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Week 5 at the market – Slow Roast Pork Shoulder Baps

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder - looks small but it was enormous!

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder - looks small but it was enormous!

I promised myself that I would be more organised last week, I really did. And I thought that I was. Why then did I run out of time again? Ack, it became so frustrating and exhausting I really started to question if this was worthwhile.  Can I make a go of this realistically? I want to, I really do, but it’s difficult.

I have made some progress. I’m now getting my meat delivered, saving me a trip to the butchers. This may not seem like much but it’s a few hours all in all, and this makes an enormous difference. Online farmer’s market Paganum, who I have used in the past, seemed like the perfect solution. I can order those large & heavy cuts of meat, know that they are well sourced (all Yorkshire produce), and Chris will ensure that these are delivered to me on time, saving my wrists, and time. One step forward. Hooray.

How then did I find myself lost in Tottenham, on Wednesday afternoon when I should have been in the throes of pastry making, chorizo chopping, industrious tart production etc. HOW? It’s completely ridiculous, I had a list, and I knew what I had to do, but then I had an idea, and I had to act on it. Brilliant if you’re cooking dinner for a few people, but when mass producing (ish) to deadline, and trying to do it well, best to be practical and stick to THE LIST. Lesson learned. Creativity is useful and important but practicality is very important too. Balance, where are you? Hoping for a visit next week.

To that end, I need to source more of my products online and have them delivered, allowing me more time to make. I adore Natoora and use them for my personal shopping, they have a fantastic and seasonal range and a great delivery service, but I am not sure this is right for the stall. I need somewhere I can buy large amounts. Any ideas?

Pork & chorizo rolls in homemade butter shortcrust pastry

Pork & chorizo rolls in homemade butter shortcrust pastry

This week I varied the offerings. I will continue to do this, perhaps not every week, but I feel it’s important, however, practicality deems that old favourites should remain, and so I made pork and chorizo rolls again, and had return visitors to buy them. In fact, what has been really lovely is we have now built up a stream of regulars and this week had a queue, which was fantastic. The downside to this was that I wasn’t prepared in terms of volume and we were sold out of our main offerings before 2pm.

So, what was this? This week I slow roasted a shoulder of pork, and made some homemade blaas, a traditional bread peculiar to Waterford (where I am from), a gorgeous fluffy bap with a little sweetness that was great with the pork. I served the pork in the blaas with spiced apple relish and rocket. It was a labour of love, as most good things are, but the results were lovely, a delicious moist pork with a smashing crackling, also spiced. I really found it difficult not to devour it there and then.

Homemade blaas

Homemade blaas

The blaas, I made fresh on the morning with a not so delicious early start, but bread has to be fresh, otherwise, what’s the point? Waking up the yeast with a little sugar and warm water, coaxing it from sleep, I wished I could be as easy to wake up. I was struggling last Thursday morning, motivation was at an all time low. Several rounds of kneading, proving, rising, proving, rising again, and finally (!) baking, produced fluffy white paps, which were a great home for the pork and spiced apple relish.

We had a different wine this week which was a gorgeous match with the pork and rolls, Macatela 2006, a spanish red from Tierra de Castilla. A delicious organic wine at a bargain £3.50 a glass, more on that over on Denise’s blog – The Wine Sleuth. Some regulars were asking after Bisol, and I must confess that I missed my glass or two of it, it’s so good, so it will return next week. We will have both the rose and the white prosecco, and also a matched wine courtesy of Denise. Variety is the spice of life, to use the cliche.

Denise and the delicious vino

Denise and the delicious vino

Sadly, time as always was limiting, so apologies to people who came looking for tarts, these will return next week. I am also hoping to do some sweet treats for the afternoon.

Another new development this week! I will be sending the menu by email, so if you want to receive the weekly menu by email, sign up here.

So, we’ll continue, and look forward to seeing you next week! We’ll have more food and will hopefully run out, but not as early as last week. Get down early and tuck in :)

By the way, if you have suggestions for food you’d like to see on the stall, I would love to hear them. Please get in touch.

