Tuesday, 3 January 2012

And so it begins...2012 (slow roasted pork loin)

Sarnie heaven
Happy new year. I mean it. There's something about a new year which excites me, no matter how many new year's resolutions we break, diets discarded and positive thoughts banished, the prospect of a clean slate each January makes me feel good. Especially when the previous year wasn't the best. We're all bloated with rotting livers from Christmas, I had a lovely time, cooked a lot, reduced Mum's bulging fridge to a couple of Tupperware tubs, saw friends and family and generally had a gay old time. We broke a record for using leftovers, the enormous turkey was gobbled up within a week thanks to amazing, life-changingly-good sandwiches, the boxing day ham didn't last long and the look of pure fear and disgust in my Dad's eyes when I kept threatening to make a lovely cous cous salad for him kept me entertained for over a week. I don't think I've ever watched so much telly in my life, or had such a relaxing festive break, so all good there. I didn't bother blogging over the holiday as I was far too busy doing nothing, and I didn't think a recipe for a sandwich was really that interesting (in-case you are interested: lightly toasted white bread, turkey, stuffing as butter, lettuce, gherkins, mayo and Tabasco). I spent a lot of the Christmas break drooling over new cookbooks which I have already attacked, and am hungry for more.

Let's face it, the best bit.
Now we're back to reality with a bang, the weather isn't great (the roof may be blowing off as I type). New year's day was a write off (the less said about that the better), so much so that yesterday, the 2nd, felt like my New Year's Day, involving a walk to the pub, a lazy slow roast pork loin and way too much red wine. Stuff the detox, just eat and drink a little less but keep it delicious and interesting. Good food will always make you feel better when you're down and it makes me so sad when people say they can't be bothered to cook for one. You should because (cue hair flick and plastic smile) YOU'RE WORTH IT! And then, when you do have company, really go for it, and reap the rewards, in the form of empty plates and grateful friends. Below is what I cooked for two of my best friends last night, I recommend it. It's kind of an amalgamation of several recipes, everyone has a different method for perfect crackling it seems, this turned out great so I'm sticking with it.

Fake fire on table, WHY?!
Feeds three generously. Pre-heat the oven to 220 and make sure your 1kg boned pork loin joint (with scored skin) is at room temperature. Stick the meat on a wire stay in the sink and pour over a kettle of boiling water. Now dry it really well with kitchen roll. On the flesh side rub in a few teaspoons of freshly ground fennel seeds (thank you for my spice grinder middle sister) and sprinkle with salt. In a baking tray combine a sliced onion and a few bashed whole cloves of garlic and a little olive oil. Now put the pork on top, flesh side down, so that the onion is all underneath, it's there to kind of provide a barrier between the pork and tray, which no matter what I do, always burns. But it doesn't matter. Sprinkle the skin with coarse rock salt and place on top shelf of the oven for about half an hour, or until the crackling has started forming. Reduce the heat to 150, lower the tray in the oven, cover with foil, put the extractor fan on and walk to the pub. Stay there drinking Rioja for two or three hours, ignoring nagging thoughts that the house is burning down. When you come back, remove the foil, drain off the fat that has rendered off the joint (use this for your roast potatoes) and keep cooking until you have done all your veg. Timing really doesn't matter, it's a long low cook, three hours at the lowered temperature is about enough but if you go over it's fine. At this point, if the crackling is less than tooth-breakingly crunchy, just slice it off the meat and cook it on the top shelf of the oven until satisfactory. By this point the meat can be carved with a spoon. I served it with purple sprouting broccoli, braised cauliflower (simmer/steam broken up florets in a small amount of stock with a pinch of saffron strands, when cooked, drain off excess stock, squeeze half a lemon over it, sprinkle with chopped parsley and a slick of extra virgin olive oil) and roast potatoes that were cooked in the pork fat. I like to think the resourceful merit there outweighs the risk of a heart attack. Somehow. Oh and also an amazing spiced apple sauce from my new cook book by the legend that is Niamh Shields (chopped apples cooked in a little water with chopped chili, nutmeg and cinnamon until mushy).

Oh I forgot to mention, the house will reek of pig for a few days, which I always forget about. Get some Fabreeze or something.


  1. This sounds like my new year's dinner!! Thanx

  2. Thanks Carl, did you make it in the end? Definitely a great no-nonsense recipe!