These days Britain is a very multi-cultural place, and it's harder than ever to define "British" food - still less "English" food. Apparently Chicken Tikka Masala is just as popular as Fish and Chips, and I can see why! Jane and I love food of many different types - European, Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern etc - and at home we eat a very varied diet, but today I'm going to write about a meal I would consider to be very English in its character: roast pork with Brussels sprouts and carrots. This is an example of the traditional "Meat and two veg" which is eaten in many English households as their Sunday lunch or dinner.
My present enthusiasm for British food is as a direct result of my (our, because Jane is included too) involvement with The Great British Cookbook. Attending the launch party for the book last week we had the honour to meet Johnny Pusztai, the butcher featured in the book. He is a larger-than life character - stout of physique, and unstoppably garrulous in a most engaging way. At the party he and his team of helpers were serving up a Hog-roast - a whole pig cooked long and slow, so that its meat was very very tender. The portions of meat were served on a large granary bread roll, accompanied by apple sauce and sage-and-onion stuffing. It was amazingly good! Now, I'm not about to start cooking a whole pig for just Jane and me, but having experienced the Hog-roast I certainly did fancy cooking a piece of pork.
I found a suitable piece in our local branch of Morrisons. It was a loin joint - effectively 6 huge chops still joined together. Before you go thinking that this was extravagant, let me just put it into perspective for you. This piece of meat, weighing about 1.5kg (including bones), cost £8.83, in other words about the price of one fairly ordinary pub-food meal, and it provided food for two of us for two meals. If we had eaten meat like this in a fancy restaurant, we would probably have had one chop each and been charged about £20 per person!
I roasted the meat in the oven, closely following the instructions on the label - "Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200C. Allow 30 mins for each 500g and 30 mins extra, plus at least 20 mins standing-time after cooking." Here it is when cooked:
The only disadvantage with this cut of meat is that it has only a thin layer of skin and fat, so it does not produce any crackling. What a shame, because I love crackling! As you can see in the photo above, it did not produce much juice either, so lots of gravy was called for. When it came to making the gravy I drew on inspiration from Johnny once more, because his "House" gravy is one made with onions and cider. I can vouch for the fact that it goes with pork very well indeed.
To accompany the roast pork I cooked two different vegetables - Brussels Sprouts and carrots - both from my own garden. Oh, and some potatoes too, though these were not from my garden.
I kept them plain. With vegetables as fresh as these it makes sense not to mess about with them too much, just enjoy their flavour.
Right, so let's put it all together:
Do you see that I have chosen an end-piece of the pork? I do love the rather caramelized taste of the "Well Done" part of a joint. Inside, though, the meat was soft and tender; not at all dry. I took my photos with just a little gravy poured over the plate, but you can rest assured that after the photos were taken I added a lot more gravy!
On the plate you can probably see a dollop of Apple Sauce too. This is another very traditional accompaniment for roast pork.
So there you go then. It's not a sophisticated meal by any stretch of the imagination, but wholesome, hearty and comforting.
By the way, as I hinted earlier,that piece of meat gave us two meals. The leftovers went into a Chinese-style dish!