Category Archives: pork

a sort of cassoulet

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Yesterday, when we did the shopping, there were nice meaty pork bones in the supermarket butchery. So I bought them, along with a packet of 3 chorizo sausages & also the things that were actually on the shopping list. And today I made a sort of cassoulet. It’s based on a recipe in Alison Holst’s collection of crockpot & slow=cooker dishes, but as usual I tweaked it a bit to suit what was in the herb garden & pantry.

You’ll need to start this off in the morning if using a slow cooker as it takes 6-8 hours on ‘low’ to get the meat nice & toothsome & the sauce thick & rich.

First I sliced a couple of brown onions & softened them in olive oil on a medium heat, along with 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. Then I tipped them into the bowl of my trusty slow-cooker, and added a tin of chopped tomatoes in juice, a tin of cannellini beans, 3 Tblsp of tomato paste, the leaves of several sprigs of time, a couple of Tblsp of chopped fresh marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt and a couple of bay leaves, & mixed everything together. (The original recipe calls for sage, but I haven’t had a lot of success with sage. If we enlarge the courtyard garden I’ll try growing it there as it doesn’t seem to like life in pots. Not at our place, anyway.) The chorizos I sliced about 1cm thick before adding them to the dish, and then the pork bones, and mixed again so the meat was well covered in sauce. Then I left it all to its own devices.

After a couple of hours I gave it all a stir. The mix looked a bit dry so I dropped in the half-dozen small tomatoes from the bowl on the bench, added about half a cup of water, & went away again.

A little before dinner time I fished out the pork bones & separated the now meltingly-soft meat from the bones & skin, popping the meat back in the cooker bowl & wrapping the other bits for the rubbish. Check to see if it needs seasoning – ours didn’t as the chorizos were pleasantly spicy – before sprinkling with chopped parsley & serving. Or you could use gremolata. The dish would go well with steamed greens and baked potatoes (or mash), but we had it with slices of beer bread (the recipe for which I will provide shortly 🙂 ).

It might not have been authentic, but it was certainly tasty.

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crispy pork belly with sweet chili caramel sauce

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We’ve got Nana staying at the moment ** and we’re doing our best to spoil her rotten. In part this involves cooking things that she’ll love but would never cook for herself. So on Saturday I tried a recipe that my friend Fiona had told me about – I had a piece of pork belly in the freezer that was just begging to have something nice done to it.

When Fiona made this recipe she cooked the pork in her slow cooker, but my piece was the wrong size for that. So I put it – frozen, because I only decided to do this on Saturday morning! – in a roasting dish, poured a litre of chicken stock over the top, covered the dish with aluminium foil & sealed it as much as possible, & then put it in the oven at 120 degrees C. After 4 & 1/2 hours the meat was sooooo tender!

I decanted the stock (through a sieve, to catch the meaty bits) into a jug, skimmed off the fat (the birds in our garden were very happy about that, next morning 🙂 ), & put the jug in the fridge; it will be excellent in the risotto I’ve got planned for Tuesday. The meat went in a smaller dish, skin side up & with crumpled foil around it so only the skin was exposed. Using a sharp knife (what other kind is there?) I cut a series of lines through the skin, to make it easier to serve later, then brushed the skin with oil & sprinkled it with salt, before putting it aside to wait while the roast veges cooked.

And while they cooked, I made the sauce. Fiona had told me about its delectable nature but not what the actual ingredients were, so I decided to go the usual route & Make Stuff Up. Into a small saucepan went 1/2 sugar (I used white but Fiona told me this morning that brown also works well) & a couple of Tblsp of water. I cooked this over a low heat, stirring lots, until the sugar melted & went a light golden brown. At this point it came off the heat & I added the juice of 2 limes – we have an oversupply of these at the moment but apparently they freeze really well – followed by half a cup of sweet chilli sauce. You’ll need to be careful doing this as the caramel may spit!

