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Goldbrick House hosted their inaugural Fabulous Food Night on Thursday. The theme, pig: nose to tail. There are a further five events planned, to be held once a month, covering a variety of produce such as lamb, game, seafood and steak.

They’ve been designed by head chef, Matthew Peryer, for those who love food, want to learn more and share his passion. The idea is to eat lots, and I mean lots, whilst Matthew talks about the food, how its sourced as well as the cooking methods and techniques used, some of which are traditional but oft forgotten.

The setting for the evening was the Loft Restaurant, a private dining area, where we were greeted by the chef and our waitress. Matthew briefly explained how the evening would progress, with a selection of dishes served across three ‘courses’. We would be served an ‘appetiser’ from the first two courses and were then to help ourselves from sharing platters. If we found ourselves wanting more, there was plenty more in the kitchen. 

A quick glance at the menu showed that we were in for a meaty treat and a rollercoaster ride through the animal. They weren’t kidding about it being nose to tail, the menu pretty much covered everything but the squeak. Some of it made me nervous and other dishes were firm favourites I couldn’t wait to dig into!

Our pig

Our pig was a Gloucester Old Spot which had been reared in the Cotswolds. It was actually half a pig which had been purchased by the restaurant. With only 14 of us dining, a half pig was more than enough! The Old Spot is a British pedigree breed and one of the best pigs for eating mainly due to the good layer of back fat and marbling which keeps the meat succulent and flavoursome. Pork is one of the most versatile of meats, lending itself to rapid cooking, slow braising and curing, as would be demonstrated in the menu.

Just for starters

We went straight in at the deep end with our appetiser of sauteed brains and truffled egg. This was a crostini topped with soft scrambled egg, the finely chopped brains running through it, drizzled with truffle oil and finished with delicate pea shoots. Brains have a similar consistency to egg yolk so this was the perfect way to serve them for the uninitiated! The hardest part over and it wasn’t all that bad!

To complete the course, we had a classic liver parfait, a selection of cold cuts and pork tonnato. The liver parfait was rich, buttery and incredibly smooth. A much stronger flavour than chicken liver and perhaps an acquired taste but one I’d definitely try again. 

The cold cuts consisted of prosciutto, fennel and peppercorn salami, chorizo and honey roast ham. The honey roast ham was prepared at the restaurant but the prosciutto was from Italy whilst the salami and chorizo were actually locally produced. They do make their own cured meats in the restaurant but owing to the process taking months, there was none of the home-cured produce available that night.

The head

The pork tonnato was a beautifully tender pork fillet, coated in spices including crushed peppercorns and fennel seeds, seared and served very slightly pink. Outstanding. Does it spoil it to say now that it was my favourite part of the whole meal?!

Our appetiser for the second course was crispy ear. The ear had been braised for three hours, then coated in Panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Crispy on the outside, almost sweet and rubbery on the inside. I’d liken it to over-cooked squid! Nothing to write home about but another one to tick off the list of strange things eaten.

This course was all about the head. We had rolled and braised head stuffed with hazelnuts, orange and rosemary, slow roasted pig head and braised cheek stew with apples and sage.

Part of the head had been boned, removed from the skin, stuffed, rolled and braised in pork stock for around five hours before being sliced and pan-fried. The head is quite gelatinous and fatty and benefits from very long, slow cooking. The pan-frying at the end helps to render and crisp up any remaining fat.

The slow roasted pig head was the remainder of the head, snout and eyeball included. The meat was tasty and tender but hard to find. The eyeball, we were told, was ‘ok’!

Braised cheeks are extremely tender and full of flavour. I’d consider them to be one of the best parts of the animal, yet extremely difficult to get hold of. One of the things which struck me most about the evening was that we take just a few prime cuts for granted and yet so much of the animal can be eaten. It’s incredible to think that not so many years ago we would have been eating the whole animal but now most of it is going to waste because so few people are prepared to put the time into the cooking.

The body

By now, we’d already consumed an astonishing amount of protein, with a little greenery and carbs on the side, but there was more. Our final course came from the body. Paprikash of hearts, liver and tongue, seared loin ballotine with black pudding, sage and spinach and slow roast belly with crackling.

I wasn’t too taken by the paprikash which had the kidney and some braised leg meat thrown in for good measure! The Hungarian style sauce was lovely but by this point, despite my best efforts, I was beaten by the offal.

