Thursday, December 01, 2016

A FEW PORKIES – THERE’S NO NEED TO BE CRABBY!



The resort on Newry Island no longer exists...National Parks now have control, after knocking down all the buildings.  Depicted here in the above pic is where the main building once stood.  The building shown is an open, picnic shed of sorts. Nowadays permits must be given by National Parks for people to visit the island.  It has been said people are woken at night by a spirit that haunts the island....don't tell anyone, but it's me!!

Uncooked mud crab

Randall & me...circa 1982...with a feast of mud crabs he and a mate caught in Lake Weyba. Lake Weyba is out the back of Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. We were living on the coast at the time.

These last two pics are of Lake Weyba

 

Presently a piece of shoulder pork sits patiently in my fridge in readiness for roasting.  In the meanwhile I sit here impatiently drooling over the thought of the final outcome.

 

My appetite is already whetted and tormented, so I’ll share my torment with you. Every time I open my fridge door I see the glorious piece of meat sitting there waiting for me to do wonderful things to it! I can’t wait to get my teeth around its crisp, golden crackling.  However, before then a few motions have to be set into motion to reach that point.

 

The skin is already scored.   When I begin preparing it for roasting, I’ll sit the piece of pork on a rack in my kitchen sink, and then I’ll pour boiling water all over the pork skin.  This action will open up the scoring.   Once I’ve thoroughly dried the piece of pork with paper towels, I’ll liberally rub olive oil over and into the skin.  Then I’ll halve a lemon and rub the halves over the skin. Next steps I’ll take will be to liberally rub salt and Chinese Five Spice powder into the skin. 

 

You don’t have to be a licensed masseur to do these steps, but it would help…so pretend you are!  Be gentle, but firm…be liberal!

 

It’s funny the things we remember…well, speaking for myself, anyway….I’m the only one I can speak for….

 

A glorious roast shoulder of pork I cooked and ate way back in 1975 remains in my memory. 

 

Late November, 1974 Randall (who later became my husband and, later still, my ex) had returned to Brisbane from his New York stint and further world-wide odyssey that had lasted nine years.  He and I were living together in my unit in Toowong - a western, inner-city suburb of the city of Brisbane. We’d not yet bought our little worker’s cottage, our first house property purchase, a few doors up in the same street, nor had we yet married.  Oh!  Dear!  We were living in sin!  No…we were living in pleasure and happiness!

 

It was a mid-week night.  On my way home from work I’d purchased a small shoulder of pork from my favourite butcher, whose name was "Virgil".  At the time,  the butcher shop was situated on Milton Road, Auchenflower, the suburb just before Toowong. The butchers catered to the working public and never closed shop until around 6.30 pm, weekdays; a practice which was very convenient.

 

I can still taste that wonderful piece of roasted pork.  This statement probably sounds odd to some, but it was such a sweet, juicy, tender piece of pork, memorable in every way.  It was as sweet as fresh crab meat.  I’m sure if I mentioned it to Randall on the phone today, he, too, would remember that special piece of pork, and agree with my assessment of it.  The meal hadn’t started out being special…it was just a “roast dinner”, but on the evening I hit the jackpot with that piece of meat.

 

On the subject of pork (and I’m telling no porkies) - I’m also reminded of a particular day when I was living on Newry Island, and running the little, very low-key, relaxed resort thereon.  

 

When I arrived on the island the large freezer in the room (the room also housed the laundry area, among other things) at the rear of the kitchen was filled with “unknowns”.  It was unknown to me how long the frozen goods had been there. 

 

Rather than take any risks, I decided to get rid of suspect items.  I’m always of the mind…and  I always have been…(and particularly when I was cooking professionally)…I’d rather toss away than take the chance of poisoning anyone…including myself!  So if I’m unsure about something…I don’t question…I just toss!  I never take risks as far as food is concerned.

 

I decided to discard a few large legs of pork (four or five from memory), which I believed had been too long in the freezer.

 

Together with some aged, frozen, rich orange-coloured, cooked mud crabs that I also believed had lived too long in the freezer, I tossed the huge pork legs (by the size of them, they were probably from some old wild boar caught in the wilds) into the ocean, knowing they’d eventually be carried out to sea and become fodder for the abundant sea creatures.  As much as it hurt me to throw away mud crabs, the ones in the freezer had been hiding in there since before I stepped foot on the island…or even before I set two feet on the sand.

