Malcolm Jolley is making fresh parsely-based condiments this winter.
I’m not sure I’m ready to boil an off cut for dinner this evening, but Jamie’s last pictures for this recent piece on Lamb’s Tongue caught my eye and stirred my appetite. A lot of it had to do with the gremolata artfully spinkled on top of his creation. I love gremolata, so much so that when I started Canada’s first online food and wine magazine in 2004 I gave it that name. (Also I couldn’t afford any food name domains in English.) From that love came new condiments, all based on parlsey: salsa verde, chimmichuri and the deceptively simple persillade. For whatever reason these classic accompaniments had become seasonal in our house. Perhaps because, notwithstanding gremolata’s symbiotic relationship with osso bucco, I tend to make them to accompany grilled meats in the summer time. With cold weather comes the possibility of pan sauces and cooked in seasonings and spices and the fresh made sauces, that add a burst of flavour to milder foods, were not so much required. A handful of chopped parsely would do.
As it turns out, Jamie’s gremolata inspiration was delicious as it was well timed. My kids are getting older, and the frequency with which we sit down to family dinners in increasing. When we’re all eating the same thing, my wife and I need to go easy on the chillis and spices if we want to see clean plates. Roast chickens that used to get a Jamie Oliver treatment of garlic and herbs stuffed under skin are now given a lighter treatment of salt and pepper (and a bit of smoked paprika, if I can sneak it on without anyone seeing). This sort of food, I realized was rife for a parsley plus treatment.
To accompany a pork roast, a Sunday or two ago, I headed to the fridge to gather the parsley (which, like garlic, we just always have). There in the drawer were two forlorne looking green onions. The scallions will do, I thought, and I chopped them up with a hand full of parsley and one long red chilli pepper. In a small bowl I added a dash of good olive oil, so that everything was coated and could marinate a bit, and a good dose of flaky sea salt. After an hour of getting to know each other, the ingredients set into a sort of lemonless gremolata, or chilli infused persillade, or whatever. It took about three minutes to assemble and it went beautifully with the port, and my 12 year old even tried and took a second spoonful.
Since then, there’s been no turning back. The basic recipe is parsley (or cilantro, though never both), an alluvial (garlic, shallot, onion) and olive oil. I like chillies so there’s usually at least one, and often lemon (if there’s half of one left over from a salad dressing) or a bit of vinegar for a touch of vinegar, though not always as above. If I make to much, on purpose or not, then the next day leftovers will find their way into a starch dish like rice, orso or pearl barley. Frugal, delicious, versatile. This is my new parsley policy.