Monday, 6 October 2014

Porky Blinders

Throughout our travels in France this year, we have enjoyed some marvellous charcuterie- in auberges, routiers and restaurant buffets.

This inspired me to write this week's Porky blog- a celebration of all things piggy.

So, eye protection on - get ready for some blindingly good pork recipes.

First of all, I really wanted to recreate some of that delicious French charcuterie.

Now, I'm not squeamish about offal (see blogpost but this task is not for the fainthearted.

I decided to follow Raymond Blanc's recipe for Pate de Campagne (with a few bits of additional advice from Delia) and I made a pork terrine- using three different cuts of pork : minced shoulder, belly and liver.

Now thereby hangs a tale ( and not a little curly one). Mincing pig's liver in a food procesor is a bit of a grim task- but the end justifies the means, I do promise you.

You need: 250g pork shoulder, 250g pork belly, 250g smoked bacon, 250g pig's liver, 1 egg, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp minced garlic,  1 tsp Chinese five spice powder, 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, 50ml white wine, 2 tbsp brandy, 20g shelled pistachios, (3 bay leaves).

Mince the shoulder, bacon and belly pork first, then the liver (as this can be a bit messy, warns Delia.) She's not wrong.
Messy mix!
Put the minced meats, garlic,  egg, salt and pepper, five spice, herbs, wine, cognac, pistachios all together in a large bowl and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated.
Turn into a greased loaf tin measuring approximately 23cm x9 x7,  press  the 3 bay leaves on the surface, cover with greaseproof paper and place it in a roasting tin half-filled with hot water.

Bake at 160 degrees for 1 hour or so (mine needed a bit longer) until a skewer inserted randomly comes out clean, feels hot against your skin and the sides of the terrine have come away from the tin.
Leave to cool in its tin- don't drain off the juices mistakenly thinking they are surplus fat- these will soak back into the terrine as it rests.
When cool, still keeping it in its tin, cover anew with foil and press with two tins or weights and leave at least overnight (and preferably for 48 hours) for the flavours to mature and for the terrine to gain the right consistency.
When ready to serve, turn it out onto a platter, pretty it up a bit and slice.
My Country Pork Terrine
RB's Pate de Campagne

Here is Raymond's version next to mine. Separated at birth or what?

After making this, I had some leftover pork mince,  as for once I was strict about weighing things and sticking to the recipe- and so made two extra dishes- pork n' cheese burgers for one night and stuffed cabbage rolls for the next. (Each one used up about 200g of pork mince- serving 2.)

For the burgers (and actually for the cabbage stuffing as this recipe is for  both)- put the mince, a cup of soft breadcrumbs (I hope you're keeping plenty of these in the freezer for whenever you need them), 2 tsp herbes de provence, a crumbled stock cube, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp pepper into a bowl and incorporate thoroughly. There's no shying away from it- you need to use your (clean) hands to get a really good mix.

Shape 6 small golf ball sized rounds from the mix and reserve for the cabbage dish, if you are making it.

Shape the rest into burger patties
Pork patties
which you should fry in a very little vegetable oil until caramelized on both sides before wrapping with a suitable melty cheese. I used Leerdammer but if you have any of the Raclette cheese left over from last week that would be excellent.

Pork 'n Cheese Burgers
Pop in the oven for a few mintues to melt the cheese - and serve.

For the cabbage parcels, first cook your cabbage leaves quickly in a steamer. You need 6. The outer leaves of a Savoy cabbage are best.
As soon as they begin to tenderise (5 minutes), take them away from the heat and spread out on a tea towel to dry. Use kitchen scissors (or a sharp knife) to take out the central rib.

Place a meatball in the centre and roll up into a parcel.

When all are rolled, put into a slow cooker (or casserole dish),
pour on some tomato sauce and a glug of red wine. (You can use a bought tomato sauce - Value ones are fine- or use any of the tomato sauce recipes on this blog) and cook for 3-4 hours on Low or 40 minutes in a moderate oven.
To finish, warm through in the oven and top with breadcrumbs.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Staying with cheaper cuts, belly pork -slowly braised -is one of my favourite winter meals. I slow cook it in the crockpot and either crisp the fat afterwards in the oven, or trim it off completely after cooking. If you missed this recipe on the blog, here is the link.
The ginger beer makes a lovely gravy and glaze- but cider does well too if you are just braising without glazing.
Pork Belly with Ginger Beer Gravy

Last cheap cut, before moving on to more sophisticated meats, I think sausages deserve a special mention.
I dedicated a whole blogpost to them- and here is the link


My favourite recipe is Sticky Sausages- featured here:

Sticky Sausages

Thanks to blog follower 'The Doctor' for the original recipe.

And Sausages with Puy Lentils (on the same post) is well worth a gastronomic detour.

Sausage and Bean Stew
I'm also partial to a Sausage and Bean

Now, for some slightly leaner cuts- using loin, sometimes called pork steaks or boneless chops.

Let's head East first of all for Sweet and Sour Pork:

I've used cubed pork steaks which are still quite inexpensive- but worth marinading overnight in a little sherry or sweet dessert wine before cooking. Allow 1 per person or 100g.

Fry the marinaded pork cubes briefly to brown them and place them in the slow cooker (or casserole dish) with 1-2 sticks of celery, chopped into 1 cm 'smiles', 1 red pepper- roughly chopped, 1-2 carrots in batons, 1 tin of pineapple chunks in juice (put 'em in juice and all), 1 cup of tomato juice or passata diluted with water to a similar consistency (you will need more liquid if you are casseroling rather than slow cooking), 1 tbsp rice wine (or cider) vinegar and 2 tsp of brown sugar.

Cook on high for 1 hour then on low for a further 4-5. (Or 1 hour in an oven at 180 degrees).

If the final result is a little thin, thicken it with 2 tsp of cornflour mixed to a paste with a little water. If it's too thick , thin it with a little water.

Slow Cooked Sweet and Sour Pork
But West is best - and here are a coiple more recipes using pork steaks.

I was intrigued to see Pork Osso Bucco cut on the butcher's counter this week, so may give that a go soon- but I expect you are all pigged out by now.

Sharnfold Pigs!

Remember- dogs look up to us, cats look down on us- but pigs are equals.

Sir Winston Churchill

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