karohemd: (Chef)
My butcher had some nice looking belly pork today so I picked up a piece.
I first scored the skin, rubbed some salt into it and let sit for 20 minutes or so before wiping off the resulting moisture. The flesh side I rubbed with salt, pepper and thyme and then sat it in a roasting pan with a slosh of cider in the bottom. First I cooked it on the highest setting for about 20 minutes to get the skin going and then turned it right down to roast gently for about 4.5 hours.
I had first intended to serve it with mash but GigerPunk, a twitter friend, mentioned he used to cook belly pork on top of potatoes and onions which sounded like a brilliant idea. So I sweated off some red onions which I alternated with sliced redskin potatoes in an ovenproof dish, adding some well-seasoned chicken stock cooked with more cider and the juices from the roasting tin. This I roasted on medium high for about half an hour and then added the belly on top to roast for another half hour or so until the crackling blistered. I removed the dish from the oven to rest while wilting some spinach in butter, seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. The finished dish looked like this:

Pork belly, boulangere potatoes, spinach

I'm really happy with how this came out. The crackling was crunchy, not chewy at all and the meat was soft. The fat had almost completely rendered but could possibly have done with a little more cooking. Still, not bad for a first attempt.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Wednesday I took a train to London and then a tube to Highgate to take part in Porklife, a celebration of the pig by last year's Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and co-finalist Tom Whitaker.
The two nights only event was held at The Bull, a lovely brewpub in Highgate. I arrived well on time so could pick the table with the best light. People arrived very slowly so we didn't get started until after eight but I had my kindle so waiting wasn't so bad.

Tom and Tim

Tim and Tom appeared briefly to introduce themselves and then headed to the kitchen again.

Starter selection

The first course was the "little board" with deep-fried crumbed brawn and a spicy Korean mayo, a blood pudding roll (genius idea), a shotglass of "pea soup" and "hoggis". The first two were my favourites, the brawn soft with a crunchy coating and the roll with a well flavoured, crumbly black pudding. The hoggis (pork haggis) came with pickled neeps and whisky tatties, sitting on a biscuit. This was a nice idea but could possibly have had a bit more flavour. The pea soup contained bone marrow and pulled smoked hock. Very tasty indeed but probably not that healthy. ;o)

"Sandwich and Soup"

The "Soup and Sandwich intercourse" consisted of a nicely flavoured broth with pulled pork, savoy cabbage and butter beans served in a glass tumbler and rillettes of smoked hock, slithers of homemade guanciale wedged between thin toasted slices of bread. Especially the guanciale was superb but I enjoyed every element.

Then, the main event. First, there was a complimentary pint of Old Major, a "Bock Ale" created by Tim and the Bull's brewers specifically for the event. It wasn't as strong as a German Bock but had the typical sweet notes and a nice hint of smoke. I liked this a lot, if they sold this in bottles, I'd buy it regularly.

Mains selection

The main board had a portion of smoked, slow cooked belly which apart from the smokiness was rather similar to what you would get in Germany. Then there was slow cooked jowl with excellent meat wrapped in a rather tough skin. The spicy andouillette sausage would have been very nice if it hadn't been for a rather sharp sourness which put me off a little. The fact that it's offal stuffed into the large intestine didn't bother me at all.
Then there was a salad with crispy bits of ear and trotter, peanut, chilli and a fish sauce dressing. This was mainly a texture thing and pleasant enough. Other accompaniments were a fennel cream, barbecue sauce, apple mash, cornichons and a sort of coleslaw (called parsnip and celeriac remoulade) I really liked as well as a handmade caraway pretzel that tasted very similar to the ones from our baker in my German hometown.
There were some timing issues serving the mains, various items arrived a bit late but I was lucky that my food was still warm, I think a table or two were less lucky. Granted, there were a lot of items, though and I really enjoyed most of them.

By that time I was thoroughly stuffed but the desserts were still to come and of those I got a double helping for some reason.

