Sunday, 28 September 2014

Recipe CXX - Casseroled Pork Fillet with Honey and Ginger

Italians are notoriously protective of their national dishes. So much so, there are whole city municipalities that have banned non-Italian vegetables and spices from being sold, even in foreign restaurants. This is of course madness, and shows that Italians are not always so comfortable or confident about the superiority of their cuisine. This is despite people like Marco Polo,who brought a huge amount of ingredients from Asia that still influence Italian cooking, despite their national drink, coffee, being produced in countries further south, and despite the enormous number of immigrants settling there,bringing with them their own styles of food preparation. So to then outlaw the sale of food not meant for Italian cuisine is to cower in a corner and point an accusing finger at anyone guilty of "Un-Italian behaviour". Well this recipe is a glimpse of the future of Italian cooking, and how beautifully some of those foreign imports sit in the right place.


Ground black pepper, but NO SALT NEEDED!
Rosemary-flavoured olive oil or olive oil and a sprig of fresh rosemary
650-750g pork fillet (cut how you like to fit your pot - I cut into 4 pieces as my butcher is clueless and I can't explain to him that I don't want such a thin cut of meat)
100-120g medium thinly-sliced pancetta (3mm)
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of honey
3-4cm fresh ginger, diced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped into small pieces
250ml stock (vegetable or chicken, but any stock will do)
3 small onions or 4 shallots, halved or quartered
A handful of green beans
3 large potatoes to boil
3 carrots, chopped (I slice them one way then the next so they look like triangles - see photo below)

1 casserole dish, with lid

Put the olive oil in the hot casserole dish and fry the pancetta to give the oil some flavour.

This is why this recipe needs no salt - if you add any, the pancetta will become ultra salty and really unpalatable.

When it is crispy, remove the pancetta and put the pork fillet in the oil, to take on the flavour. once the pork is sealed on the outside, add the honey, ginger and garlic, and allow it to caramelise.

Add all the other solid ingredients (except the potatoes, which are for boiling separately) and allow them to sweat a while before you put in the stock. Slow cook for 90 minutes (but for at least an hour)

Serve with the pork on top.

Italian cooking is about subtle flavours, Asian cooking is about strong flavours. In this recipe, they truly complement each other, even though the stronger ingredients are used sparingly.

This recipe was inspired by a similar one by Gennaro Contaldo on the BBC TV series "Two Greedy Italians".

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Raymond's Recipes CXIX - Bonny Bee's Spicy Plum Chutney

It's that time of year again, when the fruit rains down off the trees all over the northern lands, yet people ignore it and buy theirs from supermarkets selling it from somewhere else very far away for a whacking great profit. It always bewilders me, how people would prefer to pay copious amounts of cash to get their sprayed fruit out of plastic packaging at their local shop rather than go out to a nearby field and shake a tree. In any case, this tidy little lot came from our plum tree at the top of our garden, and a very nice little batch it is too.

This chutney is one to remember - a truly remarkable one that will go very nicely indeed with some decent sausages, a mature cheese or something grilled. 

The beautiful view from our plum tree


1.5 kg plums - make sure they are halved, stoned and chopped how you like them. I like big pieces, but you might prefer them more finely sliced.
2 large red onions, chopped into short, thin pieces
100g raisins, roughly chopped or even left whole
1 litre wine vinegar, preferably red
1.5 tbsp ginger
1.5 tbsp mustard seed
1.5 tbsp cumin powder
1.5 tbsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
450g brown sugar
250g ordinary sugar

Instructions:Put everything except the sugar into a large thick-bottomed saucepan, slowly bring to the boil. Once it is at boiling point, turn down the heat, cover it and simmer for half an hour, allowing the ingredients to soften and blend.

Add the sugar gradually, stirring in to make sure it doesn't sink to the bottom and burn.

When putting into jars, make sure you use equipment that will help you spill as little as possible over surfaces and on the outside of the jars.

Note: To sterilise your jars, wash them thoroughly and place them in the oven on 100°C for 20 to 30 minutes beforehand. Put them in a cool, dry place and wait at least 10 days before you open a jar, as the flavours need some time to blend.