Monday, 19 December 2011

The hoover - the charcutier's friend

I was hoping to make porchetta over Christmas. I'd usually do this using boned shoulder of pork. However, there was a pig's mask hanging in the School's chiller on our last day, so I got given this as a  'project' and duly went off to research porchetta di testa.

It was clear from the one good video online:

and various other posts, that my main problem was going to be how to sous-vide the pork, in order to cook it in its cure on a really low temperature.

I considered various options, including taking it in a bag to my butcher's, and asking them to vacuum seal it for me, or using a Ziploc bag and hoping for the best, until I remembered that I had some spare vacuum bags left from my recent house move - bought with bedding, rather than porcine, storage in mind. I found one the perfect size, got the mask in its marinade into it without incident, when I discovered - disaster - the bag was just a bonus one that came with the set, and didn't have a vacuum cleaner plughole. But necessity is the mother etc etc. I got as much air out of it as I could, zipped it up, then opened the zipper slightly and shoved the hoover nozzle into the opening. I was a bit concerned that I would end up with the marinade in the hoover, but it seems to be ok. Although I won't know until I start the cooking process whether my cunning plan has worked. I'm also concerned that I've done a marinade, rather than a cure, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Watch this space.

In the meantime, here is what I did to prepare the mask for its 3-day wallow in the vacuum spa....

Onions and garlic, fresh rosemary and bay, fennel seeds, ground cloves, salt and pepper for the marinade. Based on Nigella's Porchetta recipe in Forever Summer.

The only decision remaining today is what to do with the pig's ears. I hate throwing anything away, and I thought they'd make a nice present for the two dogs on Christmas Day, but when I googled 'pig's ears for dog food', I ended reading a load of stuff about how they can be bad for dogs. As I write, the jury's out and they're still on the cutting block. Watch out for next week's thrilling instalment.....

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