Thursday, March 08, 2007


Had another interesting night at the Ginger Pig after closing on Wednesday. Chris and Karl, the two New Zealand guys from the shop at the market are running butchery classes a couple of nights a week at the decidedly more glamorous shop in Marylebone. In February they taught groups of six how to bone and roll a shoulder of lamb. We seriously enjoyed that class so happily signed up for March. This time they cut down half a pig - 7 months old, weighs 75kgs (the half) lovely piece of meat, as you can imagine. Much more detailed explanation of the meat this time and as each bit was done they laid it out on the butchers block - so what started as half a carcass hanging on a hook ended up in pieces laid out along the length of the table. In some ways it made more sense than the briefer demonstration of butchering a lamb that they gave last month or it was at least more comprehensible. One thing I learned was the idea of using pork bones for stock - hadn't thought to do that for some reason, but they are perfect for light aromatic base for Asian cooking.

Then we were each given a pork loin. First we boned it - a simpler process than boning a shoulder. We took out the fillet and then cut under the skin most of the way through to create a flap. Sharpen the tip of that knife to very very sharp and score the skin for crackling. Then the fat under the skin was smeared with a mix of fennel and garlic, made earlier by the chef in the shop, the skin was flipped back over the spiced meat and then the whole piece was rolled and tied. When it is cooked it is traced with the spice mix to make porchetta.

Which is what was cooking away in the oven along with roasted veg - and being kiwis the veg included butternut and roasted carrots - and, after we cleaned up, we had a fine supper and a glass of wine. Home by 10.30 with two huge pieces of pork loin, a couple of pork fillets and a bag of bones.

It was simpler this time but I think that was deliberate on the butcher's part - as skilled as they are it must be easy to overestimate the abilities of a group who do their course. They have also got better at explaining the details and showing how to tie knots. Chris and Karl make a great double act - one from the north and one from the south island, the banter never dries up and the competition between them is good humoured but intense. Their skill as they work is fascinating, like watching theatre close up. Liked it a lot and six thirty till ten just flies by. They may soon be famous - apparently the Gaurdian has already called to ask if they can do a piece about them...

Next month is sausages and bacon. I plan to be there.

Don't know for sure the mix they used on the night but the following is one that would definitely create a great roast.

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbspn fennel seeds
4 branches of rosemary
4 branches sage
A piece of boned pork loin, about 1.5 kg in weight

The day before your meal make small incisions into the flesh side of the meat (away from the skin) and lard the pork with the garlic slivers then season generously with salt and pepper.

Crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. If you have created a flap under the skin rub the ground seeds into the meat and then cover with the skin. If you don't have a knife sharp enough to open out the skin then simply sprinkle over the flesh side of the meat. Press the herbs into the flesh. Using butcher's twine or strong string roll and tie the roast with a series of strings and slip knots. Then refrigerate overnight.

Next day take the pork out of the fridge a couple of hours before you intend to cook it to let it reach room temperature.

Preheat the oven as hot as it will go. Put the pork loin into a roasting pan, rub some more salt into the scored skin to make for crackling, then put the meat into the oven. Cook at full heat for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to gas 5 without opening the oven door. After another 15 minutes baste the meat and continue to do so every 15 minutes till it is cooked - about 80 -90 minutes.

Place the roast on to a plate and cover with foil. Let it rest for 20 minutes then unstring and carve into thick slices. Serve the juice that gathers under the meat on the plate as a delicate jus.

Enjoy with roast potatoes, pumpkin, cabbage and carrots. Utterly brilliant. And the same goes when it is cold next day with salad or in a sandwich.

1 comment:

Sofia said...

YUMMY!! Oh I am getting ever so hungry after reading your post.

What a great idea to have butcher classes. Unusual and great idea!