 

Every morning just after dawn I’d do a run down behind the generator shed, past the cabins on the foreshore to a garden plot a fair distance away. It was also an area where I’d burn off rubbish, and also bury any waste that would quickly decompose into mulch.  

 

I did eventually gain some sense.  I started a garden plot out from the main building, between it and the generator shed, making access much easier for me, rather than having to traipse all the way to the plot that had come into existence before my arrival on the scene.  Having a garden close to where all the action was made more sense to me.

 

I’d get all similar “hands-on” chores done before any boats and humans from the “outside” world arrived to the island.  It was the only time, between dawn and around 7 to 7.30 am I could get such chores done.   The cleaning of vacated cabins had to be done, when possible, during those hours, too.   It was all systems go!

 

Once the day began, in proper, I had to be back around the main buildings…the bar, dining, cabins and nearby surrounding outer areas.

 

The morning after the discarding of the uncooked pork and the cooked mud crabs a boat full of unexpected island visitors arrived before I’d had a chance to go down to the beach.   I was still been mucking about in the kitchen, and/or laundry.  I’d been up early, as was my habit. And it was then around 8.00 am or thereabouts  I heard a boat motor  People were arriving, unannounced, other than for the sound their boat motor.  They’d not been bookings; they were obviously day-trippers.

 

The boat was slowly edging towards the shore as I arrived at the water’s edge.  It was still a few metres out from where I was…between me and where my boat was moored at the drop-off; in the channel between Newry Island and Outer Newry Island.  

 

A couple of little kids, along with their parents who were guests on the island raced down to the gently-lapping ocean to greet the interlopers.

 

And then I saw them!  No…not the interlopers….worse!

 

Floating, without a care in the world, between me and the incoming boat were the pork legs and the cooked mud crabs!

 

Oops!  You can imagine my panic and embarrassment!

 

In the tossing of the pork and crabs I hadn’t taken into consideration the first incoming tide would bring them back to the ocean’s edge during the night.  A second tide would have carried them out to where they belonged…but not enough time had transpired between tossing and tides!

 

As I stood waist-deep in water with my arms and legs flailing in a frantic attempt to drown the offenders out of the way of prying, inquisitive eyes - (I didn't have enough arms and legs to keep all the pork legs and crabs beneath the water out of human sight.  I was failing miserably at my extreme efforts) - a little boy yelled out excitedly;

 

“Look Mum!  Mud crabs!”

 

“Yeah,” I replied dementedly. “I’m lucky. My mud crabs come already cooked here!”


Roast Pork Shoulder:  Remove 1.5kg to 2.5kg pork shoulder from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and place on a chopping board. Prepare it as described above (or how you prefer to prepare roast pork e.g. dry the pork all over with a kitchen towel. Mix salt and pepper together; rub the mix on top of the skin and into the scoring). Preheat oven to 220°C, fan - 200°C, gas 7. Place pork in a large roasting tin; roast for 25mins before reducing the heat to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Calculate the remaining cooking time allowing 25 minutes per 500g, plus an extra 30 minutes. If the crackling starts to become too dark, cover with a loose piece of foil. 45 minutes before the end of cooking time add 4-5 green apples, halved horizontally, cut side up right and 3 or 4 quartered red onions (or as desired). Baste with the pork juices. 20 minutes before the end of cooking time stir the sage into the cooking juices and baste the apples and onions. After the cooking time, remove the pork, apples and onions from oven. Check the meat juices run clear. If the juices are pink continue roasting for a further 10-15 minutes or until the juices run clear. Transfer to a warm serving plate. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest, 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, to make the gravy: place the roasting tin over a med-heat and stir 1tbs plain flour vigorously into the meat juice. Slowly add 400ml apple cider; cook 3-4 mins or until thickened.  To serve, remove the crackling from the pork; break in to pieces. Carve pork into thick slices; serve straight away with pieces of crackling, apples, onions, roast potatoes, pumpkin, carrots (whatever vegetables you feel like) along with steamed greens of choice, and the cider gravy.  The only vegetables I peel are onions...but, of course, the choice to peel or not to peel is your own!

