December 2009

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free-range ham and home made rillettes

from l-r: rillettes, loaf of bread, spencers brook ham (glazed with marmalade)

Request for a recipe so I’d share it with you all/both. Rillettes is a rufty tufty pate that’s basically pork with pork fat and thus a simple pleasure to be enjoyed. It’s been well liked by young and old and the best use to date has been for breakfast on toast with a few bubbles.

It’s best made in bulk so you can either live off it for a couple of weeks or, for that christmas magic, share it around.

500g pork fat – you can use pork lard, I just carefully scraped the fat off a bit of pork skin for crackling (really it’s beautiful stuff – makes me think of soft serve ice-cream for some reason)
700g pork – shoulder, leg, loin … whatever really as long as it’s lean and meaty
500g pork belly – just trim the skin off and don’t worry about the bones.

Dice the meat into inch (roughly) pieces.

1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic – peeled
1 stick of celery, 10 sage leaves, 3 twigs of thyme
white wine

Simmer the pork fat gently in enough water to cover and drain.
Add everything into a casserole dish and add a big glass of white wine. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and simmer at as low a flame as you can. A diffuser is handy. Stir occasionally.
At some stage I decided it as time for bed so I added a splash more wine, put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven overnight at 70C.

Allow the meat to cool, remove everything that is neither meat nor fat, and then break the meat and fat up into small pieces. Disposable gloves are handy for this. The meat, if you’ve cooked it long and slowly enough, should really just fall to bits and shreds. Season generously.

Now you can distribute it into jars or ramekins and seal the top with a little clarified butter. Allow to chill. Enjoy with good white bread and whatever drinks you have handy.

BONUS! Roast Char Sui Pork

Take a piece of pork, make some deep slashes on either side. Put it in a bowl with a cup of Char Sui sauce, several star anise, and a decent splash of Chinese rice wine. Leave for a couple of hours but just turn it over now and then to coat.
Place the meat on a rack over a tray with water in it. The steam keeps it moist and it stops the sugary sauce from burning in the tray. Cook at 150C for about an hour and a half to two hours or until the pork reaches 80C on the meat thermometer.
I’m sure it’d be great in soup but I just had it in nice big slices while enjoying beers with friends.

Do make sure you grab some fruit and veg at some stage.

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crayfish tail

The crayfish/western rock lobster  man of human kindness came last night with two fresh crustaceans. This provided a golden opportunity to do a post that didn’t involve potatoes.

This was very much an experiment that started with the simple technique of en papillote – wrapping in, literally, parchment and cooking. If you can get your hands on a piece of treated goatskin, good luck to you. I used baking paper.

  1. remove the crayfish tail (humane method) and then remove the poo tube by inserting a skewer at a join near the end of the tail and lifting it out. Run some kitchen scissors up the inside to open up the bottom part of the shell – this will expose the flesh (phwoar!)  and make removing the meat easier.
  2. I used a combination of chopped basil, tarragon leaves (handily flowering), butter, wedge of lemon, and a finely sliced clove of garlic. What you do next is wrap the tail around them and then secure it with a wooden skewer.
  3. place this on a piece of baking paper, bring the sides up, give them a twist to seal and tie with a piece of string.
  4. cook in a 170C oven for 20 minutes [ this may of course vary wildly but the paper turning brownish isn’t a bad cue for doneness]
  5. cook some pappardelle (always makes me think of this) and mix through a bit of EVOO and basil leaves.
  6. now, plate the pasta, remove the string on the package and then place it in the middle of the pasta.
  7. you (actually since you had two crayfish, with someone you love) remove the paper, dump the buttery herby goodness onto the pasta and get your hands dirty cracking the shell open while you eat the meat with the pasta. It’s fantastic.

I opened up a bottle of McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos 2007 Marsanne, Chardonnay, Roussanne. It sounds like it should be layered in a shot glass but is, in line with their track record, very good. It’s got that fine dining feel of a chardonnay but a lot of freshness built in and some lovely aromatics. If I were pushed I’d say it’s like a nice sofa made of lemon and soda water but that’d be nonsense so I’ll settle for – was perfect with a monday night bit of seafood slap-up fancy.

cray plated 2

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