Sep 06 2014

Slow cooked Pork Shoulder in Milk

No more pigs for the time being so the last pieces in the freezer are hugely treasured! I cooked a rolled shoulder for friends last week, so good, though I say it myself! There are, of course, many versions of this Italian classic. Here is my take on it.

Brown a boned and rolled piece of pork shoulder weighing about a kilo in a little hot oil in a heavy casserole. Make sure it is nicely coloured on all sides then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add more oil to the pot and gently soften a couple of chopped shallots, 3 or 4 sliced cloves of garlic, a handful of sage leaves, the zest of a lemon and a sprig of rosemary. You can add all sorts of other herbs and spices according to your preference. Then pour in 300ml of white wine and 300ml of full fat milk. Gently simmer for a minute or two, take off the heat and return the browned pork to the pot. Most recipes say simmer gently but I prefer to cover the casserole with a lid and place in a slow oven  170-180 c for about 2 ½ hours. Be sure to check it regularly and stir the liquid which will, of course, curdle. This is the classic essence of the dish. Add more milk if it begins to brown. When cooked the meat should be soft and succulent and fall apart. The cooking time will vary a little according to the quality of the pork. When you are satisfied it is ready let it rest for ten minutes before cutting or tearing the meat with two forks into pieces. Spoon over the remaining liquid and serve with mash or crusty bread and a crisp salad. This is not an elegant dish but, oh my, it’s so delicious!

No responses yet

Dec 30 2011

Fillet of Pork with Sausage Meat and Prunes

Friends for supper last week so I thought I would do something with the pork fillet but it looked a little small for four of us. Trawling idly through my mass of cookery books, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s Meat Book came up trumps again, but, of course I didn’t have exactly the ingredients he suggested. So, instead of the mincemeat and dried chestnuts that he suggests, I used my own  prunes; last summer’s Dit’sum plums dried slowly overnight in the bottom oven of the Everhot then stored in an air tight jar.

I split my little fillet nearly in half and filled the cavity with our sausage meat, salt, fresh ground black pepper and the pitted prunes. I tied the whole with string to make a big oblong, then wrapped it loosely in tin foil leaving the top exposed, poured lemon juice over it and  chilled it in the fridge while I went into the garden to dig the very last Pink Fir Apple potatoes and pick winter spinach.

The pork went into a hot oven, 200c, for an hour until well done and golden. As the potatoes cooked I took the meat out of the oven, covered it and let it rest in a warm place on top of the cooker. I made a sauce with chicken stock, a table spoon of redcurrant jelly, and a pinch of cinnamon. I slaked a desert spoon of cornflour into a little extra stock, stirred that into the sauce and brought it just to the boil, stirring all the time until it thickened. Finally I stirred in a couple of tablespoons of cream, tasted the sauce and added seasoning.

The washed and destalked spinach wilted quickly in its own water. The secret with spinach is no extra water  and the quickest possible cooking. I still needed to drain it thoroughly and press it down in the colander to really get it dry. A quick stir over the heat with a knob of butter and it was ready too.

As I sliced the pork and served my friends it suddenly occurred to me that I had produced everything on the plate ! Not pudding though; I found Nigel Slater’s wonderful quick lemon curd ice cream recipe in his lovely book, Kitchen Diaries. Speedy to make, it is sharp and delicious after the rich unctuous pork.

No responses yet

Sep 08 2011

Slow roast pork

Ideally, if you have time, stuff a boned shoulder of pork with apples and celery, onion and breadcrumbs, sage and lemon, all bound together with soft butter and a beaten egg; salt and pepper of course.

But if you’re in a hurry, on the way to work or taking the children to school, leave out the stuffing or cook it later separately. Score the pork skin with a sharp knife and  rub in plenty of oil and salt. You can do this the evening  before and leave it in the fridge overnight. In the morning shove it into a hot oven as you grab a coffee, read e mails and make the pack lunches. But do remember to turn the oven down after 30 minutes to a low temperature ; 140 C/ Gas mark 1. Pour over a glass of cider and a little water and leave it alone for  4 or 5 hours. The bottom oven of a range is ideal here.

About an hour before supper turn up the oven to crisp the crackling on the pork. Cook the apple and celery stuffing  separately in a dish beside the pork. Keep an eye on the meat while you peel, cook and  mash potatoes. Sauté cabbage, carrots or leeks to go with the meat. Take the pork out of the oven and allow to rest. This is essential to allow the juices to soak back into the meat. Meanwhile finish the vegetables and make gravy in the roasting dish deglazing the residue with the vegetable water or a little stock, if you have it,  and thickening with a little slaked corn flour. Taste it and add salt and pepper too.

To serve cut the crackling from the meat and break into crisp pieces. Tear the meat into shreds and serve with stuffing , gravy, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Ideal comforting food for a cold December evening with good friends.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Salted Roast Pork Ribs with Mustard Parsnip Cream.

