Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Slow cooked Pork - 3 meals in 1

Wonderful pork sandwich on homemade onion bread
Sunday Dinners are still the best way of spending time with family and last Sunday was such a day. The wind was throwing itself around the cottage and we lit the fire quite early in the day - the perfect day for a warming slow cooked dinner. A butcher in Douglas had pork neck on offer and although it was a big piece of meat, I planned ahead and was already seeing three different dishes developing in front of my eyes.

Pork neck has a lot of flavour but needs to be cooked on a slow to medium heat for several hours to make sure it is tender. I marinated the meat with a nice mix of lemon, sage, thyme and garlic - massaged it  into the meat to ensure that the different flavours mingled nicely with the meat. This marinate combined with the slow cooking resulted in a lovely rich winter dish that made the people around the table very happy indeed.

As I wanted a traditional Sunday Dinner feel to the occasion, I served the meat with roasted potatoes, yorkshire puddings, honey roasted carrots & parsnip, steamed cauliflower & broccoli and made a hearty gravy from the juice, enriched with stout. The kitchen was warmed just from the cooking (ok, I also made a bread, dessert and baked a Christmas Cake - I have several ovens). In the end, I had my Sunday Dinner Day and everyone was enjoying the meal and we had time to catch up properly on the week - Little Miss Sophie thought she was eating chicken and who was I to tell her differently especially as she was asking for seconds (she is almost 3).

The other 2 dishes???? Very simple, with the leftovers we had lovely pulled pork sandwiches the next day (filled with lettuce, brie and spiced plum chutney) and another hearty dish of casserole with carrots, parsnip, onion, garlic, stock and of course the leftovers of the meat...... as I still had some of the stout left, I added it for good measure. The sandwich had the 'gourmet' feel to it that you are so often missing when buying an overpriced 'Gourmet Sandwich' and the casserole warmed the heart and belly on an even wetter Monday night..... so for €14 I fed 4 people on a Sunday, 2 people for Monday lunch and 2 hungry eaters on Monday evening - oh and yes, we gave a large piece of cooked meat to Noel & Andrea to take home with them.... I call that a bargain.

Slow cooked Pork Neck

  • 3kg Pork Neck (if you like to follow the 3-1 meals)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Handful sage & thyme, finely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed
  • 3 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 500ml chicken stock, hot
  • 250ml stout
  • 1 tbsp butter
Marinating the meat adds a different dimension of flavour

Preheat the oven to 200C. 

Mix the herbs, garlic and a teaspoon of lemon juice well, if you have a mortar and pestle, pound it to a paste. Rub the mix nicely all over the meat and massage it nicely in. Place the quartered onions in a roasting tray. Quarter the half lemon and add to the onions together with the bay leaves. Place the meat on top of the onions. Now pour in a cup of water, cover the roasting tin with tin foil and place in the hot oven for about 10-15 mins. After that, reduce the heat to 140C and leave to cook for 5 hours. From time to time, check if there is still enough liquid in the roasting pan and baste the meat with the juices. 

30 mins before end of roasting time, remove the tin foil and return to the oven to get a bit of colour on the meat - you might need to baste a few times to keep the meat moist. 

Succulent pork - perfect Sunday Roast
The result should be a succulent piece of meat that almost falls apart when handling it...... remove from the roasting tin, place on a warmed plate and cover with tin foil and set aside to rest. Pour the juices from the roasting tin into a clean saucepan, making sure to get all the tasty bits from the meat. Bring to the boil (if there is just a bit left, add chicken stock) and reduce by half. Add the stout and let reduce by half again. Add the butter and swirl until melted and well combined with the sauce. Strain through a sieve and keep warm until needed. Slice the meat - you might even want to shred it with the fork - it will be tender and soft. Serve with potatoes, veggies and and the gravy.

Bon Apetit

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