Pork on the wild side

Pork on the wild side
This week saw the hardest part of my first stab of pig keeping when it came time to take them to the slaughterhouse.  I certainly found it difficult but I was comforted to know that they had lived well, eaten liked kings and hopefully, are going to have an unbelievably great flavour!

I also helped some friends with their traditional Spanish “Matanzas”. It isn’t recommended for the squeamish but takes place in a festive atmosphere, with everyone joining in to help and nothing goes to waste as just about every part of the animal is put to good use in the making of sausage-like "Embutidos" (charcuterie). Among these are Chorizo, Salchichon, Morcilla, Butifarra, Sobrasada and
off course, cured hams, Spain's most outstanding meat product.

Pork is, perhaps, the supreme winter meat and has some wonderful cuts for stuffing and roasting. The tender fillets and loins, prized for their white, succulent meat, are perfect for pan frying or grilling and it also has some excellent, flavoursome odds and ends in the shape of totters, knuckles and cheeks for braising and rich stews. Ribs are a relatively cheap cut of pork as they contain a smaller ratio of meat to bone. The discarded bones from chops are sold as spare ribs - pieces that have some meat, but not enough to be classed as proper chops. These can be marinated and grilled or barbecued. Ribs are also cut and sold in the same way as chops, with quite a large amount of meat still on the bone. The rib joint of pork contains more meat and can be treated like the rack of lamb as a piece that's ideal for open roasting or glazing and can be carved easily between the ribs so long as the chine bone is removed.

Despite its prohibition by two major religions, pork is the worlds most consumed meat. In recent years, mass-production of meat has increasingly taken the place and the quality of a lot of the meat sold has suffered. This is particularly true of pork. All too often, short cuts are taken in production to cut costs and maximise profits. As a result, a lot of the meat on sale is intensively farmed, using hybrid breeds of animal that have been bred to grow rapidly and carry more meat. They’re given artificial and concentrated feed to bulk them out quickly, leaving little time for the meat to develop taste and texture. Meat from animals that have been allowed to mature slowly in happy surroundings, fed on natural or organic feed will have a rich flavour that, if you can find it, makes it worth paying extra for.
Roast pork is possibly the most divine meat known to man, and when it comes with crispy crackling it's positively sublime. To achieve the perfect roast pork…allow the meat to come to room temperature before you cook it.
Start roasting pork at a high temperature (240°C/gas 9 or as high as your oven will go) to get the heat through to the centre of the joint, and get the crackling off to a good start. After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180°C/gas 4 and continue to roast for 25 minutes per 450g. To know when your pork is cooked: pierce the centre of meat from the underside of the joint with a fine skewer. There should be no traces of pink left in the juices. Clear juices indicate the pork is sufficiently cooked, but that the meat will still be beautifully moist.
Always leave meat to rest for 8-10 before carving.

Pork marries well with so many different flavours from garlic, ginger, mushrooms, cabbage, potatoes, onions and robust herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme. I particularly like it spiced with anything from anise, cumin and curry powder. 


Ingredients            serves 4

450g minced pork
1 garlic clove, crushed,
2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1tsp cornflour
1 tsp lemongrass, finely chopped

Dipping Sauce:
50ml fish sauce
50ml lime juice
1tbsp dark soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3tbsp chopped ginger
3tbsp chopped coriander
100g chopped spring onions
1tbsp sesame oil

Make the meatballs. Gently warm the honey in a non-stick frying pan, add the fish sauce and stir to make a syrup. Leave to cool.
Put pork in a bowl and fold in honey syrup, spring onions, garlic, lemongrass, cornflour, mint and coriander. Mix and season with salt and lots of black pepper.
Shape into 20 balls and put on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill for 30 mins. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients together, then set aside.
Brush the balls with olive oil and fry for 3-4 mins each side. Serve with the sauce.



Lomo con col is one of the most emblematic and popular dishes of country
Style Mallorcan cuisine. It's the perfect thing for a cold winters day. It consists of pork loin, sobrasada and butifarron wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked in the oven with almonds, sultanas, bacon etc,

Ingrédients :                        (serves six)

12             thick slices of pork loin
12            large cabbage leaves, blanched
200g            chopped bacon
1             Spanish onion, chopped
150g             sobrasada
150g            butifarron, sliced
100ml            olive oil
100g            toasted almonds
50g            toasted pine nuts
300g            peeled, chopped tomatoes
100g            sultanas
3            garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbs            chopped parsley

Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the pork loins in a little olive oil until sealed and golden brown. Lay out the cabbage leaves and place a pork loin fillet in the centre of each one. Add a little sobrasada and butifarron then wrap carefully to form neat parcels. place them in a baking dish or an earthenware 'cazuela' and add the rest of the ingredients. Cover with tin foil and bake in a moderate oven(180c/350f/gas 5) for about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.




Ingredients:                               serves 6

300g                    rice
3                          quails (cut in half)
500g                    rabbit pieces
200g                    sobrasada (mallorcan pate)
1                          sliced butifarron (black pudding)
1                          Spanish onion (chopped)
4                          garlic cloves (crushed)
250g                    fresh peas (cooked)
300g                    mixed wild mushrooms
3                          tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
100ml                  olive oil
1.5litres            chicken stock
2tbsp.                 Chopped parsley
1tspn.                 Paprika                   
                           Good pinch of saffron

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the chopped onion, cook gently without colour and add the crushed garlic, chopped tomatoes, paprika and saffron. Mix well and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, wild mushrooms, rabbit pieces, sobrasada and quails and cover with chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sliced butifarron
And simmer for another 10 minutes.

Using a ladle, skim off the fat and impurities that rise to the surface during cooking. Season with salt and pepper, pour into a soup tureen and serve at the table.