Tag Archives: pork

Chicken and pork, a chiporken?

A couple of years ago I cooked a turducken for Christmas. This year, for something a little different, I decided to try a chiporken. I bought a large and a small chicken and boned them both leaving the wings and legs on the large bird. I made a stuffing based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, from diced leg pork, bread crumbs, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper and 3 rashers of smokey bacon. I ran this through a blender, and then stuffed the small chicken.

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Next I wrapped this in my favourite smokey bacon,

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then put it in the large chicken,

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and sewed it up.

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As is usually the case, Christmas day was hot, hot, hot in Queensland, so I cooked this in our kettle BBQ, which isn’t ideal, but at least it’s outside. It’s hard to get an accurate and consistent temperature in the BBQ, and I usually have trouble judging cooking times. So I cooked the chiporken for a little over 3 hours, at some largely unknown and varying temperature, until a meat thermometer told me it was 175°C in the middle. As it turns out, that meant it was somewhat overcooked on the bottom, a regular feature of roasts done in my BBQ (maybe it’s me?),  but it sure looked good from the top!

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It wasn’t as tasty as the turducken, but was pretty good, certainly an improvement on plain chicken. And if I do it again, well definitely at least twice as much bacon wrapped around the inside bird.

Pork, tongue in cheek.

I have written here before about pig tongues and pig cheeks. I enjoyed them both separately, so it seemed like they should be good together. I started by slow cooking the tongue for several hours, until tender, and then peeling the skin off. The next day I rolled the tongue and some slices of cooking apple in the pig cheek. I would have liked to use a cheek with the skin on but unfortunately it seems to be impossible to buy them like that (unless I wanted 40kgs of them). I tied the roll up with string and roasted it for around 2 hours.

The cheek was not quite big enough to completely enclose the tongue and apple, so it wasn’t quite as neat a looking roll as I wanted. Pork cheeks are extremely fatty, and even though I had trimmed a lot of the fat off, there was still way too much fat on it for me. When I ate the roll hot, I was very disappointed, particularly with the tongue, which was quite dry and had a strong offal flavour. I decided not to throw the rest away, and tried it cold the next day. What a difference!  The subtle pork flavours where delicious and the tongue was much more like the pressed tongue I had made before. Overall, it was an interesting experiment, but I don’t think I’ll bother again.

Rolled pig’s spleen

This is a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s book ‘Nose To Tail Eating’, and is something I have wanted to try for quite some time, but I’ve had a lot of trouble getting hold of pig’s spleens. Finally, after waiting about 2 months, a butcher managed to get me some. I have never seen a spleen before, so I was a bit surprised at how long they are, the biggest one was over 45cm.

They had a layer of fat on one side which I cut off, you can see in the photo above where the fat was attached down the middle of the spleen. With the spleen laid flat, it was easy to place several sage leaves along it, then a couple of slices of smokey bacon with the rind removed were laid lengthwise on top. It was then easy to roll it all up and push through a skewer to hold it in the roll.

 

 The spleens were then placed in a casserole dish, covered with chicken stock and into a medium oven for 90 minutes. They were then left to cool in the stock before slicing and serving cold.

Anyone who likes liver will enjoy these as the taste is similar but not as strong. They are probably more like chicken than lamb liver, with maybe just a hint of pork flavour. I would have expected the bacon to overpower the spleens, but it didn’t. I think that is the genius of Fergus, he gets a fantastic balance of flavours. The amazing thing about the spleens is their texture, so soft and creamy, just like a really good pate.

 

Crispy pigs ears

These don’t sound very appealing to most people, particularly dog owners who buy dried pigs ears for their dogs to chew on. But two of my favourite cook books, ‘The Entire Beast’ and ‘Nose to Tail Eating’ have recipes for them, so that’s good enough for me. The pigs ears I bought were clean and hairless.

 I put them into the slow cooker with onions, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme and a bay leaf. The plan was to cook them until soft, but I had to go out before they were done, and by the time I got home they were very soft, possibly overcooked. I removed the ears from the liquid, at which stage the skin came away from the cartilage very easily if not carefully handled. After drying the ears with a paper towel and cooling (between 2 plates to stop them curling), I sliced them into strips. I then spread them with Dijon mustard and rolled them in breadcrumbs. I don’t have a deep frier so I pan fried them.

They ended up a little oily, but I think that’s a technique thing (or in my case, a lack of technique thing). The bread crumbs were crispy and the ears were soft inside , with the cartilage being a little harder, but not at all chewy. An interesting combination of textures. I thought they might have a stronger flavour, but there was just a slight hint of pork taste to them. Interesting, but not something I’ll cook again in a hurry.

