[Cooking] Twice cooked pork belly, apple & rhubarb sauce, asparagus, Jersey Royals

With a rolled pork belly taking up space in my fridge and no freezer, I had to deal with it rather quickly so on Friday evening, I rubbed with a mix of salt, black pepper and hot smoked paprika, set it in a roasting tin with a generoius amount of cider in the bottom, covered it in foil and slow roasted it (about half an hour on high to get it up to temperature, then two hours at around 180 and another two hours at low), checking every hour or so that it didn’t run dry. I let it cool, transferred the liquid into a mug, wrapped the meat in foil and stored both in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I took off the skin, flattened it out and put it in the oven at its lowest setting to dry out, turning up the heat to maximum about half an hour for dinner to let it crisp up.
About an hour before serving, I cut two generous slices off the roll and let them come to room temperature. I took off the fat that had settled on top of the mug with the roasting juices, and fried the slices in that fat over medium heat until nicely brown on both sides.
During the afternoon I had made an apple and rhubarb sauce (inspired by the one that was served with the ears at Pig Shop) by stewing apple and rhubarb chunks in cider and then blitzing.
I served the meat wtih the sauce, a glug of the reheated roasting juices, Jersey Royals and asparagus fried in the meat pan (yes, I know no shame) with two slivers of crackling on top. The meat was very tender, the crackling crunchy and everything else worked very well together, too. I was very happy with it all, especially as I went simply by instinct with no recipe.

Twice cooked pork belly, apple & rhubarb sauce

I had another two meals from it and had thinly sliced leftovers in a bun for lunch today.

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Pig Shop at Pint Shop, an Eat Cambridge event

As part of the 2015 Eat Cambridge food festival, Pint Shop ran an event called Pig Shop, an evening of pork and beer, introduced by author and journalist Andrew Webb.

Pint Shop No. 1 Andrew Webb

After a aperitiv in the shape of a “Pint Shop No. 1” and an introduction by Andrew, Stuart and David of Barker Brothers Butchers demonstrated how to make sausages and how to butcher a pig’s head.

Pig's Head Butchery Pig's Head Butchery

Afterwards, we all had a go at making sausages and butchering half a pig’s head. I didn’t join in the sausagemaking but did butcher a pig’s head with varied results as it’s definitely not easy. I did get enough meat out of it for a decent meal, though.

Sausage Making Sausage Making
Sausage Making

Pig's Head Butchery Pig's Head Butchery
Sausage Making Sausage Making

Then Stuart Barker showed us how they break down a whole side. This was most impressive, even for a task they do several times a week, and he slowed down for us so we could see where and how he was cutting.

Whole side of pig butchery Whole side of pig butchery
Whole side of pig butchery Whole side of pig butchery
Whole side of pig butchery Whole side of pig butchery Whole side of pig butchery
Whole side of pig butchery Whole side of pig butchery

Watching and helping with this butchery had made us hungry so we were very keen to sit down and await the meal the chefs in the Pint Shop kitchens had prepared for us:

Crispy Pig's Ears
Crispy Pig’s Head, apple&rhubarb sauce (beer: Moor Revival): Some of the ear pieces were better than others, the best ones were like really good crackling. The rhubarb in the apple sauce added a good edge.
Bath Chaps, pickles, whipped lardo on toast

Bath Chaps, pickles, whipped lardo on toast
Cured and hot smoked bath chaps, whipped lardo on toast, pickles (beer: Beavertown Applelation): Great combination of soft, crunchy, sweet and tart.

Clams, Cheek, stinging nettles
Clams & Cheeks, actually stinging nettles, cider brandy and broad bean sauce (beer: Camden Gentleman’s Wit
Pork Shoulder & Ogleshield nuggets
The first highlight: Pork shoulder & Ogleshield nuggets (beer: Siren&Elusive Dinner for Four). So soft and juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, with the Tewkesbury Mustard creme fraiche a perfect foil.
Suckling pig

Suckling pig
Then, the centre piece, a whole suckling pig, slow roasted, pulled and served in steamed buns with green slaw and rhubarb and chilli sauce (beer: Magic Rock Cannonball). Brilliant, just brilliant. I think everyone overstuffed themselves on that course.