Pork & Chorizo Rolls

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Junior Apprentice and 6 Hour Slow Roast Pork

A title you wouldn’t see very often, or would you? Junior Apprentice branched into cheesemongering this week and were my neighbours at the Covent Garden Real Food Market. It added a little spark to the day, and nosey ole me kept a close eye on proceedings, although I was careful to dodge their camera, having no ambition to appear on any form of The Apprentice, even as an innocent and very nosey bystander. I can’t bear the show.

I have been in front of the camera before. I have been on TV before in a starring role on ” A Prayer at Bedtime”. I jest but also it is true, it was a favour to a friend producing them at the time. It was laced with ironies, and every elderly lady in Cork loved me for a time, and that, my friends, was my brief sojourn into TV.

This one was quite funny as they seemed to have a mix of the usual characters, some grafters working hard, persuading people to buy cheese, not stopping in their efforts and quite understated in their dress. And then there were the others, there to make an impact, sporting striking clothes, one a bright white beret and sparkling red lipstick. Who am I to judge? She may be the brightest of the bunch and did manage to sell £50 worth of cheese to a neighbouring startled trader. Although,  I did also heard her describe one of the many cheeses to a customer: “well, it’s basically, like, a blue cheese”. I sound like a snob. In truth, I would have been the same at that age. It was amusing to witness however. I’ll take what I can get.

Lingering in the background all the while was a large production crew, frantically scribbling notes, guiding, instructing, ordering, directing. Sternly overseeing all junior apprentice activity was Nick Hewer. I caught him glaring at me and my camera at one point. Haha!

Junior Apprentice aside, this week had the usual mix of drama and high activity. In my fourth week now, I am still coming to grips with how these things work and I am, as ever, a horrible chronoptimist (defined by the urban dictionary as a person who always under estimates the time necessary to do something or get somewhere – HELLO, c’est  moi). This week, culminating with me in a state of slight panic the morning of the market wondering how I could get everything done, having utterly stretched myself. Ambitious as always, aiming to deliver too much and not as organised as I should be. I always do this, and always get very annoyed if what I do is even slightly under par. I felt as I did before all exams, underprepared and extremely annoyed with myself, hoping to scramble through. Stressful.

I made it though, and I survived.

The drama started ever before I approached my kitchen with the sourcing of ingredients. Last week I asked my butcher if I could order bone in shoulder of pork and he assured me that I didn’t need to, that they always have some out the back. I was surprised, following the high drama associated with getting one for my birthday. So, off I trundled on Wednesday, ready to purchase my shoulder of pork, bone in. They had none. CRAP. Already I was having problems with the bread with no time to make it, and through the advice of the wonderful Willie Lebus of Bibendum, had managed to secure a new order via Sally Clarke’s bakery (fabulous bread & service, I will be using them again).

What to do? I couldn’t use bone out, I wanted to slow roast it, and needed the bone to retain the moisture and add flavour. I wasn’t sure how pork belly would work cold in a sandwich, without experimenting it was too risky to try. They did have a leg of pork, bone in. I was a little worried as this is a much leaner cut of meat, and the fattier cuts lend themselves better to a slow roast. I thought I should give it a try. They’re a great butcher and the meat is high quality, it’s as good a place to start as any.

Anxiously I wheeled my third leg home in my new bright pink shopping cart, wondering how best to do this. It was heavy, as was the chorizo and minced pork I had also purchased, and my wrists were starting to ache. I was getting stressed, and I needed to reel it in, so that I could get everything done, and do it well.

I prepared the roast, exactly as I had done with the shoulder. Pouring some boiling water over first, drying and salting with a sea salt and fennel seed rub. Roasting at maximum temperature for 40 minutes to crisp the crackling and reducing to a little lower than the shoulder as there was less fat to protect the meat, 150 degrees this time for 5 hours or so, basting occasionally, turning the temperature up for the remainder, or until the crackling was perfectly crisp all over.

The result? A perfectly good roast leg of pork with great crackling, but I don’t find these leaner meats as appealing to slow roast, and as they cool they can dry out. The meat close to the bone was moist and delicious but that closer to the skin, despite being protected by a layer of fat, for me just wasn’t as good as it could have been with a fattier joint. I know fat isn’t healthy, but it is tasty, and you do need it for this.

