Tag Archives: Pork

Ottolenghi Inspired Stuffed Peppers

29 Jul

Yes, the love affair with Mr O continues. Today the recipe is inspired by one from his book Jerusalem, and is, in turn, one of his own mother’s recipes. Momma knows best, we all know that.

As ever, I used what I had to hand, the original ingredients are in brackets following my version. It makes a stunning main course accompanied by a salad packed full of all your favourite leaves, or an excellent starter if you use smaller peppers and restrain yourself to eating only a half. Tough choice.

Stuffed Peppers (4)

Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course or 8 as a starter – easily halved, or even doubled for a party)

  • 4 red bell peppers (which I halved and blanched in boiling water for about 3 minutes) (8 romano peppers, no need to blanch)
  • 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce or (1 large tomato roughly chopped, 2 medium onions roughly chopped, about 500ml vegetable stock)

Stuffing

  • 140g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp Allspice (1 ½ tbsp baharat)
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 400g minced pork (400g minced lamb)
  • 2 ½ tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (2 tbsp chopped dill, 1 ½ tbs chopped dried mint)
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • Salt and black pepper

Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Boil for 4 minutes, drain, rinse and set aside.

Dry fry the spices, add the olive oil and onion and fry until the onion is soft. Pour this and the stuffing ingredients into a large bowl and mix). Season.

Stuff either the half peppers or if using the romanos cut a slit lengthways without cutting in half completely and stuff each pepper.

If not using previously made tomato sauce, place the chopped tomato and onion into a large pan with a tight fitting lid (or pour your sauce in). Sit the peppers on top, cover with a lid and either simmer on the stove top on a low heat for about an hour or cook in a medium oven until the peppers are tender. If using the stove top, make sure the sauce does not dry out by adding a little water if necessary.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monster Sandwiches with Celia’s Pan Cubano

10 Feb

We all know that one of the great pleasures of blogging comes from sharing, being inspired by fellow bloggers and getting excited by new recipe ideas.

Pan Cubano (1)

I baked the loaves late at night, sorry about the dark photo…

I’m a regular bread baker now.  My sourdough bread is made every 3 days or so, but sometimes I feel the need to shake it up and try a new recipe. A little while ago I saw a recipe over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Celia is the Queen of Sourdough and her recipe for a bread called Pan Cubano really called to me. The fact that it used Lard was probably the part which called loudest! In Southern Spain the pig is King and lard is used in many recipes. I’m in England right now but I felt nostalgic.

I didn’t use rendered pig fat in the recipe, I turned to my massive supply of goose fat which came from cooking the Christmas goose. You only need about a heaped teaspoon though, so I still have plenty leftover for delicious roast potatoes.

The bread turned out fabulously, although I didn’t get the characteristic slit in the loaf as I had no leek or palm leaves to lay down the centre of the loaf. Slitting them didn’t seem to make any difference but the flavour and texture  of the bread was incredible. Celia advised me to freeze some of the loaves if we weren’t planning on eating them all at once. Great advice as I made four loaves, each of which gave me 2 massive, builder-sized sandwiches. The sandwiches were filled with thin slices of smoked gruyere and cold twice cooked pork – amazing!

Pan Cubano (4)

Thanks Celia – for the inspiration and the amazing lunch…Go on, Be Inspired!

Twice Cooked Melting Pork

8 Feb

Regular readers of this blog will know that last year I discovered the cookbook by Gok Wan and was converted to cooking simple Chinese dishes at home through his wonderful recipes. For new readers – welcome! – do check out this book if you get a chance. I know he’s …er…”famous” for fashion advice and you may be dubious (I certainly was) but take my word for it, it’s a great book.

Twice Cooked Melting Pork (8)

This one was recommended to me by best pal Maria and I’m so glad I took her advice. The original recipe calls for Belly of Pork, I used a boned shoulder joint. Just as tasty, perhaps a little less moist than the belly (less fat) but perfect nonetheless. It take a little while to prepare as there are two stages, but it’s not complicated and is a great dish to part prepare ahead, then finish off in the oven when you are ready to eat.

In the book it is called “Poppa Wan’s Show Stopping Twice Cooked Melting Pork” – it’s a recipe of his father’s. So cheers Mr Wan, we loved it!

Ingredients to serve 4 generously

  • 500ml rice wine or dry sherry (I used about 250ml of dry sherry and 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar as I didn’t have rice wine) plus water
  • 2 star anise
  • A 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and bruised
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1.25kg pork belly (rind left on but unscored) I used 1kg boned pork shoulder joint

For the glaze – 4 tablespoons of runny honey mixed with 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce

Place all the ingredients except those for the glaze into a deep pan and add enough extra water to cover the meat generously. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 ½ hours (until the meat is very tender and cool enough to handle.

