Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spare rib chops in barbecue sauce

If you find that pork chops are too often dry, you may be pleased to find spare rib pork chops, which come from the shoulder (whereas, confusingly, spare ribs come from the belly). You can grill or fry them, and you can also braise them slowly, without causing them to turn tough. The ones I cooked yesterday – from the excellent Highbury Butchers – were tender, with just enough fat to keep them moist.

In a recipe for Hawaiian pork chops in yesterday's Guardian, Yotam Ottolenghi advised that you marinate the chops, then scrape off the marinade before grilling them, and then recombine them with the marinade for a brief roasting. If cooked for longer, the chops will become tough. But you can poach spare rib chops, for about an hour and a quarter, before slicing them and combining them with your marinade. Finish them by blasting them in a hot oven (gas mark 8, 230C ) for 15 minutes.

The first advantage of this two-stage process is that you get tender meat. The second is that if you had roasted the chops from raw, you would have found that they exuded a good deal of water, making it difficult to achieve the ideally sticky result. The third is that if your marinade includes ingredients such as honey and soy, it will not spend long enough in the oven to burn.

My marinade, for 2-3: two cloves of garlic, crushed with a little salt; 2tbsp tomato ketchup; 1tsp honey; 1tsp Dijon mustard; a few splashes of soy sauce; 1dsp sunflower oil; generous grindings of black pepper.

Don't throw away the liquid in which you poached the chops. Today, we enjoyed a lovely soup made with this liquid and onions, garlic, squash, and red lentils.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

How to pour coffee - spare the crema

I have always drained my cafetiere when pouring my coffee. From the last drops, you get the attractive golden foam that, on an espresso, is the crema.

However, no cafetiere plunger is so efficient that it traps all the coffee grounds. The free grounds are in the last drops of coffee you pour, and, settling in the bottom of your cup/mug, steep for too long, and impart bitterness. The last quarter of your drink may be unpleasant.

My recommendation is to allow the coffee to settle for a short while after plunging, pour it carefully, and leave the last 50ml or so in the cafetiere.

Making coffee, I follow Victoria Moore’s technique of using a lot (I allow 2tbsps for 300ml water) but plunging almost immediately.
If allowed to steep for the standard recommended time of three to four minutes, coffee is more likely to be bitter, in my experience.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

'White' potatoes

Potatoes labelled simply “Whites”, I have always thought, are the poor relations of the maincrop world – the equivalent of robusta coffee, or the Aligoté grape. But the Whites on sale at my local greengrocer – White Bros, as it happens – are excellent. Roasted, they have a crunchy exterior and a creamy, earthily flavoured interior.

I have banged on about the best way to roast potatoes quite a few times. Essentially: I peel them, cut them up, put them in cold water with a little salt, bring them to the boil, and boil them for three to five minutes. I bash up the surfaces.

I do not think it essential to put them in hot oil or fat. (But of course if you have fat or dripping, you need to melt it.) I toss the potatoes in sunflower or olive oil, and roast them at gas mark 6/200C, turning them a few times, for about an hour.

The posts to which I've linked below may not be 100% consistent with what I've just written.

Heston's roast potatoes
Roast potatoes IV
Roast new potatoes