I served it with a celeriac and parsley salad, although in hindsight something like a remoulade might have been better, the leaner meat could probably have done with the extra moisture while cushioned in the bread. The bread was really great, half was a white buttermilk roll which was sweet and light, and the other half a nuttier wholemeal, with some butter in the dough. Both good partners for the pork.

In addition I made chorizo and pork rolls. These I played with for some time, knowing that cold they would not have the unctous fat providing moisture. Encased in a homemade butter shortcrust, they were quite popular, selling out early in the day. I’ll be making more of these this week, with a couple of tweaks.

If  you were vegetarian or weren’t a pork fan for religious reasons or otherwise, there were three vegetarian tarts: beetroot, ricotta & mint; pumpkin, spinach & roquefort and last weeks start burnt aubergine with feta and also red pepper this week. There was no wine this week unfortunately as Denise had to work, and so I sailed the ship solo. However, my aforementioned hero, Willie, arrived on the scene with two bottles of delicious red, proclaiming them perfect partners with the pork. A bottle of D’Arenberg Derelict Vineyard Grenache, 2006 & Chianti Rufina Fattoria di Basciano 2007. He was right, and we enjoyed a glass, as did several other visitors who I gave tasting portions.

No sweet treats this week, these I had to shelve as I was running out of time. Learning, as I am, this week I’ll be more realistic, and I will endeavour to have some there.

So, that’s it. Another day at market, another frantic day of prep, and 16 hour Thursday. The Thursday is actually the best day, as I do get a buzz from being there. The build up is a killer though.

This week: less chornoptimism, more organisation, and help from Dan from Food Urchin should make it a thoroughly enjoyable week. I’ve also ordered the shoulders of pork this week and hope to have them delivered, saving my wrists and my sanity. And I may attempt the bread. I’ll plan it out on Tuesday, so watch this space. Denise will be matching the wines this week, she’s going to get back to me and let me know what these are, and I in turn will share here.

Thanks to everyone who came again, it warms the heart so it does. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.

The full photoset is on flickr.

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Spiced Roast Pork Belly

spiced roast pork belly

Spiced roast pork belly you say? Not a cut of meat you’ve seen here before? A new direction for Eat Like a Girl?

I jest. I have more than over blogged pork belly, but I tried a new spice mixture and a new way of cooking it, and it was delicious, so I thought that I would share. I had no intention of blogging it so I didn’t make an effort with the photos, however, the taste proved delicious, and I thought, hey, I should really be blogging more frequently anyway, and this is worth talking about.

I had pork belly in the fridge, 1kg, a really nice piece I got from a local enough butcher, with the bone still in. I asked the butcher for pork belly, and he asked if I wanted tenderloin. Huh? No, pork belly. Was I sure? Did I want to eat all that fat? Did I like the flavour in the fat? Hell, yeah. Gimme some pork belly please! I’ll get tenderloin another time.

I had guests staying and a friend popped over. Two meat eaters and one strict vegetarian. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere and I wasn’t much in the mood for the pub, so we decided that we would stay in and I would conjure up a dinner using, mainly, what I had to hand. I faltered and went out to get lots of fresh herbs and some fresh vegetables which were sadly lacking, but otherwise, I was good to go.

spices for roast pork belly

I had plans for the vegetarian food, two big salads, one with beans, and therefore reasonably balanced. Noone was going hungry on my watch! As for the pork belly, the Saturday kitchen recipe had piqued my curiosity. I decided that I would take a similar approach with mine. I hadn’t added lemon zest to my pork spice rub before, so definitely wanted to try that, and I added fennel seeds (always so good with pork), sea salt, some red pepper flakes that I had bought in a local Turkish shop and which have become a staple, and finally, some fiery chilli powder.

