Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Epic Pork

Partly because everyone seems to be making it or asking me for the recipe, partly because I've chucked one in to slowcook overnight for tomorrow's tea... here it is.  The manna from heaven that is slowcooked bbq pulled pork.

I can't claim the original inspiration for this, it was passed to me by someone I shared internet forum space with yonks ago.  She turned out to be a nutter, so the pulled pork may be her one sane contribution to humanity!  Do try to make your own BBQ sauce, and don't be put off by the list of ingredients, it's not complicated in the least to just throw it all into the pan.  You don't even have to be too exact about measuring, I've made it so many times that I just approximate, aim and chuck!  If you like a fiery kick, add more chilli. I never bother with the salt, and use reduced salt/sugar ketchup to make me happier about feeding it to the delicate-kidneyed snarflings, but equally you can use basics/value/smartprice ketchup, it doesn't need to be premium branded stuff.

Without any further ado - the pork.  It makes lots.  You will enjoy eating the leftovers!

To make the pork:

Get a boneless pork joint - shoulder is a cheap cut and works well - and stick it in the slowcooker with some form of liquid - cider, apple juice, pineapple juice, cola, water, whatever - about half a mugful. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.

When it's cooked, remove the meat, hive off a mugful of the liquid in the slowcooker and set this aside. Drain the rest away.

Cut the fat off the pork and chuck it. Using 2 forks, shred the meat, then return it to the slowcooker.

Use the liquid to make a BBQ sauce. You could use a bought one but I think this is nicer:

BBQ sauce

about 2tbsps/a hunk of butter
Small onion, pureed or finely chopped
mugful of ketchup
mugful of cooking liquor or water
tsp salt (I don't use salt in mine and it's fine)
1/2 tsp pepper
spoonful jarred garlic or a couple of cloves, blitzed with the onion
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp vinegar (balsamic is nice)
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp brown sugar/honey/golden syrup/whatever sugar you have lying around
1tsp paprika (pref smoked)
pinch chilli flakes (optional)

Melt the butter, saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes, chuck in everything else, simmer for 20 mins. Throw over the pork and stir to coat it and leave it in the slow cooker to all warm through for as long as you can wait.

You can serve with jacket spuds or in floury rolls or tortilla wraps, with beans, coleslaw, corn on the cob, all the above...

Monday, 12 December 2011

Winter Beef

Mmmmm, more slowcooker goodies.  What do you mean, you haven't bought a slowcooker yet?  To Argos with ye, now!

This isn't really a casserole, it doesn't have the requisite gravisauciness.  It's hard to define, really, if you don't really want to use the words 'beefy goodness'.  The beef just falls apart, the veg cook down to create a mass of... beefy goodness.

Well, you make it then try to describe it then, go on!

Serves 4 generously.  Chills/freezes well.

approx 1kg caesserole beef pieces
1 red cabbage, finely shredded
3 smallish parsnips, chopped
250ml red wine
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 tsp coarge ground black pepper
gravy granules, or 2 x beef stock cubes and thickening granules or cornflour.

Put everything bar the gravy granules in a slowcooker.  Cook for 8 hours on low.  If you plan on thickening with gravy, don't use stock cubes, it will be too salty, but if you're thickening with cornflour or similar, add 2 stock cubes now for flavour.

Before serving, stir in a few tsp of gravy granules or a little cornflour/cold water paste, and cook for 5-10 minutes more until thickened.

Serve with creamy mash, veg, or piled on top of a crisp-skinned, buttered jacket.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Welsh and proud

I know, I'm sorry, I've been gone ages.  We've been super busy with visitors and things going on and I've been mostly making super-simple things or cooking up frozen portions of delights I've already regaled you with. like the nicer chicken nuggets.  Or we've been eating out.  Naughty naughty.

I was chatting with some pals about regional stereotypes the other day (it's amazing the discussions I can get into on Facebook when I'm procrastinating and don't want to clean the dining room) and I realised that I'm something of a Welsh stereotype because I *love* leeks.  Literally cannot get enough of their silky sweet oniony goodness.  Never mind bread of heaven, I want heavenly leeks.

With this is mind, tonight's dinner is a bit of an experiment based on a dish my husband ordered on a recent eating-out-escapade to celebrate my birthday (I was 21.  Honestly).  The pub called it Welsh Chicken, so I plan to follow suit.  I have fiddled with it, naturally - this is me, I live to adapt, remember? - and therefore if it's a success I shall claim it for my own.  If it's awful, it's not my fault!

Welsh chicken, to serve 4.  Halve quantities for dinner a deux.

4 free range/high welfare standard chicken breast fillets, skinless
4 leeks, sliced
about 150ml boiling water
1 large/2 small head of brocolli, cut into small florets
2 heaped dessert spoons butter/spread
2 heaped dessert spoons plain flour
Milk, approx a pint
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
200g strong white cheese, cheddar or Caerphilly, grated
Olive oil

Heat a splash of oil in a wok or frying pan and briefly cook the chicken breasts on both sides.  Pop into an ovenproof dish and cover, setting aside.  In the same pan, add the leeks, stir to coat in the oil then add the water.  Turn the heat down to low, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, pop the brocolli on to boil and cook until just al dente.  Drain and set aside.

When the leeks are soft and silky, remove from the heat.  Strain off any water and reserve this. Tip the brocolli over the browned chicken breasts then tip the leeks on top, covering the chicken.  Set off to one side, covered again.

Make the sauce - it's a basic bechemel/white sauce, as previously blogged.  Use the reserved leek water in with the milk.  Add the cheese and melt, then add the mustard seeds and pepper.  I don't think this dish needs any extra salt, the salt present in the cheese is seasoning enough, but you could always add some at the table if you preferred.  Pour the sauce all over the dish of chicken, leeks and brocolli, coating evenly.

Pop into a hot (200 degree) oven for about 25 minutes until bubbly and starting to turn golden.  Serve with whatever side dish you fancy - we're having rustic skin-on oven baked chips with ours.  It's all in the oven right now so I will update with a pic and verdict in a little while!

Update - it was delicious, you need to try it!