A crackling start to spring
PUBLISHED: 10:01 08 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:01 08 April 2014
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis makes an Easter lunch for six from local pork and the first of the season's fresh produce
When I come home to find mud-caked carrier bags of hole-ridden parsnips, scarlet shards of rhubarb and gargantuan leeks on the doorstep from my dad’s allotment, I know two things. One, it’s officially spring. Two, I’d better come up with some recipes, because I’ll be seeing a lot more over the coming weeks.
Easter signals the beginning of the growing season, a chance to get together with family and friends to enjoy the early bounty. Our household doesn’t like lamb so we go for a big hunk of pork, usually shoulder or belly. But for such a special occasion, how about succulent loin on the bone with spiced, sweet and sour rhubarb sauce, as a change from apple sauce?
For the pork
Ask your butcher to prepare a loin on the bone – cleaned, trimmed, with the skin scored. I used a 2kg piece of Dingley Dell pork from Andrews Butchers in Hadleigh, where Lauren Belcher recommended drying it out before cooking by leaving it uncovered on the bottom shelf in the fridge, smearing it in a little oil and giving it a liberal sprinkling of salt before cooking for perfect crackling.
I cooked it for 45 minutes at 200C to get the crackling going, and then for 45 minutes at 180C. For large pieces of meat like this a meat thermometer will tell you it’s perfectly cooked inside.
Don’t forget to save the pan juices to make your own gravy. Pour the fat from the top of the roasting dish into a cup and put the roasting dish on the hob. Add a stock cube and scrape the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in a good splash of cider. Put a tablespoon of cornflour in a small bowl and add enough pork fat to make a loose paste. Add to the pan and whisk to thicken. Top up with a pint of water and boil to the consistency you want.
For six you’ll need 750g of slender carrots not much wider than your finger, or baby carrots. Peel and trim fronds to leave a stump. Place carrots in a saucepan and add about 25g of butter, then saute until the butter melts coating the vegetables. Add half a mug of water, a pinch of salt, 1tsp of caster sugar and 1/2tsp of five spice. Shake the pan, turn up the heat and cover, cooking for about eight minutes. When carrots are tender remove lid and add a pinch of fresh black pepper, tossing the carrots in the pan juices to glaze. >>