Desserts

The cinnamon sponge wasn't stodgy and a little bit sticky, just enough for me and the boozy cherries were a nice contrast. The rhubarb jelly could have been a bit tarter for my taste (I don't have a sweet tooth) but the vanilla and fennel ice cream was lovely with just enough aniseedy flavour to make it interesting. The bits in the ice cream was "crackling praline with walnuts" which, strangely enough, actually worked.

I briefly considered trying a shot of Chauvinist Pig, Tim's bacon infused bourbon but I had to walk back to the tube and then my train and wasn't sure what it would do to me. ;)

I also had a brief chat with Tim and Tom afterwards. They are both really nice blokes who clearly love what they're doing and were happy to chat about the food and beer and things.
While there a few hiccups along the way and not all dishes worked brilliantly, it was a great celebration of the allegedly so humble pig. Pork doesn't have to be just loin, chops and big roasts but you can use every part of the animal to make something tasty, you just need to spend some more time on the more unusual cuts.

A few more photos on flickr

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karohemd: (Chef)
Pork Chop, Courgette, Buttery Mash, Cider Sauce
Pork Chop, Courgette, Buttery Mash, Cider Sauce
karohemd: (Photo)
On Thursday I had the opportunity to shoot the action in the kitchen at The English Pig, Johnnie Mountain's restaurant in Barbican, London. I've been a fan of the place since I was there last month and tried their signature pork belly dish.
Since Tom Kneale started as head chef, they revised their menu to feature only pork based dishes (no other meat, no fish, no vegetarian option) to pay justice to the restaurant's name. Yes, there's even a chocolate and bacon creme brulee as dessert.
When head chef Tom posted some phone photos of the new dishes on twitter I made an off-handed comment offering to come down and take some nicer ones and he took me up on the offer so on Thursday after work, I made my way down to London.
The restaurant is on the ground floor of a large office building just down the road from Barbican tube station on Aldersgate St. and if it wasn't for the signature blackboard on the street you might even miss it as you walk past. The blackboard is one of Johnnie's trademarks and always has something entertaining on it. See for yourself:
One side of the trademark board The other side of the trademark board

The restaurant itself is rather dark, all dark woods, indirect lighting and lots of candles everwhere, simple, yet elegant.
Considering the size of the place, the kitchen is small but efficiently laid out. As the evening wasn't very busy, I managed to stay mostly out of the way, taking photos from the service side of the pass and occasionally peering around the corner. Sadly, this also meant I didn't get a chance to see all the dishes.
Starters: On the left, crispy pig's ears salad, on the right, braised cheeks (my choice)
Crispy Pig's Ears Salad Braised Cheeks

Mains: The Pig's signature dish is the 21 hour roasted pork belly with mustard mash and savoy cabbage:
Plating the Belly 21 hour Pork Belly

Chargrilled chop, prepared by head chef Tom Kneale:
Head Chef Tom Kneale Pork Chop

Smoked Hock:
Smoked Hock

Coriander Fillet:
Coriander Fillet

Iberico Pork Rice Pudding:
Iberico Pork Rice Pudding

Shoulder Steak, braised in cider with vegetables and strawberries. The latter might sound odd but they really worked because the other ingredients and seasoning balanced the flavours. I had this as my main and really enjoyed it.
Shoulder steak braised in cider Shoulder steak braised in cider

Desserts: Chocolate fondant with white chocolate sauce (between the layers) and dark chocolate "soil" in a plant pot. This was fun, rich and very yummy indeed and my choice of dessert.
Chocolate Fondant

A "deconstructed" Lemon Pie:
Deconstructed Lemon Pie

Chocolate and Bacon(!) Creme Brulee:
Chocolate & Bacon Creme Brulee

The brigade: Sous Damian, Head Chef Tom, Pastry Chef Wyman (plus Tom from Stokey Secret Supper who wasn't available for the group photo):
The Brigade

A few more shots from the kitchen action )

Many thanks to head chef Tom Kneale for this insight into a pro kitchen and to the whole team for feeding me afterwards.
karohemd: (Chef)
After a visit to a fine dining establishment it's always a bit daunting to go back to your own kitchen and cook but I was rather happy with the "lamb lollipops" (quickly pan fried cutlets from the rack bought marinaded from the Art of Meat, with colcannon and red wine reduction) on Saturday (no photo because I was in a hurry but they looked a bit like these).

