Slow cooked roast pork shoulder

After not having had time for much home cooking lately, it was wonderful to whizz up this perfect fall-apart, melt-in-the-mouth shoulder of pork. I will also be using some of the leftover meat for another dish later in the week (keep your eyes peeled). This recipe does take quite a long time to cook, but I prepared the seasoning on the previous evening, and started the cooking as soon as I woke up in the morning. You can leave it unattended for a long time in the middle part of the fpreparations, so I also managed to go shopping whilst it was in the oven. For foolproof recipe for perfect Yorkshire puddings, click here.

1.6 kg piece of pork shoulder
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

1. Crush and mix all the ingredients together. Cut slits on the pork skin, and rub the spice mixture all over the skin, slits and meat. If you have time, do this the evening before you intend to cook the meat. Place in a container, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Heat oven to 220°C / 430°F. Place the pork on a roasting rack, and roast for 30 minutes uncovered. Cover the pork properly by couple of layers of foil, and reduce the temperature to 160°C / 320°F. Roast for 4 1/2 hours.

3. Remove from the oven, and increase the temperature to 180°C / 360°F. Cut the skin off, and wrap the meat in the foil. To keep it warm, you may also want to wrap the foil package in a kitchen cloth / towel.

4. If cooking roast potatoes in the cooking juices from the pork, place the potatoes at the bottom of the roasting tray. Place the skin on the rack on top of the potatoes. Roast for about 1 hour 20 minutes , turning the potatoes every now and then (around every 20 minutes).

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Liver casserole

This dish is food that’s eaten in my native Finland any time of the year, and in my family also as part of the Christmas meal. I always thought this food to be something of an acquired taste, and every time I used to host a party I would tell the British guests that I will not be offended if they don’t like it and finish it. As it’s turned out, it has actually always been one of the dishes people love. It’s not the most beautiful food in terms of presentation (I admit it does look more like dog food), but sometimes the taste can speak for itself instead. This dish is normally served with lingonberries, or lingonberry jam. I would say the closest substitute to lingonberries would be cranberries, which are probably more widely available.

3 dl pudding rice
1 litre water
3 tsp salt
8 dl milk
2 eggs
2 onions
1tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried marjoram
3 tbsp dark syrup (I had to replace this with 2 tbsp treacle due to availability of the syrup I normally use, and it worked fine)
1 1/2 dl raisins
500g pork liver

1. Boil the rice in the salted water for about half an hour. You may want to stir it from time to time so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

2. Peel and chop the onions, and place in a blender. Roughly chop the liver pieces, and check for any sinewy parts you may want to discard. Place in the blender together with the onions. Blend until the liver doesn’t have firm texture anymore. The onions can still be in small pieces.

3. Once the rice is cooked, add the cold milk, and all other ingredients. At this stage the mixture will be very liquid, but when it’s cooked it will become firm.

4. Pour the mixture in a buttered oven dish, and add some small pieces of butter on top. Cook for about on hour 180°C / 355°F.

Kinkku (gammon)

Gammon is the main star of the whole show in the Finnish Christmas table (nothing of course is stopping anyone cooking it other times too). The original one would be gray in colour instead of the pink in the picture, but unfortunately I’ve not been successful in finding a gray salted one in the UK yet. For the pink version, nitrate is added. It acts as a preservative, and gives the pink colour, however it’s considered to be pretty unhealthy. In the gray version, nitrate isn’t added. The key to getting a juicy piece of meat, as anyone practicing slow cooking of roasts already knows, is to cook the gammon at a very low temperature, for a very long time. It then gets taken out of the oven and cooled, coated and put back for a very high temperature for a short period of time. Traditionally, on the Christmas table the gammon is served cold. I tend to cook it the day before, and on the day of cooking have it also for dinner served warm. It’s perfectly fine to serve it both ways, which ever you would prefer.

1. Take the gammon into room temperature. Dry with kitchen tissue. I would recommend putting it in a roasting bag. Cut a small hole at one corner. Put a roasting thermometer in the cold meat, so that the tip is at the thickest part. If your meat has a bone take care not to touch the bone with the thermometer. The ideal inside temperature of the meat for putting it in the oven is 10°C / 50°F.

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2. Place some water at the bottom of an oven pan. Heat the oven to 100°C (fan) / 210°F. The aim is to achieve inside temperature of the meat of 77°C – 80°C / 171°F – 176°F. I tend to try to get to the lower end, for juicier result.

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3. Remove from the oven. Cut the bag off, as well as any strings or net around the meat. Let cool on a rack for half an hour to an hour. After this, Remove the skin, and most of the fat.

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4. Coat with mustard, and breadcrumbs.

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5. Heat the oven to 250°C / 480°F, and cook the gammon for 10 minutes.

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Salt crust baked crispy skin pork belly

I’ve had good pork belly with perfect crispy skin in restaurants, and I’ve also had not so good ones. I’ve tried to cook it myself unsuccessfully too, until now. You see, the crispy skin is an absolute must making this dish a fantastic one. If I have pork belly with a disappointing skin, I feel cheated. In the past, the prep of the pork has required scoring and spice rubbing of the skin, and then still ending up with either half cooked or too cooked skin that’s thick and tough. No more of this problem, since after my extensive research I decided to try salt crust baked method. It worked beautifully, and gave me the best pork belly I’ve ever cooked!

900g – 1kg piece of pork belly

Marinade
1 clove garlic
2-3 stalk of fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

Salt crust
1-2 dl table salt, depending on the size of the meat

1. Dry the piece of meat on all sides with a kitchen tissue. Mix the marinade ingredients together, and rub on the meat side only. Put in a container, skin side up. dry the skin again, cover and leave in a fridge for 2 hours (or longer).

2. In a roasting tin, add about 1cm (half an inch) of water at the bottom. Place the pork on a rack. Pat dry the skin once more, and pour the salt on the skin. The salt will become a hard crust during cooking, and will be easy to remove later on. There is no need to score / slit the skin.

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3. Cook at 170°C / 340°F for 40 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven, and turn the heat up to 240°C / 465°F. Remove the salt crust. If any salt has fallen onto the meat on the sides, scrape off. Cook in the hot oven for further 30 minutes. You should end up with a perfectly crispy, golden colour skin and juicy meat.

5. Rest the meat for about 5-10 minutes, covered with foil.

Roast loin of pork and Dauphinoise potatoes

The beauty of this kind of food is that the prep is quick, and while the food is cooking you can get on with other things, hence why I would cook something like this even mid week. If you’re not a garlic lover, you can always just leave the garlic out and make normal creamed potatoes without it. Also, today I’ve had to improvise with my pork dish a little bit, as something that’s completely unheard of in my kitchen happened: I had run out of not even one, but two ingredients without replacing them! The recipe below is for how I normally make it. This should be enough for 3-4 portions. I served mine with fried black trumpet mushrooms and fresh tomato and cucumber salad, covered with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Dauphinoise potatoes
5-6 medium potatoes, sliced (I have a beautiful, brand new blender so this was done within 30 seconds)
2 -3 cloves of garlic
2-3dl double cream
salt
black pepper

1. Layer sliced potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, then pour over the cream.

2. Cook in preheated oven 180°C for 1,5 hours, until potato is soft.

Roast loin of pork
500g loin fillet of pork
mustard
salt
black pepper
ground ginger
dried rosemary

1. Massage the mustard all over the pork fillet.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, ginger and rosemary.

3. Roast in the oven 180°C /355°F for about 40 minutes. Juices coming out of the pork should be clear.

4. Take out of the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

5. I also use the cooking juices as the jus for the dish.