The final step was to put the meat under the grill until the crackling was done, before serving the meal up to a very happy family. (The sauce was voted a ‘keeper’, & certainly the leftover sauce went very well with last night’s chicken burgers 😀 ) Nana said, perhaps she should stay longer 🙂

**  Poppa died a few weeks ago, after a mercifully short last illness. Hence the blogging hiatus; I’ve had other things on my mind & simply couldn’t get into writing. Hopefully we’re all moving onwards now.

a nice thing to do with left-over pork

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We had some very good friends to dinner last night, & I decided to slow-roast a leg of pork. (All this entailed was using a dish into which the pork fitted quite tightly, pouring in 1/2 c of water, covering the exposed meat with tinfoil (but leaving the scored, oiled, & salted skin exposed), and instructing the daughter to put it into the oven (pre-heated to 140 C) at 3pm. Yes, I could have had some rosemary in there, but it was pouring with rain at the time I was getting things ready & I just couldn’t be bothered getting wet. Anyway, by 7pm the meat was sweetly succulent, & 30 minutes in the oven at 180 C – while the par-boiled spuds, kumara & (of course!) pumpkin cooked & I made the gravy – got the crackling to the desired level of crunch. (For those worried about greens, we had a bean salad on the side.)

There were 7 of us round the table but it was a large leg of pork, & so even after seconds there was quite a bit of meat left, plus a few pieces of kumara. So this is what I did with it tonight:

First up, I got 3 sheets of ready-made flaky-puff pastry out of the freezer to defrost. Yes, I could have made it myself – & I suspect a hot-water pastry would have worked rather well – but I didn’t get home till quite late & all were hungry. Then, down the middle of each pastry sheet, I spread some cold mashed roast kumara, & over that drizzled a little of last night’s gravy.

After that I roughly chopped sufficient of the cold pork to pile it up along the length of the pastry, atop the kumara/gravy combo. And finally, I opened a tin of apple (not having any fresh apples in the house) and put a couple of spoonfuls of that on top of the pork, before carefully folding the sides of each pastry sheet up to enclose the meaty filling. Each pork’n’apple roll went into the roasting tray, which had been lined with one of my trusty Teflon sheets, & then into the oven at 200 C for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Along with steamed broccoli & the remaining gravy, that was rather a nice way to have left-overs 🙂

my take on pork & fennel sausages

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Casting about for something to cook tonight, I thought fondly of the rather nice pork-&-fennel sausages that we’d had (courtesy of the local supermarket’s butcher) a week or so ago. Then I fished a 500 g pack of sausage meat and another of pork mince out of the freezer to thaw. And this is what I did with them.

  • Cut the crusts off 3-4 slices of bread & then cut the slices into cubes (or tear them into small pieces; it doesn’t matter which).
  • Put them in a bowl with an egg, a couple of Tblsp milk, a good grind of salt & pepper, and a slosh of soya sauce. Stir to mix.
  • While that mixture is soaking into the bread, peel a red onion & chop it finely, before adding it to the bowl with 2 tsp fennel seeds.  Stir it all together – the bread should be all soggy & starting to break up.
  • Then add the pork mince and the sausage meat (I had 500 g of each, but the exact ratio probably wouldn’t matter too much) and work everything together with your hands until the meats and seasonings are very well mixed.
  • Divide into even portions – I got 14 sausages from that quantity but you could make them fewer & larger, or smaller & more, as you wish – and form into sausage shapes before rolling each in dry breadcrumbs. You’ll find it easier to work with the meat mix if you keep your hands wet.
  • Then fry gently on all sides until cooked & golden.

We had them with fresh, thinly sliced green beans (with a knob of butter atop) and a warm potato salad dressed with a mix of equal amounts of mayo and sour cream, 2-3 Tblsp of vinaigrette, salt & pepper to taste, and finely-chopped garlic chives.