Blood Sausage (black pudding)

For anyone who may not know, black pudding is made from pigs blood. I have only eaten black pudding once since I was a child, and I liked it very much (see ‘Haggis, mutton bird and black pudding’ post). I was recently given a copy of Chris Badenoch from Masterchef’s book The Entire Beast, and it has inspired me in many ways. His recipe for blood sausage with poached egg yolk looked amazing, so I had to try it. I don’t for one minute pretend to be able to cook anywhere near as well as Chris, so I have really just taken the basic idea and simplified it to match my skills and the ingredients I had to hand. I cut the black pudding into thick slices and fried them in oil until crunchy. The eggs yolks were separated from the whites and were poached for about a minute, then the sausage and eggs were placed on a slice of toast and seasoned.

In his book Chris says ‘if you use cage eggs and supermarket black pudding – it will be crap’. Well, that’s pretty much what I used, and it was really delicious. So I would love to try this breakfast prepared by Chris. I really recommend both this meal and ‘The Entire Beast’.

Pork cheeks

So here’s another cut of meat that is apparently mostly ignored by Australians. When I asked for it at a butcher’s shop, I got the impression that he had never sold cheeks before (at least not as cheeks,  maybe in sausages). But he had some in the fridge, minus the skin, so I took a couple. When I got them home and started to cook them, the first thing I noticed was how fatty they are, so I trimmed off the outer layer of fat.

 

I then treated the pork cheeks as I would beef cheeks, into the slow cooker with some carrot and onion (I have simple tastes) and cooked on high until tender. With the pork cheeks this took about 4 hours. The end result was great for one of the cheeks, so tender I cut it in half with a plastic serving spoon. The second cheek was a bit stringy, but both had the great taste of pork that I love so much. The gelatinous parts of the cheek, which I love so much with beef cheeks, are fattier tasting and not so nice with pork. But pork cheeks are still a great cut, and confirm my belief that maybe pigs are the perfect animal ( for eating). I would love to get pork cheeks with the skin still on and roast them, I think they would be spectacular.

Pork tongue

On a visit to an Asian butcher in Brisbane I scored a couple of pigs tongues. I like beef tongue so I was keen to try pork tongue.  A bit of research told me that pigs tongues are usually eaten in braun with other parts of the head, but I decided to cook and press the tongues just as I did with the beef tongue  I have previously written about. I treated the pigs tongue just the same, but without soaking it overnight. The pigs tongues are considerably smaller than beef tongues, actually about the size of human tongues which is a little disconcerting when handling them.

Because of the smaller size they obviously cooked quicker, and were easily pierced by a knife after 3 hours on high in a slow cooker. I then peeled the tongues, which was much harder than with beef as the skin is much thinner, and placed then into my homemade tongue press and put in the fridge overnight. When turned out the next day they looked good enough to eat!

Sliced and eaten cold with a salad, the tongues were absolutely delicious,  with the beautiful taste of pork, but the very tenderest pork I’ve eaten. Definately something to cook over and over again.

Award winning gourmet sausages

I read in the paper recently about a Sunshine Coast butcher making award winning sausages. I have eaten gourmet sausages before, most recently from a market in Melbourne, and have been unimpressed. They are mostly nice but not spectacular, and not usually worth the premium price charged. But I’m a slow learner and obviously influenced by the media, so on the weekend, off I went to Master Meats at Mooloolaba to buy a few. Walking into the shop is like being hit in the face with the best piece of bacon you ever had, the butchers have a smoke room at the back of the shop, and I think the aroma is probably the nicest I have ever smelled. I’m sure the smell alone doubled the number of sausages I bought. They make a good range of gourmet sausages, we tried Pork and orange with honey blueberries, Turkey cointreau and dill, Red wine beef and caramelized onion, Calabrese ( flavours of fennel,garlic and cayene pepper), Lemon chicken and Chicken orange and thyme. The Pork and orange and Turkey and cointreau are the flavours that won awards. All the sausages are flour and preservative free. They were all very jucy when cooked and had a much courser texture than your average sausage and I like that. It really makes them seem more substantial. They were all very good sausages, but to me, the Pork and orange and the Lemon chicken were spectacular. I rarely eat sausages but that might now change. It’s now Wednesday and I’ve already been back for more!

Chicken and orange, Turkey and Pork

One of the nice touches with Master Meats is that each variety of sausage comes in a separate labelled bag (on request) so you can tell which is which when you get them home. So if you’re on the Sunshine Coast and like a good sausage, pop in and try these. And while you’re there, I also recommend you try the smoked bacon, it’s really good. (And no, I don’t have any affiliation with this business other than as a new and very happy customer!)

Wildfoods festival Hokitika NZ

For someone interested in throwing all kinds of weird stuff down their throat like I am, the Wildfoods festival in New Zealand’s South Island seemed to be a ‘must visit’.  So for 2011 we made the effort, flew to Queenstown for a few days, then drove to Hokitika for the festival on March 12.

                       One of the first stalls encountered was the huhu grub stall

 Huhu grubs are the  larval stage of a native beetle. The huhu grubs live in rotting logs, and were being harvested from a wood pile in front of the stall. They were available fresh and alive from the log: 

or cooked:The live grubs were a bit leathery and popped when bitten, but the cooked grubs are delicious, crunchy with a sweet nutty flavour.