Twice Cooked Melting Pork (5)

Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6. Remove the pork from the liquid and place onto a board. Remove the top layer of skin and place onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Pour the marinade over (it will be runny) and cook for 20-30 minutes, basting frequently.

Place onto a serving dish and cut into slices or chunks. I served ours with mushroom and ginger rice and steamed pak choi. Wonderful and enough left over for sandwiches the next day…but more of them another time!

Crispy Pork Belly with Stir Fried Cabbage and Mushrooms

13 Apr

Another easy recipe from my Gok Wan Cookbook. You do need to plan ahead, just to make sure the pork is good and dry before cooking, but other than that, it’s a doddle.

Crispy Pork with Chinese Spiced Cabbage (1)

Ingredients

  • 1 pork belly (or piece, mine weighed about .75kg)
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground white pepper
  • Sea (kosher) salt

For the vegetables (a Chica recipe!)

  • About half a savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 6-8 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • Soy Sauce
  • A teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • Light soy sauce

Dry the pork belly well with kitchen paper, prick the skin all over with a fork and score the meat and skin with cuts about 5cm apart.

Rub the skin with the vinegar and lemon juice and rub the neat with the Chinese Five Spice powder, the pepper and some salt. Rub the skin with salt and leave overnight (uncovered) on a grill tray with an oven tray underneath in the fridge or a cool place.

Return the pork to room temperature before cooking (about 2 hours in the kitchen). Heat the oven to 170 degrees C/325 F/Gas 3 and cook for about 40 minutes on its rack. Turn the oven up to high and cook for a further 25 minutes until the skin is crispy. Leave to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. As you can see, mine didn’t crisp all over and I recommend popping it under a hot grill to sort this out. Or just eat and enjoy!

For the veggies, heat a little oil in a wok (I used a mixture of sesame and sunflower) and put the garlic, ginger, cabbage and mushrooms in and stir fry over a high heat until the cabbage starts to wilt.  If you like the cabbage softer, add a tablespoon or two of water and cover and cook gently for a few minutes.  Add a few dashes of soy sauce to taste and serve.

Chinese Leftovers Soup (1)

Leftover veggies can be added to stock, throw in a handful of noodles (I used angel hair vermicelli), spice it up with chili sauce and serve as a delicious next day leftovers soup. Add any leftover pork if you have it and don’t want a vegetarian soup, your choice.  Two meals for the price of one!

Faggots and Onion Gravy

22 Feb

Faggots are an old fashioned English dish made from offcuts of meat (usually pork) and offal. I remember as a child my grandmother waxing lyrical about them and me turning my nose up in disgust. Of course, now I’m almost grown up, my tastes have changed and having lived in Spain for 7 years, I am used to enjoying every part of the pig, including the oink.

A local butcher in Bexhill on Sea sells home made (or butcher shop made) Faggots for the princely sum of 50p each. That’s less than a euro or a US dollar and I mistakenly bought 6 for Big Man and I to try. Bad plan. Two was plenty for him and I managed one and a half (although I did serve the leftovers cut up cold the next day meatloaf style and the dogs feasted too)!

Faggots & Onion Gravy (5)

This is not a recipe for making them. As I started typing this I thought, I’ll pop over to Mad Dog’s blog, he’ll have something on there about faggots. Of course he did. My method for preparing them to serve was very similar, but different. If you know what I mean.

I cooked my faggots in the oven in a deep oven dish covered tightly with foil for about 40 minutes on a medium heat. I had drizzled them with a little olive oil and a splash of water.

While they were cooking I fried off lots of thinly sliced onions until tender and starting to brown. Then I added the cooking juices from the faggots, some tomato purée and a splash of red wine and seasoning. Then I thickened with a heaped teaspoon of butter mixed with a heaped teaspoon of flour (I’m sure there’s a proper name for this, please enlighten me) which I dropped into the gravy and allowed to cook gently whilst it thickened. Next time (and there will most definitely be a next time) I’ll brown the faggots at the end of cooking while I’m finshing off the gravy so that they don’t look so in need of a week in the sun.

Pre cooking

Pre cooking

We served it with plenty of creamy mashed potato and a good glass (or three) of wine. An economy meal fit for a king. What more can you want on a cold winter’s night?

Apricot Stuffed Pork Loin

18 Jan

Apricot Stuffed Pork (1)

Rest assured that despite the hard work, rubble and paint that is our life right now, we never go hungry!  In fact, we even manage to do a little small scale entertaining and this dish was one I made when Best Pal Ria and her brother-in-law came to visit and see what we had been up to.

I was inspired to cook this dish after having seen a beautiful recipe from ChgoJohn, take a look at this beautiful Roast Loin of Pork with Fig Preserves.

It was a great dish as it can be prepared ahead and served hot or cold, leaving you time to catch up with your guests.