Jack's Gelato: Bacon Brittle Ice Cream
The dessert was special, too: Vanilla ice cream with bacon brittle by Jack’s Gelato with an Imperial Stout called “Heaven & Hell” from De Molen. Outstanding! Bacon in ice cream might sound weird but it worked just as well as salted caramel does.

This evening was pretty much perfect. We watched and learned butchery, had a fantastic meal of pork and beer and received a goodie bag with meat (our own butchery plus a roasting joint, a rolled piece of belly in my case) and beer to take home. I hope they will do something similar soon or at least for next year’s event.

There are more photos on flickr.

[Cooking] Scallops with chorizo and kale

I made this a couple of weeks ago but only just now came around to posting it. The fish van from Lowestoft had some good looking scallops so I picked up a handful.
I sliced a hot cooking chorizo and cooked them slowly over medium heat until the slices were crispy and had given off most of their fat which was enough to cook the scallops in. I took out the chorizo, turned the heat up to high and fried the scallops about a minute on each side, took the pan off the heat, added a generous knob of butter and basted the scallops with the melted butter/chorizo oil mix. In the meantime I had also steamed some kale. I drained the bits of kale and added them and the chorizo slices to the pan, coating everything in the butter and then arranged everything on a plate, took a photo and ate it where I stood, without bothering to sit down at the table. About halfway through I realised I hadn’t even seasoned the scallops but the spicy oil provided enough seasoning so they didn’t really need it. I was very happy with this dish.

Scallops, chorizo, kale

First impressions of Butch Annie’s, 14/02/2015

Like many new discoveries, I came across this new burger place in the centre of Cambridge (Market St, where Carrington used to be) on twitter.

Entrance

The room has been updated a bit (the graffiti on the walls will probably divide opinion) but it should work well for a long and relatively narrow room.

Beers Booths One side of the bar

They offered a free burger to the first 250 people through the door who had retweeted their info so of course I couldn’t resist. I arrived at noon but had to wait about 10 minutes until they had sorted out some issues. The menu has five beef burgers and two with iberico pork (all the topping combinations are also available with a veggie patty); sides are skin-on chips with various seasonings, “onion popcorn” (onions cooked in a chickpea and beer batter) and coleslaw plus additional dips and sauces. The drinks menu has bottled craft lager and ales (Freedom, Chapel Down, Fourpure, Rosita, Harviestoun), two ciders, four wines and five bourbons. Soft drinks are Cokes and Sprite, juices, Fentiman’s drinks and mineral water. Prices for burgers range between 6.90 and 8.90, the average of a craft beer is around 4.60, soft drinks are more harshly priced at 2.50 for a tiny orange juice, and 3.30 for a Fentiman’s. Now for the burger. I’d had breakfast not long before so only ordered a burger without any sides. I chose one of the iberico pork ones, just to see how they would treat such a superb and delicate meat.

"Topsy Turvy" iberico pork burger Cooked medium, as it's supposed to be

The burger was a decent size, the toppings were well balanced so you could still taste the meat and the brioche bun was crispy and not really sweet as some brioche can be. As you can see in the second photo, the meat was cooked pink, as it should be with iberico pork. It was delicious and I will happily pay the £8.90 they are charging for it next time, although I want to try some of the beef options, too, maybe even investigate the “secret” vegetarian patty. It’s served simply wrapped in greaseproof paper on a metal tray.

There were a few kinks in the service but in the first hour of opening that’s to be expected and I’m sure they will be smoothed out soon.
I had a brief chat with Tim, one of the owners and they sound like they both know what they’re doing and have a good philosophy generally, and more importantly, in the sourcing of their ingredients. Their beef comes from a small, well-managed herd in Herefordshire, for example.

They’ll be open from 12pm (11am on weekends) to 11pm all day so should provide a good source for a quick meal in town later in the evening.

The website is still quite bare but will hopefully have more info soon.

