BBQ Spice Rub

Everyone should have a decent barbecue spice rub in their arsenal. This one’s mine! It’s based loosely on this best odds pulled pork rub recipe but I’ve ramped up the heat with some excellent chipotle powder from the Cool Chile Company and bashed in some garlic powder for a bit more flavour. You can use it as a dry rub on anything you want to BBQ; pulled pork, ribs, chicken, whatever. You can also mix it with cider vinegar and water to make a simple (but great) BBQ sauce. As I live in a flat with no outdoor space, my outdoor cooking opportunities are severely limited. If you’re able to hot smoke food outdoors then you won’t need to add the hickory smoke powder, you can simply cook over wood instead. The smoke powder is a pretty good good substitute though, just be careful not to add too much as it can overpower things very quickly.

 

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Jon’s BBQ Spice Rub

3 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp celery salt
1tbsp ground black pepper
1tsp cayenne
1tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1/4 tsp hickory smoke powder
1 1/2tsp garlic powder

 

Measure out your ingredients and mix thoroughly, that’s it. Dead simple. Done.

Make plenty, store it in a jar. Use it on all the meats, or as a seasoning on chips, wedges, tequila glasses, etc. I’ve been using it in and on everything recently from fancying up baked beans to rubbing into a spatchcocked chicken for that Nandos vibe. I’ll try and post some recipes using it soon.

Le Tour du Porc: Suffolk Style Black Bacon

Don’t call it a comeback…

Sorry, I know it’s been a while (to put it mildly) since my last post but life gets in the way of blogging sometimes and the truth is that I’ve been off doing other things. One of these is cycling and it’s a recent trip away on the bike that has prompted this blog post. I’ve just had some time off between jobs and so Mrs Pig and I decided to go cycle touring in Suffolk. Our route took us through Peasenhall, home of Emmetts, makers of Suffolk black ham and bacon.
The bikes parked up outside Emmetts of Peasenhall

Liz loading up on bacon outside Emmetts of Peasenhall

Last time I was in Peasenhall was during last years Dunwich Dynamo. It was 6am in the morning and having cycled nearly 100 miles without any sleep, I was feeling decidedly ropey and not in the mood for bacon. This time, things were different and I was determined to get my fill of this Suffolk treat so we loaded up our panniers with thick slabs of Suffolk black bacon and headed off to the coast to set up camp for the night.

Suffolk black bacon is cured with molasses, dark beer, fennel and coriander and has a unique rich, sweet, and slightly acidic taste from the beer which offsets the sugary molasses. A few rashers of this, fried up on a camp stove and served with some hunks of bread and a mug of strong coffee are the perfect antidote to a cold night spent under canvas.
The idea of using beer to cure bacon really inspired me and I knew that when I got back to London I would have to give it a go. Below is my recipe. Before I go any further though, I make no claims to its authenticity. This is not meant to be an exact facsimile of Emmetts black bacon, rather, it’s more of a homage based on the ingredients list, some guesswork and my own bacon curing skills. Either way, it’s bloody tasty.

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Jon’s Suffolk Style Black Bacon

1 kg Pork belly
30g Celery Salt
3g (1 1/2 tsp) black peppercorns
5g (2 tsp) fennel seed
3g (1 tsp) coriander seed
3.5g (1/2tsp) Prague powder #1
2tbsp black treacle
150ml dark beer. Porter, Stout, Mild or something similar

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First things first. Take your belly pork and trim it for bacon. I got some good looking old spot pork from Flock and Herd in Peckham which came with the ribs and leaf fat still on there. I carefully trimmed these off and put them aside for dinner later in the week. Leaf fat is the highest grade of pig fat and I’ll render these down for lard. I found this link really helpful for advice on deboning.
Next measure out your salts and spices. I always tend to weigh mine out to the nearest gramme but I’ve also written down spoon measurements in case you don’t have micro scales. Next roughly pound your fennel seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns. You don’t want to grind them to a fine powder, just crush them up enough so you can really smell the spices.
Take your piece of belly pork and place it in a large plastic bag. I use Lakeland freezer bags but you might prefer to use a ziplock. Up to you. Either is fine. Next take your salt and spices and spread them equally over the meat, being sure to work them into the meat thoroughly.
Working the treacle  and ale into the meat

Working the treacle and ale into the meat

Next take 2 tbsp of black treacle and smear it over the meat. Again, rub this into the meat. You can do it through the bag so you don’t stick to the meat. Take your beer and pour it into the bag. Confession time. I’d originally bought a bottle of London Fields Chocolate Porter but..err…well. I drank it. One quick trip to the corner shop for a bottle of Thwaites Nutty Black and we were back on track (although, if I’m honest I drank most of that too) Loosely seal the bag and set aside in the fridge, turning the bag every couple of days to ensure that the beery brine is absorbed by the meat evenly.