The loin is the succulent eye of the pork chop. It had been butterflied and stuffed with the black pudding, sage and spinach before being poached then seared. It was definitely a dish I’d recommend with some creamy mash, gravy and apple sauce.

The belly pork had been roasting in a low oven for 24 hours. Juicy meat and satisfyingly crunchy crackling. What more is there to say?!

The tail-end?

Thankfully there was no sign of a pork-based dessert, I was stuffed, but sticking with the pig theme there was a refreshing cider sorbet to cleanse the palate.

An incredible and thoroughly enjoyable evening. Informative and plenty of food for thought. I’m looking forward to trying another fabulous feast with Goldbrick House. The question is, which one?!

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It was my brother’s turn to host Christmas this year and with his first baby due at any moment it could have been an interesting one. As it happened the bump was quite content to stay tucked up and pig out with us so we managed to finish Christmas dinner without a trip to the maternity ward!

My family aren’t turkey fans so it’s quite normal to see a duck, goose or a ham on our festive table. My brother had decided he’d like to do something even more unusual this year and thought a Spanish-themed meal would do the trick. With a helping hand from a glass or two of Prosecco and his little sis, and the loan of mum and dad’s kitchen and dining room he pulled off a brilliant Christmas dinner.

Unfortunately we were all too eager to tuck in to dinner that we completely forgot to take any photos so you’ll have to take my word for it that it all looked, as well as tasted, amazing.

We started with raciones of albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce), gambas al ajillo or gambas al pil pil as they’re sometimes known (prawns with garlic and chilli), pinchitos morunos (pork kebabs) and patatas bravas (fried potatoes in spicy tomato sauce).

My brother was hoping to have done too much so he could savour the leftovers on Boxing Day but more fool him for not having hidden any away before serving. All bowls and plates were well and truly wiped (though not quite licked) clean!

Now, I said my brother had a helping hand from his little sis. That comprised of shopping for and cooking the main course! To continue his Spanish theme I opted for slow roasted belly pork with a smoked paprika rub, roasted smoked garlic, and chorizo and black pudding stuffing.

Not wanting to stray too far from the traditional, I served the pork with roast potatoes (roasted in goose fat of course!), roasted carrots and parsnips with thyme and garlic and shredded spouts with bacon, garlic and rosemary. 

I handed the stove back to my brother for his trio of desserts! Christmas pudding for dad (the only one who’ll eat it!), and for the rest of us a choice of Christmas spiced apple crumble or an old family favourite,  chocolate puddle pudding. I have no problem taking credit for bringing the English classic back in line with the Spanish theme with the addition of cinnamon in the chocolate sauce!

Stuffed!

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One of the joys of working from home is being able to tuck into leftovers from the night before without worrying about stinking out the office or causing workmates to drool whilst watching you demolish a tasty lunchtime treat when all they had to feast on was salad leaves or a dull sandwich! Today was one such day where I was pleased to be wfh.

So, I mentioned yesterday that the pork vindaloo was good but didn’t quite pack the flavour punch I was expecting, but cooking for an army as I usually do meant there were leftovers to be had this lunchtime.

I am pleased to report that a night sitting in the fridge did my vindaloo the world of good. It came out tasting an altogether different dish. So there we go folks, do try Anjum’s recipe at home but make it the day before you want to eat it!

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Pork Vindaloo with Rice and Green BeansWe’ll be away from home this weekend so I ended my home-cooking week as I started it – with a curry from Anjum Anand’s I Love Curry. I chose the pork vindaloo, a hot Goan curry I enjoy cooking and eating at home but always steer clear of in a curry house!

An authentic vindaloo calls for plenty of hot Kashmiri chillies but the chilli does not overpower the other spices or the flavour of the pork. It’s a well balanced curry with a light sauce which truly hits the spot when you need a chilli fix.

Anjum’s recipe contains a lot more fragrant spices such as coriander, cardamon, cinnamon and ginger and requires a different preparation method to the recipe I normally use so I was intrigued to see how the dishes would differ. The result was, of course, delicious but the flavour was not as well rounded as my normal recipe – I have a feeling that this is one which will taste much better the next day when the flavours have really had time to develop. It’s a good job I made too much and can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

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