Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas 2013

My first crack at a proper Christmas dinner :)

I decided on pork as I love crackling, so I ordered a roast from the local butcher as I know their meat is far better quality than the supermarket's. I didn't specify what cut but it looked like loin and there was plenty of it (I ordered for "3-4 plus leftovers") so I cut the smaller end off and it's in the freezer for another week.

Good old Delia came up trumps for a recipe: roast pork with crackling. All I had to do was dry the skin and salt it, and place the meat on a topped, tailed and halved onion. I adjusted the oven temperatures down slightly for our fan oven, and did 25 mins at 220° and then another 2h at 180°. This was a bit of a mistake as I calculated the time on the original weight and not after I'd cut a bit off. Still, the pork was well done rather than overcooked, with perfect crackling and very tender meat.

What did perhaps suffer a bit was the meat juices. Although they were supposed to go to make gravy, it was entirely fat in the tin. I poured it off, and what was left was very dark - not tempting crusty bits so much as blackened. The outer layers of the onion had also burned, so I binned those before deglazing the pan with cider and making up gravy with that, stock (~150ml each) and flour (1 tbsp plain), with water to taste later - there was a definite dark tang to it but I had no other means to make gravy so had to make it work! Straining the finished product removed the onion bits before serving, and the verdict was fairly good but by no means perfect.

Of course, it's not just the meat - alongside it we had apricot stuffing, roast potatoes, red cabbage, brussels sprouts and parsnips. Oh, and sausages in bacon, but they negate the point about the meat :)

Apricot stuffing: a fairly random recipe pick, it's American style stuffing involving an onion and 2 cloves garlic, cooked in butter with thyme, then adding chopped dried apricots, bread, and cream. It turned out rather sweet, and a dash of worcester sauce evened it out. Next time I'd use the suggested variation of subbing some of the cream for stock as it was quite rich.

Potatoes: large King Edwards, parboiled (or rather boiled, since I forgot them) and then tossed about a bit in vegetable oil and a dash of salt, and roasted in the oven for a good 30 minutes.

Red cabbage: braised with cider and apples. I used 600g cabbage, made necessity-based substitutions of a bramley apple, white wine vinegar, and tangerines, and used half of all the other ingredients except the sugar which I reduced a bit further. An hour's cooking time was fine.

Brussels sprouts: peeled, halved, and stir fried/braised with streaky bacon trimmings from the sausages in bacon. Several splashes of water, and a lid on the pan, kept things moist and helped them to steam as well as fry in about 20 minutes.

Parsnips: peeled, chopped, roasted in oil, honey and wholegrain mustard with a dash of black pepper. I didn't really roast them for long enough, so next time would pop them in for 45 mins to an hour.

Dessert wasn't my responsibility, so that's it for this year :)

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