Friday, December 09, 2005

PORK

Warning: VERY LONG POST

If you don’t like long, detailed, food-related, stream-of-consciousness type posts (then may I ask, what on earth are you doing reading this blog?) then feel free to simply scroll down to the bottom and look at the photos of today’s most wonderful lunch.

Introduction:

As I’ve mentioned many times previously, for about 6 years I totally avoided eating pork, or any pork product, and was very strict about it. It was only this year in August (the 6th, to be exact), that I re-introduced pork into my diet, with the decidedly uninspiring braised pheasant with mushroom and bacon. Since then, I have, on various occasions, eaten prosciutto, bacon, ham, and small slices of suckling pig. But I still hadn’t worked my way up to cooking or eating a huge hunk o’ pig – like a roast pork, or one of Nigella’s many hams. Until today.


Planning the lunch:

My good friend Liam happened to pop over last week, and when he did, I pounced on the opportunity to schedule him in for a meal at my house. (As I keep mentioning, it’s bloody hard to organize a free evening or afternoon when each member of my family is free, let alone outsiders!) So Thursday was the day. And the thing about Liam is – he is the King of Pig. By which I mean he loves pork products in all their forms, and has a massive appetite. It was time for Sarah to cook a huge hunk of pig.

Two nights ago, my friend DG (in England) and I spent a late night chatting on MSN trying to plan this bloody menu. You see, Liam, bless his cotton socks, is one of the fussiest fuckers I know. Well, I don’t know if “fussy” is the right word – he just seems to have a limited range of foods that he really likes and that he eats often. For example, rice, spices, Asian food, vegetables and apple pie all definitely do not feature in the Liam diet. So I chose the plainest of plain roast porks (no spices, no herbs, just salt and a bit of mustard powder), crackling, with mashed potatoes (at Liam’s request), and cabbage (for the rest of us), with the microwaved chocolate pudding from the Fast Food chapter for an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert.


The day before:

I went down to Rendinas Butchery (I practically live there now) and got a massive pork leg. I asked for “a pork leg for a roast”, and the butcher came out with this huge fuck-off hunk of pork. I suddenly got scared.

Me: Er, how many’s that gonna feed?
Butcher: About 10 people, easily.
Me: Ok, I’ve only got 5 people so could I have half of that?
Butcher: Yeah, no problem!

Even when he halved it, it looked worryingly large. I just had to keep reminding myself, "Liam is a big eater, and it is the Nigella way to never knowingly undercater". I also got the butcher to score the rind, and cut it off and drape it over the pig. Now, I’m not usually super keen on the smell of pork, but I have to admit, this fresh, free-range, properly reared Otway Pork did smell pretty darn good.

Later that night it was time for another convo with DG on MSN.


Sarah says: Should I make a sauce or something?

DG says: Yeah, some people can’t eat meat without sauce.

Sarah says: Ok, apple sauce?

DG says: Wait, I think there’s a Swedish rhubarb sauce somewhere in HTE.

Sarah says: No there’s not.

DG says: yeah, there is, I’m sure of it.

Sarah says: Nah, there isn’t. Look, I’ve read HTE back to front, and I’m sure there’s no recipe for rhubarb sauce with pork.

DG says: Wait, I’m gonna look for it.

Sarah says: Ok, whatever. You’re crazy.

10 minutes later…

Sarah says: I told you it’s not in there.

DG says: yeah it is I’m still looking for it!

30 minutes later…

Sarah says: Just give up!

DG says: no no no, I’m not going crazy! I'm sure it's in here, where is this fucking thing?

20 minutes later…

DG says: OMG I FOUND IT I FOUND IT I FOUND IT! Page 314.

This Swedish sauce of rhubarb mixed with bottled horseradish sauce is mentioned in the last two sentences of the recipe for Apple Butterscotch Tart. How random.

After all that, I couldn’t exactly say no to making the rhubarb sauce now, could I?


On the day:

191. Roast Pork (Weekend Lunch)
192. Swedish Rhubarb and Horseradish Sauce (Weekend Lunch)
193. Seven-Minute Steamed Chocolate Pudding (Fast Food)

I got up at the crack of fucking dawn this morning to put the pork leg in the oven. Based on the guidelines of 55 minutes per kilo plus 25 minutes on top, I reckoned that my pork leg would need 4 hours in the oven. Four fucking hours! I got up at 8am, rubbed the rind with salt and mustard powder, shunted the pig in the oven, and went back to bed for an hour.

When I properly woke up at 9:30, I had breakfast, a shower and all that, and then went to my local grocers to get the rhubarb and horseradish cream for the sauce. It’s summer now, and we’re getting pretty evil-looking rhubarb, but it all worked out in the end, deliciously.

When I came home, it was about 11:00 o’clock. I boiled the potatoes, then made the rhubarb sauce. All you’ve got to do is cook the rhubarb in a bit of water until softened, then mash it up and stir the horseradish cream through it. It looked a bit like disgusting, and I was unsure of how it would taste.


khaki rhubarb

With the chocolate pudding, you just have to put all the ingredients in the processor, and then scrape the mixture into a buttered dish, and cover it with clingfilm. It can sit like this until you’re ready to cook. (It only takes about 5 minutes to cook).


choc mixture

Liam arrived at about 12:30, at which time I was mashing the potatoes. After that, I took the magnificent roast out of the oven to rest, and peeled off the crackling. I was about to, upon Nigella’s suggestion, put it back in the oven to crisp up, but was stopped by Liam.

Liam: Why? Why would you put that back in the oven?! It’s perfect! Look at the crispy outside and the chewy underside. Just leave it!

