Warm your cockles
I introduced a friend to the joys of my local Saturday Farmer's market this weekend.
As we browsed she suddenly squealed “ooooo I love cockles” and ran off to inspect some.
She said that although she adored them and could eat them by the pound, the only way she ever ate them was from a bowl, sprinkled with white pepper and vinegar. The proper northern way. This method also apparently includes doing impressions of some generic Northern Nan and talking about chips wrapped in paper. Though maybe that's just us.
She asked “what else could I do with them?”
“Buy a bag and I'll show you” I said.
I picked up some smoked eel from the same stall and this always puts me in mind of one of my favourite dishes at St John; a restaurant I not only adore but also worked at. There we served it with bacon and mash. Simple but divine.
The plan for what dish I would concoct us slowly formed in my head.
Once home I unearthed some cider from the fridge and a slab of un-sliced pancetta I had leftover from some other adventure. Coupled with some parsley from my window box and a couple of spuds we wound up with a rich, elegant, sea salty dish. Smart enough for any dinner party, but particularly suited to dinner a deux.
This silky smooth, buttery, iodine tangy cockle liquor adorned pile of smoky bacon and succulent eel is comfort distilled onto one plate. Most definitely worth a trip to your fishmonger for and a search for the right ingredients. You'll thank me. With your mouths full.
Here's the recipe. Share the love with one of your friends; fair warms the cockles of your heart.