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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Pulled Pork – Vindaloo style

I know pulled pork is very popular at the moment, but I thought it would be fun to try a twist on it, and have it with Southern Indian spices and flavours rather than the traditional US ones. I tried this recipe out at the weekend, it takes a long time to cook, but it’s very simple, and the results are utterly worth it. Don’t let the vindaloo put you off, this isn’t mind blowing hot, the long slow cooking takes a lot of the heat out. If you like a bit of hot stuff, I’ve indicated where you can add more chilli to get a real kick.

So, this recipe is enough for 4 people, serve with rice, or with whatever you fancy. Adam thought that it would go with mashed potato quite well too.

I used 1/3rd of a pork shoulder, on the bone. This should fit nicely into a slow cooker – if you don’t have one, a casserole dish in a low oven would be just fine.

Firstly, stab the pork shoulder all over, I don’t have great knife skills, so it’s all simple, and this works just as well as slashing it.

Marinade:

1 tsp cumin seeds

5 cardamom pods

3 cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

4 peppercorns

1 chilli (as hot as you like)

3cm bit of root ginger, grated

5 garlic cloves

Juice of a lemon

Bash these all into a paste with a pestle and mortar, do the dry ingredients first. Use a spice/coffee grinder if it’s easier. Combine them with the lemon juice.

Rub the marinade all over the pork, pop it in a non metallic dish, and cover. Put it in the fridge overnight.

Next day you’ll need to start this around 11am if you want it for dinner. Set your slow cooker to heat up, or turn the oven on.

Cooking Sauce:

Vegetable oil for frying

4 cloves of garlic – chopped

2 onions – sliced

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tin chopped tomatoes

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Seasoning

Start by frying the garlic on a low-ish heat, you don’t want to colour them too much. Then add the onions, and turn the heat up a bit, fry the onions until they’re soft and turning colour. Add the turmeric and tinned tomatoes, chilli and vinegar. Let it all bubble away for a few minutes, season.

Put the pork into the slow cooker dish/casserole. Pour over the sauce and then top up with boiling water until the pork is about 2/3rd covered.

Cook for around 6 hours, turning the pork over every now and again. You’ll notice it becoming softer and softer until it is falling off the bone. Take it out of the slow cooker and shred it at this point. Discard the bone and the fat. A lot of the fat from the pork will have melted out and formed a layer on the top of the sauce. Skim this off if you wish. Place the shredded pork back in the sauce, now you can get the chilli kick back if you want, add some freshly chopped green chilli.

You can leave it now on a very low heat until you’re ready to serve, I left the lid off the slow cooker to allow the sauce to thicken up a bit – but that’s my preference. Before you’re ready to serve you can sprinkle a little more chopped chilli and even some fresh coriander over the top.

All ready to serve, add some of the cooking sauce over the top.

Rillette: a simple guide

This weekend I spent doing some cooking, I wanted to attempt something I’d not done before, and try something out of my new cookery book I purchased recently… Le Charcutier Anglais. I’ve been looking for some tasty and straightforward recipes for pate, terrine, rillette and sausages that I could try at home, without too much fuss, if you’re interested in this kind of cooking, then the books is ideal – it also talks in detail about curing, smoking and all manner of preserving and presenting meat, from back pudding and faggots to hams and sausages pretty much all you could wish for is covered.

I’d always assumed that making rillette was a long time consuming process, complicated and too much hassle to bother with at home. But thanks to Marc Frederic’s easy instructions, I decided to give it a go. You need very few ingredients, and the most difficult bit is the waiting, and trying not to snaffle the lot whilst the piggy porky aromas starting wafting around the house.

I chose a mixture of pork shoulder and belly, chopped into large chunks:

Chunks of belly and shoulder

I removed and reserved the skin from the belly, and cooked it later for a crackly snack.

Once the pork was prepared, I melted some lard. The lard is important, if you can, get hold of some unrefined lard, the commercial stuff doesn’t have a particularly nice flavour to it, the unrefined will though. I had some from Brays Cottage, which I used. I think you can see in the picture that it’s slightly yellow, an unrefined lard wont be the perfect white colour that you might be used to.

