food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘pork & ham & bacon’ Category

pork rib roast

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If you have a charcoal barbcue, there’s no better way to cook a pork roast. The pork stays moist, crackling is almost guaranteed and you get that added hint of smokiness. Perfect for the festive season.

Take the pork out of the fridge at least one hour before cooking and score the skin. Season the meat and skin generously with salt and set it aside to allow the meat to warm up a little and the salt to penetrate. Now it’s time to start the fire. It will take approximately 45 minutes for the coals to be ready for cooking – they need to stop flaming and become grey and ashy. When they’re ready, make sure the skin of the pork is very dry and salt it once again. Place the roast close to the heat to seal and crisp it. After 20 – 30 minutes move it a little further away from the coals to give it indirect heat. Continue to cook slowly until the meat is still juicy but cooked through. If you have a meat thermometer the internal temperature should be 63ºC (145ºF). Allow the pork to rest before carving. Enjoy!

Written by michelle picker

December 18, 2019 at 12:08 am

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bún-chả with bbq pork balls

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These Vietnamese pork balls are packed with flavour and wonderful when served as a complete meal with a fresh and delicious rice vermicelli salad and Nuoc Cham. I could eat this any time.

For the pork balls, you will need 450g (1 lb) of pork mince. Place ¼ of the mince in a small food processor and process until sticky. This will help to hold the mixture together. Combine with the rest of mince, 3 teaspoons of Vietnamese fish sauce, 2 -3 teaspoons of caster sugar, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt, plenty of coarsely cracked black pepper, 3 cloves of minced garlic and the finely sliced stems and roots of 4 sprigs of coriander (cilantro). Mix well and divide into small walnut-sized balls. Place them on skewers and barbecue (grill) over high heat for a few minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Meanwhile soak some rice vermicelli in boiling water until soft enough to eat. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Shred some lettuce, slice cucumber and tomatoes, cut carrots into fine julienne and add lots of herbs – mint, Vietnamese mint, coriander (cilantro) and dill are all suitable. Finally add some roughly chopped peanuts. Serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce: combine ¼ of a cup of Vietnamese fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 finely diced small red chilli, ¼ of a cup of water and lemon juice to taste. If the balance needs adjusting use fish sauce for saltiness, sugar for sweetness and lemon juice for sourness.

Written by michelle picker

June 19, 2019 at 12:20 am

christmas 2018

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Only four of us this hot Christmas day, so we decided to have a Chinese hot-pot. Cooking everything at the table is the ultimate slow food but very satisfying and delicious!

Our home-made stock was made with pork bones, chicken and ginger. Before serving we seasoned to taste with salt and added a black cardamom pod, star anise, black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns. To cook we had: prawn and ginger dumplings; shiitake, king oyster and enoki mushrooms; a variety of fish balls; prawns; beef; pork; fried beancurd and beancurd skins; Choi sum and Chinese broccoli; quail eggs; and mung bean noodles. For dipping we chose our ingredients from soy sauce; black rice vinegar; sesame oil; sesame paste; minced garlic; minced ginger, chopped coriander (cilantro); chopped spring onions; and finely sliced fresh chillies. And some chilli oil.

Written by michelle picker

December 26, 2018 at 12:43 am


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New York’s second-largest Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, is worth a visit. It really feels like you’ve been transported to China. We headed for the Golden Shopping Mall, home of Xi’an Famous Foods, where we intended to try Xi’an noodles. But the call of dumplings was too strong and I have to say they were some of the best I’ve ever eaten!

We ate excellent pan-fried dumplings with chilli oil and vinegar…..

….but the steamed dumplings in spicy chilli sauce were truly amazing. They were served with chilli oil and sesame paste and topped with choy sum and spring onions. The casing was super thin and the filling was a wonderfully tasty mix of pork and chives.

I forgot to take a photo of the pan-fried dumplings, so the one above is modified from an image by Ken Marshall licensed under CC BY 2.0


Written by michelle picker

September 26, 2018 at 11:10 pm

Posted in pork & ham & bacon, travel

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christmas 2016

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Christmas day 2016 was a hot 37ºC day, so we opted for some cold dishes in our 5-course menu.

