Tag Archives: roast pork

Inside-Out Stuffed Pork


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.

The mushrooms fill the pot, at first

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.

The mushrooms reduce while cooking, and even more when blended

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

YotB Part Twenty-Five: Remember When I Made Bento?


It seems a long time since I posted any bento, and I do feel quite ashamed that the project I was so devoted to initially fell so hard by the wayside. I still love my bento box and accessories, but I’ve changed my lunchtime habits and somehow that changed how I saw bento making and eating. This may be a temporary state of affairs, or it may not; I’m not going to give myself a hard time over a packed lunch, that’s for sure.

 

Before my bento adventures tailed off, I made this one, with the rather striking component of Yucatan-style slow roasted pork. Here is the bento in its entirety:

I kept the other ingredients in the bento simple, because the pork isĀ  so strongly flavoured, and had mini pulled pork pittas with a side of asparagus and a fruit salad (which was just banana and kiwi fruit) for afterwards. Here is a closer shot of the pork so you can begin to really appreciate its colour, though sadly I can’t share the gorgeous (and yes, garlicky) aroma.

 

This pork recipe involves a bit of effort up front, but once it’s in the oven it’s low maintenance so you can get on with whatever it is you want to get on with while it cooks and fills your house with a spicy, savoury fragrance. The effort begins with finding annatto seeds, which I picked up easily at my shop of choice for all things Mexican and many things from other places round the world, Lupe Pintos. There are branches in Glasgow and Edinburgh and I’d recommend taking a look, though make sure there’s plenty in your wallet because there will be oh so many things you want to buy. They also have an online store – very dangerous. I was very focussed on this occasion and bought only the annatto seeds… and some mate tea bags… but that was all! It so happened that I’d bought ancho chilis and pimenton, two of the other ingredients in the recipe, on previous trips to Lupe Pintos, so I was all set to get started.

The spice paste is truly vibrant, with a bright red-orange colour from the annatto seeds. I’m not saying it looks pretty, particularly not when piled up on top of a hunk of raw meat, which is how I seem to have chosen to display it, but the colour is remarkable. Get your nose too close to it and you’re in for a surprise, too; the unwary sniffer may go away with fewer nose hairs than previously. The coriander, pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika), orange, beer and chilis fight it out in a battle for smell supremacy, though after five hours in the oven together they seemed to have resolved their differences and be living in blissful spicy harmony.

I’ve never cooked anything like this pork before, it has masses of flavour and the slow roasting means its moist and tender; it took mere minutes to shred the whole shoulder of pork with a fork, just a little pressure on the meat and it fell apart most enthusiastically. You can then add as much or as little of the cooking juices as you like back into the shredded meat, to intensify the flavour.You end up with a LOT of pork, so make this for a group or if you have the BFG coming for dinner.

 


The Birthday Buffets


As I’ve mentioned twice now, for my sister’s actual birthday we had a spot of Chinese food round our parents’ house. All Miss J asked for specifically was chicken wings; I’d made these before to general enjoyment so I was happy to do them again. Other than this, I wasn’t too sure what to do. A friend suggested I marinade and roast some pork for an easier option than making a few separate dishes. I loved this idea, but it didn’t stop me from making the separate dishes, too… None of it was very authentic, apart from maybe the pork, but it was all met with great approval and there was very little by way of leftovers, which says it all.

I’ll start with the chicken wings, they’re not difficult to make, though you do need to prepare them the night before you’re going to eat them.

