Sunday, May 23, 2010

Belly pork, new potato and asparagus salad

This salad consists of belly pork, new potatoes, asparagus, rocket, spring onions, and olives. I won't give the quantities - any ratios would work. Instead, I'll offer a few comments about cooking the pork, and preparing the vinaigrette.

I had three slices of belly pork, but of course a whole piece would have been just as good, if not better. The two questions I asked myself about poaching it were: should I cover the pan, and should I salt the broth? Both might have cooked the meat more vigorously and therefore toughened it: the covered pan because it causes an agitated simmer, whereas an uncovered pan can be kept at below boiling point; and the salt because it raises the boiling point of the liquid. On the other hand, salt has a tenderising effect. Another point to consider, if I wanted to use the cooking liquid again as a stock, is that I'd have to be careful about the seasoning of anything made with it.

I covered the pork with water, and threw in a peeled onion, a couple of sticks of celery, some peppercorns, and some juniper berries; and added salt. I covered the pan, brought the contents to a simmer, put a heat disperser underneath, and put on the lid. I cooked the pork for two and a half hours, allowing it  to cool in its broth before shredding it by hand. It was beautifully moist and tender.

I like this recipe, from the Guardian's "How to make the perfect..." series. My vinaigrette differed in two respects: I simmered an unpeeled clove with the potatoes, and mashed the flesh into the vinegar; and I used a 2/1 oil/vinegar ratio. Combined with the pork and the potatoes, the sauce does not taste too sharp.

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