I cooked the lot in my slow cooker, set it to warm up, add the pork, and cover in the melted lard. Now leave it for hours. The smell is amazing and will probably drive you crazy, as you’ll want to keep ‘sampling’ it, but I urge you, keep your hands off it as long as you can. Eventually – the pork will start to break down, and you can cut it with a spoon. Take the pork out of the pan and shred it.

 

In a large bowl, put all the shredded meat, and mix in some of the cooking juice and melted lard, and season. You could use all sorts of things here: white pepper, mace, nutmeg, smoked salt, bay, a handful of green peppercorns,  juniper or paprika. Keep it simple, just one or two, but you’ll probably need more that you think. Mix well and press into a large terrine dish, and if you’re going to ‘pot’ it, cover in a good layer of the fat.

Cover and leave in the fridge –  if you’ve potted it you wont necessarily need to refrigerate it, but it wont hurt to do so. Leave it for the flavours to mature a bit. We tried it the next day, and the flavours weren’t as good as they are today, and I expect they’ll be better again tomorrow. I kept the fat that I didn’t use in the mix, and will use it next time I’m going to make rillette, I might get a bit fancy and try with some game – hare or rabbit would work well I think.

In the drunk tank

The latest government plans to tackle binge drinking? Bring in the drunk tanks and a minimum pricing limit.

Drunk tanks are designed to stop the antisocial behaviour of those who have overly indulged, potentially to prevent harm to others and themselves. The idea that removing them from the streets will mean less drunken behaviour on the streets, and by assumption lower A&E admissions.  According to the Cameron, £2.7 billion is the cost to the NHS of binge drinking. However, this does not take into account the revenue raised from duty and vat on alcohol as pointed out this morning by Pete Brown on Twitter: ‘Spurious ‘cost’ of drink to NHS: £2.7bn. Real govt revenue from duty and VAT on drink: £15,8bn. Funny how papers don’t report that last bit.’ And also that ‘Govt last week announced it’s changing how alcohol-related admissions are calculated cos they know it’s wrong. But quoting those figs today’. Pete also points us to this article at Political Scrapbook about how Mr Cameron earned £84,000 from bar chain Tiger Tiger – one of those bars well known for selling cheap booze.

I do wonder about the logic of locking a group of hammered people up in a cell together where they can argue and fight, is that really a good idea? What if someone becomes ill, or is injured whilst in the drunk tank – presumably they become the responsibility of the police force who have detained them. And these temporary cells to be used as drunk tanks… where will these come from? It’s been reported in the past that our police cells are already over crowded to help ease prison overcrowding. In this age of austerity, spending cut backs in the public sector just where is the funding for this going to come from – oh yes! The tax payer – you and I.

The minimum price per unit has been debated with plenty of arguments for and against. Tandleman’s Beer Blog discussed it on Monday, basically stating that those who want to get out of their minds on alcohol will continue to do so anyway, by whatever means. Worrying reports such as this one  issued by Liverpool council warning about ‘fake’ vodka – an industrial alcohol unfit for human consumption – masquerading as a budget supermarket offering, are becoming increasingly common. The fact that people are going to the bother or producing these ‘fake’ alcohols would suggest there’s a market for them. A minimum price is not going to do a jot to help this situation, it is only going to make it worse.

I don’t know what the answer is. Some would say education. The % of the population who smoke has gradually fallen from around 65% for men and  40% for women in 1948 to around 20% for both sexes today according to Cancer Research. I am sure some of this is down to education, and awareness of the health risks associated with smoking. Are we going to see similar kinds of warnings on alcohol labels, a ban on advertising alcoholic drinks. It’s unfortunate, it’s the few that abuse alcohol that ruin it for the rest of us. It’s also true that many who abuse alcohol in their late teen and early 20s generally grow out of it. I am speaking in broad terms here.

I don’t really understand the big proclamations that the government are coming out with. According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, and their own publication on binge drinking  the average weekly alcohol units per week have fallen since 1998. The % of the populace drinking more than the recommended limits have fallen. I am sure there may be fluctuations in this trend within age groups, but the general trend is downwards. So why the big announcements today? As for the impact on the NHS (this is a Scottish Study, I couldn’t find the details of UK as a whole), ‘There has been a fall in the number of alcohol-related discharges from general acute hospitals in Scotland between 2008/09 and 2009/10; the number of alcohol-related discharged declined from 41,977 to 39,278.’ Taken from ISD Scotland. So it doesn’t stack up. Binge drinking is on the decline, hospital discharges related to alcohol are falling as well. Why decide to take a ‘stand’ now?

