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Monday, 26 September 2011

Post the Twenty-ninth (in which our heroine falls afoul of a dud recipe)

I hate that.  You come across a recipe, you like the sound of it, you add a few little tweaks of your own (because the original is woejusly low on seasoning) and, at the end of all your effort you're left going "Meh."  This happened me on Friday evening.  I had mince defrosted and the plan was to make a variation on a Weight Watchers recipe that they call Beef Moussaka, but which is really somewhere between a cottage pie and a moussaka.  The reason for the tweaking is that, for some reason known only to the home economists at Weight Watchers, they just don't do herbs or spices at all.  As in, the only seasoning/flavouring in this was salt & pepper.  Snooze-fest.  This is a recurring theme with Weight Watchers recipes, and I don't understand it at all - pretty much all seasonings are points-free.  Why would you try to convince people to adopt a healthy-eating plan, then bore them to death by making the food as bland as possible?  And, let's call a spade a spade here, the vast majority of people who end up in Weight Watchers aren't going to have the kind of  food knowledge that would enable them to improve a recipe by adding their own seasonings.  Get onto it, WW!

Anyway, despite the addition of copious amounts of garlic, oregano, ground coriander, worcestershire sauce & aromat, the recipe was still a dud.  It was perfectly edible, but just did absolutely nothing for me.  So I'm not going to bother posting it for you.  There are far too many other, tasty things you could be cooking instead.  What I will do, however, is give you day one of the pulled pork recipe I was planning to do in one big monster post.

Pulled Pork is one of those American comfort foods that absolutely everyone in certain states eats all the time, and which barely anyone in Ireland has ever heard of.  It's not haute cuisine by any stretch of the imagination - quite the opposite - it originated as a good way of making very cheap cuts of pork both palatable and tender.  Thanks to Sparks at the Cooking Club for the original recipe, which I've tweaked very, very slightly.

Before We Begin:  This recipe can only be cooked in a slow cooker or in the oven in a cast-iron casserole.  If you don't have either of these, it can't be done, sorry.  You may not believe me, but take my word for it.  The reason is that it needs a very long, very low-temperature cooking.  Slow-cookers are designed to do this, so no problem there.  Domestic ovens, however, aren't really designed to work in the <100C range.  If you set the temperature to, say 80C, which is what's needed for this recipe, your oven will constantly cycle between about 120C, and then knock the element off for a while, resulting in a mean temperature of in and around 80C over the complete cooking time.  You need the insulating properties of cast-iron to protect your pork from these variations in temperature and keep the contents at a fairly constant heat.  Glass, aluminium or stainless steel dishes simply won't do this for you.

So, do you have a slow cooker or cast-iron casserole?  Yes?  Right so, let's get started.

Pulled Pork Day 1 - makes 6-8 servings

1.2kg boned pork leg or shoulder           3tsp paprika
1 tsp onion granules                                1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin                                             1 tsp smoked paprika
0.5 tsp garam masala                              0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sea salt - do NOT use table salt as the iodine will turn the pork blue

1. Mix all of the spices together.  If your joint has twine holding it together, remove it and flatten out the meat.  Lay your pork (don't be tempted to use fillet, it'll just go tough) on a large sheet of clingfilm and rub all over with the spice mix, until completely covered.  Leave the caul of fat on - it will impart a lot of flavour to your sauce in the cooking.  Worry not, we'll remove it before we pull the pork, you won't be eating it.

2. Wrap the pork tightly in the clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge overnight.  And that's it for day one.

No pics today, sorry.  The "Moussaka" wasn't worthy of one and I never thought of taking one of the pork.  Ah well.

In other news, Ireland remain top of their world cup group after beating Russia 62-12 yesterday morning.  And Mushy of all people scored a try!  I never thought he had it in him.  Granted, it kind of looked like he just fell over the line by accident, but hey, we'll take 'em any way they come.  So, we're down to our last pool match this week (Italy) and if we win this one, we'll more than likely meet Wales in our quarter-final, and France or England in the semi if we win that.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves, eh?

1 comment:

  1. Fully agree with you on the seasoning thing, WW is not the only culprit. Why do so many recipe-mongers think we have bland palates? Oh yeah, because so many of the proletariat do.

    Pulled pork - comfort food extraordinaire. Applebees do pulled pork with spicy coleslaw tacos. Yum.