Baked Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings – feeds five hungry people as a starter or side dish:

  • two packs of chicken wings, about fifteen or so wings
  • flour to coat
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • white pepper
  • Szechuan pepper
  • bell pepper, chili pepper and spring onion slices to serve

Take a large tupperware box, or two – you’ll need enough space for the chicken wings and also some shaking space, as will become clear. Into this box/these boxes, put enough plain flour to thoroughly coat the chicken wings. Just guess – you can add more later, it’s no big deal. Season the flour with generous amounts of salt and all three peppers (or whichever ones you can find). Don’t go too easy on any of them as some of the flour won’t stick to the meat and will get left behind, so that stuff that does stick has to count. Set the box/es aside for. Now, the only thing about this dish is that chicken wings are a real pain to prepare, so get ready for a long haul. To prepare them, you have to hack off the tips of the wings and I also choose to trim off a lot of the excess fat. You can just use kitchen scissors to let you get a good grip of them while you’re trimming, but remember to really, really, really and I mean it really wash your hands afterwards and pour boiling water over the scissors to sterilise them. Once the wings are trimmed (and that brief description of how to do it doesn’t do justice to the amount of time it will take), drop them into the seasoned flour, put the lid of the tupperware/s on and shake well – nay, vigorously – to coat the meat. Make sure the wings are well and truly coated; what happens when you leave these overnight is that the moisture from the meat combines with the flour to make a really sticky batter. The next day, when you’re ready to cook them, separate the wings and lay them out on a wire rack over a baking sheet or grill pan. Put them in a 200C oven for about twenty five minutes, turning once half-way through. When they’re done they’ll be golden and crispy, and you can put them all in a serving dish then sprinkle with the thinly sliced peppers, chili rings and spring onions. They taste just as good as the deep fried versions, I reckon, and while I wouldn’t make them every week, they’re worth the effort.

Something I hadn’t made before was sesame prawn toast, so I decided to have a go at it. This is one of those ‘totally not a recipe’ things, but it might give you an idea of how to begin, while you’re here. There are also plenty of legit recipe available out there, that will even give you amounts of ingredients and everything. FOr my part, I winged it. I have a diminishing packet of tiny dried shrimp in the cupboard, which I rehydrated in just-boiled water for 20 minutes. I then blended these into a paste with some sesame oil, chopped spring onions, garlic, ginger, light soy and a small pinch of mixed spice. I may have added other stuff too – I just kept blending, tasting and adding things that came to hand until I was fairly happy with the result. I think I thinned the paste down with some of the soaking water and maybe some groundnut oil, until it was of a spreading consistency. I then had a bit of a tragedy where, on the journey over to my mum and dad’s, the paste leaked and covered everything near it. Paint it however you like, prawns smell bad. Bad times. When I was ready to make the prawn toast, I put five slices of thick-cut white bread under the grill to brown. Once that was done, I turned them over and spread them with the shrimp paste, then sprinkled with sesame seeds and pressed down. This went back under the grill for a couple of minutes then came back out to be cut up and served. Simple, right? It turned out that the loss of liquid from the paste while it was still in my bag gave me some trouble in that the paste was no longer of a real spreading consistency, but I powered through with those good old-fashioned tools, brute force and ignorance. It wasn’t bad for a first attempt, if I do say so myself. Would probably be better with fresh prawns but I had to work with what the kitchen had to offer.

The star of the meal was probably the pork, but unfortunately I don’t really remember what I did with it, and don’t have a good picture, either. I’ll just give it my best guess and act confident… I marinated two pork tenderloin fillets overnight in a mix of dark soy, strategically placed smashed garlic cloves and sliced ginger, ground ginger, mixed spice and chili flakes. This cut of pork is inexpensive but nice and lean, and thin so cooked quickly. When I was ready to cook it, it went into the oven at 200C for half an hour, rested for five minutes wrapped in tinfoil and then was expertly sliced by my commis chef who I affectionately know as ‘mum’. You can see the pork in the blue bowl at the back right of this picture – all this shows is the lovely dark, caramelised colour the outside took on, but the inside of the meat was soft, moist and really flavourful. Shame I was too busy going red in the face in the intense kitchen heat to get a good photo – my photographer, whom I affectionately know as ‘dad’, took this one.