[Cooking] Beef short ribs braised in porter

Having had short ribs in various shapes and cooking methods at restaurants and from street food vans, it was time to try my hand at cooking them myself when I spotted a nice rack at my local butcher’s, the Art of Meat. I decided to braise them so cooked some roughly chopped celery, leeks and garlic in rapeseed oil until softened a bit, seasoned with pepper, bittersweet and hot pimenton, thyme and rosemary, filled up the pan with a bottle of porter (Wychwood Brewery’s Black Wych), brought it to the boil and added the seared rack of ribs. The covered pan went into a 180 degree oven for half an hour after which I turned the heat down to 120 and left it alone for about three hours. Prodding the meat, I decided it could do with a little more time and put it back for another 45 minutes which turned out to be plenty as I had difficulty getting it out of the pan in one piece. I had to push it back together for the photo.

Beef short ribs braised in porter

Having strained the liquid, I reduced it by about half until it had a good sauce consistency (by how much you need to reduce it will depend on how much liquid evaporated during the cooking process) and then added a good pinch of salt. I then shredded the rib meat, removing bits of fat, gristle and connective tissue that hadn’t broken down and mixed it with the sauce. A potato mash (maybe with added celeriac or parsnip) would go well with this but I just had fresh bread and a large bowl of dressed leaves with it.
The texture of the moist meat was pretty much perfect, the flavour very savoury with a distinct bitter note from the porter. I think next time I’m going to add some warm spices (cinnamon, cloves).

[Cooking] Confit salmon, crispy skin

The fish van had some really good and fresh looking salmon so I picked up a fillet with the aim to confit it.
I mixed salt, freshly ground pepper, thyme and maple syrup into a paste, generously rubbed the skinned fillet with it, wrapped it in cling film, let it sit for an hour and then washed off the cure.
I then filled a saucepan about halfway up with olive oil and heated it to 50 degrees and switched the heat off. I cut the dried salmon into three pieces so I had one thick piece of even thickness and two thinner ones to allow for even cooking. The thinner pieces needed about 30 minutes, the thicker one 45 for an internal temperature of 45 degrees.
The skin obviously didn’t go to waste. I scraped it clean and fried it between two sheets of baking parchment with a saucepan as weight on top (to make sure it stays flat) on medium heat until crispy. You don’t need to add any oil as the skin is fatty enough and the baking parchment ensures it won’t stick.

Confit salmon, crispy skin

The only tricky bit is keeping an eye on the temperature so it doesn’t get too high. If the salmon turns pink and/or starts leaking protein, it’s too hot. You really need a probe thermometer for this, unless you have a sous vide setup. How long it takes will depend on the thickness of the fish.

[Cooking] My version of Daniel Doherty’s Hangover Hash

I’ve been laid low with a nasty cold the last couple of days, my coughs almost registering on the Richter scale in North Cambridge today so I needed something hearty to pick me up. Only yesterday Daniel Doherty’s book, Duck & Waffle, arrived, named after the 24-hour-restaurant up on the Heron Tower in London where Daniel is executive chef. Flipping through it, I came to a recipe titled “Hangover Hash”. Now, what works for hangovers also works for colds, as you suffer a variety of similar symptoms so reading through it I realised not only was it just my thing, I also had all the important ingredients at home as the last thing I wanted to do was leave the house.
I made a few modifications in that I added garlic and ginger to the onion jam and didn’t bother making a peperonata but added fresh peppers instead and I substituted the Gruyere cheese with Cheddar and Gran Padano, as that’s what I had. Tasting it, I thought the chorizo I had used (the spicy variety from Renilla) added enough heat to the dish without the need of extra hot sauce. The sausage had rendered beautifully, infusing the other ingredients with its spicy oils. I was really happy with the textures and flavours, perfect in my state. I didn’t even need a lie-down afterwards. It came out looking like this, almost like in the book:

Dan Doherty's "Hangover Hash"

In the book photo, the dish has no cheese on it and the yolk is a beautiful orange, not with a thin film of egg white over it but that’s the difference between a professionally cooked and shot dish and one of mine.
Note for the future: I’m going to add the peppers at the same time as the eggs so they cook even less for more crunch.

The recipe was simple, just took a while, at least when you make the onion jam from scratch. I’m looking forward to trying more recipes from this fantastic looking book. If you have a tablet or similar device, the kindle version is quite cheap at the moment. This is my favourite format for cookbooks as I have no space for books in my tiny kitchen.