It would appear that the ‘culinary confessions’ were premature! We haven’t actually given any one food poisoning nor have they needed hospitalisation but if they had, this would have been the week to do so. Our final week group comprises the owners and their daughter, his parents, his brother and wife, his 2 best friends with their respective partners and 2 children of one pair. The latter family arriving from their hotel in Skye so no comparisons then?! All the others originate from Holmfirth or Jackson Bridge so the accents are somewhat familiar, apart from the girl from Clydebank.
It may have been that the owner wife felt a little under pressure with all his family and friends and is trying to impress or that we are under closer scrutiny than usual as our praises have been sung so highly to these folks. However, we have been told, for this final week, to adhere closely to the recipes we were given at the beginning of the season (and told we could adapt!) because the food is becoming ‘watery’ and the chicken is overcooked and ‘leathery’! This is all very well but there are no quantities given on these or even proportions and both owners have been out during the course of the season, so eaten our versions without any comment until now, when it is all we can do to drag ourselves in for the final furlong! We are extrapolating that the menu and recipes are being tightened and embellished in case we don’t come back next year.
We have yet to have ‘the conversation’, not that we are procrastinating but as they are first out in the morning and everyone else is around in the evening, there hasn’t really been an opportunity without an audience. There could have been some private time on Saturday between groups of guests changing over but we had a lot of work to get through, 12 out and 10 in, and they went out skiing as well. We had been told that we wouldn’t need to stay around all day to do the ‘meet and greet’ as all the incoming had been before so we could possibly get some time off in the afternoon for the first time this season.
During the Saturday morning conversation about the meals, (in front of the final guests to leave!) one suggestion was that we didn’t cook the chicken casserole for so long in the (not-very) slow cookers, as they are quite fierce. So having prepared it all, after completing the cleaning, we left the chalet at 3pm with the two pots ready to switch-on on our return at 5pm as instructed. There were 24 pices of chicken thighs and drumsticks for the 13 people including 3 young children, which we had got out the freezer the previous night to defrost. In the morning we were also told to cook the third pack of 12 pieces as there was no point in not cooking them. Their addition did, however, make the pots very full and almost impossible to stir.
We were a little concerned at how slowly the pots seemed to heat up on our return, not a problem we’d noticed before as time had never been an imperative. Eventually they started to bubble around the sides, from where the heat exudes, but were too full to be able to successfully adjust positions of pieces in the pan by stirring, but we were just following instructions to change something which had been reasonably successful all season. There is no way the chicken pieces we had been serving previously were leathery, they’d been cooked for 4 hours and were falling off the bone, getting lost in the juices and cooking sauce. We hadn’t been eating this meal ourselves since December as it certainly wasn’t one of our favourites for taste as well as being a pain to prepare, despite, supposedly being easy to do on changeover day. It takes ages to get all the skin off the fiddly pieces of chicken (without adding a further 12!) and chopping the chorizo, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and even the courgettes which we managed to forget after they were omitted from the delivery one week. But we do strain the leftovers to provide a soup base, discarding all the solids which usually includes the bones.
We dished up without much concern but it was only as we cleared the debris off the plates into the bin at the end of the main course that it became very apparent that many of the drumsticks and thighs were still red raw in the middle next to the bone, oops! At least we will never have to cook this meal again as, even if we do return, it is going to be replaced by beef stew, thank goodness. I have also made my last ever batch of shortbread which has become the bain of my life this season. If we do return next year I am going to mutiny and refuse to make it, replacing it with a lemon drizzle tray bake.