Monday, February 09, 2009

Slow Cooked Pork

Just enough pork left for Friday's lunch!

It would be fair to say that this was a bit of a disaster and possibly my fault for believing the recipe when it wasn't right. But in my defence I'd never cooked it before and so I simply didn't know what I was really doing. As the man remarked if you push the envelope all the time with your food you're bound to end up with an occasional paper cut.

I bought a magnificent piece of pork from Charlie at the Ginger Pig - leg on the bone. I requested a piece between 2 1/2 and 3 kilos and he cut me 2.75kg. You just have to admire the skill. I wanted to slow roast it with fennel and chillies from a recipe from The Borough Market Cookbook, specifically the section devoted to the Ginger Pig. You can see why I might have had faith in its provenance. Reading it through I realised there was a bit of a hiccup early on when it was unclear if you cook at a high heat for 30 minutes or an hour but I went with 30 then turned it down to gas 2, which is slow but not ultra slow. There was no liquid to be added at this stage but the instruction was to turn the joint over to fat side down. I left it uncovered a little hesitantly but I have to admit I did turn the dial down to 1 before we went out for a couple of hours - to be on the safe side. Glad I did - would have been a fully fledged disaster if I hadn't.

Got back after the meat had been in for four and a half hours - and blackening all over. Flipped the meat back to right way up and added 500ml of pork cooking juice from a previous meal and covered it with foil. Allegedly it still had an hour or two before 45 minutes at full blast to finish it. I lasted about 45 minutes still at Gas 1, then with the liquid absorbed and the top blackened but definitely crackled I pulled it out and wrapped it in foil.

Considered the idea of dinner at 5 - but too too early for me. The meat stayed reasonably warm and inside the crust was delightfully moist and richly spiced with fennel and garlic and chilli. Scraped all the black bits off the base and mixed it with water to make a very dark and highly spiced sauce with only a slight hint of burnt. Served it with lightly steamed winter veg medley with a cream sauce and crispy roast potatoes for a good dinner. But not the truly great one I'd been hoping for.

The following recipe is what I will do next time...

Slow Cooked Pork
2 1/2 - 3kg piece of leg of pork on the bone, and ask your butcher to score the skin
5 cloves garlic
1 tbspn fennel seeds
1 tspn red chilli fans
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 tbspn olive oil
4 tspn sea salt
400ml white wine or pork stock

Unwrap the meat and put it onto a plate, very loosely covered with a piece of greaseproof paper and put it into the fridge. About an hour before you plan to start cooking, take the meat out and bring it up to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

Peel the garlic and put them into a mortar along with the fennel seeds, chilli flakes, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pound with the pestle to make a rough paste. Rub the paste into the flesh side of the pork, really working it into the meat.

Put the pork into a roasting pan big enough to leave a little space around the edges of the meat. Drizzle the olive oil over the skin and rub the rest of the salt in.

Put the pan into the hot oven for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 100C/200F/gas 1/2. After another half an hour drain any fat that has collected in the pan then add the wine/stock and cover the pan tightly with double layer of foil.

Continue to cook for 5 or 6 hours, adding a little more liquid if necessary. Baste occasionally.

When the meat is juicy and pulls apart easily with a fork, remove the foil, increase the heat back to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and put the meat back into the oven. Cook for another half an hour - but keep a close eye on it. You want thoroughly golden crisp crackling but not burnt bits.

Remove the meat from the pan and put it onto a warm plate, cover with foil and allow it to rest for half an hour or so.

Drain the fat from the pan and then deglaze the pan with water, reduce slightly and serve this as a spicy gravy with the meat.

In the end the version we had was really quite nice - certainly once we got past the slightly charred crust. It was very good for lunches and lasted for the whole week - making the £20 the meat cost a not unreasonable price.

Seriously recommend this as a way to cook pork.


Lizzie said...

Strange they suggested that cut of slow-cooking - I would have thought shoulder would be more suitable, as it's fattier?

bron said...

They did mention shoulder as an alternative but the main recipe used leg. It worked because the pork from Ginger Pig has a good ridge of fat across the top. Perhaps their timings would work better for shoulder.