Balsamic Roast Pork: Preheat oven 180C; season 1.5kg boneless pork loin with freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large pan to smoking point; add meat; seal on all sides for 3-4mins until golden brown. Transfer to roasting dish. In pan, melt 50g unsalted butter; add 2 red onions, cut into 8 wedges and 15g fresh, chopped rosemary. Sauté for 5mins until onion has softened. Tip into the roasting tin; pour over 125ml balsamic vinegar. Make sure the pork is well coated. Place in oven; cook for 40-45mins, stirring onions occasionally and basting the pork. 40mins before pork is ready add 6 small green apples, halved and pour over another 125ml balsamic vinegar. When apples are tender and pork is cooked, remove pork from roasting tin; allow to stand 10mins before carving. Place apples in serving dish; cover and keep warm until read to serve. Stir some dry white wine into roasting juices; simmer 3-4mins over medium heat. Serve with pork and apples.

Roast Pork Loin with Horseradish Crust: Preheat oven 220C. In heavy skillet, cook 1c fresh breadcrumbs in 1tbl olive oil, salt and pepper over medium heat until golden. Transfer bread crumbs to a bowl; toss well with 2tbls bottled horseradish. Pat 2kg piece boneless loin pork dry; season with salt and pepper. In skillet heat 1tbl oil over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking; brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a shallow baking pan. In a small bowl, mix 1.5tbls each Dijon mustard and mayonnaise; coat top and sides of pork evenly with mixture. Press bread crumb mixture evenly onto mustard; roast pork in middle of oven 25-30mins (if bread crumbs begin to get too browned, arrange a sheet of foil loosely over pork). Transfer pork to a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes.

Lemon Pork Scallopini: Brush 2 pork scallopini on both sides with 1/4c Italian dressing; season with lemon pepper; set aside. Mix together 1/3c each plain flour and grated Parmesan cheese on shallow plate. Coat pork generously; shake off excess. Heat 1-2tbls butter and a dash or two of lemon juice in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Quickly cook scallopini, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, buttered broccoli spears, sliced tomatoes with blue cheese vinaigrette.  

Mud Crabs: There are other ways to cook and serve mud crabs, but I prefer them cooked and served simply.   I eat them just with vinegar, and/or lemon (I love my vinegar, though) along with fresh bread and butter…even the bread and butter is optional!  Why spoil something near perfect, or perfect?


How to cook mud crabs: Wash the securely-tied mud crabs thoroughly (otherwise you might get a nasty nip)!  Place the mud crabs in the freezer for 35 minutes.

Add 4-5 tbsp salt to a pot of water (about 5 litres of water per crab) and bring to the boil. Place the now unconscious, deep-sleeping mud crabs into the boiling pot of water. Bring the pot to the boil again; and then cook for 18 minutes.  (Depending on size...the smaller ones require about 12-15 minutes; the larger ones, about 18 minutes). Cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving; or longer if you desire – if you can wait that long!  I never can wait very long!


22 comments:

  1. Interesting way to do the pork never done it like that - the crackle is always crackly for me mostly, just an odd time or two it's not and I don't do anything.
    When my late mum passed away I found several large piece of pork in the downstairs freezer - wow, it had lost all it's colour dad being blind (legally) didn't know how long it had been there so I turfed them and there were quite some $$ worth..

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    1. Hey Margaret...as far as food goes, it's better to be safe than sorry is my mantra. I will never fool around with food...as I said if I have the slightest suspicion...out it goes, with no guilty feelings.

      Thanks for coming by. I'm loving all your photos from your trip. :)

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  2. Ooops.
    And yes, it is always better to be safe on the food front. After my mother died we emptied her freezer straight into the bin. With no qualms.
    Pork and seafood have caused many a troubled night...

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    1. Hey EC....I wish I'd had that moment recorded on video of me in the sea with the crabs and legs of pork! lol Oh! Dear! What a classic moment that was!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. I love crabs, we used to make curry with the blue swimmer variety and serve it in the cleaned shells. it's a bit fiddly to make though, so I don't bother anymore.
    I don't like pork though, so these recipes are not for me, delicious as they sound.

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    1. There is little I don't like, River. I like pork...I don't have it often, but I do like it. Actually, I don't eat a lot of meat of any description these days...however I do like meat,red and white ...and I will never give it up entirely.