Liam is the roast pork master, so I trusted his decision.


crackling underside

Dad and Daniel happened to be out shopping at this time, which I’m sure was very frustrating for our hungry guest. I stirfried some cabbage in butter, oil and caraway seeds, and just as it was ready, Dad and Daniel came home, so it was time to carve!


Liam thumbs up


pork


pork on board - incidentally, this is the first time that Mum's let us use her wonderful Peer Sorensen chopping board for more than just displaying bread. Thank-you Mum!!


A picture of health

Now, I wasn't even going to make a gravy at all, as Nigella doesn't suggest making one... but when the pork came out of the oven, I noticed that there were a LOT of tasty-looking brown juices in the bottom of the pan, which would have gone to waste otherwise, so I boiled it up with a spoonful of flour to become a tasty tasty brown gravy.


Sarah, NOT kylie

I have to say, I am, in general, a pretty shite carver, but this pork was so tender and juicy, and my knife so sharp, that it was easy to carve the beast up into manageable slices.


LUNCH! Pork slices, stir-fried cabbage, rhubarb sauce, crackling, mashed potatoes


Pork slices


Meal

This was amazing!! The crackling was fab (even though I could only stomach a mouthful before I started worrying about my poor arteries), and Liam ate most of it. The pork was tender and juicy, and the mashed potatoes and cabbage were the perfect accompaniments. Bizzarely, my dad absolutely loved the rhubarb horseradish sauce, despite its feral pink colour!

Dad: This sauce is great with the pork! And the pork really good! I was afraid it was going to be really dry, but it's good!

When we got to the "langourous-picking-at-the-remains" stage, Daniel put on a DVD of The Office, which was brilliant. (Yes, we have a small TV and DVD player in the kitchen - I do spend most of my time in there, after all). This just totally added to the fun and relaxed atmosphere of the afternoon.

Now, about dessert.

Liam once said to me, “Sarah, we both love food. But you love quality, and I love quantity. Oh yeah, I love quantity”.

Of the seven-minute steamed chocolate pudding, Nigella writes, "This recipe comes from Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet and I have kept to her quantities for 8 people because I am greedy. If you - unlike me - think 4 people won't eat enough for 8, then halve quantities". I knew that we would have no trouble eating this. Liam is the only human being I know who was able to eat 2 slices of Nigella's enormous Chocolate Fudge Cake (Nigella Bites) in the one go. In fact, I remember one time I made this cake, Liam was already onto his second slice while my friend Nathan and I (with more conventional appetites) were slowly working our way through our first piece.

Anyway, about the pudding. Once we'd finished lunch, I stuck the pudding in the microwave for 5 minutes, then pulled it out, stabbed the clingfilm with a knife and covered the dish with a plate (to keep it hot, apparently), and let it set for 10 minutes. In the meantime, we cleared the table and set it up for dessert.


pudding

This pudding totally rocks! I can't believe how easy it is! It's a thousand times easier than the chocolate surprise pudding (Weekend Lunch chapter) and even tastier, in my opinion (no crusty top though, which isn't a huge loss). It does look a bit unnatractive though, hence the dredging of icing sugar over the top. Nigella suggests crème fraiche as an accompaniment, which I duly followed. However, after the first mouthful, we all concurred that vanilla ice-cream would indeed be a superior choice.


pudding and icecream

After the dessert, Daniel, Liam and I staggered over to the loungeroom and lazily watched a few hilarious episodes of Futurama before I had to leave for work in the evening. What a perfect way to extend the afternoon!

By the way, there were lots of leftovers, so I packed Liam a doggy-bag for later.


Care pack - pork, mash, gravy

Later that evening, I went to work and proudly showed my co-workers the photos of my fab lunch. (I'd been crapping on about it to anyone who would listen the day before). I think they thought it was a bit odd that I take photos of food, but I'm beyond being embarassed about that sort of thing by now. And anyway, the general response was, "That's making me hungry. You made that today and THEN came to work? WOW!" And so on, and so on.

7 comments:

domesticgoddess said...

what a hunk!

.... of meat

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ilana said...

i agree! i mean, about the meat.
and you are to be commended, sarahrific, because that is the first time i looked at food this week and didn't want to, erm, cleanse my insides... good job!
oh, and in the same vein as never trust a skinny cook, always trust a friend that can eat two slices of cake in one go! fab work, liam!

Sue said...

That looks delicious. I do love a good crackling even if it is bad for you. And you know what ham bones are good for - kiam chai soup. YUM. Its the only reason we roast hams at xmas hehe.

PS: I recognise Liam's doggy takeaway box as a tofu box. How daggy am I?

Melmac said...

Awesome Roast Sarah that was one huge hunk of meat We generally have a roast once a week either pork or lamb(lamb more than pork) a quick tip on the crakling if you rub it with salt and baste with fat it crackle up better so it's not so chewy also if the meat is ready and the crackles not chuck it under the griller (But keep a very carefull eye on it it will only need a few minutes)

Well done once people find out you do a good roast your forever doing them, a bit like cheesecakes :)

ex said...

Awesome porkfest, Sarah! Pics of you & Liam are adorable, too, you can see he appreciates what a great mate he's got in you. Now that you're off the pork wagon, let me know when you're ready for the X Family Ham Gravy. It involves pineapple juice & "a handful of brown sugar."
Lisa xo

Lotta said...

I love Liams comment about quality vs. quantity. ;) Well done with the pork! It looks really delicious although I hardly ever eat pork anymore.

wirlarra said...

Nice blog Sarah...I'm doing a pork leg roast this weekend and took lots of encouragement and inspiration from you
: )