And had Granma’s chocolate log to follow  😀

feeding the many with a few pork sausages

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Last night I had 7 pork sausages and 5 (3 of them big eaters) to feed for tea. Eeeek! So I looked in the pantry & garden: fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic & peppers; tomato paste; tinned cannellini beans; stock; & spices. And in the fridge, sour cream & tasty cheese. So I sent the daughter off to get some corn chips from the dairy (she came home with Doritos) & got cooking.

First I chopped a couple of onions & set them frying gently in a couple of Tblsp of olive oil. While they softened I peeled & chopped the cloves of a couple of small heads of garlic & added them to the pan, along with a couple of sliced long sweet red peppers.

Then came the sausages. I snipped the end of each one, held it over the pan, & squeezed out walnut-sized balls of sausage meat – I got 6-7 little balls per sausage. I stirred everything around & let the sausage meat brown a bit, before adding 1 tsp of smoky dried paprika and 1/4 tsp of chilli powder. (That last mightn’t sound much, but the chilli powder they sell in the local supermarket is HOT!)

After that I added 2 c of peeled**, chopped tomatoes, 250 ml stock (it was chicken stock, because that’s what was in the cupboard, but vegetable stock would have been good too), & a small tub of tomato paste. I seasoned it to taste & then simmered for 20 minutes or so until it was all nicely thickened.

And then I served it, along with the corn chips, a bowl of grated tasty cheese, the sour cream, a lettuce/cucumber/tomato salad (we are having trouble keeping on top of the lettuces & cucumbers at the moment!) & some lovely fresh sweetcorn, picked about 10 minutes previously & cooked quickly in a pan of boiling water.

Rather to my surprise, there was enough over for a couple of people to share for lunch.

** If you put the tomatoes in a bowl & pour boiling water over them, then stand them for a few minutes before tipping the hot water off & flushing with cold water, the skins will split & slip off really easily  🙂

mini pork patties with veges & orange-soy sauce

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So, this morning I got a packet of pork mince (about 300g) out of the freezer. And this evening I decided we were having it as little patties, seasoned with Thai spice mix (thank you, Continental!) & served with quickly stir-fried veges & an orange-soy sauce, over rice.

First, I put the rice on to cook (2 cups of rice, covered 2 inches deep with cold water, & lightly salted): I find if I bring it to the boil & then turn the element off, the residual heat cooks it through while I’m dealing with everything else. Plus it doesn’t boil over so that you have that starchy mess all over the cooktop.

For veges: brocco-flower head, separated into florets & blanched; a large red pepper, thinly sliced; and 2-3 golf-ball zucchini, thinly sliced. Just what was available from garden & market; other mixes would work too.

For the patties, I first took the crusts off 3 slices of bread, then tore each slice into smallish bits & left them to soak in a mix of an egg & a splash of soya sauce. (I find that using this, I get meat balls/patties that are really tender.) Then I mixed them together & added one red onion, very finely diced, a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped garlic chives, & about a tablespoon of Thai spice mix. Finally I dropped in the pork mince & worked the whole lot together before shaping it into walnut-sized balls. (Think, large walnuts.) This amount of meat gave me 18 little balls.

I heated 2-3 tblsp of vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan & added the meat, flattening each ball to give a little patty. You’d need to cook them in two batches. The reason I flatten them is that they cook evenly & – just as important! – I don’t have to muck about turning them all the time 🙂 Then I moved them onto a plate & used a slotted spoon to fish out all the brown crunchy bits (you knew that was coming!) onto the plate as well.

Into the oil remaining in the pan I dropped 2 tblsp of finely chopped root ginger & 5 cloves of garlic (crushed), & gave it a brisk stir for about 30 seconds before adding the zucchini & pepper strips and – a minute or so later – the broccoflower. I followed this with the zest & juice from 2 oranges & 1/4 c dark soya sauce, and thickened the sauce with 2 tsp cornflour mixed to a paste with a little water. And finally, tipped the patties back into the pan and gently mixed everything so that patties & vegetables were covered with the dark, sweetly-sticky sauce.

Apparently the daughter’s friends are keen to turn up en masse for dinner…