry 1 finely chopped shallot in olive oil and a little butter (add butter after heating olive oil so it froths up). When shallot is soft, add finely chopped garlic for about 30 seconds (so it doesn’t brown) and then half a handful of Carnaroli rice (which is preferable to Arborio).

Stir dry rice over heat till it smells a little nutty, then add a large glug of white wine (do not drink wine under any circumstances). As soon as wine is absorbed, start adding stock, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring.

Meanwhile blanche in heavily minted, slightly salted water (for no more than 2 minutes) peas and finely sliced baby courgettes (zucchinis to Jo). And broad beans if they’re ready (which they were not). Immediately plunge them into iced water for a minute, then drain. The peas should stay bright green.

Add peas and courgettes after risotto has been cooking for 12 or so minutes – and courgette flowers if you have them. Cook for a further 5 or 6 minutes, adding more stock as required, till the starch starts to flow from the rice and the grains taste firm but not crunchy (don't listen to anyone who says risotto should be "al dente" - they're wrong. Ask any Italian). Add big glug of mascarpone cheese (or unsalted butter or creme fraiche) and a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan, salt and pepper and finely chopped parsley.

These are the most DuKant things you can ever eat. But also the most delicious. And despite a bowlful of risotto on Thursday night, by Sunday I was where I needed to be. Except that Sunday was the day we had the final birthday celebration for Jo - a picnic on the beach. Mortadella sandwiches! - the best (but see tomorrow's posting for news of their disastrous consequences).

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