Could this be an excuse to ramp up the revenue received from alcohol duty and VAT? Any more rises are going to really put the squeeze on many breweries, distilleries, pubs, bars, off-licenses and restaurants around the UK. At a time when this industry needs help, not more taxation, I can only fear what the latest knee jerk reaction will be to these so called revelations from Mr Cameron. We need growth in the UK to help us out of these awful economic times, not snuffing out what remains with taxation.

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog, I’ll be chatting about lots of things, but mainly drink, food, local produce and service. Focusing on Norfolk, but not excluding the rest of the world either.

This weekend has been a bit of a celebration of local food and drink. Starting early Saturday, we took a trip to The Norfolk Diet Farmers Market  in Norwich, gathering cakes, pies, bread and oils from the many stalls in attendance. I may be slightly biased here, I used to sell our beer on the market, and worked closely with Sarah of Brays Cottage and Linda of bright blue skies to set the market up, after the existing one in Norwich was slowly dying. Essentially the market is about Norfolk produce, celebrating the varied and often unique food and drink that comes from our region. There are the regular meat, veg, bread and cakes that you would expect, but we also have saffron, excellent local wine, goats milk and refreshing cordials. It was very chilly as you may remember, but all the stallholders were smiling, chatty and generally making the most of the winter sun.

Our haul included a selection of delicacies from Macarons & More – the general consensus was that the praline macalongs are a work of genius; 4 different pies from Brays, including the new lamb and beef pies. My favourite being the beef – tender chunks (not minced, I was glad to see) of local beef, with onion in a crisp pastry; a selection of bread from Pye Baker including the sour dough flute, cheese and onion bread and a rye & caraway loaf, which 2 days on is still doing great as toast; and dressing from Crush who crush rape seeds to produce a vibrant yellow oil, they also make a selection of tangy dressings; and a huge slab of belly pork from Oak Tree Farms  I think this one will have it’s own post once cooked.

We then proceeded to hot-foot it up the coast to Wells-next-the-Sea to get our sticking mitts on some charcuterie from The Norfolk Deli Co (formerly known as De-lish). Jules who makes the pate, sausage, rillete, pancetta is not only a great bloke, but very talented. The balance in seasoning, depth of flavour and overall taste of his products don’t come easily. Jules will talk you through the produce, describing the hard work that goes into each small strip of jerky. This stuff is seriously good… and addictive. The jerky barely makes it back home with us.

Heading further round the coast to Brancaster, it’s oyster and mussel season. We stop at The White Horse for a late lunch of steaming bowls of mussels. They’re so sweet, I could dunk bread into the the creamy garlicky juice at the bottom of the bowl all day long. Washed down with a pint of Adnams American style IPA, a lovely aroma, maybe just not as much oomf as I’m used to, but a very drinkable beer none the less.  Just over the road is a little fish shop, selling fresh & frozen sea food, fish and game; you can even get hare. The car loaded with food we head home.

To me, there is something very special about being able to talk to the person who has created the pie/beer/wine/sausage that you’re eating. I feel very strongly about supporting local business, be that food and drink or clothing boutique. You see, and this is often the part people forget, it’s not just the person who made that pie you ate that you’re supporting, but the farmer who raised the pig, grew the grain for the flour. The whole network of small businesses supporting each other just got a little boost because you chose to get your porky pie from a lovely lady at the market rather than a generic (and less face it, inferior) one from the super market. Now I know sometimes shopping at a market is a luxury, and that times are tough. I know only too well about that. But if we don’t support these small businesses, they will fail. I shop at the supermarket, I’m not going to make out I’m some kind of locavore saint, I’m not. But I wont buy meat there – I get that from my local butcher – not only cheaper but much tastier. I get fish from the fishmonger, and beer (well I have rather a lot of that at the moment), but I wouldn’t get that from the supermarket either, same goes for wine & spirits.