I’ve been experimenting with how I roast meats recently, starting at a low temperature and blasting it at the end to give some crispy crackling skin, and I think I have it down now. I ground the spices in the pestle and mortar and then poured some boiling hot water over the scored skin to part the bits that are scored and improve the resulting crackling. I dried the skin with some kitchen paper and rubbed in the spice rub, all over the pork.

pork belly

Ready to go! I had preheated the oven to 150 degrees celsius. In went the pork, snugly in a roasting tray that just held it, with 100ml water in the tray. I usually add cider, stock or wine, but with so many flavours on there already, water was right for this. I roasted it uncovered at this temperature for 2 hours, then turned the oven up to 220 degrees to crisp the crackling for about 20 minutes. And we were done.

It’s not the prettiest dish. The spice rub was well and truly charred at this stage but the crackling was crisp and the meat so, so tender, not to mention delicious. The rub conferred a lovely spiciness and citrus kick, which lightened it. Next time I might not put the rub on the skin, as it charred a little too much. This may become my regular pork belly dish. It’s important to play with your food, sometimes you improve something you didn’t know you could or should.

This recipe made enough for 3 and I served it with khobez (flatbreads) and 3 salads (more on those later). Enjoy!

roast pork belly with salads

Ingredients:

1kg good pork belly, on the bone, if possible

Spice rub:

1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp fiery chilli powder
Zest of one unwaxed lemon

Method:

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celsius.
Grind your spice rub ingredients to a fine paste in a pestle and mortar.
Score the skin on your pork belly, if your butcher hasn’t already done it for you. Put the pork in a colander or on a wire rack and pour over some boiling water to fluff up the skin a little. Blot dry with kitchen paper, and rub the spice rub all over and in between the grooves in the scored areas.
Add to a roasting tray just a little bigger than the meat, and pour 100 mls water at the side, not touching the meat. This will keep the end of the meat moist and will prevent it drying out.
After two hours, the belly should be cooked through but still very moist. Turn the heat up to 220 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or so, until the crackling is crisped up but not burned. If you prefer you can do this under the grill.
Rest for 10 minutes and serve in slices.

Enjoy!

EDIT: I incorrectly said 180 degrees in the text. Typo – apologies. Should be 150.

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Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Complex, you would think? A gorgeous hunk of meat, that is full of flavour and moisture. A HUGE and gorgeous hunk of meat.

Complex? No. All it requires is your time, your patience, your oven, and a good cut of meat supplied by your local friendly butcher. That’s it!

Mine had some extra complexities. That probably won’t surprise you. These were not the fault of the pig, or the oven, the oils, or any attendant spices. The issue my friends, was my accent.

The most complex thing about it was ordering it. I called my butcher in advance and ordered a shoulder of pork, bone in. He had explained previously that I would need to order it in advance, as they rarely have bone in joints on the premises. I wanted the bone in, as it would help retain the moisture over a slow roasting time and would retain much more flavour.

Bone in, my butcher repeated. I had discussed it with them last time I was in the shop, so satisfied that the joint was ordered, I hung up.  I called the next day to check they had it. In fact they had three. Huh? Three? I thought they never had any? They did, he said. I checked, bone in? And he said, no, you asked for bone out. Sigh. So, we started again. I called the next evening but he couldn’t understand me, so I went on faith, in the hope that this time my pork shoulder would be there. That evening I successfully collected 4 kgs of pork shoulder with the bone in, and lugged it home.

And that was the difficult bit completed. Cooking it was easy. I didn’t need to cut the skin with a knife as my butcher had already done it for me. I first poured some boiling water over the skin to help the crackling plump up, just a brief splash, and then dried it with some kitchen paper. I crushed some sea salt and fennel seeds in my pestle and mortar and rubbed it all over the pork and into the grooves between the cut skin, then placed it in a roasting tray in  a hot oven (220 degrees celsius) for half an hour. I then covered the roasting tray with a double layer of foil, and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees celsius for 5 hours, basting occasionally. I then removed the foil and roasted it for a further half hour, to crisp the skin even more. I rested it for half an hour and then we tucked in.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

And there you go. Delicious and simple. There’s lots of i’s in that recipe, but that’s how I did it, and it’s a story more than an instructive recipe.

Pork shoulder in khobez flatbreads with salad. I’ll be making it again. Only I’ll make more next tiem so that there’s lots of leftovers!