Just over a year ago, I was asked to come up a recipe for a fundraising barbecue. The brief was straightforward. It had to use pork. It had to be simple, as it was going to be prepared in quantity, and it had to be a real crowd pleaser. With all that and seasonality in mind, I devised a delicious Pork with Ancho and Cherry Sauce. I was delighted with it. Then it all went wrong.
The venue was changed and the new location insisted on preparing the food themselves. So I was left with a cracker of a recipe and nothing to do with it. I was a bit peeved and delayed writing it up. Then the cherry season passed and I had to wait for nearly a year for the lovely fruit to make another appearance. So here, while cherries are available in the top half of the world, is the recipe.
- One rolled, tied shoulder (or leg) of pork joint about 1.5kilo
- 250gm of cherries
- Three or four dried Ancho chillies
- Sat and pepper to season
Put the ancho chillies into a small bowl and add about a quarter litre of boiling water.
Let this stand for half an hour. Pull out the stalks. Most of the seeds will come out attached. It is not critical to get them all out as the Ancho adds smokiness rather than naked heat to the dish.
Seed the cherries. If you have a cherry stone remover (like what I do) you are in a good place. If not, half the cherries and pop out the stones. They are going to be blitzed anyway so appearance is not top of the list.
Slash the meat like in the photo. Add the Anchos, the water they softened in and cherries to a processor and blitz them.
Season the pork very well with salt and pepper.
Side note on pork quality: The quality of pork available varies widely. I strongly recommend buying free range pork, if both your budget and conscience stretch that far. Many of the animals bred to provide pork and bacon for our tables have a pretty awful existence before getting the chop (pun intended). Do the right thing, go free range.
Pour the marinade over the pork and let it rest in the fridge for at least a few hours and preferably overnight.
Place the pork on a roasting rack and cook in a 200ºC oven until done. About an hour and a half should do the trick. A little longer if you have a leaky oven or are nervous about eating your pork on the rare side (If you are buying cheap, poor quality pork, you have every right to be nervous).
Reserve the marinade and put it in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and reduce it a little. Carve the pork into large slices.
Strain the marinade/sauce and serve it over the pork. I also roasted some onions to have on the side. They worked pretty well with this.
I recommend this simple dish. I’ve had nearly a year to think about it and it is certainly worth doing again, while the cherries are around….