Pork

Meatballs – they are not the most challenging thing to produce. Start with great meat, add some decent aromatics and be sure to serve them in a tasty sauce. If you do that, everything is bound to turn out fine. Fine, that is, if you don’t ask your daughter to choose between Thai and Italian. I made that mistake and she punished me for it. When I mooted the meatballs idea, she immediately said “Mmmmmmm, in a nice tomato sauce”. As I have already posted Italian style meatballs, my suggestion that I needed something new for the blog didn’t go down well. But she didn’t leave it there. 

Pork with Juniper (6 of 9)

You can see it now. The backdrop is the inside an old red-brick building housing a gleaming modern copper still. The guy, wearing skinny jeans and an old check shirt, is mid 30s with a beard of which Grizzly Adams would be proud. He is holding a glass up to the light, as if he is inspecting a rare diamond for clarity. He’s not, he’s looking at one of the easiest to produce spirits, gin.

Sticky Pork Cubes

Many, many years ago, my great aunt Anna passed away. She was on my mother’s side of the family and a pretty fantastic woman by all accounts. She left to my mother, (amongst other things), a fine bone china tea service. Despite my being only a callow youth at the time, I well remember the beautiful translucent cups and delicate plates. The story went that the only person to whom tea and cakes had been served on that set was the Archbishop of Armagh. Back in the day, he was a man of great influence in Irish society. Having such a service was a rare thing. We really didn’t appreciate it. It spent most of it’s life in our house gathering dust on a basement shelf. I tell you this because there needs to be a good reason for any Irish person to get the good plates out. This easy to cook oriental delight is a great reason. So, with distant memories of Great Aunt Anna’s tea service, I present you with Sticky Oriental Pork Squares

While thinking about what to write about this recipe, I was reminded of an old story about the Hungry Man and his dog Spot. Life had pretty much got the better of Hungry Man. He was starving and he needed to eat. With remorse in both his eyes and his voice, he turned to Spot and said “If we don’t get some food by tomorrow, I’ll have no choice but to eat you.” Spot whined and cured up at his master’s feet. The night passed and the next day dawned with no improvement in the food situation. Hungry Man duly killed the dog, cooked and ate him, leaving only a big pile of clean bones behind. He sat back, replete, and said to himself; “If only Spot were here, he’d love those bones”.

 

Spanish Style Pork Burger (10 of 10)Or, getting a bit of balance into the diet.

I came in for a lot of stick the other day. A chap, whom I don’t know, gave me a really hard time for promoting beef consumption. He had all his arguments at hand. We eat too much beef. Cows fart and they are responsible for a huge chunk of global warming. Cheap beef is facilitating the general populace in eating too much and getting fat. This leads to the medical system being overrun and innocents dying as a result. With his beef arguments in mind, I had better get a bit of balance in the diet. So, here’s a recipe for pork burgers.

Pork Wellington Sous Vide (12 of 12)

Or, “How Far Will I Go To Keep It Local?”

If you don’t know by now that we were on a break in the Dordogne, you need to read the blog more often. While there, we prepared a meal with strict guidelines. Everything had to be really local. Leave aside that I had driven a round trip of about 1,800 kilometres to get all ‘low food miles’ for the dish. It was more of a challenge than a protest for me so I got cogitating. I settled on the above using local air dried ‘black ham’, local mushrooms, local free range pork, green beans and potatoes from the local market, walnuts from the huge farm down the road and we drank wine from the vineyard next door. It doesn’t get more local than that. The meal was a great success and I vowed to recreate it at home.

I have a theory about so many of the highly flavoured and sugar laden ‘rubs’ that are used to enhance pork on the grill. I think that the reason they exist is to try to bring a bit of life to otherwise insipid and uninteresting meat. Some of you may spring to argue with this assertion. You might say “If you ever tasted my Uncle Jessey’s ten chilli rub, you would know how flavour can punch you in the gullet.” or “Sue Ellen does a mean brown sugar, corn syrup and honey wet rub.” I don’t deny that either of these probably have some value to add (Lord help us!). My issue is with the unfortunate meat that so many rubs serve to aggrandise. I’m not trying to cause any friction with my rubbing. I’m just making the case here for high quality meat, a balance of rub flavour and some gentle smoking.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (1 of 10)

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.

As Oriental as they get.

Globalisation is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that it introduces us all to foods and flavours from all points on the compass. It also has a very annoying habit of promoting fake food. Many Brits are shocked when they discover that the most popular Indian dish in Great Britain the ‘classic’ Chicken Tika Masala is English not Indian. Tempura is Portuguese and Sauerkraut hails back to the building of the Great Wall, not a German in sight. Not that any of these are fakes they are just misunderstood. The fakes are in the ranges of foods like the Tex Mex crud of which any Texan would be ashamed or the Oriental sauces that sell themselves by combining fake flavouring with too much sugar. We buy it because it has a picture of a junk  and  some vaguely oriental looking text on the label. Thats globalisation for you.

I prepared some home cured, home smoked pork loin a couple of weeks back. It was fantastic and most of the comments I had from the European side of the pond were pretty positive. One of my American friends had to make the point that bacon is made only with pork belly. He had to make the point in the way only an American would. That is he was unequivocal, forthright and definitive. He was certain that bacon can only be made with pork belly. Anything else “just ain’t bacon”. (Put on a Southern drawl while reading that.) So to run with the stereotype, here’s how to prepare good ole’ rootin’ tootin’ American bacon (All Americans use the “good ole’ rootin’ tootin'” type language pretty well all the time.

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