Monday, June 30, 2014

sweet, sour, salty braised pork with hand pulled noodles

I’ve covered hand pulled noodles before on this site, so this is not a rehash of the noodle recipe, how to make the slurpy tasty noodles can be found in previous posts. The following is a tasty sweet, sour, salty braised pork dish that is unctuous, sticky and delicious. Served with the liquids and vegetables tossed through the fresh cooked noodles and topped with slices of the wobbly caramelised pork belly, makes for an insatiably devourable dish.

Pork belly, bones removed (put in the braise if you have them)
2 Oranges, zest and juice
1 Large chunk of ginger, peeled and grated
5 Cloves of garlic, grated
Large Bunch of coriander, leaves chopped and root set aside
4 or 5 large dried red chillies
1 Large fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 Large onion, sliced thinly
3 Tbsp of fennel seed
6 Allspice berries
Soy sauce
Fish sauce
Oyster sauce
Palm sugar (or brown)
Rice wine vinegar
500ml Chicken Stock

Preheat the oven to 160ºC, fan forced.

Heat an oven proof casserole pan over a medium high heat, or use a large frying pan and transfer to a dish later, season the pork belly all over with salt and then place skin side down in the pan and brown for about 5 minutes, flip and brown on the flesh side.

While the pork cooks, grind the allspice and fennel seeds together. Combine about 2-3 Tbsp each of the fish, soy and oyster sauce, also grate the same amount of palm sugar, you may require more depending on how sweet your oranges are.

Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Sauté the onion and fennel until translucent, add the garlic, ginger, dried ground spices, chillies and coriander root. Cook until fragrant. Pour in the orange juice and zest and reduce. Add the fish, soy and oyster sauce along with the palm sugar and chicken stock.

Simmer for a few minutes, taste and season with oyster sauce, sugar and rice wine vinegar. You want a good balance of sweet/sour/salty, you need enough sweetness so it will become a lovely sticky sweet and sour sauce.

Stir through a handful of coriander leaves, keep some aside for garnish, nestle the pork into the sauce and cover. Cook for 2.5 hours. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Slice the meat with a sharp knife and let it rest in the sauce while you prep and cook the noodles. Toss the cooked noodles with some of the soft fennel and onion and a good helping of the liquid, top with slices of melt in the mouth pork, garnish with mung bean sprouts, chilli oil and coriander leaves.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grape Bread and Chestnut Purée

Slightly sweetened and only a little butter enriched bread makes an ideal match to a warm cup of coffee on a lazy weekend afternoon, and topped off with some sweetened chestnut purée spread it’s addictive.

If you can’t manage to work your way through an entire loaf, sandwich together slices of the bread with chestnut purée spread, arrange in a casserole dish. Whisk 3 eggs with 25 g sugar until tripled in volume, stir in 500 ml milk, pour over the bread, leave it to rest for 30 minutes, bake at 180°C until the top is golden and the custard set, best bread and butter pudding ever.

Grape & thyme bread

The night before
2 Tbsp Raw sugar
300 ml Warm water
100 g Flour
1 tsp yeast

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water then stir in the yeast, leave it to stand for 10 minutes, until the yeast has bloomed. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Cover with cling-film and leave overnight.

The morning after
50 g Butter, melted
25 g Raw sugar
400 g Flour
12 g Salt
Grapes, about 18
Thyme, fresh leaves
Raw sugar for sprinkling
Butter for brushing

Mix together the dry ingredients, add the flour mixture and butter to the yeast, which should be bubbly and aromatic, stir together and form a rough ball of dough, cover and leave it to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Tip the dough on to the bench and knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes, letting it rest every couple of minutes while kneading helps the flour hydrate and will speed up the process. My preferred method for kneading, at the moment, is to roll the dough out into a log shape, fold in half and repeat. This seems to speed up the kneading process and results in some seriously fluffy bread.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover, leave it to rise in a warm spot for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Knock back the dough and leave it for another hour to double in size.

On a lined baking tray, shape the dough by forming it into an elongated rectangle tucking the ends under, use your fingertips to dimple and push out the dough. Push in the grapes into a regular pattern. Cover and leave it for about 30 minutes to rise.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle over thyme leaves and raw sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes in the top third of the oven, when cooked the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the underside. Remove from the oven and cover with a clean tea towel, leave it cool for a while, if you can, before tucking in.

Chestnut purée spread

This is pretty simple and well you could go the extra step and roast/poach fresh chestnuts but they’re not always readily available, but I find a can of plain chestnut purée does the trick.

440 g Chestnut purée
200 ml Water
100 g Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla paste
Decent pinch of salt

Place a pan over a medium heat and add the sugar, leave it to dissolve and slowly caramelise, be careful not to burn the sugar. Add the water to the pan, it will spit and hiss a little so add with caution. When the caramelised sugar has dissolved stir in the vanilla.

Break up the Chestnut purée in a bowl, and little by little whisk in the sugar syrup to form a thick paste, you may not need it all. Taste and season with salt. I like to pass it through a sieve to get a perfectly smooth paste.

It should store in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pressure cooked meat sauce

This is one for the pressure cooker club, if you’re not a member I guess you could slow cook it, but it’s really not the same, there is something about cooking under pressure and using next to no added liquid that really pumps up the flavours in the sauce. If you’re on the fence about owning a pressure cooker and have heard nothing but horror stories, the days of exploding pots of hell are well and truly over, the modern pressure cooker is quite unlikely to erupt, and heck you can even get set and forget electric models which are great for freeing up a hob and not adding to the heat in the kitchen, not a bonus on a cold day though.

Melt in the mouth beef nestles into the indentations of the orecchiette pasta, giving an almost perfect ratio of meat/sauce/pasta with each mouthful. It’s definitely my go to quick and easy sauce. It’ll make you think twice about cooking up a batch of mince based sauce again, primal cuts give better flavour and texture, you get to control the fat going in, and as it’s slow/pressure cooked it breaks down to melt in the mouth tender pieces.

500 g Chuck steak, cubed
2 Onions, diced
200 g Tomato purée
1 Carrot, diced
1 Bulb of garlic, peeled
Handful of parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp Tomato paste
Hot sauce, to taste, or chilli flakes

It's dead simple, put everything into the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for about 40 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally. Use a wooden spoon to break up any lumps of meat. Taste and season with salt, pepper and white wine vinegar. Stir in another handful of chopped parsley. Serve stirred through orecchiette.