Seafood next, with a mix of delights in the platter.Kina (sea urchin) roe is an acquired taste which I love, the taste of the ocean, and I really enjoyed the shot.

The poor mans paua (abalone) and sea cucumber both had an oceany taste similar to the kina, but were rubbery.

Smoked eggs were something new to me, so I tried a raw egg shot. Manuka is a NZ tree (where manuka honey comes from) and the smoke imparts a strong, lovely flavour.

The manuka eggs were delicious, one of the highlights of the day.

Next up was pigs braun. I have eaten braun a long time ago, but I think back then it was made from the entire pigs head, this may have just been the brains. No matter, it was nice, maybe just not as dense and with less pork flavour.

 

                      Back onto the seafood with a couple of……um…..unusual delicacies?

                           Paua tit is the stomach of the NZ abalone (paua).

As paua eat only kelp (seaweed) which I like to chew on at the beach, I thought it would be okay, but I guess the digestive juices were doing their work and the taste was quite bitter, very similar to the Kaio which is a NZ sea squirt.

I ate these two one after the other so I’m not sure which one did it, but I had a bad taste in my mouth for some time. But hey, thats why we try these things. Definately the worst things I ate at the festival. I returned to this stall some time later and tried a seagull egg and a paua pattie.

 Seagull eggs are bigger than hens eggs, and these were hard boiled. The yolk tasted just like a normal egg, but the white was semi translucent, seemed to be in two layers, and I didn’t much like the texture of it. On the other hand, the paua fritter (and these are very popular in NZ) was spectacular, one of the stars of the festival for me. The nicest paua I have tasted in years.

Next it was into insects.

Scorpions (I had a raw one) had a strong unpleasant chemically flavour, maybe they were imported into NZ in ethanol, or maybe that’s what scorpions taste like.

I didn’t try a raw grasshopper, I can get them at home, but did try a chocolate coated huhu beetle from the crouching grasshopper stall.

They tasted like ….. chocolate, no discernable insect flavour at all, but like the scorpion, left my mouth full of crunchy bits of shell to dispose of.

Worm sushi and worms on toast were nice, but any worm flavour was overpowered by the other ingredients.

Next it was time for a drink and dessert.

Some people may be a bit turned off by the thought of colostrum, but it tastes like watered down milk. The worst part is putting on a silly hat, getting down on your knees and getting the shot squirted into your mouth. 

The mastitus mousse was strawberry, and again like light milk, but tasty and refreshing.

There were stalls with more mainstream foods, some of the yummiest pork belly I have ever eaten, a plate of beautiful tuna,

both raw and cooked. And all washed down with a glass of honey mead.

There were a lot of other choices, too many to eat, but one of the best was a West Coast icon, the white bait fritter.

Unlike most fish and chip shop whitebait fritters I have had in recent visits to NZ, these were more whitebait than egg batter. The way they should be, and absolutely delicious.

WARNING. If you have a weak stomach, it might pay to skip through the next part of the story. I wanted to go to Hokitika to challenge myself, eat outside my comfort zone and find out just how far I will go with extreme foods. I think I know now.

No prizes for guessing that these are sheep testicles or mountain oysters. Cooked with onion and pepper they were tender, moist and fairly mild in flavour.

I know they are considered a delicacy in some countries, but testicles are rarely eaten in Australia. I would certainly eat them again.

And the ultimate test of a cast iron stomach?

Yes, for the first time here, shots of horse semen! I heard about them a couple of weeks before the festival, so I had time to get used to the idea.

And thats yours truly shooting horse semen, au natural of course, not the flavoured variety.It surprisingly tasted not unlike milk. So after that, I think I can eat anything!  The stallion shot stall was very popular, but I think it was mainly people hanging around waiting for someone willing to try.  The festival was a great day out, if you can get there next year, do it. I sure hope to.

Pigs feet or trotters

It’s a long time since I have eaten pigs feet, and way back then I think I only tried them once, so it was time to try them again. A bit of research showed a variety of ways to prepare the feet, I decided in the end to make jellied feet, which appears popular in Hungary and Poland. As is my usual way when first trying a new food item, I decided not to hide the flavour in any way, so I cooked the feet with just an onion in a slow cooker until the meat and skin fell off the bones.  After removing the bones, I finely chopped the meat, skin and tendons, and put it all into moulds then into the fridge for the night. The next day, when popped out of the moulds, they were set solid.

As you can see, there wasn’t much meat on them, but there wasn’t a lot of fat either. I dipped them in egg and breadcrumbs on both sides and then briefly pan fried them, just long enough to heat them slightly and brown the bread crumbs.

And the result? They had a very gelatinous texture, not at all chewy, with a very mild pork flavour. Not the kind of thing I would bother to eat a lot of. I will do them again, but with added flavours of perhaps carrots and celery, and a few spices and definitely more meat. Perhaps use a few feet for the gelatin with a pork knuckle for more meat. Maybe even make a loaf to slice and serve cold.