Slow Cooked Cuban Style Pork

Long slow cooked dishes usually make me think of the cooler months, but using the slow cooker means the kitchen doesn’t get all hot and steamy, and I don’t get all hot and bothered. And with a little planning, if you need to use the oven,  head out for a few hours to enjoy the sunshine  and come home to a delicious meal!

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I bought a shoulder of pork the other day, a not expensive cut of meat which goes a long way with a little crowd, or it can be used for a few meals when it’s just the two of us. I’d seen a few recipes for Cuban Mojo Pork which included the juice of citrus fruits like orange , lemon and lime and the fresh flavours appealed. I also recently discovered a lovely new blog, Iowa Girl Eats. Lots of lovely gluten free recipes for those that don’t/can’t eat gluten, and for others like me who can…just a lot of lovely,  beautifully photographed recipes! This dish follows  her recipe pretty much exactly (thank you Kristin!) and I can highly recommend it. We ate the dish, as she suggested with rice, guacamole and I made some spicy Black Bean dip. Lots of lovely leftovers too, so a win-win situation.

Ingredients (to serve 6 approx)

  • Pork shoulder  (about 2kg), skin removed
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup each of lime and lemon juice
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 hot chili (cut open but left whole)
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried cumin and smoked pimentón 
  • 2 bay leaves

Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for about 10 hours. The meat should shred easily (like pulled pork) or you can leave it in chunks. I put the pork shoulder in whole but you can cut into  large chunks if it fits better into your pot that way.

If cooking in a conventional oven, I’d recommend cutting the pork into about four or six pieces, using a cup and a half of chicken stock and cooking on low for about 3 hours. Check the liquid half way through,  you may need to add more as you want the final dish to be juicy with some of the lovely sauce it creates to spoon over.

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Serve with whatever you fancy. I make my guacamole by mashing a large ripe avocado then adding in some finely chopped spring onion, a finely chopped ripe tomato,  finely chopped coriander and chili and seasoning.

If you enjoy slow cooked pork dishes, check out my Chinese Style Slow Cooked Pork.

PS. Am playing around with a “new look” on the blog. Let me know what you think, all criticism happily accepted! And if anyone knows how to add a “search” button to the top of the page, I’d love to know how…

 

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Melting Spiced Pork with Aubergine

Not quite a curry, but with just a few fragrant spices and a gentle cook in the oven, you’ll be rewarded with a pot of melting meat and aubergine which will make you oh so happy! And for non meat eaters, read on to the end for a vegetarian alternative.

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Ingredients, to serve four with rice

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 750g pork cut into bite sized chunks (I used skinless pork belly strips)
  • 2 aubergines cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 onions, peeled and very finely diced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander (separate stems and leaves and finely chop both)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of a lime

Heat oven to 200C/180C Fan Oven/Gas 6. Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan that has a lid and fry the meat until browned (you may need to do this in batches), remove from the pan.

Add the aubergine and brown (you may need a little extra oil), remove from the pan and put with the pork.

Now add the sugar to the pan and allow to caramelise slightly, then return  the meat and aubergine to the pan with the cinnamon and star anise.

Put the onions, ginger, most of the chili (reserving a little for garnishing) and the chopped coriander stalks into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the fish sauce and enough water to cover the mixture completely.

Cover and place in the oven for an hour. Remove, stir in most of the coriander and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Garnish with any remaining coriander and chili and serve with boiled rice and vegetables.

For a vegetarian version, omit the pork, and replace with a mixture of robust mushrooms such as brown chestnut and shitake. Substitute the fish sauce with a light soy sauce.

 
Inspired by a BBC Good Food recipe

Carne en salsa – Pork with peppers and potatoes

In Andalucía many restaurants will offer, as part of their menu, a dish called “carne en salsa”. Literally translated this is “meat in sauce”. In Andalucía this will be, pretty much without exception, pork. The dish will be served as a tapa in tiny terracotta dishes with a small piece of crusty bread, or you can order a media ración  (a half portion) or a ración  (a full portion). Full and half portions would most likely be served with chips (fries) or perhaps potatoes or rice and main dishes are usually shared with several different dishes ordered and everyone digging in.

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This is a loose interpretation of the dish, it wouldn’t usually have potatoes or chorizo included when it’s cooked, so leave them out if you want to be more authentic. If you have an earthenware dish to cook it in, go for it. The gentle cooking in these pots does something good special to the flavour. I used my slow cooker (then warmed it through in my Cazuela to serve), but this can be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven if you prefer.

