While apologising profusely for not posting a recipe, or anything else really during the past few days, I can say that the busiest time of the year for me has officially started. It began a few weeks ago to be honest, but only now I am feeling it. It – as in what-the-heck-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing type of thing. What’s worse is that Christmas food is at the bottom of my list, and that almost never happens. I have, with the help of my lovely mum, put up some decorations, tree and all, but as much as I have decided not to stress about the trivial things, I’m stressing more as a result. Does that happen to you too? Mind you I cannot complain too much you know – I am prepping for a simple meal and I just have to see that I have all the ingredients I need. That’s all. However as much as I’m trying to put on my Nigella anxiety-lessening supercape, I’m failing miserably. But things can only get better. (No, I’m not quoting D:Ream.)
It’s the second week of December and it’s about time I posted a festive recipe, don’t you think?! Having said that I’d better take the decorations out of their storage boxes before the end of the year. I have been busier than usual for the past few months, to the point where I have neglected C&T. I’m proud though that I have managed to be quite consistent and post something for you at least once twice a week. My dream is to post three days a week but planning good content isn’t easy. The philosophy behind this blog has always been quality over quantity and that has been my game plan for the past five years. It will continue to be that way I promise.
I love a good burger. Don’t you? I don’t know what it is but the thought of one just screams of summer barbecues. I find one challenge with making my own though, and that’s coming up with new ways of turning a good burger into something more special. Now I would never bash the ol’ beef burger. Never, but finding a really good one is tough.
A few weeks ago I bought some pork mince on a whim on one trip to the butcher’s. I didn’t know what to do with it until I saw Gill Meller from River Cottage whip up some gorgeous-looking burgers on YouTube. I like how simple they are to make, and the combination of pork, sage and apples is, of course, a classic. So I decided to give this recipe a go. I looked through my herb stash and found that I didn’t have any sage. OK. No biggie I said, and allowed myself some leeway and used my trusty za’atar instead. (At the moment I’m using up some of my dried herbs and spices so that I can replenish with fresh ones.) I also ran out of seeds so I couldn’t toast my own. So I used some ground cinnamon to counteract the tartness of the apples. (I was tempted to add some honey in the mix but in the end I decided to leave it out. It would have given the burgers a more golden caramelised look but then got stuck on how much I would need. The taste would have been great.) It worked. This amount will give you around 8 small patties. Keep me posted if you make these for your next cookout.
I can’t believe and/or understand how this year has gone by so quickly! Everyone says that every single year, and the older I get the more I say it. Thankfully this year I am not in charge of all the Christmas planning, and I have been able to relax a little bit. That left me plenty of time to think about food, not that I really need a specific time to do so; I always think about food and what I will be eating next. That’s me! Anyway, moving on.
I love a good roast and there’s no better time for one than this. It’s simple and tastes great, and an alternative to the traditional bird, which alas is not my favourite. Turkey may be leaner, which contributes to its dryness, but you want the fat in a recipe like this. The crackling keeps the meat moist so keep it for the roasting process and discard it before carving. It’s too much for me to be honest, and a little chunk goes a long way. It all depends on what you like.
A note on the cooking times, according to the size of the meat, I would work on the lines of around 55 minutes to an hour per kilo plus 25 to 30 minutes on top of that. Of course, these times may vary. Mine took an extra 30 minutes or so to cook properly, but the best way to test this is with a meat thermometer. You will never go wrong with that. For pork the ideal temperature is around 75 to 80ºC.
- 1.8kg leg of pork, skin on
- course salt
- mustard powder
- 3 large red onions, halved, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery, washed and sliced
- 1 whole head of garlic, chopped in half, skin on
- 6 to 8 large baking potatoes, washed and cut into chunky wedges
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Remove the pork from the packaging and with a clean thick kitchen towel pat the skin to make sure it’s dry.
Score the skin with a sharp knife if your butcher has not done it for you beforehand, and rub the skin with salt and mustard powder. If you’re sharing the crackling with a large group of friends then use the mustard powder. If you’re cooking for a few people and plan to throw the crackling away, then just rub the skin with the salt.
Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the middle of a baking tray, and put the pork onto the vegetables. Put the two garlic halves beside the pork.
Roast the pork for 1 hour at 200ºC, then take the dish out of the oven and slowly place the potatoes around the pork and veggies. Slowly…because you don’t want to splatter any hot fat and hurt yourself in the process. Turn the temperature down to 175ºC. Put the dish back in the oven and continue to roast for around 1 hour 25 minutes.
Take the pork and vegetables out of the oven, place the pork leg and the potatoes on a warm serving place and let the pork rest for 25 minutes in a warm place as close to the oven as possible. Don’t serve this piping hot, you really don’t need to and it’s important to let the meat rest before carving. I don’t cover with foil either – the crackling is enough to leave the pork moist. Remove the crackling just before carving. You can either serve this in chunks or discard it.
If you are making gravy, spoon any excess fat from the bottom of the roasting dish and strain the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Add a splash of cider or even red vermouth to the liquid. In a small ramekin mix a rounded teaspoon of cornstarch/cornflour with cold water until you get a pasty but still watery mixture. Quickly pour this in the saucepan and whisk it until you get a smooth gravy. Pour this in a gravy boat and serve with the pork and potatoes.
If you’re eating this with your beloved, as I did, there will be plenty of leftovers for the next two or three days!
This is my last recipe for the year. Enjoy and a Happy Christmas! See you all in the New Year. Take care of yourselves.
On those days when I’m really tired to cook I need to eat well. It’s only natural that after a very long day I need to have a fulfilling (*not* as in cannot-eat-anymore-because-I-am-full thing) but a nice cozy supper without too much work.
So a little while ago I got some pork loins on a whim and as usual I got home and wondered why I bought them. Ironic isn’t it: with so many cookbooks in my library I couldn’t quite think of something. Then I thought why not make the easiest thing ever? Simply season them and grill or pan-fry them with some potatoes and green veg. And you’re done. This is how I did it.
For 2 pieces you will need:
- ¼ teaspoon salt,
- ¼ teaspoon fresh peppercorns, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
- 7 tablespoons plain flour
- Score the skin on the pork to enable this to crisp up. You will not want to eat it later, but you will need to keep it on for the meat to stay moist.
- Mix the salt, pepper, coriander seeds and flour in a shallow plate and coat the pork pieces evenly.
- Shallow fry the meat in a little butter and a spot or two of vegetable oil (so that the butter doesn’t burn on you) till the meat is tender, approximately for 5 minutes per side.
- In the same pan I placed some pre-boiled potatoes and roasted them with the meat, and served everything with fine green beans, boiled for a few minutes, then blanched in cold water to stop the cooking process. I like my veggies with a little bit of bite, but you can cook them for however long you like.
- For the sauce tip the remaining flour mixture in the pan and add some white wine or dry vermouth and whisk till you have no lumps. Add a teeny bit of cream and whisk again. Taste and season if you need to. Pour this over the meat.
Happy New Year!