I’ve been living the life of an unenthusiastic vegetarian. Let me tell you, its been drastic. Good meat has been hard to source is West Virginia and so my team and I have decided to go veggie rather than support the likes of Perdue and Tyson or any other CAFO for that matter. Put a bunch of foodies together and snobbery tends to escalate. The only hitch is that I’ve come to discover, rather unpleasantly that dairy in my digestive tract is like a kids party on a bouncy castle. I trust your imagination will provide the more gruesome details.
Vegetarian living has involved eating more than my five suggested servings of fruits and vegetables a day but no matter how good that makes me feel- seven weeks of eating like this and I’m bored stiff. That’s B-O-R-E-D. I would rather pour acid in my eyes than eat another carrot stick right now.
So, it goes without saying that when I spent last weekend at my parents house the first thing on my mind was to head to the farmers market and buyt a gorgeous piece of grass-fed meat. I actually drove the three hour journey after a full days shooting so that I would be there in time for the morning farmers market. That’s dedication, okay, okay- desperation.
Having waited so long, I mustered up the willpower to wait a few more hours in order to cook my favourite slow-cooked pork. Fifteen hours to be exact- but let me tell you it was so, so worth it. Like giving up sugar for Lent and then going crazy for chocolate on Easter- I was in heaven. Talk about a food high. Crisp sweet and spicy crackling with juicy tender, oh so tender meat. Meat you don’t need a knife to cut- more like a spoon to touch before it tumbles with graceful ease off of the bone.
Like all love affairs, the pleasure of being a carnivore again ended too quickly. Before I knew it I was back in my hotel, a vegetarian. Until next weekend, anyway.
Sugar & spice slow cooked pork
This recipe is based on one in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Meat Book. Patience is required but then again good things come to those who wait.
Diet Facts: Straight to the hips, but so worth it.
6-7 lb piece Boston Butt or pork shoulder, ideally free-range organic and grass-fed (bone in ideally with a good layer of fat on the top)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chile
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp soy or fish sauce
1/ Heat the oven to 225C/425F/Gas 7. Place the pork on the rack of a roasting tin, fat side up. Score the fat on the diagonal, at 1cm/1/2 inch intervals. Slice deep into the fat, but don’t cut into the meat.
2. In a mortar and pestle bash together all of the dry ingredients until coarsely ground into a paste. Bash in the wet ingredients to combine.
3. Spread half of the mixture over the fat side of the beef and around the sides and then place in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 110C/225F/Gas 1/2. Turn the pork over so that the fat side is down. Rub the remaining spice mixture over the pork using the back of a spoon. Pour a pint glass of water into the bottom of the roasting pan. Return to the oven for 14 hours, turning once half way through cooking so that the fat side is facing upwards again. If the water has all gone then add another pint to the bottom of the pan.
4/ Once ready to serve, turn the oven up to 225C/425F/Gas 7. When the oven gets up to temperature the pork will need 10-15 minutes in order to turn the fat into crackling. Remove from the oven, use a large knife to remove the cracking and chop into chunks to serve. The meat will be incredibly tender so use a fork and a spoon to either shred the meat or serve in big chunks. If you have found the meat to be dry then pour over a little hot chicken stock or juices from the bottom of the pan.