      I love crabs, sandies and muddies, but muddies in particularly...and as I wrote...I prefer cooking and eating them in the most simplistic of ways. Their flesh is so delicate it seems, to me, to be a shame to embellish it unnecessarily. Each to their own, of course. I prefer all seafood - fish, crabs, prawns and oysters served simply. I do love garlic prawns, though...done the traditional Spanish way in olive oil with loads of garlic! Yum! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. "If you buy non-organic carrots, it's healthier to take the time to peel the skin before cooking the vegetable or eating it raw. When carrots are treated with pesticides as they grow, the peel holds the majority of the chemical." This is why we always peel our carrots and indeed parsnips too.

    I prefer joints of loin pork. The first hour in a sealed roasting tin with some onion. The second hour on a wire rack above a roasting tin with par-boiled potato chunks sitting below.

    However, thanks for the excellent tips about scoring and preparing the pork rind. I will follow your advice next time we have pork.

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    1. Hi Yorkie...I mostly buy locally-grown produce...there are many home producers here on the mountain who sell their home-grown produce at roadside stalls outside their properties, and/or at the Green Shed on Sundays. We have rich, red volcanic soil here on the hill that grows just about anything.

      I've not been peeling my vegetables for ages; and shall continue with my practice of not doing so. I wash all vegetables and fruit at length and with care.

      No matter what we do and how diligent we are, in this day and age, we will never entirely escape chemicals of varying descriptions. I don't eat a lot of processed foods...I try mostly to stick to fresh...but, it's not always possible. Cheese, for one, is processed...as is butter, olive oil etc., etc., et al.

      Even some of our meats, red and white have chemicals in them.

      I will not touch seafood of any description or form that originates from Asia. I only buy local seafood. However, I do buy the most delicious salmon fillets from my local "fisho"....he gets it from New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds...and it is the best salmon I've ever had. I wish I'd been able to get supplies of it when I was cooking professionally in restaurants.

      One of the best hints for roasting joints of beef, pork or lamb (and even chicken, turkey etc.,)..is to place the joint on a rack...and pour some water into the roasting pan. That will certainly help the meat retain moisture. By the time the meat is cooked or almost cooked the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables can be roasted in the same pan...or in a separate pan. A trick I learned from a chef I once worked with.

      Now our cooking segment is at an end! Nigella and Jamie would be envious! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. I must be in the mood for long responses today, Yorkie! ;)

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    3. Yeah! You must have got out of the right side of the bed when you wrote this Nigella! Thanks for the water over joint tip.

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  5. I would love to be closer to fresh sea food. We have fresh water fish, crawdads, turtle and frog but love sea food, too. We can't count on fresh so much because we are so far inland.

    We would all do better to mimic nature. A balanced world is a healthy world.

    Have a very blessed week.

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    1. Hi Gail...Fortunately, throughout my life I've had access to fresh seafood. We were introduced to it from when I was a child....and how my late brother and I loved collecting fresh oysters off the rocks with our Nana while our mother was off fishing and mud crabbing!

      More joys of Nature. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. I love your stories and especially your descriptions of cooking.

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    1. Hey there, Lynn...I'm glad you enjoy my ramblings. It makes writing them worthwhile. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. A good post. I never knew you were a professional cook.

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    1. Hey Treey...Yes, I cooked professionally for many years...in and for various venues...restaurants, resorts, hotels, and more. Actually, I've begun forming my next post and it will expand further on this subject.

      Thanks for coming by. I hope all is well. :)

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  8. That picture of Lake Weyba is beautiful.
    I'm sure you make a lovely spirit at the island:)
    Have a great one, Lee.

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    1. Hi Sandra...Lake Weyba is quite a large salt-water lake, but it's also very shallow. And it's a good breeding ground...for sea creatures, that is!

      Thanks for popping in. :)

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  9. Too much salty water in the lunch...

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    1. Soaking in brine is the way to go, Mr. Ad-Man!!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. One thing (one of many) that I miss about living in New Zealand is all the locally grown produce available. I rather fancy trying your method of dealing with the pork crackling. I had a feeling as soon as you mentioned that you'd thrown the meat in the sea that potential disaster awaited.

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  11. Was just reading of a combo for roast pork which involved Sichuan ground peppercorns; this was problematic since I would have had to order digitally. Yours looks tasty though -- thickening gravy along with apple cider is a nice twist for me to try. Best laid plans there with the freezer discards . . .

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