The meat after two weeks

The meat after two weeks curing

At the end of the week, remove the bacon from the bag and discard the brine. You might want to brush some of the crushed seeds of it at this stage but i didnt bother. Place the meat on a rack to dry and return to the fridge for another 7 days. This was ensure that the bacon has a lovely, firm texture and, if you want to smoke it, will ensure that the smoke adheres to the meat. I don’t have access to any outdoor space at the moment so I’ve had to quit smoking. I’m working on a plan to get round that but at the moment my bacon remains unsmoked.

Bacon. Finished. Delicious

Bacon. Finished. Delicious

The final step is to slice the meat up into rashers ready for gently frying for breakfast.

It may not have had that early morning cooking outdoors feeling of the Peasenhall Bacon but this stuff is seriously tasty. More delicately flavoured than the stuff from Emmets, the beer, treacle and fennel give a beautifully balanced almost creamy taste with just the right amount of sugar and spice. This is absolutely one of my favourite bacons and perfect for breakfast with some eggs on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBQ style ribs with fennel, chilli and lime slaw

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Mmm ribs. Everyone loves ribs. For me, it’s something about gnawing the tender, sticky, spicy meat off the bones, getting sauce all over my face and just generally making a delicious mess. I had some pork ribs left over from making Suffolk black bacon the other week and paired with some sticky sauce and a really fresh, sharp coleslaw, they made an astonishingly tasty and well balanced dinner.

BBQ Style Ribs
Ribs. About half a rack per person.
BBQ Rub. Enough to coat your ribs + more for dusting.

Sticky Rib Sauce
4tbsp ketchup
4tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp spice rub
1/2 cup water

Fennel, green chilli, and lime slaw
1/4 head red cabbage
1 small head fennel
1 large shallot
1 carrot
1/2 green chilli
1 bunch coriander
Juice of 1 lime
Glug of olive oil
Salt
pepper
Sugar

First, prepare your ribs. Some people take a lot of time to trim off all the extraneous fat but I don’t bother, the one thing I do do is remove the thick layer of membrane from the bony side of the ribs. This allows all of the flavours of your spice rub to fully permeate the meat. To remove the membrane, take a small knife and work it under the membrane on one side of your ribs. Work the knife underneath until you can grab hold of the membrane and slowly pull it off. If you’re lucky, it’ll come off in one go. If not, simply stick the knife under and try again. I found this link useful here.

Take your ribs, rub them liberally with spice rub, and set aside. I ended up leaving these for 48 hours. Mainly because I was in the pub, but anything from a couple of hours is fine, you just want to leave it long enough for the meat to absorb some of the spices.

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When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to about 170 degrees.

While the oven is heating up, combine the ingredients for the barbeque sauce in a small pan and gently heat through to melt the sugar in your spice rub. You’re going to want some of this to baste your ribs with as they cook and more to brush on before you serve.

Put the ribs on a baking tray and, when the oven is hot, chuck the ribs in.  Cook the ribs for 45 mins to an hour, basting frequently with your barbeque sauce in order to build up a nice, sticky sweet crust.

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Whilst your ribs are cooking, you can turn your attention to the slaw. This really couldn’t be easier.  Simply take a mandolin or sharp knife and shred your cabbage, fennel and shallot into a bowl. Grate or julienne the carrot and chop the chilli (seeds in or out, your call) and coriander. Squeeze over the juice of a lime, pour in a good glug of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar.  Mix thoroughly to combine and set aside until your ribs are cooked.