Ingredients

  • A loin of pork (or a boned shoulder) mine weighed about 1.75kg 8 (which serves 6-8 people)
  • 10 finely chopped dried apricots soaked overnight in orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of harissa paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons of pine nuts dried fried until toasted (or you can do this in the oven)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A glass of white wine (or chicken stock)
  • Olive oil

Use a long sharp knife to cut a slit through the middle of the pork loin (think of a hollow tube) so that you can then fill this with “stuffing”. Mix together the apricots and the juices, the pine nuts, the harissa and about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season the mixture and use it to fill the pork loin.

Season the outside of the loin and rub a couple of teaspoons of oil into it. Place the meat into a deep dish, cover with a lid or tightly with foil and cook at a medium low heat for about 3-4 hours. Remove the meat from the juices (which you will save) and chill the meat. Don´t skip this step, it makes serving so much easier!

The next day, thinly slice the meat into rounds. Warm the sauce and reduce a little. If you want to serve the meat cold, serve the sauce separately. If you want to serve it warm, pour about a third of the sauce over the meat, cover with foil and put into a medium oven for about 20 minutes and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.

I served mine with cous cous with mint, lemon zest, pomegranate and pine nuts but we ate if before we remembered to take a photo!

Speedy Suppers – Smokey Pork with Pimentón and Peppers

13 Jan

I do love alliteration don´t you?! Even more I enjoy a speedy supper dish which tastes amazing and looks pretty too.

Smoky pork & peppers (1)

If you don´t eat pork, this would be delicious too with chicken. It just wouldn´t be so alliterative.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • 1 pork fillet cut into small strips (or use a small piece of pork loin)
  • 1 pepper, sliced (I used an orange one)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced quite thickly
  • About 6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of smoked pimentón
  • A small glass of white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche (or use full fat yogurt)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil

Start by browning the little strips of meat in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When they are browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Now add the onions, garlic,  peppers and mushrooms into the same pan and cook gently until softened then turn up the heat slightly to give some colour to the onions.

Add the meat back into the pan and sprinkle over the pimentón and season.  Fry gently for a minute then add the wine. Turn the heat down and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes then turn the heat up for a minute or so just to reduce a little of the liquid.

Check to taste the seasoning, turn off the heat and stir in the crème fraiche. Delicious served with plain boiled rice and some green vegetables.

Popping Home Pimentón Pork Pot

27 Sep

Yes, I mentioned the “H” word. Home! Big Man and I arrived back Up our beloved Mountain in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Only for a week mind you. This weekend is our village fiesta, and it was time to touch base with family and friends and to pick up some warmer clothes for the English autumn weather.

Our last night in very rainy Bexhill was spent pulling staples out of floorboards, hammering in nails and preparing the floor downstairs in House Number One to be sanded and varnished in our absence. Well, it was easier than trying to varnish around two excited pups (who are staying with my parents this week and creating havoc in their home). We had also spent time at House Number Two knocking down an outside loo, dealing with most of the kitchen ceiling falling in and leaving things ready for the plasterer to do his stuff while we are in Spain. Hectic times.

Before the ceiling fell in…

To get us in the mood for being home again I cooked a delicious one pot (what else) pork dish, reminiscent of Spain with the flavours of smoky pimentón, olives and peppers. I made sure to make double so that when we get back, tired and hungry (as we inevitably are after a day of travelling) we´ll have dinner sorted.

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 500g of cubed pork shoulder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of smoked pimentón/paprika
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Approx 150g olives (I used anchovy stuffed olives) sliced or halved
  • 1 ½ cups of your favourite or home made tomato sauce (yes, I made it!)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • A glass of red wine (optional, but of course I added!)
  • Water
  • Olive oil for shallow frying
  • Salt and pepper

Start by frying the pork until browned and remove from the pan. Then add the onions, garlic and pepper and cook gently until softened. Add the pork back into the pan and sprinkle over the pimentón. Now stir in the olives, the tomato sauce, the purée and the wine and season lightly. Bring to a simmer, cover (or half cover) with a lid and cook gently for about 45 minutes while you continue to pull staples out of floorboards (the stapling bit is optional).

If it starts to dry out too much, add a little water, depending on how saucy you like your dish.

When the sauce is rich and thick, and the pork tender and delicious, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve with rice or boiled potatoes or simply crusty bread. Pour yourself a glass of wine from that bottle you opened, pull the staple out that has embedded itself in your knee and relax.

And what did we do with our first day back? Take it easy? Heck no!

We dealt with the last tomatoes in our Huerto.

We met up with a cousin of Big Man´s to pick plums.

Then we went to a wine tasting last night.

Today we planned to attack our very overgrown garden and enjoy some sunshine, but it´s not to be. The weather here is as cold and rainy as Bexhill on Sea.

Time to dig out the winter woolies I think.

