A pig. A whole pig. Actually a kind of omniswine as it had been boned and filled with pork fillets. A long crackling wrapped pork cigar. Seafood should condition one to things cooked with heads but there were a few guilty twinges amongst eaters which I consoled by asking how much amonymous faceless meat they’d consumed in the year. Free range. it had a better life and here it was, guest of honour.
The party was planned of sorts a few weeks back by Brendan, the local freelancing GP and artist with a house and pool. I showed him a Mondo Butchers catalogue and offered to help with the food. Done. Last pig in shop ordered for NYE.
First stage was to ask the father-in-law Bruce to build a 44 gallon drum BBQ. Bruce is a master of rural construction improv – built a 200 litre fuel tank for his Landcruiser. The BBQ was done by morning tea, with removable lid, handle, and lift out grill. Tops. All I had to do was go away on holidays for a fews days and come back and work out exactly what I was going to do.
On the Day
Due to the heat and the pool, it would have to be a fauxCific Luau type thing. Though I’m reluctant to claim it as such. Gone are the days when you could whack a pineapple on something and call it Hawaiian and nobody’d be any wiser. I felt the disembodied presence of Reid looking over my shoulder. Ostensibly the theme was Lord Of The Flies but I think the general advice was not to be podgy and wear glasses and that the book did not include a professor or a movie star.
30 or so guests anticipated. Not too hard, the pig was the food rather than being a festive hub of gluttony. All that was needed was a couple of snacks and accompaniment. The final decision came down to the two standards of pineapple and sweet potato. A bit of driving around getting food, prepping and then picking up the pig from Inglewood. Drop cold pre-cooked pig off at 5:30 and head back home for more prep. Call at 7:15 to ask about the fire. Fire? Head over. Get fire going 8:30 after a little gilling of the BBQ with an angle grinder and a chisel. Guests arrive.
The wood was wandoo which is a hard local eucalypt which burns well. It took over an hour to die down to a bed of coals. I just wanted to reheat the pig and imbue it with a little smokey authenticity. Placed the pig on the grill on banana leaves which I’d soaked and left it, basting with the orange and garlic.
Meanwhile the snacks ticked along nicely. I had planned to do them on the Webber but it was another thing to have to worry about so I settled for the oven with no ill effect. The biggest challenge was coming to terms with a counter intuitive microwave matching 80’s user interface with the instructions hidden on the griller door. The prosciutto and pineapple with sweet potato chips was well received and remided me that one good thing will take the place of many.
As 11 o’clock approached it was clear the pig wasn’t heating up as much as it should. Actually it was pointed out to me by a helpful guest, I was in lalalalalala everything is fine mode. No big deal just carve it up and give it a quick heat in the oven. Come back to snap alpha male style at guests heating up some crackle and the rest of the pig with a hissy “we make crackle by rubbing it with salt and roasting it carefully in the oven not by chucking a couple of bits of raw timber in a fire“. My best effort since shouting at a colleague for pricking sausages with a fork. BBQ’s – infernos of rage, cauldrons of control.
Easy bit from here. Meat goes in bun with applesauce and everybody grabs a roast sweet potato and banana. The pork was exceptional. The sweet potatoes very pleasant and better with resting. 20 minutes until midnight, time for some mingling, drinking, smoking, reflecting, and looking forward to the next round of the spiral.
Happy New Year. 今年もよろしくね。
Started with this cuban base and modified it as Seville Oranges were out of season. 6 navel oranges, one grapefruit – both juiced, 8 cloves of garlic, 1tbs of oregano. All blended together in a food processor. I tried a bit of the orange juice and garlic as it would be pretty healthy but the raw garlic just rips. Not for drinking.
Easy. 6 Fuji and 6 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into bits. Mixed with a cup of water and the juice of one lemon and then to stew in a crock pot for three hours. Pureed in a blender. I added a tbs of concentrated beef stock. The sweetness would match well with the rolls so the stock added a balance of meatiness.
Pineapple Wrapped in Prosciutto
Two large pineapples top and bottom removed and then the core cut out leaving a wall of a little under a centimetre. Pineapple chopped into bite sized pieces and then wrapped in a piece of finely sliced prosciutto, placed on a skewer and dipped in the pork baste (above). Cooked in a 180C oven and then served in the hollowed pineapple surrounded with sweet potato chips
Sweet Potato Chips
Sweet potatoes very thinly sliced with a mandolin. Rinsed and then dried. Fried in canola oil in a wok. To get the temperature right (my thermometer has gone elsewhere – no not where the sun doesn’t shine) I tested with a few pieces, they should be crisped without retaining excessive oil (too cold). Drained and then reheated in the oven before serving.
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Banana
6 large sweet potatoes boiled in their skins for 25 minutes, drained, left to cool, peeled and then cut into 15mm pieces. Then it’s two thirds of a cup each of melted butter, palm sugar, and water. Mixed together then the pieces added coated and placed in the oven to glaze a little. Each piece wrapped in foil with a slice of banana (tossed in a little lemon juice), a sprinkling of dessicated coconut, and a little of the glaze. Heated in the oven at 180C and then served.
Long lunch. Asahi good. Spell check can wait.