Archives for posts with tag: pork

Whenever a new season rolls around and the fresh produce definitive of that season fills the market stalls it never feels real or true until I have cooked some of it myself. There are tulips, fresh new green leaves and blossom in the gardens; I am wearing ballet flats on my feet and I never leave home without my sunglasses; and in Wellington during spring it is wild and windy. But I had yet eat to buy and cook asparagus for myself. Only then would it really be spring.

I bought a bunch of asparagus – slender stalks with dark tips, pointed and almost feathered – and cooked them the way I like best: sautéed with a drop of oil, a knob of butter, salt and a grating of lemon zest. Cooked like this the spears are al dente, a slight crunch beneath tooth. The sweet and bitter flavour mingles with the butter and the lemon. Even with the slight charring and whithering of their skin the asparagus remains elegant – long and lean.

Accompanying the asparagus was a generous slice of pork, tarragon and ostrich egg terrine from Big Bad Wolf Gourmet Charcuterie. The terrine was herbaceous, rich and flavourful, yet a perfect light lunch with a simple salad or sautéed asparagus.

Big Bad Wolf is located on Wakefield Street next to Commonsense Organics. It is a beautiful store – painted white brick, wooden tables and hanging light shades made of fencing wire. The chairs are mismatched and above the counter, hanging from the ceiling are two pieces of old gardening equipment, a pitchfork and perhaps a hoe. Hanging from these are dried salamis, chorizo, and a bunch of lavender tied with string.

But it is the charcuterie products I love – sausages, terrines, patés, rillettes, bacon, prosciutto, chorizo, Iberico ham, preserves and chutney… Everything is made on site by the skilled and innovative chefs, except for the Spanish and Italian cured and dried meats. The variety and flavours of the sausages are endless – spicy kidney and heart; salmon and sweetcorn; pork, watercress, potato and anchovy; lamb, pork, feta and roast capsicum; beef, caramelised onion and blue cheese; beef carbonara – beef, pork, mushrooms and parmesan; snail, pork and parsley; venison and raspberry; pork, saffron and leek…..

I write this as an avid consumer, but also, I’m lucky enough to work at Big Bad Wolf. On our first day we did a tasting of the terrines and patés with one of the chefs. It was 9am but a good a time as any to try duck liver parfait, hare and mushroom terrine, duck and cranberry terrine, farmhouse terrine, salmon and white fish terrine, pork, tarragon and ostrich egg terrine, chicken and thyme paté…. I knew I was going to love working there.

I hope to write more about Big Bad Wolf as new products come into the cabinets. We introduced our own bacon this week – middle bacon, chilli middle bacon, and ginger middle bacon. It is perhaps the best bacon I have ever eaten.

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A pork and sauerkraut stew for the New Year… New Book Random Recipe Challenge from Dom at Belleau Kitchen.

The book is Austrian Specialties – possibly the most obscure cookbook I have ever bought: a pocket size, glossy paged book that looks to be a relic of the 1970s, but, in fact, was published in 2003. The book boasts to be a culinary tour through all the Austrian provinces and features recipes like bread soup, wine soup, deep fried vegetables – the photo shows a plate of golden lumps in various sizes; a carrot, a mushroom and a broccoli floret each cut in half to show the vegetable encased in batter. There is smoked ham baked in a sourdough case. There are seven different recipes for dumplings. Several of the recipes end with ‘F.Y.I’ and historical information of the dish.

I bought this little gem of a book at the Boxing day book fair in Alexandra, Central Otago. It was 10am and 26° degrees. As we entered the town hall there was the musty smell of old books, and probably slightly sweaty patrons. The cookbook section was full of New Zealand classics like the Edmonds and every edition of Alison Holst, as well as an abundance of microwave cookbooks. But the $2 Austrian Specialties caught my eye; I was hoping to recreate the wonderful meals I had eaten in a tavern in Innsbruck with the giant pretzel wreath hanging from the ceiling and jester characters painted on the walls.

I opened the book to page 36 for the random recipe: Szegediner Goulash (and that is the English translation.) Despite the somewhat antiquated appearance of the book, the recipe was easy to follow and produced a surprisingly delicious meal. Sweet paprika, onions, sauerkraut and sour cream seemed to mellow together in a slow, gentle simmer but, when eaten, delivered small bursts of sweet and sour. There is texture and creaminess in this dish.

We served our goulash with mashed potatoes and drank a dry Riesling. All we needed was an Apfelstrudel for dessert!

Szegediner Goulash
Or Pork and Sauerkraut Stew

approx. 750grams loin or shoulder of pork, we used pork sirloin steaks
4 medium onions
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
2tbsp shortening, we used a dash of olive oil plus a knob of butter
2 cups white veal or beef stock, we used beef
1tsp sweet paprika powder
approx. 450 grams sauerkraut
1 cup sour cream
salt/pepper

Rinse pork under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 2cm cubes.
Peel onion and garlic, chop finely. Melt butter/olive oil in a large pot or casserole dish. Brown pork over a “lively” heat, stirring often. Remove meat from pot into an oven proof dish and place in a warm oven.
Cook onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add paprika and let cook for a few minutes more. Return meat to the pot and half of the beef stock. Simmer in open pot at a low heat to reduce the liquid.
Drain and rinse sauerkraut. Once liquid has reduced, about 20mins, add sauerkraut to meat with the remaining stock. Stir well. Continue to simmer at a low heat for 30-40 minutes until pork is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir through sour cream and simmer for 5 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with potato dumplings or mashed potatoes.

For a rather special birthday, my family dined at Arbitrageur Restaurant and Wine room last night.

The atmosphere was casual but still quiet and refined; other diners, men watching the rugby and couples drinking Champagne at the bar. We were seated at a large wooden table, though almost too large for a party of four. I liked the outdoor feel of the table while sinking into high backed, rounded leather loungers.