So…you want to make a Paella?

13 Jun

Finally, I thought it was about time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for this classic recipe. I went to a local expert, he´s called “Chef Colorin” and he makes the paellas for all the local fiestas. Be warned, there are LOADS of photos in this post, but I hope you enjoy seeing the process.

Of course, he wasn´t going to just  sit down with me over a glass of wine and give me the recipe. Much better than that, I was going to join in with the cooking. Fantastic, I thought, how many are we cooking for then Chef? Oh, not too many he told me, only 420 on Sunday. Get there about 11am he said, and we´ll show you the ropes.

Not one to balk at such a challenge, and I even wore the exceedingly unflattering hat (yes, I´ll show you the photos). It was one of the hottest and windiest days we´ve had for a while, so we couldn´t even put a shelter up for shade. Hey ho, the show must go on, and of course, it did.

We used 3 Paella pans which make 140 portions each. Feel free to adapt for smaller groups! The ingredients below are per 140 person pan.

Start with your base stock which is made in large 50 litre pots, sheltered from the wind today with a clever little device which goes round the base of the gas ring.

Into each pot goes 800g of stock cubes to 50 litres of water (at home, you´d probably use home made chicken or fish stock), 5 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of sweet pimentón, 200cl of dry white wine, 500g each of chopped peppers and garlic, 1kg of monkfish, assorted fish bones, 400g of chopped tomato and 4 kilos of prawns with their shells on. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Chef added 14 sachets of paella food colouring to the mix but at home we´d use saffron or turmeric.

Strain out the prawns, fish etc.

Then, wearing your glamorous outfit, count out 280 prawns (that´s so that everyone gets at least 2 each) and pull any meaty bits of fish off the bones. First come, first served on any extra prawns!

Lookin´good Chica, and rockin´that mesh hat look!

Is your fire ready to cook? I hope so, we´re going to begin.

Heat 3 litres of olive oil in your pan and add 8 kilos of chopped pork and season with salt to taste. Fry gently for a few minutes.

Now add a couple of heaped tablespoons of sweet pimentón.

Next comes a kilo each of red and green peppers and 250g of chopped garlic. Don´t forget the seafood – 2 kilos of chopped squid.

Stir gently while making silly faces.

Big Man has a go wearing the “Sherry Server” hat from Jerez!

Time to add 4 kilos of chopped tomatoes and a kilo of sliced roasted peppers.

Open the bags of rice carefully – 14kg for 140 people, which translates to 100g per person at home.

Such concentration – I take my work very seriously!

Add to the pan.

Stir gently into the sofrito with your giant paddle.

Now add30 litres of stock (which is 2 litres of stock per kilo of rice, plus a little extra – at home you would add 200cl plus a dash per 100g of rice…see, not so complicated!).

Keep that rice moving without burning your legs on the fire underneath the pan.

The professionals in action…

It´s much harder than it looks! (And don´t forget to taste).

Rookie cooking….

Remove from the heat and sprinkle over those prawns and the fish you set aside.

Was he trying to sneak one of my carefully counted prawns?!

Phew, job done. Time to show off an enormous loaf of bread baked by a local baker.

While we´re eating, you can enjoy a vaguely arty shot of a clean paella pan (don´t forget to oil it after washing up).

PS. Am off to London tomorrow for a week so will try to keep up with all your lovely blogs and comments, but apologies if some have to wait until after 20th June. Hope you enjoyed the paella making as much as I did, sorry it was so long but I really enjoyed putting it together. I do have to admit though, I was quite glad to take my “uniform” off and sit down in the shade of an olive tree with a large glass of tinto de verano.

Secreto Ibérico – Let me tell you a little secret…

18 Apr

Served with grilled potatoes and aubergines and garlicky mushrooms...

Secreto Ibérico (which translates as Iberian Secret) is a cut of meat, which comes from between the shoulder blade and the loin of the prized Iberian pigs.  Even if you can only find it from regular pigs, I recommend you give this cut of meat a go for the amazing flavour you get from it.

So, this is not a recipe, more a “letting you in on a little secret”.  The reason this meat tastes so good is that the surface is marbled with fat.  It is typically cooked over a high flame or hot griddle so the outside fat melts and gives you a fantastically crispy crust, while the meat inside stays juicy and tender.

Simply sprinkle some coarse (kosher) salt on both sides, pepper too if you like, and put it onto a very hot grill pan or barbecue.

Don´t fear the fat, it will work its magic...

Cook until it is golden and crispy and then leave to rest for 2 or 3 minutes. Round where we live it is traditionally cut into little strips after cooking and served with fresh lemon to squeeze over.

Gorgeous, Golden and Grunchy..sorry, Crunchy

If you ever do come across this beautiful cut of meat….”shhhh, don´t tell anyone – it´s a secret”!

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