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".

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