On Saturday, it was time for pork. Whenever my butcher (the above mentioned Art of Meat in Arbury Court) has tenderloins in, I cannot resist:

Pork tenderloin with "pickled" radishes


Seared and slow roasted pork tenderloin (marinaded in rapeseed oil, thyme and pepper, seasoned with sea salt after searing), cider reduction, potato mash (milk, butter, a bit of goat's cheese), pickled radishes (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper). The Aspall Dry Premier Cru cider I used for cooking was also a perfect accompaniment.

This evening, more pork, this time in the shape of sausages, the Art of Meat's Leek and Cheese variety (this week's special). I first browned the sausages quickly in some leftover marinade from yesterday, removed them, added a finely sliced onion and fried those in the pan juices for a while, then deglazed the pan with a generous glug of cider, adjusted the seasoning, added the sausages again, put on a lid and let it cook on low heat until the sausges were done. They were still crispy on the outside and wonderfully soft and moist inside. Inspired by a pic MiMi posted on Saturday, I served them on couscous, which worked really well, as did the leftover radishes which were even better than last night. No photo because it looked a bit rubbish (but tasted so much nicer).
karohemd: (Chef)
My butcher had these wonderful pork tenderloins so I bought one as I hadn't cooked with one in quite a while. It was vacuum sealed so I thought I'd try a rough approximation of sous vide cooking. I basically poached the loin, suspended from a wooden spoon in a stockpot full of hot water (don't know how hot it was, I chose a temperature I could still touch so probably around 60 degrees) for a bit more than half an hour, prodding it now and then to get an idea for how done it was.
I took it out, removed it from the bag, patted it dry and cut it in half (so it would fit into my frying pan). It was done just a little under pink so after I seasoned it with salt and pepper and seared it in a really hot pan in some olive oil on all sides and rested it for ten minutes, it was on the spot.
While the meat was resting, I made a sauce by deglazing the pan with cider, seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme and finishing with some double cream and the resting juices.
I served it on some potato and parsnip mash and wilted spinach. It was fantastic and I could have charged good money for that at a restaurant. I wish this happened more often. I like my cooking but only sometimes it's as good as this.
The photo is a bit rubbish because it was rushed.

karohemd: (Chef)
I cut the rack (which had been marinaded in herbs by the butcher) into individual ribs, rubbed them with olive oil, hot pimenton and pepper and let sit for a while.
In a stockpot I seared the ribs and when they were brown I added a finely sliced onion. After that was sweated off nicely, I added about half a pint of veg stock (which is what I had), turned the heat down, added a good pinch of salt and put a lid on.
After braising for about 90 minutes, the ribs were tender and practically fell off the bone.

Served on a bed of creamed chard and new potatoes.

karohemd: (Chef)
Pan-fried loin steaks (marinaded in pepper, hot pimenton, olive oil) on a bed of braised courgettes (sliced lengthwise with a peeler).
The sauce is the pan juices deglazed with the braising liquid.
Served with some simple mash. Nom.



bigger photo )
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
Slow roasted for almost two hours, they were soft, crispy and gorgeous. To go with them, I had some leeks and mushrooms, braised in the rendered pork fat and a parsnip/potato mash.
Om nom nom.

karohemd: (Chef)
was pork strips Stroganoff style with green beans.

Ingredients
4 pork loin steaks, cut into strips
punnet of brown mushrooms, sliced
2 medium onions, cut into rings
packet of green (French) beans
soured cream
olive oil
salt, pepper, smoked paprika

Method
Top and tail the beans, cut into bitesize pieces, season with salt and steam until tender but still with bite.
Sear the loin steaks in olive oil in a smoking hot frying pan. When sealed, add the onions and mushrooms, season with salt, pepper and paprika (smoked, if you have) turn the heat down to medium and cook until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Add a tub of soured cream, stir and let bubble away until thickened a bit (and the meat is done). Mix in the steamed beans for a bit of colour and serve on a bed of rice.

Apologies for the lack of photo. It's one of those dishes that are very hard to make look like it hasn't been eaten once already...

February 2013

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