|Ruby - growing well, but before she went for world domination|
I had a recipe for braised pork with plums which I'd been hanging onto with a view to making some day soon and, having had a bit of a review of it, began to consider the concept of replacing the plums with rhubarb. There wasn't any other ingredient that would clash with the rhubarb and I felt that the astringency would sit well beside the pork and in place of the plums.
I had another potential area of difference with regard to the original recipe, over cooking time. The recipe recommended cooking for 2 hours, although it was dealing with pork shoulder - and I had pork loin. I knew if I cooked the loin steaks for too long, they stood the chance of being like shoe leather. However, if I didn't give them long enough to render down any areas of fat (even following on from a judicious trimming), neither of my chaps would be able to eat it. The saving grace, in this instance, was the oven temperature, which the recipe recommended at 140deg C (fan). I reckoned that if I kept a lid on the casserole dish, at that temperature, covered in sauce, the steaks would (hopefully) come out without damage. As it turned out, the meat was perfectly tender and without a scrap of fat to cause confusion and dismay. (Thomas the Tank engine reference there - did you get it?)
There was also required to be some juggling where the timings for cooking was concerned. It required two hours, so let's allow some three quarters of an hour preparation time (other people could do it quicker, but it takes time when you're sitting down for some reason), so probably three hours would see it right. So, we would eat at 6pm so three hours would take us back to 3pm - the trouble is, I needed to be out at 2.30pm on an errand, which was right in the midst of prep. time. The only thing for it, was to prep. the dish right up until the "putting in the oven" stage, minus the rhubarb, then put it in the oven when I returned - all of which worked like a charm.
I served the dish with plain white rice, but it was crying out for some vegetable involvement. Next time - and there will be a next time - I'll cook some mushrooms with the pork and maybe some baby corn. Perhaps I might even go mad and steam some Pak Choi to serve alongside.
CHINESE STYLE PORK STEAKS WITH RHUBARB (Serves 3)
3 pork steaks or 800g pork shoulder, diced
3 tbsp mirrin or rice wine
3 tbsp soy sauce
2cm piece of root ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
a red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
a small onion, chopped fine
a star anise
1 heaped tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp granulated sugar
half a tbsp tomato puree
250ml chicken stock
2 large sticks of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm chunks.
1. Heat oven to 160deg C/140deg C fan/gas 3 (or not, if you're doing the two-stage preparation method).
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Tip in the onions, ginger, chilli and garlic, star anise, five spice powder and cinnamon. Fry until fragrant and soft.
3. Stir in the sugar, then increase the heat and add the pork. Turn in the oniony mix until the meat is just sealed, but not browned.
4. Add the mirrin and soy sauce, tomato puree and stock. Stir well and decant into a casserole dish and cover. Then either place to one side to cook later, or place into the oven to cook for 1 hr.
5. After the hour is up, remove from the oven and add the chopped rhubarb. Stir well to combine, then replace in the oven uncovered, to cook for a further hour.
6. At the end of that hour, if the sauce is still fairly thin (the rhubarb will have added to the juices as it cooks), simply separate the meat from the liquid then pour the liquid into a small saucepan and reduce until you're happy with its consistency.
7. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve.