Posts Tagged “pork”

Pork Belly, Asparagus and Ale Sauce The belly has long been my favourite part of the pig. There are two things I generally prefer to do with a pork belly; either salt it and cure it to make dry-cured bacon, or braise it long and slow, for about 12 hours, then press and chill it before roasting it until crispy. Pork belly cooked this way has the most amazing mouthfeel; the meat itself is succulent and has fat running through the layers that melts in your mouth, and the skin that sits atop is the most fantastic crisp pork crackling. It’s a great contrast of textures! --- * 1 1/2kg of pork belly, skin on, bones removed but reserved * 200g of pork trimmings, diced * 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, diced * 2 sprigs of thyme * fine sea salt, or table salt * 1 sprig of sage * sea salt and cracled black pepper * 400ml of medium dark ale * 1 carrot * 1/5 leek * 1 onion * 1 tomato * 1/5 bulb of garlic * 1 litre of * chcken stock, unseasoned * 20g of unsalted butter * a little beurre manie * 1 spring cabbage * 200g of baby spinach * 20 spears of medium asparagus, points removed 1. Heat the oven to 140C. To cook the pork belly, season it with 1 heaped teaspoon of fine salt and rub it into the flesh and skin side. Line a roasting tray that just fits it in snugly with greaseproof paper, and add water until just covered. Add a sprig of thyme and a few sage leaves, then place in the oven for 10-12 hours, until it is absolutely tender and almost falling apart when touching it with a spoon. Remove the liquid from the tray, and set aside. Now cover the belly with another sheet of greaseproof paper and press with another tray on top, followed by a heavy weight (2-3kg). Place in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours. 2. To make the pork and ale sauce; take the reserved bones from the belly and cut into small pieces using a cleaver or a heavy pair of scissors. Cut the carrot, leek, onion and tomato into approx 1cm dice, and set aside. Lightly crush the garlic. In a large, heavy based pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a high heat. sauté the bones until golden, then strain in a colander. Reduce the heat to medium, and in the same pan, cook the vegetables with a generous pinch of salt for about 10 minutes. Add the pork bones back in, along with the rest of the thyme and a few sage leaves. Add the ale, and bring to the boil. Reduce until the liquid is completely gone, then add the reserved cooking liquid from the pork belly. Bring to the boil, and reduce until dry again. Add enough chicken stock until just covered, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve, and reduce by half, or until you have an intense flavour. Whisk in some beurre manié to thicken, adding just a little bit at a time. Set the sauce aside. 3. Heat the oven to 180C. Portion the pork belly into 4 equal sized pieces, and score the skin carefully in a criss-cross pattern. Add 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large heavy based pan (with an oven-proof handle), then add the pork skin side down and place over a high heat. When it just starts to sizzle, place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the skin is golden and very crispy. 4. While the pork belly is cooking, prepare the vegetables; fill a large pot with water and season generously with salt. Bring to the boil. Cut off the bottom 1-2 cm of the asparagus as it is woody and tough. Remove the outer 2 or 3 layers of the cabbage, and cut out the thick veins. Slice coarsely. Wash the baby spinach leaves, then set aside. When the pork belly is about 5 minutes away from finished, heat the butter in a large sauté pan until foaming, then add the cabbage along with a pinch of salt. Cook until tender. Cook the asparagus in the boiling salted water until just tender - about 4 minutes. Finally, add the baby spinach to the pan with the cabbage and cook until wilted. Serve the pork belly on the bed of vegetables, and pour the sauce over.

Roast Pork Fillet, Grain Mustard Sauce Pork fillets are easily obtainable and relatively inexpensive, but the best thing about them is they usually come with trimmings attached to them which must be removed before cooking; and with these trimmings you can make a quick and delicious homemade sauce with no pre-made stocks or artificial seasoning. Just simple fresh ingredients. This recipe is one of the easiest and most delicious things to do with a pork fillet, and personal favourite of mine. Grain mustard is a classic pairing for pork, and combined with creamy mashed potatoes and cabbage, it’s an absolute winner! --- * 2 pork fillets * 1 savoy cabbage * 50ml of double cream * 4 Maris Piper potatoes, or King Edward * 65g of unsalted butter * 30ml of whole milk * sea salt and cracked black pepper * ground white pepper * 2 cloves of garlic * 2 shallots * 2 sprigs of thyme * 1 bay leaf * 1 sprig of sage * 100ml of cooking brandy * 1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard * vegetable oil, for cooking 1. Heat the oven to 170C. Prick the potatoes with a skewer, then place in the oven for about 1hr 30mins, until soft and cooked through. Cut the potatoes in half, then scoop the potato from the skins and either mash with a masher or pass through a sieve. Place into a wide-based pan, and over a medium-low heat, add ½ teaspoon of salt, and mix. Add 30g of the butter, one dice at a time, then add the milk. Continue to cook out until you have a completely smooth, silky texture. Adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper if need be. 2. While you’re waiting for the potatoes, make the sauce: trim the pork fillets of all sinew, and cut off the small head or “chateau” from the end. Cut all the trimmings approximately 1cm dice. In a large, heavy-based pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a high heat. Season the trimmings with salt and black pepper, then fry until golden all over, and strain in a colander. Meanwhile, thinly slice the shallots, and crush the clove of garlic. Add the shallots, thyme, bay, sage and garlic to the same pan and turn the heat to medium. Add a pinch of salt, and gently cook the shallots for about 10 minutes, until they are soft. Add the pork trimmings back to the pan, along with the brandy. Boil, and reduce until completely dry. Now cover with cold water, and boil to reduce until dry. Repeat this 3 times, but on the last time, only reduce by half, then strain the sauce into a separate pan. Add the cream, and continue to reduce until you have a nice sauce consistency. Lastly, add the mustard, and mix. 3. To cook the pork fillet: heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large heavy-based pan over a high heat. Season the fillets all over with salt and white pepper. Fry the fillets all over until golden and caramelised. Place the pan in the oven for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven, and add the remaining 25g butter. Heat until foaming, then add 1 sprig of thyme and 1 crushed clove of garlic. Baste the pork fillet for about 2 minutes, turning over after 1 minute. Cook until the pork is still slightly pink in the middle. Transfer to a rack and leave in a warm place to rest for at least 10 minutes. 4. Prepare the cabbage: Remove and discard the dark green outer layers. Take the inner leaves off and remove the woody veins. Thinly slice the cabbage, then set aside. Heat a little vegetable oil in a wide-based pan over a medium-high heat, and sauté the cabbage, with a pinch of salt, until lightly coloured. Turn the heat to low, then add the remaining 10g of butter. Cook gently until cabbage is tender taste, and add more salt if needed. 5. To serve, place a spoonful of the mashed potato in the centre of the plate, with a spoonful of cabbage next to it. Slice the pork fillet, and place on top. Spoon the sauce over.

