Posts Tagged ‘slow cooked’

Today I’m dedicating this post to a very special sauce, something I think pasta must be proud to wear and something I think all cooking fans should be able to make well. Traditionally reserved for special occasions or Sunday best, a good ragù requires love and attention but won’t mind if you enjoy a glass of wine and a good book while you tend to its needs. During my time in Italy I ate some spectacular ragùs and it seems that every cook has their own special twist. One particularly fond memory I have is of sitting in a cozy restaurant in the hilltop town of Urbino on a bitterly cold January day. We sat huddled around a table trying to warm up our frozen hands and tucked into large plates of paparadelle with deeply flavoured wild boar ragù. After that meal I felt revived and full, ready to venture back out into the icy wind. Duck ragù feels doubly special for me since, in my kitchen, duck is reserved for special occasions and is a rare treat. It’s also something I feel a bit afraid of cooking in case a make a mess of things and spoil such lovely meat. My mum objects to eating duck on ‘moral grounds’ ever since she adopted a Mallard as a child; growing up I shared her view until I discovered how tasty they are so now I’m making up for lost time!



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Last weekend I plumped for another Riverford-inspired stew for dinner. I had bought a very nice boneless shoulder of pork from a local farm and wanted to complement it with ingredients from the immediate vicinity. My garden is pretty much dormant for the moment save for rosemary, parsley, bay and some overgrown sorrel but the farm shop is well stocked with root veggies, potatoes and lots and lots of lovely kale. I filled a bag with a mix of curly green and Russian red kale as well as some blades of incredibly dark green cavolo nero which has such a fun bubbly surface. A couple of knobbly pink fir apple potatoes (which manage to taste more like a potato than any other variety) came along for the ride, still caked in red Devon soil, and so did a bottle of fine, fruity tasting Cornish Buccaneer ale made by the Wooden Hand Brewery in Truro.


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I suspect this harvest of late tomatoes is my garden’s last hurrah as it dies down for winter. I’m holding out for a few more warm, sunny days to ripen some of the abundant green tomatoes before I start thinking about making chutney and hopefully we’ll have a few pickings from the rainbow chard from the window box. This year was such a mish mash of buying young plants and growing from seed that I’ve forgotten which varieties I have. There are certainly some small Marmandes and Gardener’s Delight, maybe a Shirely or two, but I’ve no idea what the little yellow ones are. They certainly look pretty sitting on my worktop. (more…)

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I like to make use of my free time at the weekend by making long and involved recipes or at least recipes that take a long time to cook, they’re not usually very involved. That way I can get on with the gardening/cleaning/DIY as is required. This recipe for carnitas needs three and a half hours cooking at a low temperature to transform the meat in to meltingly tender, juicy bites which are then crisped up under a hot grill. The Coca Cola may seem an odd addition but it tenderises the pork and caramelizes under the grill.

We ate our carnitas wrapped in toasted flour tortillas with a herb salad, quick pickled onion slices and lashings of sour cream to cool the spicy heat. Between the two of us there should have been enough for leftovers on Monday but it was so good we ended up almost finishing the lot. Good thing I went for a run while it was in the oven…

Coca cola carnitas

Serves 3-4

  • 1-1.5kg boned pork shoulder, rind removed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 1 dried chipotle chilli*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ½ can Coca Cola (not diet)
  • 60ml vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 130ºC.

Cut the pork into large pieces, about 5cm. Place in an ovenproof dish so the pieces fit tightly together in one layer.

Add the onion, garlic, spices, bay leaves and salt, mix and pour over the cola.

Pour the oil evenly over the top and tightly cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 3½ hours until the pork is tender enough to pull apart. Strain everything through a wire sieve reserving the liquid in a large bowl or jug.

Pull the pork apart into smaller pieces and discard the cooked onion, garlic, bay leaves and spices.

Once the reserved liquid has settled, skim off the fat and add it back to the pork. The juices can be reduced to make a sauce.

At this point you can cover the pork and keep it in the fridge ready to reheat when needed. Or, to serve straight away, heat the grill up as hot as it goes. Put the pork under the grill for 6-10 minutes until the pieces start getting crisp. Stir well so the un-crisped pieces get to the top and grill for another 6-10 minutes.

Serve with which ever Mexican accompaniments you enjoy – tortillas, rice, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, pickles, salad…

*If you can’t get chipotle chillis, try 1-2tsp smoked paprika.

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