Saturday, 19 July 2014

Better really late than never

Pulled pork, that genius result of slow cooking found a very grateful home in Finnish blogosphere already some years ago. But now it's become so incredibly popular (ah, Finland. Always a good 10 years behind everyone else...) you can actually buy it shops. No cooking needed. And there isn't a food truck in the country that wouldn't offer it one way or another. But you can really tell a trend has really reached the masses when your colleagues, counting days to their retirement are adopting it into their culinary vocabulary. 

As we were trying to recover from OD'ing at Streat Helsinki Festival even a total stranger initiated a conversation with us asking if we'd already made it. Ah the embarrassment of a food blogger, squirming on her seat trying to weasel her way out of having to say "no". Yeah, that's how slowly ideas cook into actual actions at this end sometimes. Now don't get me wrong - we're huge fans of slow-cooked meat: we've been pulling lamb and can't get enough of say, duck confit (just check these burgers out!) and just the other day we cooked oxtail ragú overnight with results that were nothing short of leg... wait for it... oh whattahell... endary.

But over to that pork. It was about time too, I fixed this humongous error in our world. And that's what I did over Midsummer, using the neck of organic pork I'd been sent to sample. But as it wasn't until the actual Midsummer day (when no shops are open anywhere in this country...) that I realized we didn't have any of the ingredients needed for BBQ-sauce. So, I devised this tomato-based sauce. Which worked better than well. Fantastically, actually. We. Could. Not. Get. Enough.

For home-made pitta bread, please see recipe here.

Along with that divine porky deliciousness we stuffed our pittas with coriander leaves and red cabbage slaw. Only this time instead of pomegranate molasses I used some wild thyme infused blueberry jam. Its delicate sweetness combined with the gentle heat of the pork was so good I wanted to cry. Only I couldn't as I was too busy showing yet another portion in my mouth...

Enough for 8 pittas

Pulled pork:

750 g (organic) pork neck
2 tbsp Chinese fivespice (or your own blend of ginger, anise, fennel, cinnamon bark and pepper)
2 tsp salt

Braising liquid:

2 star anise
1 onion, cut in half
1 (cassia)cinnamon stick
10 allspice peppers
2 large garlic cloves, gently bruised
1 chilli, also gently bruised with the back of a knife
a couple of cm piece of ginger, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves (can be substituted with bay leaves)

Pat the meat dry and rub Chinese fivespice and salt on it. Wrap in clingfilm and leave it to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Take into room temperature a couple of hours before the actual cooking starts. 

Pre-heat oven to 130°. Cut the onion in half and place on the bottom of a casserole dish. Place the meat on top of it along with the rest of the ingredients and pour in enough water to cover the meat halfway through. Cook, covered, for 5-6 hours. Or longer. It only gets better. Every now and then baste the meat with the liquid.

Remove from the oven, carefully lift the meat out of the liquid and leave to rest, covered with foil. Strain the liquid and reserve.

The sauce:

4 dl braising liquid
1/2 dl soy sauce
1/2 dl syrup
2 dl passata
1/4 dl red wine vinegar
1 tsp ground allspice
(black pepper)

Measure the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil. Lower the heat and cook for half an hour until it's thickened. Check taste and season as needed. Shred the meat using two forks and combine with the sauce (you can also make a double batch of the sauce so your diners have some to add at the table if they wish) and cook for another half an hour (covered with foil) at 175°.

I'm telling you: go get some pork neck right now. You're going to love me for it.




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