Dry Cured Bacon Since my last batch of dry cure bacon had been finished up a while ago, it was high time I made some more. Although I was pleased with the last lot, I was slightly annoyed by the fact I had to soak it in water to reduce the saltiness, as the flavour from the rosemary, sugar and black peppercorns will have also been reduced. Whilst browsing the River Cottage forums one day, I read about other people who had had the same problem when following Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe for dry cure bacon. There was one person, Howard, who had done alot of research and looked at several different recipes before he tried curing his bacon, and said it turned out beautifully. So I decided to follow his guidelines. I love making bacon. Such a simple procedure, with such amazing results. It’s quite comforting to have a load of delicious streaky bacon sitting in my fridge, waiting to be turned into something tasty. Again, I got a hold of a whole pork belly (I don’t like to do things by half), but it wasn’t all for me; the other chefs Marc, Marcus and Alan from work were going to split the cost with me for a piece of bacony loveliness. I was more adventurous with the flavourings this time; nutmeg and rosemary were the primary notes, with undertones from a few other spices also coming through. I did actually end up soaking the bacon, but only for 1 hour this time, so the extra flavours were still noticeable in the finished bacon. I didn’t manage to get a hold of any salt petre unfortunately, so the bacon won’t keep its pinkness when cooked. The flavour will be unaffected though, which is the main thing. I’m very happy with the end product; I have delicious things in store for it. It was a source of comfort and joy to have my bacon hanging up in the kitchen, slowly maturing and increasing in firmness and flavour. Everyone should try making bacon, it’s so easy, and you will have a product which is many miles better than anything you can get in a supermarket. --- * 5kg of pork belly * 300g of salt * 100g of soft brown sugar * 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper * 6 bay leaves, finely chopped * 3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped * 1/2 teaspoons of ground mace * 6 allspice berries, ground * 3 cloves, ground 1. Mix all the ingredients except the pork together in a bowl. Rub about three-quarters of the mix into the belly, leave in the fridge for 24 hours then pour the liquid away and repeat, but only adding a small amount of cure mix after the first day. Cure it for 4 days, then cut off a piece and fry it to test for saltiness. If it’s too salty, just soak it under running water for an hour or longer to reduce this. Finally, wrap it in muslin and hang for a week in a cool larder to dry and allow the flavour to mature.

Puerco Pibil For dinner this Christmas eve I made Puerco Pibil - a slow-cooked pork dish with an amazingly intense flavour. It's flavoured -and coloured- with annatto seeds; they have a distinctive, slightly sharp flavour and a deep red colour, as you can see from the photos. This is an uncompromising meal. When you eat, it rampages down your throat. When I first made it, 'twas was like nothing I had ever tasted before and it remains one of the most unique flavours I have ever encountered. It's not just the heat from the chilli, its the combination of that along with the vinegary tang and the distinctive flavour of annatto which makes it. You have to try it. --- * 2 1/2kg of pork shoulder, cut into very large chunks * 5 dessertspoons of annatto seeds * 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds * 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns * 1/2 teaspoon of cloves * 8 allspice * 4 red chillies, chopped * 8 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped * 200ml of orange juice * 200ml of white wine vinegar * 5 lemons * 1 glug of tequila * 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar * 1 tablespoon of salt * banana leaves, if avaliable 1. Grind the annatto seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves and allspice in a spice grinder until a fine powder is achieved. 2. Put the spices into a large bowl in which you will marinate the meat. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, including the chunks of pork, and mix well. 3. Leave to marinate for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight. 4. Heat an oven to 165C/Gas mark 3. Line a roasting tin with banana leaves, if available. Pour in the meat along with the marinate, cover and cook for 4 hours. Just before serving, remove from oven and sprinkle over another tablespoon of dark brown sugar. 5. Serve with fluffy white rice.