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After about 45 minutes to an hour, your ribs should be nicely tender with a delicious sticky sauce clinging to them. Take them out of the oven, give them a final generous brush with sauce and maybe a little sprinkle of spice rub and serve immediately with the slaw. You might want a portion of fries or a jacket potato on the side and you’ll definitely want a big stack of napkins to mop your face with. Don’t be ashamed to make a mess as your tear and suck the tender spicy meat of the bones. Let your caveman side out!

 

 

 

 

Rillons

So, it’s been a while since I posted anything up here. So long in fact that it feels kind of strange to be writing a blog post. Anyway, rather than make a load of excuses about why I haven’t posted recently or resolutions about how I’m going to blog more in 2013 (I’ll try, alright?) I thought I should just get on and tell you about why I’m writing this blog post.

About six months ago I was walking past the Sillfield Farm shop at Borough and noticed that they were selling off huge hunks of rare breed pork belly for super cheap. Consequently, I ended up with a couple of kilos of tasty belly pork which I promptly froze and they’ve been sitting in my freezer waiting for me to use them ever since. Every time I’ve opened the freezer, it’s been sitting there reminding me that I still haven’t cooked it. Eventually, I couldn’t stand it any more, knowing that it was in there like the tell tale pig, so I defrosted it, reasoning that would force me to cook it.

But what to make? Given that it’s Christmas, my house is already awash with a surfeit of roasted meat and much as I love roast pork, I couldn’t quite face any more rich roast meat so I decided on using some of the meat to make rillons, juicy tender cubes of belly pork, slow cooked in fat and aromatics and then preserved under a layer of lard. REALLY TASTY!

This recipe is very similar to the one for rillettes that I made a year or so ago, the main difference being that I’ve cooked them with some extra aromatics and haven’t shredded them like you would do with rillettes.

You can use rillons much like you would rillettes, spooned straight from the jar and spread on toast.

They’re also amazing when refried until crispy and served with potatoes, spring greens etc. They make a perfect store cupboard food for when you don’t have the time or inclination to make something fancy as they keep for ages!

Rillon ingredients. More green than pink...

Rillon ingredients. More green than pink…

Jon’s Rillons
800g belly pork
2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp fresh picked thyme leaves
4/5 garlic cloves
150 ml white wine
3 bay leaves

Preheat your oven to a super low setting,(Gas Mark 1/4 or about 80c)

Whilst it is coming up to temperature, take your belly pork, derind it, and chop it into cubes of about an inch in size.

Cubing the pork with my favourite jamon knife.

Cubing the pork with my favourite jamon knife.

Next, place the pork in a large casserole dish with a close fitting lid. Add all of the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.until the meat is well covered in seasonings. Make a lid for the casserole dish using foil before adding the actual lid. This will ensure that the meat gently steams in its own juices and makes it super tender.

Ready for the ole low'n'slow.

Ready for the ole low’n’slow.

Put the pork in the oven and cook for at least 8 hours. It’s good to cook overnight or whilst you’re out at work. It doesn’t matter if you cook it for longer than eight hours, it’s only going to get more tender. When you’re happy that the pork is thoroughly cooked, remove it from the oven and discard the foil. By this time the meat should be meltingly tender and relaxing in a jacuzzi of its own fat.

Carefully strain the meat through a sieve to separate out the fat. Reserve the fat. You may want to discard the garlic or leave it in there. I got rid of mine as it’d oxidised slightly and gone an unattractive green/blue colour.

Packing Pork

Packing Pork

Take your pork chunks and pack them loosely into sterilised pots or jars before pouring over the liquid fat to create an airtight seal around the meat. Set them aside to cool and there you have it; a finished jar of rillons. Dig in!

Finished jar of rillons.

Finished jar of rillons.

Souvlaki

Finally, it seems summer has arrived. After hiding from us for most of the year, it seems the sun has finally decided to put in an appearance. Of course, being Brits, we’ve all thrown off our clothes, grabbed as much booze as we can carry and hightailed it to the nearest park or garden. In amongst the warm grog, overenthusiastic frisbee and ill-advised toplessness, the food component is frequently overlooked, either relying on a supermarket picnic or some cheap sausages on a disposable barbecue.

Meat in a bath of herbs.