You can also see in this picture the two sauces I made to go with the pork; one sweet and spicy, and one sweet bean and bell peppers sauce. Both started with sliced onions, then the sweet and spicy one had pineapple chunks and juice, ginger, chili rings and flakes, light soy and mixed spice added, then some chicken stock to thicken. The sweet bean sauce is mainly from a jar available at a Chinese supermarket near you, mixed with a little chicken stock again and with sliced peppers added in the last minute. I recommend that you buy this if nothing else, it’s a lovely rich, thick sauce that’s great with pork or beef – in fact, I originally bought it to try a recipe in Sichuan Cookery (buy it immediately) for beef with bell peppers and sweet bean sauce. Top marks. As is my usual way I was making it up as I went along for the two sauces, so I can but recommend that you do the same, should you want to try to make something like them. Add stuff to the pot, hope for the best. Start over if you have to.

The noodles on the table were really simple – some mushrooms and onions sauteed in a little vegetable oil and dark soy, then added to some cooked bean strip noodles and mixed through with sesame oil and maybe some sesame seeds. The rice is similarly easy; I boiled up enough rice to feed three, and once it was cooked i tipped it into a colander and let sit there while I prepared the veg, so it would dry out a little. I chopped some spring onions and peppers, and defrosted some frozen peas (some of which became esca-peas, geddit? hard to write down, that joke. Not even one of mine, in fact I rolled my eyes when the G man said it at the time. Sorry G man). Then I beat two eggs and cooked in the bottom of a frying pan (no wok available), and seasoned with light soy. I kept stirring the egg all the time so it broke up into little pieces, and when it was cooked I added the veg, cooked for one minute then added the rice and stirred well. I tasted and added light soy and sesame oil as required, and that was that done – into a dish to keep warm.

FInally, the broccoli you can see on the table was boiled until just cooked (in theory, anyway) and then stir-fried with some hoi-sin sauce from a jar – OH THE SHAME!

Now I have covered everything that was on the table – it wasn’t on the table for long, I can tell you. It is thus time to move on to the party buffet, of which I provided only a very small amount apart from the mega cake previously described. I did cheese pretzel bites and cheddar jalapeno cornbread muffins, two of my favourite bite-sized, cheese-based snacks. They’re both recipes I’ve mentioned before, though I’ve put the links in there again in case you want to check them out – I recommend it. For the pretzels I followed the recipe in all but two respects: firstly, I rolled the dough into little balls instead of shaping into pretzels, much quicker, and baked for 10 – 15 minutes at the given temperature after glazing and salting – keep an eye on them, they colour really quickly. Secondly, I topped them with a sprinkling of smoked sea salt, my new favourite thing. Unfortunately I left it at my parents’ house so haven’t been able to start using it in everything I ever cook, but I’ll get it back tomorrow and the smoked salt revolution can begin. It gives a deeper, more savoury flavour to the pretzels without just making them saltier. Ace. The first picture here is of the dough after rising for an hour in a basin of hot water – the dough was sealed into the glass bowl with oiled clingfilm and placed in the basin, with the water coming about half way up the sides, to get the benefit of the heat without the sogginess of the water. It certainly does double in size – I love baking with yeast, it’s so satisfying. the second pic is the finished results – they take on a really great, dark colour in the oven withthe egg white glaze, they look so appetizing and have a great texture – not crisp, but bready and chewy.

The cheddar cornbread I made as suggested, only split into cake cases instead of baked in a skillet or tin and a whole loaf. I think they also took 10 – 15 minutes to be ready, and here is a picture of them in the oven, all lined up neatly. They were approved as tasting authentic by at least one American person.

Here ends my tale of buffet food, though I will now also include a photo of the marvellous cupcakes that Miss P brought – I had two. Half of one would really have been enough but I couldn’t help myself. The photo doesn’t at all do them justice. I am working on my perfect-cupcake envy, though it is a big struggle. I often accuse Miss P of sorcery because her cakes – and she bakes often – are always perfect, and beautiful and so delicious that you could die from it. I am alert for other signs of witchcraft, rest assured. It may come to me strapping a parsnip on her face and a pointy hat on her head so I can say ‘ah-HA!’ in a loud voice.

Not really Miss P! Promise. Probably.


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