Pork

pork-and-chestnut-stuffing-balls-18-of-19Let’s get to the rules first. Stuffing is just that – Stuffing. It should be carefully crafted, blended, seasoned and finally stuffed. It should be rammed into the opening in the unfortunate creature you intend eating. It needs to be shoved in so far that there is no space left for doubt. There is no arguing about it. 

pigs-cheeks-sous-vide-3-of-5Do you see what I did in the headline? That subtle little play on words. A sort of culinary double entendre. The pig’s cheeks, cooked sous vide are cooked rare. Pig’s cheeks are not very easy to come by. Both play to add a bit of wit to the headline. You will just have to take my word for it, this is a rare treat. It is not very difficult to prepare any element of this dish but, you will need to have your timing chain well adjusted. 

Loin of pork smoked

My darling mother is, to use her own words, “closer to 90 than 80 years young” Mum has a remarkably open attitude and a positive outlook on life. She paints in oils, having graduated from watercolours some years back. Her pictures are bright and bold and they reflect a fun, childlike humour and her bubbly personality.

Pork chops and mango salsa (16 of 16)

This dish of pork chops with mango salsa probably has as many variations as there are dance styles at a country Irish wedding. Not that I get to attend too many weddings these days. My stage of life falls well after the ‘best friends wedding’ stage, the ‘christening the baby’ stage and even the “Is that your third wife?” stage. Thankfully, I haven’t arrived at the ‘funeral a week’ stage either. I am in that happy place of caring less and less what people think of me. This is a period in one’s degeneration where one also admits stuff to oneself and those around them. My admission here is that I hate to dance. I don’t waltz. Nor do I rhumba. If you see me doing a quickstep, I’m probably avoiding a creditor. However, one can’t think about eating a huge, 4cm (1.5 inch) thick, free range, organic, rare breed pork chop without feeling the need to take a quick turn around the island unit. 

Oriental Pork Belly Sous Vide (11 of 13)

I have a dark secret. I lock myself in a darkened room. I make sure there is nobody around to catch me. Then I do it – I watch TV cooking competitions. Yes, I have even seen a couple of episodes of The Great British Bake Off, where Mary Berry with the help of a comedian (and the girl in the heavy specs), separate the competent from the inept. I’ve sat aghast at some of the efforts on Irish Masterchef. I’ve suffered foul-mouthed tirades of Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen from the safety of my couch. Greg Wallace and John Torode regularly put in an appearance, criticising the pathetic efforts of people who obviously can’t cook and should not be asked to try. Why do I do this? 

Spiced smoked baby back ribs (11 of 12) I was going to title this piece “Curse you Canada and the moose you rode into town on”. But, that would be churlish of me. No, why should I damn an entire country because of my distress?  I just have to accept that youngest daughter has flown the parental nest and is making one for herself in a maple tree. 

Ants climbing a tree (11 of 13)We westerners have an ongoing love affair with Chinese food. Dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork, Beef and Broccoli and Kung Pao Chicken have become firm favourites across the western world. The difficulty with this popularity is that the dishes tend to become westernised. The process of westernisation invariably takes the edge off the dish. Over time and repeated modification, to suit a jaded and flaccid western palate, it becomes a pale imitation of the original. Happily, we have not got around to ruining the delicious Sichuan dish called Ants Climbing a Tree. This is probably because we are put off by the name and have never taken it far enough to mess it up with bad cooking, fructose and preservatives. 

Pork belly stuffed with prunes (7 of 10)

I don’t often do this. But, I’m not recommending that you cook this recipe. Don’t misconstrue me. It’s not a bad recipe. It’s a pretty tasty way to prepare pork. But, having sourced some prunes (I’m not at the stage of life where prunes are part of my regular diet) and after laying my hands on a slab of free range pork belly, I can’t really recommend it. But, where did it all go wrong?

5 spice pork with mango (15 of 15)Despite the evidence, even scientists can’t agree on the shocking truth of this dish.  I devised this Five Spice Pork with Mango Sauce. I thought it was going to be a straightforward recipe. But, some stunning things happened, possibly making this into a superfood. You would think that a dish using so few ingredients might be a little light on flavour but, you will be amazed and even stunned by I am about to tell you. 

Ham Wellington (10 of 11)Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and the man who famously led the British force that defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo, was an Irishman. As an aside, the poor chap had nothing to do with the Beef Wellington that many believe has been named after him. He, being an Irishman, enjoyed (afforded) pork rather than beef. Being a wealthy Irishman, he was able to afford pork fillet rather than crubeens (pigs feet) and regularly dined on same. The problem with all pork meat back then was that it didn’t keep particularly well. It certainly was no good to bring on a long trip into enemy territory. 

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