Thursday, 2 January 2014

First, catch your hare (or pig in this case)

So this is my blog on nose to tail cooking, in my interpretation here, pretty much also start to finish cooking. I'd become very disillusioned with how far we can or have become from our food, and with my grandfather who used to run a bakery, two uncles running restaurants, a visit to a welsh farm for a wedding, I realized I'd very much lost touch and had no excuse for it  Getting out into Wales where we live, finding fresh air, great produce and then doing something creative with my hands is  real tonic from hours typing, and travelling to London.

So repeating the warning, from the home page.  If a real butchery counter makes you squeamish, please check something else out. I love to cook fish, and vegetables, and bake, but mostly I like to cook meat, and I think this page will end up being mostly about that.

So first catch our Pig. My previous supplier stopped answering the door, but still has good pigs, so I was searching about for our Christmas roast.  I really wanted a trotter on whole shoulder, something very big to cook over night and just need taking out for Christmas day, and was slightly at a loss having left it late.  I ended up contacting huntsham court farm but they were out too (at a shoot I think) which was a nice start.

However Richard from Huntsham, kindly phoned me back after the event, somehow managing to catch me in the bar out for my Birthday, the long and short of it I bought half a pig.  And a new freezer.

More on the freezer later, it's definitely a worthwhile investment, and outdoor rated.  There are some whole venison adverts around at certain times of year, so makes the whole thing achievable.

So somehow I managed to order "minimal butcher".  This is what I really wanted, but it did leave me a big job late at night to get that giant loin into more manageable pieces.

Google "how to butcher a pig" - replay you tube video a lot.  Use inadequate knife and hacksaw blade and tea towel.  Some better planning would have definitely helped.  But result

We had two chops - actually the rare bread meat I don't think makes as good chops, the luxurious fat great for roasting or lardons just a bit too much, and I can never get it to render enough whilst cooking without over cooking them.  Rest to the freezer something to work on later.

Bit of fast forward to Christmas eve then.  Plan is shoulder of pork Donny Brasco from the excellent river cottage meat book.  Except that it'll be a garlic, rosemary, sage and salt rub. (whole bulb of garlic blitzed) I find the 16-24 hours Hugh suggests too much unless you want more like pulled pork (which is how he recommends serving it - and it's great don't get me wrong), for a roast though on a Sunday, I think about 12 hours works great, if you make sure you give it a really good sizzle at the start, and the end before a really good rest (an hour in this case).

All prep done in the evening which makes for a relaxed Christmas day (veggies (thank you for reminding better half), and meat).

It doesn't need the foil, it's just there to try and protect the bottom of the oven, funneling run off into the plan, as the limb protrudes even this largest roasting tray and some of the edges release a lot of  fat. On at 230 for 30minutes checking the top doesn't catch or blacken.

We used a litre of good cider at this point, and then just just turn down to 95c and leave overnight.

Turned out just fine:

I now have two half heads (longer story) and 3 trotters in the freezer to use.  Some head cheese is required and everyone being out of the house to do.

Very happy new year all.  Hope you cook something you love shortly.

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