This souvlaki recipe is a really easy and quick summer treat that is equally at home on your kitchen grill as it is on a disposable BBQ down the park (but don’t burn the grass!) Serve it with flat bread, salad, chilli, and garlic sauce. As with most other recipes I make no claims to authenticity. This is my take on the classic Greek kebab but I’ve made some changes. The first time I made this, I only had white wine to hand (quelle horreur!) so I used that and I’ve since found that I prefer it that way. It somehow tastes more vibrant.

Jon’s Souvlaki
500g pork shoulder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried mint
2tsp garlic salt
(or 1tsp salt and 1 tsp garlic powder/1tsp salt and 2 cloves crushed garlic)
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine

Combine all of the ingredients except the pork in a large bowl and stir to mix.

De-rind the pork shoulder and trim off any excess fat before cutting into thin strips. Next place the pork in the marinade and leave for anything from 1-24 hours. It’s a pretty robust marinade so the meat will start to pick up flavour quite quickly but the longer you leave it the better. Interestingly, the lemon juice in the marinade will start to ceviche the pork and it will take on a white tint.

Marinating meat

When you’re ready to eat, simply take the meat and cook it however you would like. You can thread it onto skewers and skewers and grill it over hot coals, basting it with marinade. If, like me, however, you don’t have a garden (bloody London living!) then these are almost as good cooked under the grill or on a griddle pan.

Souvlaki pieces sizzling on the grill.

Serve them in a pitta or flatbread with some salad, chilli sauce and tzatziki or hummous (or both). Souvlaki is also really good served cold. Last time I made this I made double quantities and we took some on a picnic wrapped in flatbread with some home smoked cheese. Simply divine…

A Birthday treat. Bacon and Pecan Muffins with bacon caramel sauce

Recently my good friend Paul was in London for a Major Lazer gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and it was a good opportunity for a few beers and a catch up on life. Among many other things (animator, bass player, tattoo enthusiast), it turns out that he’s actually a damn fine chef. I met Paul in The Reliance in Old Street where he greeted me with a parcel of ‘birthday treats’.

Alongside a sinister looking bottle of ‘Cheepe Drank’ (actually a pretty nice own brewed pilsner) was a package wrapped in silver foil and a recycled carbonara carton filled with a dark brown sauce. Eagerly, I tore off the wrapping to find some dark sticky buns topped with pecan nuts and cubes of crispy bacon. Needless to say these were AMAZING: sweet, salty, and very very addictive. The recipe was a combination of two recipes, this one and this one and perhaps if Paul is feeling very nice, he might set out his method in the comments below…

Szechuan Aubergine

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about pork. Looking back over the last couple of posts, there has been bread and even cheese but not much pork. On the face of it, this is another one of those recipes. I mean, it even looks sounds vegetarian right? Don’t worry. It’s not. In fact, this recipe is a damn sneaky way to smuggle extra pork into your diet under cover of a vegetable dish. The smoky aubergine, umami sauce and numbing qualities of the Szechuan peppercorns combined with the slightly fatty pork mince make a dish that is simple enough for a quick midweek dinner but special enough to serve to your mates either as a main dish or as part of a larger Chinese meal.

Ingredients

I have to be completely honest here. I can’t speak for the authenticity of this recipe. I’ve eaten dishes like this in restaurants like Leong’s Legends and the Empress of Sichuan in Chinatown, London and this is my attempt to replicate them.

Jon’s Szechuan Aubergine
2 medium aubergines
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 small red chillis or more to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp Szechuan pepper, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp five spice powder
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp water
500g minced pork
Sesame oil
Pinch MSG (optional)
Spring onion and coriander to serve.

Cut your aubergine into spears about 2 inches long. Take a decent heavy bottomed frying pan, add a good glug of sesame oil and heat to a medium high temperature. Add the aubergine and fry on all sides until golden brown. Don’t worry if you char them a little bit, it’ll all add to the character of the dish. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and minced pork to the pan. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes or until the pork has started to colour and give up some of its juices then add the Szechuan pepper, five spice, and MSG if using. Continue to cook until the pork has lost its pink colour and the onions have softened.

Cooking up treats

Add the rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce and water to the pan and continue to cook over a medium heat. Next, return the aubergines to the pan and keep cooking until they’re softened and there you have it, Szechuan aubergine. Top with coriander and spring onion and serve with boiled rice.

Szechuan Aubergine