Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Braised pork

Nothing beats slow cooked meat, it's tender, full of flavour, and once in the oven you can forget about it for a couple of hours. Slow cooked savoury meaty goodness doesn't need to be relegated to a winter only dish, by keeping the flavours fresh and bright, instead of heavy and unctuous it can happily sit within the summer repertoire. The best cuts of pork for slow cooking are the shoulder and belly.

Braised pork with buns

These are great as a light lunch or assemble your own party snacks. I made two types of buns to serve the meat and salad in, steamed and baked, the same dough is used to make both, it's purely the cooking method that separates them.

The buns are made from my basic bread dough (1kg flour, 600ml water, 20g salt, 10g yeast). Take a ball of dough, flatten it in to a disk and then fold in half. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes (until they sound hollow when tapped on the base). To steam, place each bun on a round of baking paper and place in a steamer over simmering water for about 10-15 minutes.

In a roasting pan (or dutch oven) place some roughly chopped onion, carrot, garlic bulb and fennel tops, scatter over some fennel seeds and pour in 500ml of veal stock. Season the pork and brown it thoroughly on all sides. Place the pork in the roasting dish and cover tightly with foil. Cook for 3-4 hours in a 130-140°C oven.

When the pork is cooked wrap it tightly in foil so it remains moist. Strain the liquid and reduce it in a pan, taste often as you don't want to over reduce it as it will become too salty. Slice or pull apart the pork and place it in to the reduced liquid.

We had chunks of the braised pork in the buns with a fennel salad and shards of salty crackling.

Braised pork and figs with parsley couscous

This was cooked the same way as above but with different vegetables, no garlic was used as the combination of garlic and figs in my mind is not a good one.

In the roasting dish place some chopped carrots, celery and red onion. Brown the pork in a pan on all sides, place the pork in the roasting dish and scatter around some figs. Deglaze the pan you browned the meat in with some cider vinegar, then 500ml of veal stock. Pour the liquid in to the roasting pan and seal tightly with some foil. And cook as above. When reducing down the cooking liquid, add a little cider vinegar to cut the sweetness of the figs.

Couscous is simple to prepare, place 1 cup of couscous in a bowl, pour over 1 cup of boiling water, add a little salt and cover. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then use a fork to gently break it up and then rub between your fingers to make it light and fluffy, finally stir through some finely chopped parsley.

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