Sunday, 24 February 2013

REAL roast pork

We went to the monthly Farmers' Market yesterday (if only it was weekly!). There was a lot of very nice-looking meat on sale - beef, lamb, pork, venison, pheasants - even goat, which you don't often see. We bought a piece of Venison Rump which Jane is going to cook, and this piece of Pork Loin:


That's what a good piece of outdoor-reared pork should look like: some lovely dark meat, but also a nice thick layer of fat beneath the skin. Not soft flabby fat, but firm hard fat, which will ooze into the lean as it cooks, keeping it tender and adding loads of flavour!

We decided that it would be best if I were to cook the pork simply, so that we could enjoy it for the fine piece of meat it was, but that I should try to do something different in the vegetable department to accompany it.

 I eventually decided to make what I have called "Mashcakes". I cooked a mixture of potatoes and parsnips (in a ratio of about 3:1), put them through the ricer to ensure there were no lumps or fibrous bits, added a little milk, a large knob of butter and a huge handful of chopped parsley. When the mixture was cold I arranged it in a greased muffin-tin, and grated a little Parmesan cheese over the top, like this:


Later on these were browned in the oven for about 40 minutes while the pork was cooking, and ended up like this - crispy on the outside, soft in the middle.


Meanwhile, I removed the chine-bone from the meat and used it to make a gravy for later on. My method for cooking the pork was "standard" - about half an hour at high temperature to make the skin form "crackling", followed by about 45 minutes at a lower temperature. Finally, about 15 minutes of resting time.
It is hard to carve a piece of meat like this into slices, so I just cut between the bones and separated it into slabs like chops!


Towards the end of the meat's cooking time I steamed some other vegetables - carrots, broccoli, Swede turnip and Cavolo Nero -  browned the Mashcakes and heated up the gravy, so that everything was ready at the same time. This is the traditional British way to eat: "meat and two veg, with gravy" (except in our case rather more than two veg!).


The meat certainly lived up to expectations. It was tasty and moist, not dry like so much of the pork you buy in the supermarkets these days. The crackling was not as crispy as I would have liked, but it was still OK, and full of flavour. Making pork skin crackle seems to be a very hit-and-miss affair. We have tried all sorts of techniques over the years, but none of them is infallible. Do any of you have any foolproof techniques you would like to share with me?


Jane is cooking the Venison this evening, so I expect you will be able to read about it on Onions and Paper very soon..

19 comments:

  1. Your mashcakes look delicious, I'd like to try your recipe and make a few. I love potatoes, and such mashcakes are new to me :)

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    1. They were new to me too! Made them up "on the fly". I'll probably do them again though - but perhaps not in the muffin-tin. They were quite difficukt to get out. They would probably work just as well on a (flat) greased baking-tray.

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  2. Now that looks even better with the veg! (Green man)

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  3. A very appetizing plate of food and those potato cakes sound so yummy, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle...making me so hungry!

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  4. I grew up on meat and three veg (one seems to have been added somewhere en route), but I don't imagine that many Aussies do these days. Interesting how culinary traditions change.

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    1. Liz, I think the "meat and 2/3/4/ veg" meal made from raw ingredients is comparitively rare here too. So many people seem to survive on snack foods - burgers, wraps, kebabs, pot noodle etc, or on frozen Ready Meals. Fortunately there is a small minority of enthusiasts who keep the old values alive! Thank Goodness for Farmers' Markets.

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  6. Sorry I'm afraid I'm not into crackling!

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  7. The crackling looks great and the joint looks very much like the ones we have from our Berkshire piggies. The last joint I cooked, I tried a quick roast at high temperature for crackling, then turn temperature down really low (150C) put a layer of root veggies below pork and a little stock, cover whole thing with foil and back in oven for a couple of hours. It was very tender, almost like pulled pork. I'm a big fan of venison at the moment too, I think good outddor reared and wild meat plus lots of veggies is the way to go!

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    1. Andrea, you are so right. The free-range outdoor-reared pork is a LOT better than the mass-produced stuff, which always seems full of water and no fat, so it goes dry when you cook it. Jane cooked the venison "A la Boulangere" - long and slow, on top of a bed of potatoes and onions. The gravy it made was divine!

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  8. I love crackling but it's the same for me, very hit and miss. I've heard that rubbing salt in to it before cooking makes it crackle, but I've never done that. I love the look of your mashcakes, they look very tasty.

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    1. Jo, I've tried the salt technique - no different. I also made sure to get the skin really dry, which I have heard is supposed to be important. Just a materr of luck, in my opinion. In the past we have sometimes cooked a piece of skin separately, in order to provide crackling. This way you can blast it on max heat for as long at is takes!

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  9. Yum Mark - I love roast pork with crackling - no apple sauce I notice - you must have apple sauce it's tradition. The best pork joint I have ever had was from my own Tamworths - the crackling crackled beautifully and the meat was the tastiest I have ever tasted - just thinking about it is making me drool. Like the mash cake idea too.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Elaine, it was an oversight. We do normally have apple sauce, but regrettably not this time! :(

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  10. Miummy, for the potatoes I cook the same except I do it directly in the potato skins and add bits and pieces of cooked bacon - apparently potato skins are very nutricious.

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  11. I am a big believer that you get what you pay for when it comes to meat, and that pork joint looks cracking! Best joint to have for a Sunday roast in my opinion. Love the potato and parsnip cakes also might have to give them a bash my children would love them.

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  13. Those potatoes look so tasty. I will try that, thanks.

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  14. I usually roast boneless pork at 350 after gently rubbing salt pepper and thin coating of oil (usually olive or veg) to get crispy.

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