Sunday lunch – or Sunday dinner, depending what time of day you have it and what word you like to use. It’s one of the things that can make a Sunday into something wonderful instead of a blues-ridden hangover to Saturday and prelude to Monday. Other things that can make a stellar Sunday include a walk in the park to feed the squirrels, an impromptu trip to the pub for a cheeky afternoon drink or a walk by the sea, if you’re lucky enough to live near the sea, followed by a giant ice cream sundae. Now, none of those are on my regular Sunday rotation, though I whole-heartedly wish that they were. I have started trying to implement a Sunday routine, though, for those Sundays that I have to myself when the G man’s at work. The new plan involves writing my blog posts for the week, sorting out my photos, getting the kitchen clean and tidy for the coming week and generally appreciating a peaceful, quiet day, rather than spending it moping and watching dreadful TV for hours on end. It’s much more productive, though I fear I’ll never actually enjoy cleaning the kitchen…
With all that having been said, this Sunday was a day to visit my parents and sister, spend a nice relaxing afternoon and cook up some Sunday dinner that we could all enjoy together. Often when I’m making Sunday dinner I’ll end up making far too much food; roast meat, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, at least one green veg and sometimes Yorkshire puddings and cauliflower cheese to boot. This week I made fewer side dishes, because I had my focus directed on making some pretty special roast meat. It was much less stressful trying to pull together just three items at the end of the cooking time than trying to get half a dozen all on to the plate simultaneously, but I did miss the usual excess…
This special meat I wanted to make was roast pork. I so often overlook pork in favour of beef or chicken, but now and again I remember about it and buy a huge chunk of former pig to roast up. The last couple of times I’ve done this, I’ve made a mushroom and brown bread stuffing to go with it, and have really loved the way the flavours all go together. What I object to, though, is the hassle of stuffing meat. If it’s already rolled when you buy it, so that you have to unroll it to get the stuffing inside, you run the risk of it falling apart as it cooks. Even if it doesn’t unroll, it’s tricky to slice neatly without having to count your fingers afterwards, or serving a pile of tiny semi-slices. If you’re making a chicken, you can put the stuffing inside as it roasts, only to drag it all back out again to serve it. I’ve never understood this. I feel like I’m doing it wrong. You can always cook the stuffing separately, but then ‘stuffing’ seems a real misnomer. It’s a tricky situation, all in all. So, I have a solution. Inside out stuffing. All the benefits of delicious stuffing without all the hassle of getting it into or out of whatever meat you’re having. Finally!
Here is how you make a fragrant, tasty mushroom stuffing:
- a spot of olive oil
- 500g closed cup mushrooms
- 1 small onion
- 1 stem rosemary
- salt and pepper
- 2 slices brown, granary, wholemeal (or similar) bread
Chop the onion, and cook over a medium heat with the little spot of olive oil until transparent. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Ever wondered what 500g of chopped mushrooms looks like? Wonder no longer.
Stir the mushrooms to mix the onion through them, and leave to cook over the medium heat. Finely chop the leaves from the stem of rosemary, and add to the pot with some salt and pepper. Stir well and continue to cook the mushrooms until they are much reduced in volume and sitting in a lovely pool of their own juices. Try one to make sure they’re cooked through. Try another one, ‘just to make sure’. Turn off the heat.
Turn one (and only one) slice of bread into breadcrumbs, in a food processor or by grating. Add the bread to the pot, stir through and then make the whole lot into a paste. I prefer to use a hand held stick blender for this but you can also use a jug blender or, again, a food processor. Taste the stuffing and season if necessary. It will be very soft and wet, which is just what you want to keep the pork very moist.
Make the second slice of bread into breadcrumbs, and mix with a tablespoon of dried herbs – sage is good, herbs du provence or mixed herbs are also a good choice. It’s up to you, really. Now you’re ready to wrap the pork with the stuffing.
I had a joint of pork shoulder, weighing 2.2kg – this would feed six easily, which meant I had leftovers for sandwiches. I was extremely pleased about this. Remove the fat from the pork shoulder with a sharp knife and discard. Some people will consider this a travesty, and there are plenty of things you can do with pork fat, not least make pork scratchings. My dislike for fat is well documented, but the other reason for removing it in this case is that if you left it, you’d have a thick layer of soft fat between the meat and stuffing, meaning that the flavour of the stuffing wouldn’t get into the meat, and that it’d be harder to slice the meat neatly at the end. So I took it off. You don’t have to, you’re perfectly at liberty to leave it on if you prefer – I’d suggest scoring into the fat if you do, so you can rub the stuffing in.
I put the meat in a roasting dish, and piled all the stuffing on top, before spreading it across the top and sides of the meat, then sprinkling with the herbed breadcrumbs.
I tented some tinfoil over the roasting tin, and cooked the meat at 200C for 3 hours. I took the foil off for the last half hour – alas! The tinfoil tenting had gone a bit aglae and stuck, lifting away the bread and spoiling the finished result. However, once the meat was expertly sliced by Miss J, it looked absolutely splendid!
The meat was so moist and full of flavour from the stuffing, which held to the top of the meat as much as I could have hoped. There was also extra in the baking dish that we had a spoonful of each, because while that crust of stuffing looked pretty it wasn’t really enough, not when the stuffing in question is so herby-mushroomy-lovely.
I hereby declare the idea of inside out stuffed pork a good one. I just have to refine that breadcrumb technique…
- 1 slice brown, granary, wholemeal (or similar) bread