Monday, 7 December 2009

Squeal, little piggy!

Pork...the other white meat, that is what this weeks experiment centred around. I really love pork, with its amazing versatility, ability to take on fantastic flavours from almost any herb/spice/marinade/sauce and finally I love it because it can come to the party all dressed up or arrive casual as you like and still be brilliant.

When we were in Padstow, Cornwall I had a great pork belly dish that the chef had apparently soaked in a cure/brine for 5 days. I decided to try my own version. So after researching numerous brines on the web and books on our shelf I opted for a simple water, salt, muscavado sugar, juniper berries, peppercorn, cloves, star anise and bay leaf solution.
Mr Pork Belly happily sat in there for 5 days and came out having taken on a darkish hue and some wonderful aromas.

Cooking times and temperatures were a matter of personal preference but I went with the 'longer is better' approach, not to the extent of our friend Mr Blumenthal but still for a good 3.5 hours at 130oC.
I've got a baking tray with a V-shaped wire rack but I still laid the pork on a bed of onions. After it ended and the pork was done I finished off the crackling under the grill.

Served simply with some boiled brussel sprouts and chestnuts the meat was really good. The crackling, I think, should have been done differently as it turned out a bit too much like the toffee on a toffee apple :s

Anyway, I was pleased with the taste of the meat...might make the solution stronger next time, but I'm happy that I know where to make improvements.

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