Gettin’ piggy with it

This was our week to tackle the pig. Being one of the animals where you can eat ‘anything but the oink’ makes it a no-brainer to have on your restaurant menu, to get you that all important profit. Belly pork is one of the cheapest cuts of the animal, which came as a big surprise to me, considering that it always appears at the finest of places! It also happens to be one of my Dad’s favourite dishes, so I had to nail that one.

We served the pork tenderloin ‘en papilotte’ (in a bag) after stuffing it with ripped sage leaves and lemon zest. To accompany the meat we positively slaved over our dauphinoise potatoes, making sure to slice them paper thin, season every layer, press down and slather with garlic infused cream until it became golden and crisp in the oven.

Surprise, surprise, we sautéed some greens on this day! Possibly the first time we have plated up anything nutritious, so far on this course. Just to juxtapose any health benefits of said greens, we brought the dish together with a beautiful cider cream sauce, using the cooking liquor from the meat (and copious amounts of butter, naturally).IMG_2779Now for the all important belly pork. We lovingly braised it for five hours resting atop a mirepoix, before pressing it between heavy slabs overnight in the fridge.

The next day, we were in for a real treat. A posh roast dinner!IMG_2786Roasted belly pork with roast potatoes, glazed parsnips & carrots, cauliflower cheese, apple sauce and gravy.

Now, this wasn’t just any old roast. The taters were roasted in our very own homemade duck fat. The cauliflower cheese was smothered in the richest white sauce known to man, spiked with English mustard. The apple sauce was reducing for hours, and flecked with tarragon just before serving. The carrots were blessed by a sacred Monk who lives at the top of the hill, and were basted in liquid gold at regular intervals.

You get the idea. Basically, it was great!

Our final pork dish used up the rest of the belly, and was real unusual. It was a take on ‘surf ‘n’ turf’, served with a butterflied sardine on bean and tomato stew, with mustard sauce.

IMG_2821Filleting the sardine was the strangest experience ever! We were so used to using our sharpest filleting knives, working close to the bone and trying our damnedest to leave the frame as clean as possible. With sardines, you hardly even need to use a knife. You can just tease it apart, and the spine comes right out, like magic!

As a little aside, Chef showed us how to make marshmallows. We were each given a filled piping bag to make our own fluffy clouds.

IMG_2776 IMG_2778Flavoured with cherry, they weren’t quite my cup of tea. My batch ended up in the capable hands of Ian, the bus driver.

Much more up my street was the tropical Eton mess. Whipped double cream with crushed up baby meringues, layered with vanilla & Grand Marnier mango and pineapple.

IMG_2784An extremely simple dessert, but it hit the spot! Next time, I would omit the vanilla from the fruit, and incorporate it into the cream instead. Or I would push the boat out a bit further and make it into a roulade…then smash it all into pieces if it cracks!

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