Monday, 28 January 2008

Of concerts and dinner

I promised a droolworthy recipe, and I have one for you, but it didn't work out the way I'd expected. It turned out that Jenny already had something in mind, so I didn't scan the cookbooks myself, and in fact barely contributed to the meal at all, being occupied with other things at the critical moment.

The key thing was that the all-female choir that Jane sings with put on a concert yesterday afternoon, and of course, we went, so Jenny started cooking at about midday, left it to stand while we were in Cambridge, then finished it off when we got home.

The choir is called Women of Note, and there are about 15 or 20 of them. I forget the title of the programme, but it could equally have been called Forgotten Carols, and it was thoroughly good entertainment. When we've seen them in the past, they've been conducted by a man, but this time they'd decided it would be fun to conduct themselves, so about half a dozen of them took it in turns to conduct, and it really worked well. A short programme, but quite delightful, and well worth the trip into Cambridge.

OK, the recipe. This is from Tamasin Day-Lewis's book, Good Tempered Food, and it's called Chinese Slow-braised belly of pork.
Soak 8 oz dried butter beans in water overnight with some bicarbonate of soda. I forgot to look how much, sorry.
Slice 3 onions into thin rings and lay half of them in the bottom of a heavy casserole dish. Place the belly of pork, about 1.5 lbs, on top and surround with the beans, the rest of the onions, 6 cloves of garlic, 3 star anise, a cubic inch of ginger, finely chopped, a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of molasses sugar and a good grinding of pepper. No salt, as you'll be adding soy sauce later, which is high in salt. Add cold water so everything is covered, then bring slowly to the boil. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper over the top of the casserole, then put the lid on top of that. This helps seal the moisture in. Stick it in the oven at 150C for about 3 hours.

After 3 hours, take a look at it. You might want to scoop out some of the liquid fat, of which there could be quite a bit. Add 4-6 tablespoons of tamari (Japanese soy) sauce, cover again and cook on for a further hour or 2. We served it with mashed potato and boiled savoy cabbage, tossed, Jamie Oliver-style, with olive oil and lemon juice.

And it was soooo yummy! The meat just disintegrating, the sauce rich and bad for you. We'd invited Jane to help us with it, but despite all three of us groaning away from the table, there was still enough left for a single portion, which I shall eat on Thursday when Jenny is at a flash dinner in Darwin College. I'd opened a bottle of Provençal rosé when Jane arrived, and without intending it, that was what we were still drinking when we ate the pork. Rather to my surprise, it suited the dish pretty well, so that was an unexpected bonus.

Jane brought a bottle of most delicious Argentinian Meriterra Malbec, which we demolished in the comfort of the living room, in front of a log file. Bliss.

The only thing I think we'll do next time is to take the lid off towards the end to let the sauce thicken a bit. It was rather liquid.


Sparx said...

Well, as a veggie I may forgo the pork belly but am interested in your choice of wines - we don't do non-french wines in our house as I have a frog in residence however I'd quite like to be able to recommend a a few off-piste vinos... will have a look and see what he thinks.

But Why? said...

Sounds delicious - well worth the trip to your blog (Though I am now feeling extrodinarily hungry - what do you reckon my chances are of finding Chinese slow-braised pork belly at the canteen for breakfast...?)

How about a warning at the start of the post, for example:

Warning. Contains graphic descriptions of yummy food. Do not read if hungry.

Whimper. Hungry. Cinnamon and sultana porridge is unlikely to hit the spot...

Rob Clack said...

I could manage a bowl of steaming cinnamon and sultana porridge right now!

Sparx, I will identify the rosé for you, but we have a colleague of Jenny's staying with us so it won't be until Weds earliest.

The other excuse is that we're going to Cambridge Arts Theatre this evening to see the Henri Oguike contemporary dance company, and I imagine I'll want to say something about that.

DJ Kirkby said...

Yum, yum, yum, yum and YUM! Think I will be lazy and substitue tinned butter beans though...

Rob Clack said...

We often substitute tinned beans/chickpeas in a variety of dishes, but the first time we do a recipe we tend to stick quite closely to the instructions.

Rob Clack said...

Sparx: the rosé was Domaine Houchart, Côtes de Provence, Famille Quiot. I realise, rather late on, that since I got it from the Wine Society, it might not be that easy to come by. Very nice, however, if you can get some.