Sunday, 5 January 2014

Brawn 1 (Research)

So I have been thinking about this pigs head and it's time to do something with it.  It's been sitting in the outside freezer for too long now.  I needed to choose a recipe, and whilst reading up I thought it was worth just crediting some of the great sources out there.

I have to mention +Danny Kingston and his fantastic food urchin blog.   His article on #brawnoff was basically the reason I ended up with a trotters and head on half pig from Huntsham court farm, rather than just a shoulder from my butcher.  I love this article - not only does it give you directions to four great brawn recipes, but it's totally honest from a pretty full on person (check out the octopus), that doing brawn isn't going to be for the faint hearted.  It's also a great start to end story, of getting something special and unusual and doing something with it. (with great photos)

This discussion on the River Cottage Forum, is also very useful with some different takes about how to go about the whole boiling a head in a pan thing in this discussion.  Not to mention cleaning ears.

But like most everything I've been doing with Nose-to-tail cooking I always end up falling back to the River Cottage Meat book.  I then found this quote on the top of the Brawn recipe, which made me think I really should have got round to this by now.  Hence the head is now defrosting in the fridge

"Everyone who wishes to embrace the holistic, 'nose-to-tail' approach to meat should buy a pig's head once in a while and make a brawn"

Whilst I am here, this is the most fantastic book.  Recommended to me by an ex-restauranter who is normally extremely disparaging about cook books, it's essentially been behind everything new I've done with meet for about two years now.  It's approachable, inspirational and comprehensive.  For instance the section on chickens doesn't just talk about animal welfare, it takes you through how to quarter a bird and actually give you what you need to be able to get to the point where a chicken makes 4 meals (for 2) which is how I learnt, and it makes buying a quality whole bird practical and affordable and the only way in our house we now buy chicken.

The pork Donny Brasco is a favorite recipe of mine which I've experimented doing a number of different ways.  My mother-in-law (who's cooking I love), even started reading it, and changed the way she cooked at meat after having something from it at ours and a look at the book.  The whole bit of having a cook-it-fast section, and then a cook-it-slow section and being clear which is good of which, and what can be done either way is just great.

Anyhow, below is a photo of my now very well thumbed copy.  If you do want a copy and use the link below to buy it, it helps fund the domain cost for The Thin Jetty.  It is quite a bit for a book though, and if you want to avoid buying it I find that most of the recipes you can find online if you know what you are looking for, or certainly very similar versions.  You just don't get the very good animal by animal and cooking technique by cooking technique explanation and organisation.  For instance this Jamie Oliver recipie  gives a very good outcome and is very like similar to the pork Donny Brasco I mentioned.

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