Saturday, 2 February 2013

Beggar's Pork

This is the second one. Cured pork shoulder inside. His nose came off in the oven, but he was so cute.
Last week Erica asked me if I had ever made Beggar's Chicken. She sent someone's blog post in which it was made for the first time with success. Maybe it wasn't intended as such, but I took it as a challenge. And with my usual heedless aplomb, I jumped in. But with an entirely different idea. Not just pork, but cured pork. Here's how to do it: Take a shoulder roast, 3 or 4 pounds. Salt and pepper generously, add a pinch of instacure #1, and whatever spices you like. I think you can see coriander and juniper. Throw it in a ziplock and toss in the fridge for one week. Turn over every day. Then soak about 5 lotus leaves. The ones I bought were a bit banged up. And I got the weirdest looks at the Asian grocery, though I go there all the time asking for random parts, the leaves struck them as absurd. Very dry and brittle, and huge, but they worked fine once soaked for about half an hour. Don't be tempted to sit on a floating leaf like a frog. Anyway, wrap the pork in the leaves tightly. Then take some white clay (I think this is B mix) and roll it out flat and completely seal the lotus wrapped pork. I was tempted to give this a little snout and ears, but I actually ran out of clay. Bake at 450 degrees for two hours. Let cool a bit and then whack with a hammer. Remove clay completely. It will actually be semi-fired earthenware. It can't be used again. Unwrap the leaves and slice the pork. It has the most intriguing aroma. Sort of like tea, sort of like sweet herbs and hay. And the meat has an extraordinary texture, not unlike corned beef, but juicy and not stringy at all. Still dreaming of what to do with the meager leftovers. Not a sandwich, maybe a taco or steamed bun.

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