We started with an amuse-bouche of naked cherry tomatoes from this recipe by Chef John. This method really brings out the flavour in tomatoes.

The second course was a wonderfully fresh chilled green gazpacho soup with burrata cheese, also a Chef John recipe.


For the third course I served cured salmon which I made following this recipe. If you make this recipe be sure to make the dressing a day ahead – it improves with time.


Our fourth course was a roasted porchetta served with roasted potatoes and carrots and a dragoncello sauce which I recently learnt to make at this masterclass.


Dessert was a brandy ice cream with a chocolate shell served with brandied prunes.



Here’s an inside view of the ice cream.



And finally, with coffee and tea, some delicious rum and apricot balls thanks to Carolynne.

Written by michelle picker

December 30, 2016 at 5:43 am

pork fillet with sage and garlic

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Succulent, pink and juicy, these pork fillets were cooked by the sous vide method. Hassle free and perfect for Christmas lunch!


Salt the pork fillets with approximately ½ a teaspoon per 450g (1lb). At this stage I sealed mine into a cryovac bag, however it’s possible to re-create this method using a very well sealed ziploc bag and expelling as much air as possible. The fillets should be cooked in a 60ºC (140ºF) water bath for 1 – 4 hours (also possible using a thermometer but needs more attention to keep the temperature even). When you’re ready to serve, remove the pork from the water bath. Heat some olive oil in a pan until very hot. Sear the fillets briefly on all sides then add a generous amount of sage leaves, some garlic and butter. If you have any liquid from the meat you can also strain this and add it to make a sauce. Serve immediately. I served mine with organic broccoli and carrots cooked with garlic, chilli and lemon.


Written by michelle picker

December 12, 2016 at 5:57 am

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pork cotoletta + 3 veg

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Cotoletta is the Italian version of the ubiquitous Schnitzel. Unlike schnitzel, though, it is not usually breaded with egg but dipped in oil and then breadcrumbs and often grilled, not fried. It’s also often cooked with the bone in. Traditionally veal, I chose pork for this meal and made Italian vegetable accompaniments. The 3 veg I served with my meal were carrots tossed in parmesan; zucchini with onions and peas; and potatoes baked with fennel and porcini mushrooms.


For the Cotoletta, make sure you have free-range, good quality pork cutlets. Coat them with breadcrumbs (by whichever method you prefer) which are seasoned and flavoured with oregano. Cook over medium heat until the meat is just cooked and the crumbs are golden.


This carrot recipe is adapted from Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen by Janet Ross & Michael Waterfield. Slice the carrots into thick rounds and cook in a little water until just tender. Set aside, retaining the cooking liquid. In a saucepan melt 30g (1 oz) of butter and add 30g (1 oz) of flour. Cook this roux then add the remaining carrot stock and reduce until the sauce is the thickness of double cream. Add 30g (1 oz) each of cheddar and parmesan and return the carrots, mixing well until the cheese is melted and the carrots well coated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Thickly slice some zucchinis and onions. Place them in a saucepan or frypan with a lid along with some olive oil, oregano, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Close the lid and cook over moderate to high heat, tossing occasionally, until the zucchini is browning a little but still firm. Add some peas and continue to cook until both the zucchini and peas are just cooked. Drizzle with a little lemon juice before serving.



This potato, fennel and porcini recipe appears in River Cafe Cook Book Two by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Soak 60g (3 oz) of dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and retain the soaking liquid. In a little olive oil fry the porcini with a little minced garlic and when browning, add 3 tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the porcini are soft. In a very large saucepan heat some more olive oil and add some slivers of garlic and 1cm (¼”) slices of fennel, cut lengthways. Cook until soft. Now add 1cm (¼”) potato slices and the porcini mushrooms, seasoning well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well then transfer to a baking tray and bake until the potatoes are cooked.

Written by michelle picker

October 19, 2016 at 4:50 am