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.
Next I wrapped this in my favourite smokey bacon,
then put it in the large chicken,
and sewed it up.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.