Food has been a troublesome matter in the A&N household for the past two weeks. Mr A&N has been put on an exclusion diet by his Doctor to try to isolate what food (if any) causes him stomach pains. He's been plagued by trouble for years, so any possible easing of that pain would be worth the hassle in the mean time. But in the mean time, it's a hassle. Among the foods that he can't eat are:
- Citrus foods
Going out to dinner would be difficult veering toward impossible, but luckily Baby A&N is an automatic restaurant eliminator so we don't have much to worry about. Going around to friend's houses for food is equally challenging, and filled with many apologies as we turn their menus into a pile of dust or try to postpone our get-together. Our ever-accommodating Greek friend, Matina, saw the challenge head on and produced the planned roast pork main course for us normal mortals along with an improvised grilled sardine course for Mr A&N containing nothing but approved ingredients and a bit of Greek magic.
Mr A&N cooed and ahh'd over the sardines which were full of the tastes of sea and sunshine that you would hope (I tasted, I can verify). But really, the action was where the pork was. Matina used fennel seeds and lemon to flavor the meat and the crackling, and it worked incredibly well. It worked so well that it sent me into a reverie of the different times I've eaten wonderful foods containing fennel seeds, and how I ought to pay the fennel more respect by using it more often. The slow-cooking treatment rendered the pork very soft and moist, and a bit of gravy on the side helped complete the desire to drown yourself in the flavors. A perfect Sunday lunch. Shame Mr A&N couldn't join in for now, but I'll make sure he adds this to his list of Food Deprivations - To Be Rectified for when the diet is done.
Matina's Roasted Pork With Fennel Seeds and Lemon
Good for 1 1/2 - 2 kg of pork shoulder or leg joint, preferably with skin on to make crackling
- 3 tsp of fennel seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 tsp of coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp of peppercorns
- rind of one lemon
- 2 Tbs of olive oil
- 1 kg leg or shoulder of pork
- 1 pint of dry apple cider (about 250 - 300ml)
- 1 bramley (cooking) apple, cut into 8 or so slices
1 large onion, cut into 8 or so slices
Flour and water (for the gravy)
- Turn the oven on to 200 C / 450 F
- Score the pork skin to help it go crispy, and dry it well with paper towels. If you want to make extra crispy crackling, separate the skin from the meat before scoring, then score and blot dry with paper towels.
- Mix fennel, cloves, sea salt, peppercorns, lemon, olive oil in a pestle and mortar until it is thick paste.
- If you have removed the skin from the pork, spread half the paste over the top side of the pork meat, then place the skin on top as it originally was and spread the other half of the paste on. Tie loosely together with string. If you haven't separated the skin, rub the paste into the skin quite well.
- Put the pork in the and oven tray and add the pint of cider, apple and onion
Cook at 200 / 400 for 1/2 an hour. Then reduce the cooking temperature to 140 / 280 and cook for another 4 hours. Check on occasion to make sure the juices in the pan haven't gone dry; top up with water or more cider if they have.
- Rest the pork for 1/2 an hour.
- Check the crackling for crispiness. If it looks like it could be crispier, bring the temperature of the oven back up to 200 / 400, and blast the skin for a further 5 minutes at a time until it's crispy enough. Remove from oven.
- In the mean time, strain the juice for gravy. Heat the juices on the stove, adding in 1 Tbs of flour at a time until the gravy is of the thickness you like (it's easiest to stir and dissolve the flour in a glass with some water first, then add it to the gravy mix; this helps keep the flour from going lumpy).
- Serve the pork in slices with gravy on top and some crackling on the side.