Ingredients (to serve 4-6 as a main course)

  • 1kg pork shoulder diced into bite sized cubes
  • 2 fresh chorizo sausages, sliced
  • About 500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 peppers (any colour) diced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • A pinch of saffron threads or half a teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet pimentón
  • ½ teaspoon of hot pimentón  (optional)
  • About 10 sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large tablespoons of tomato purée
  • A glass of red or white wine (about 125ml)
  • A good slug of dry sherry (optional)
  • 125ml approx of chicken stock (extra if you cook in a conventional oven or stovetop)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour  (optional)
  • Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish

Put the pork, chorizo, potato, onion, garlic, pepper, tomatoes, saffron (or turmeric), pimentón,  thyme and bay leaf into your cooking pot or slow cooker. Season with the salt and pepper and mix.

Mix the tomato purée with the wine, stock and sherry and pour over the pork and vegetables. In the slow cooker cook on  high for about 4 hours until the meat is very tender. On the stovetop bring to a gentle simmer and cook, half covered for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender for about 2 hours. Check frequently, you may need to add a little extra stock.  In the oven, cook at a medium low heat for about 3 hours, covered, until the meat is tender. Check every 45 minutes and add extra liquid if needed.

When you’re almost ready to serve, if the liquid is too runny for your liking, add two heaped teaspoons of cornflour to a little cold water and stir in. Return the dish to the heat for about 20 minutes (slow cooker or oven) and 5 minutes (stove top) until thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, garnish and serve with plenty of lovely crusty bread.

Slow Cooked Chinese Style Barbecue Pork

We’re now back from Spain after a hectic month of family, friends and house repairs. Some good times and some sad times but that’s life isn’t it? Back in Bexhill for the moment and life is taking on a gentler pace for the next couple of weeks. That’s good as far as we’re concerned!

A gentler pace means time for slow cooking. I seem to have been rather enthusiastic about my passion for the slow cooker as my best pal Ria decided she wanted to give one a go, so I bought her a slow cooker for Christmas. My mum then decided that she’d join in so bought a slow cooker too. We’re all at it – slow cooking with passion and exchanging recipes. Not a bad way to enjoy food, especially when we’re able to share the results of our experimenting with each other.

 

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Here’s a great recipe which works equally well in the oven or the slow cooker. It takes very little preparation and after the required number of hours you’re rewarded with a dish which looks and tastes as though you’ve done something very cheffy and clever.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

  • 2 finely chopped or grated garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin (use sweet sherry otherwise)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • a bones and rolled pork shoulder (about 1kg/2lb in weight)
  • Steamed or boiled rice and chopped spring onions to serve

Put the garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, mirin, oil and five spice powder in a large bowl and mix. Add the pork to the bowl and coat it in the sauce.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight if possible.

When you are ready to cook, bring the pork to room temperature. Put into an ovenproof dish with a lid or into a slow cooker. In a conventional oven, cook at Gas Mark 3 for about 4 hours, If you find it is drying out, add a small glass of water. In the slow cooker cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours until the meat is very tender (you won’t need to add any additional liquid in the slow cooker).

Slice the meat and shred lightly to serve. Pour over any cooking juices and serve hot with the rice and spring onions.

Leftovers are wonderful cold in sandwiches.

If you’re inspired by this, why not take a look at my twice cooked melting pork?

Twice Cooked Melting Pork (8)

Churrasco de Pollo

Churrasco in Spain, Portugal and South America generally refers to meat that has been grilled over an open flame. Often it has also been marinated in something, in Andalucía it’s typically a spice mix used to make Pinchitos Morunos (Moorish Kebabs) little skewers of meat, usually pork. They’re typical fiesta food and very popular.

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At home meat can be rubbed in the spice mix (which is bought ready made) which is made up into a paste with olive oil. Generally about 3 teaspoons of mix to every kilo of meat. The meat is then cooked on a hot griddle pan or over a barbecue. We’re just back in England, so I’ve made sure to bring a supply of spice mix with me to remind me of this dish.

If you can’t get hold of the spice mix (which is almost like a mild curry powder), you can make your own. The meat I used was a 2 boned thighs and drumsticks and it was cooked on the bbq – delicious!

Ingredients

1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried yellow mustard
pinch of ground Spanish saffron

Turn your favourite Latino music up to top volume, serve with an ice cold beer and enjoy!

Ottolenghi Inspired Stuffed Peppers

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

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.

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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!

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

Twice Cooked Melting Pork

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.

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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.

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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

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

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)!

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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?