If you’re looking to let off some steam and make the most of the longer days, then there’s plenty to get your teeth into – in more ways than one – at the Kielder Water and Forest Park.
Home to northern Europe’s largest man made lake as well as England’s biggest forest, it also offers one of the region’s best family days out with plenty of opportunities for walking, exploring, nature watching, water sports, cycling and more.
This remote area also features on one of the four Tasty Trails and associated recipes we’ve been featuring over the past few months in Journal Taste.
Kielder is at the heart of the South West Northumberland Trail, which apart from a suggested foodie-inspired route to follow also features information on top class accommodation, places to eat and lots of interesting facts and figures about the plethora of local produce this stunningly beautiful area specialises in.
Did you know that the River Tyne which flows through this area of south Northumberland is now rated the best in England for salmon and trout?
Or would you know where to find a liquorice and caramel flavour ice cream (Wheelbirks at Stocksfield in case the fancy takes you)?
One of the eateries that gets’ a mention is The Boat Inn at Leaplish Waterside Park, Kielder.
The man heading up the kitchen is renowned chef Kevin Mulraney, a Yorkshireman by birth who has now found a home in the North East via spells at some of the capital’s top restaurants (the esteemed Lindsay House in London’s Soho, being one).
He is passionate about using and promoting local produce, and his recipe for Head to Tail of Northumbrian beef featured on this page, is one of 14 from chefs and hospitality providers in County Durham and Northumberland, celebrating their respective areas and the fresh, local food on their doorsteps. They go hand-in-hand with the Tasty Trails.
The routes, which are free to download from both the This is Durham and Visit Northumberland websites, take in some of the two countries most scenic and gastronomically inspiring countryside.
They have been produced as part of a Northern Lands initiative funded by DEFRA with the aim of encouraging food tourism in both Northumberland and Durham.
You can choose from Weardale and the Derwent Valley, In and Around Teesdale, the North Northumberland Coast and the south west of the county, which includes Kielder, the Tyne Valley and the National Park.
The Boat Inn gastro pub offers both good food and panoramic views across Kielder Water.
Kevin says he gets his foodie inspiration from both the seasons and locality.
It’s reflected in The Boat Inn’s breakfast, lunch and evening menus, which feature plenty of fish and hearty Northumbrian beef dishes.
Among the local ingredients favoured by Kevin are Northumberland produced real ales – Wylam being one – meat from Farm to Freeze of Wooler and Berwick, milk from Lanchester Dairy, fish from Hodgson’s of Hartlepool, bread from Trotters of Seahouses, and Alnwick-based Bari Tea.
This produce ends up in the likes of The Boat Inn’s classic Northumbrian steak burger, local venison sausage and mash, and classic fish and chips. The breakfast offering has smoked salmon and the traditional full English.
Just the sort of meals you want after tackling the miles of purpose built trails, dedicated mountain bike tracks, or water sports that Kielder has to offer.
Head to Tail of Northumbrian beef, created by Kevin Mulraney and served at The Boat Inn, Kielder Reservoir
Wild mushroom encrusted fillet steak, a braised ox cheek cottage pie and ox tail suet dumpling with celeriac puree, roast root vegetables, watercress and meat juice reduction.
400g ox cheeks
600g ox tails
500g beef fillet
1 bulb garlic
1 large onion
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme
284ml Wylam beer
284ml pheasant stock
300g potatoes, mashed
25g carrot, diced
25g celery, diced
25g swede, diced
25g onion, diced
25g petit pois
1tsp sage, chopped
125g beef suet
250g self-raising flour
25g dried ceps
30g wild mushrooms
1 head celeriac
Splash of cream
Selection baby root vegetables, roasted
1 bunch watercress
Cracked black pepper
Dust the cheek and tail meat in seasoned flour. Seal in a hot frying pan.
In a large pan place the ox cheeks and tails with the garlic, large onion, herbs, Wylam beer and pheasant stock. Cover with a lid and slow braise for 2½ hours at 170°C.
At the end of the cooking time, separate the meats and reserve the cooking liquor.
Finely chop the cheeks and bring them together in a saucepan with the petit pois and the diced carrot, celery, swede and onion, mix with the passata, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Place the mixture in a ramekin and top with the creamed potato.
Finish in the oven at 200°C as a cottage pie.
Mix the chopped sage with the beef suet and self-raising flour to make the dumpling mix.
Pick off and chop the meat from the ox tails and add to the sage dumpling mix. Add a few tablespoons of water and bring together into a light dough. Make four dumpling balls and steam them for 16 minutes to cook.
Turn the dried ceps and mushrooms into a rough powder in a food processor.
Trim the beef fillet and cut into two 8cm lengths and roll in the mushroom powder.
Using cling film roll the mushroom covered fillets tightly into two logs, tie the ends to shape, and refrigerate for at least three hours to allow the mushrooms to re-hydrate and the steak to set into shape.
Remove the fillets from the fridge and in a hot pan, sear them on both sides.
Finish by cooking in the oven for five minutes for medium rare and seven minutes for medium at 200°C.
Cut the fillets in half to give four portions.
Boil the celeriac until soft, then puree and finish with the butter, cream and seasoning.
Roast the baby root vegetables with the honey.
The dish is served as a trio. Smear the pureed celeriac on the plate, add the beef fillet and ox cheek cottage pie and the honey roast baby root vegetables as a garnish.
Reduce the original cooking liquor by half and drizzle over the dish.
Top with the watercress dressed in cracked black pepper and lemon juice.
Why not continue the gastronomic journey through the region by downloading the food trails from either www.thisisdurham.com/food-and-drink/Tasty-Trails or www.visitnorthumberland.com/eat/food-trails . Alternatively, you can pick one up from a Tourist Information Centre. And look out for the next regional recipe in Journal Taste on June 27.