The menu is not long, featuring only a few dishes for each course. But each dish sounds so delicious it is hard to choose. For the entree I had la poitrine de cochon, a succulent and tender piece of pork belly with a fennel and apple compote. Sprinkled on top, like a pale, crunchy, salty candyfloss, was finely grated, fried potato. We drank Spanish bubbly and toasted my twenty-first birthday.

For Les Mains I ordered the Pork Butcher’s Wife, a roast pork loin with cherry tomatoes, dark wilted spinach, lardons and baby cornichons. This was utterly sublime. Strong flavours but a pleasant contrast between the acidity of the tomatoes and cornichons and the salt of the pork. The meal was homely with the elegance and sophistication of a wonderful restaurant meal.

Pork Butcher's Wife

A simple salad as a shared side.

Dessert I often find the most difficult of menu decisions. There is a lot of pressure on a dessert to balance or compliment the previous course(s). My sister and I both chose the saffron panna cotta with pineapple and orange. Saffron is a tricky flavour to describe, but it makes for a lovely panna cotta regardless. The speckled and dusted red, velvety dessert was light and refreshing on the palate.

Saffron Panna cotta

My sister flew home from uni in Christchurch especially for my birthday, but also for a meal at Arbitrageur. As she walked out of her hostel yesterday afternoon, overnight bag in hand, one of her friends asked her where she was going. She said home; we have dinner reservations. Her friend said, “Gosh, Georgie, you do lead an extravagant life.” “Not really, we just like to celebrate and to eat.”

Isn’t that what life is for?

Thank you for the photos, Georgie.

Last year when I was teaching English in France I was sometimes invited to the end of term apéro hour. Or three. It was here in a classroom colourful with childrens’ artwork on a snowy night in late December that I had my first taste of home-made charcuterie.

As the teachers’ cars were steadily being hidden under snow, we kept the glasses at spirited levels, no one ready to retrieve the snow shovels yet. One teacher brought out from her handbag a knobbly, white-dusted saucisson. She sliced this salami into fine chips and we gently tore off the white skin. She told us her husband made it.

The saucisson was mild and still tender, a slightly smoky, sweet taste. I told her I had never eaten home-made saucisson before. She said I had come to the right place, France. I had to agree.

A few weeks ago, to give me a little taste of France again, we made a pork terrine. On thick grainy bread with baby cornichons and a sweet chutney, it did feel like a rustic, French country lunch. We followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe in Jamie does… Spain, Italy, Sweden, Morocco, Greece, France. We thought it needed a few improvements; more seasoning, and dare I say it, a little more fat.

Last weekend, to overcome the winter blues and take a trip down French memory lane, we had a go at another terrine. We were after something light, yet warming and comforting. A simple, hearty terrine is a more interesting way to channel rustic France than a thick vegetable soup, we thought. As I perused French recipes, I wondered if I could convince Mum of my home-sickness for France enough that she would buy foie gras and a bottle of young Sauterne. Mum is easily persuaded by these things: I’ll keep you posted. Instead, we bought a pork shoulder, a pork fillet, smoky bacon lardons, chicken livers and the most beautifully fragrant thyme.

My dear elderly Nana, who always phones us during weekends and holidays, is a keen ear to Mum’s kitchen stories. Nana leads a quiet life now and our family’s francophile habits seem quite exotic to her. Nana asked what a terrine is. Mum told her it was a bit like a chunky paté: mince various cuts of meat, add herbs, seasonings, breadcrumbs and something to bind it all together then bake it in the oven. Nana said that sounded like an awful lot of hard work and wouldn’t we be better off serving our lunch guests a nice egg.

It should be said that the French have wonderful ways of preparing and serving eggs, but I don’t think they would be able to look past this hearty terrine.

French Pork Terrine
Based loosely on Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

For the very best flavours, make a few days ahead and keep refrigerated.

large knob of butter (think French proportions)
3 roughly chopped shallots
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
slosh of brandy
1.5kg of mixed pork cuts (we used a shoulder and a fillet)
100g chicken livers
200g smoked bacon lardons
1/3cup duck fat
1 handful fresh breadcrumbs
1 small bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch thyme, coarsely chopped
1 egg
1/4cup cream
2tbsp salt
4-5 bay leaves

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Place butter in a frypan on medium heat. Add chopped shallots and cook until soft and transparent. Add garlic. Once shallots are cooked, add the brandy and turn off the heat.

Chop the pork meat into cubes, removing any tough pieces of fat or skin. If you have a mincer, great, if not, a food processor works fine. Mince the meat in several stages, it doesn’t have to be too fine, in fact, a coarse mince works well. Mince the chicken livers, the lardons and the duck fat.

In a small bowl whisk the egg with the cream.

Place the minced meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked shallots, chopped herbs, breadcrumbs, salt and egg mixture. Mix well (with your hands is best).

(To test the seasonings this second time round we took a spoonful and cooked it in the frypan.)

Once seasonings are to your taste, lay the bay leaves in the bottom of a loaf or pie dish. Spread terrine mixture smoothly on top. Place terrine dish in a roasting pan and fill half way up with water to create a bain-marie. Bake in the oven for 90 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Once cooked, take the terrine from the oven and place a piece of tinfoil on top. Lay a few cans on top of tin foil as a weight to compress the terrine creating a denser and more easily sliced terrine. Leave the terrine with weights on top for about 4 hours, or until cold. Remove tinfoil and weights and refrigerate. Don’t discard the juices, they set to a loose jelly, which while not appealing to look at, keep the terrine moist.
Serve with crusty bread – toasted is good – cornichons, salad greens and a selection of chutneys, spicy mango and beetroot are delicious accompaniments.