Meat. A great hunk of something that used to play in the fields is the ultimate in man food heaven, but it can be bloody (pun intended) hard to get right.
Overcooked and tough or undercooked and salmonella carrying – there’s a whole lot that can go tits up.
But fear no more carnivorous chums, for the very kind butchering experts at The Great British Meat Co. are teaching us how it’s done, in their weekly master class.
This time, we're dealing with little piggies...
1 | Apple sauces are not just paired with pork because it’s a tasty match. Back in the old days, our oinky friend was reared as an autumn meat, having been born in the spring and then fattened. They were ready for slaughter at the same time as the ripened apples were picked from the trees, and a classic match was made.
2 | Pork is something of a super- food. Well, that might be pushing it a bit, but it has more protein than chicken, and is high in zinc, iron and B-vitamins. Not exactly goji berries, sure, but better than a donner and chips.
3 | Traditional breeds, such as Gloucester Old Spot, Berkshire and Tamworth are classic regional pigs that are suited to outdoor living. This means they’re not intensively farmed, and end up being kept for twice as long as commercial varieties. They produce a firm pink meat.
Alright, cheeky. Also known as 'Chaps' this cut is traditionally brined, before being slow cooked until beautifully melting and tender. Often chucked away until recent years, it’s enjoyed a shining spell as a trendy ingredient, as is now a constant on upmarket restaurant menus.
These might sound a bit grim. But, once you’ve conquered the psychological mine field of eating something’s feet, we can assure you there will be no going back. Again, long and slow is the only way to go with cooking these. Braise in red wine and remove the meat for a stew, or boil with vegetables and stock for a hearty soup.
The fillet steak of the pork world, this cut is lean, delicate and takes flavour magnificently. Cut from the other side of the loin to the ribs, it can become dry easily, so fill with a stuffing (we like a mix of apple, ginger and apricots) to lock the moisture in.
Pork belly is a thing of such sheer delight that its hard to believe it only started being taken seriously by foodies a couple of years ago. Full of layers of flavourful fat, it’s seriously hard to get wrong. Put in the oven for a few hours with some wine, herbs and spices and bring out a roast swimming in an insanely good homemade gravy.
Pork loin joint
The big dog of pork based Sunday lunches, this has been a family favourite for a long time. Running from the shoulder to the rump, the volume of rind makes for next- level crackling. Score through the fat with a knife before cooking to release its salty goodness.
A more virtuous cut of our piggy pal, chops are low in fat. They are cut vertically to the spine and usually come bone- in. Its worth noting that they benefit from a kick of mustard mixed in with salt and pepper when seasoning.
This is where the mighty, the indestructible, the indomitable, King Meat of the World, pulled pork comes from. Another long and slow job, pull the meat from the bone and pair with caramelised onions in a bread bun for one of the greatest man foods possible.
Pork needs prep. This isn’t some bird that can be slung in the oven- it needs the love, attention and care of which it is worthy.
To start getting your pork on its way, the night before you want to cook it, remove from the fridge and give it plenty of time to acclimatise to room temperature.
Make sure the skin is totally dry by giving it a good rub with some kitchen paper and score with a knife.
Rub course sea salt into the scores – this is what is going to get you perfect, crispy crackling. Cover and put back into the fridge for at least four hours.
Salt again before putting on a high heat for 25 minutes, followed by a low, slow roast. The time for this will depend on which cut you go for, so ask the butcher you get it from.
The Great British Meat Company are a family butchers, established in 1953. They supply some of the top chefs and restaurants in the country. To buy their 100% British produce and get it delivered free, visit their website.
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