Serves 6:
1x 6-8 bone ‘French trimmed’ loin of pork, (see notes).
Salt and pepper, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling.
Cooking oil
1 Tbsp clear honey.
1 Teaspoon picked fresh thyme, saving the stalks.
Juice of ½ lemon.
300ml (½ pint) Chicken stock, tinned consommé or water.
25g (1oz) butter.

For the parsnip cream:
1.3kg (3ib) Parsnips.
Milk to cover (approximately 450-600ml / ¾-1pint).
Knob of butter
1 tablespoon Dijon or wholegrain mustard.

Preheat the oven to 230°C / 450°F / Gas mark 8. Score the skin of the pork with a sharp knife in a line between each bone. Season the underside and meat ends of the pork with salt and pepper. Brush the skin with cooking oil, then sprinkle with table and coarse sea salt. Place the joint in a roasting tray, sitting on its arched bones, skin side up. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes at the high temperature to begin the crisping of the skin. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6 and continue roasting, basting from time to time, for a further 50-60 minutes.

During this time, the skin will have crisped to a salted crackling finish. Remove the joint from the pan and keep warm to one side, allowing to rest for a good 15 minutes.

Pour away any excess fat from the roasting tray and place it on a medium heat. As the residue begins to bubble and crackle, add the honey and thyme stalks. The honey will melt instantly and begin to sizzle within a minute or two. When it begins to caramelise, add the lemon juice, which will begin to split, lifting all the flavours. Add the stock, consommé or water and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for a few minutes seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter. A teaspoon of flour can be added to the 25g (1oz) of butter. This will immediately thicken the liquor. Cook for a few minutes to finish the gravy,then strain through a fine sieve. Add the fresh thyme leaves just before serving.

While the pork is resting, make the parsnip cream. Peel the parsnips, splitting each lengthwise into quarters and cutting away the core. Cut the strips into rough dice. Place the diced parsnips in a saucepan and add enough milk to cover. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Place a lid on top and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the parsnips are completely tender. Using a slotted spoon, place some of the cooked dice into a liquidizer and blitz to a smooth puree, adding some of the milk if needed. As the parsnips begin to cream, more parsnips can be added. This may have to be done in two batches. If slightly grainy, you may want to pass it through a sieve. Once all of the puree has been made, keep to one side, ready to rewarm when needed. When reheating the knob of butter and mustard can be added and the seasoning checked.

To carve the pork, simply separate the portions by carving between each rib. An alternative is first to cut away the crackling. This can now be broken into pieces ready to serve with the craved pork. Serve the craved pork on warm plates with a spoonful of the parsnip cream and a drizzle or two of the thyme flavoured gravy.

No responses yet

May 21 2007

Curing Bacon

Back to pigs and curing bacon. I become fussier and fussier about the bacon I buy. What is that awful, white, fishy smelling, sticky goo that emerges from each rasher as it fries, rendering the lot soggy and welded to the pan? Why doesn’t it turn crisp and fill the air with that irresistible coffee mixed smell of breakfast as I struggle back, cold and hungry from the yard?

So the pork belly will go into a dry cure: salt, bay leaves, crushed peppercorns, juniper berries and soft brown sugar. I will rub the mixture into the meat and place it in a plastic tray; wood will do to but on no account will I use metal. I will cover it with a tea towel and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day I will pour off the liquid that has leached out of the meat and, if necessary, rub in a little more salt mixture. I will repeat this for three or four days. The longer I leave it the more salty but the more stable it will become. Finally I will take it out of the cure, rinse it well and pat it dry. I will wrap it in muslin or maybe greaseproof paper and make room in my fridge for it to hang from a shelf. It will keep for a month like this. Mild weather makes me feel the fridge is the safest option.

I would like to have it smoked but my local smoke house is now too large a concern to take tiny pieces of home cured affairs, so I’ll enjoy it “green”. Maybe one day I’ll tackle home smoking….

Delicious meals start to fill my head; petit sale with Savoy cabbage and mashed potatoes. Soak the bacon to remove the salt, rinse and bring gently to the boil, simmer for about forty minutes. Chop a Savoy cabbage, blanche in boiling water and drain well. Drain the cooked bacon and keep warm. Keep the liquor for future soup. Melt a piece of butter in a thick pan, add a tablespoon of the bacon liquor and re-heat the cabbage. Serve hot boiled bacon with cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Or how about an Anglicised Tartiflette? Fry some bacon till just beginning to crisp, add a couple of chopped onions and a left over, boiled potato or three. When the onion begins to caramelise tip the lot into and oven proof dish and pour over a little cream. No, this is not a light, slimming dish! Top with cheese, traditionally it should be Tomme de Savoie, but use up whatever you have. Bake until the cheese melts and bubbles. Delicious!

For a really quick supper just fry bacon cubes, shallot and cooked, sliced potatoes and, maybe, some mushrooms together and top with a fried egg. So simple and so nice!

But whatever you do, just remember as the winter month’s approach, to take a tip from Pieter Breuegel, the Elder’s Peasant Dancer and wear your spoon in your hat, so you may always be absolutely sure of a good meal wherever you go …….

No responses yet