Monthly Mystery Munchies #35: Rolled roast pork belly with crackling


 

Aaaaand we’re back! After taking a break, Ann and I are back with our Monthly Mystery Munchies. Sometimes life gets busy and a reshuffling is in order, but we always intended to continue with our monthly blogging challenge. This months’s theme: roast.

The Husband and I recently went away to a small town called Tulbagh. It was snowing and we spent the majority of our time visiting wine farms. Breakfast: wine tasting. Lunch: wine tasting and food. Dinner: more wine. And cheese. So much cheese. During our trip, we discovered a gem of a restaurant in the Tulbagh Hotel. The Husband was so taken with their roast pork belly that we made three trips to the hotel. I promised to attempt it when we got home, but I was nervous about the crackling. So many different recipes and instructions on the Internet, but I tried, and this happened. It worked! Crackling, it turns out, is not difficult if you use the right temperatures and dry the pork in the fridge for a few hours before cooking it. So, here it is – rolled pork belly.

Ann, it’s great to be back! I am super excited to continue our Monthly Mystery Munchies and to try your recipe. Folks, please hop over to Grubbs n Critters for delicious recipes. Thank you for the continued friendship. Also, here’s to keeping those ducks alive!

Rolled roast pork belly with crackling

Supplies:

1kg pre-rolled boneless pork belly
2 tablespoons cracked sea salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
3 garlic cloves, sliced

Making it Happen:

Mix all the ingredients, score the pork but be careful not to cut into the meat. Rub the ingredients all over the pork, and underneath, making sure you rub salt into the scored fat. Place two sheets of kitchen towel on a plate, position the pork on top and refrigerate, uncovered, for four hours.

Remove the pork from the fridge half an hour before roasting to let it reach room temperateure.

Preheat oven to 220°C (450°F). Place pork on a wire rack on top op a roasting tray. Fill the tray with boiling water, and roast for 40 minutes until the skin is crackling.

Turn down the oven to 180°C (350°F) and roast for another 1 hour. After 30 minutes, cover the pork with tin foil (shiny side in). Pump the oven back up to 220°C (450°F) for the last 15 minutes.

Remove pork from the oven and let it stand for 20 minutes, covered, until you slice it. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy. 

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #20: Marinated Ostrich Fillets

ostrich-fillet-3-2Caaaaan you even believe it – Ann and I are four recipes away from our two year anniversary! I am as excited and enthusiastic about our monthly blog challenge as if it were recipe number one! Oh yeah! So you may have noticed that it’s the end of the year (where tf has time even gone?). It’s a time where everybody feels exhausted, over it, and soooo ready for a break. This month for our Monthly Mystery Munchies, my criteria was simple: marinade meat, either on the barbeque, or grilled in or on the oven/hob. You see, it’s braai (BBQ) season in South Africa. Actually, we braai in the rain too; we’re that committed. However, the sun is out, summer is here, and the fridge is stocked with beer (his) and white wine (mine) in anticipation of this quintessential South African pastime.

When I was tossing ideas around, The Husband happily agreed to oblige me because beer. He loves nothing more than standing around open flames, talking about whatever, having a beer (six pack) and enjoying the weather. Marinades are easy, delicious, and fun to play around with. The reason I chose ostrich fillet is because it’s something different. Although grossly expensive, it’s such a treat. It tastes like beef but it’s the healthier red meat alternative. It’s not fatty, on the outside or inside, and it’s just yuuuum.

Ann and I were on a roll. We have our Monthly Mystery Munchies specs planned until March. So much excitement. Ann always comes up with the best challenges, like her satay medley for this month. That’s right, not one, but two types of meat – chicken and beef. It’s winter in her neck of the hemisphere, so barbeques are no bueno, but she never shies away from an idea. Never ever. I adore her. Always game and enthusiastic! Ya know what? Head over to her site anyway… She has sheet loads of awesome recipes, jokes, anecdotes, you name it.

Here we go with marinaded ostrich fillets. Easy and delicious, the way it should be!

Marinated Ostrich Fillets

  • Difficulty: I mean, monkey easy
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Supplies:

500 grams ostrich fillets
125ml red wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Making It Happen:

Mix all ingredients. Pour over ostrich fillets, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Fire up your barbeque or griddle pan and remove the meat from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking it.

Cook for 2 minutes per side, and serve immediately. See? Monkey easy. 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #15: Mini Tartlets with Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Curd, and Homemade Custard

Grapfruit tarts 1

Figs, lime, and rosemary. These were the three ingredients Ann chose for this month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies. However, she was kind enough to give me some leeway when I couldn’t source fresh figs. I settled on grapefruit, because I’ve never cooked with it. The second instruction: it can’t be in a main course. This thrilled me, because I’ve been jonesing to get my bake on for a while, but I needed a good excuse. So, now that I have afore-mentioned excuse, why not make pastry? Cool, good idea. Why stop there, you ask? Indeed, I agree. Homemade custard. It’s too easy. I mean, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and how absolutely delicious it tasted. See, I’m obsessed with custard. I blame my gran. She used to give me one (two) bowls every Sunday after lunch. “Don’t tell your mother”. Bless her heart.

Custard 2

This month, we have mini tartlets with grapefruit and lime curd, infused with rosemary, and drizzled with custard. I’m so ready for this! Ann and I are clearly on the same wavelength, as she made figs, rosemary and lime-drizzled scones with lime curd. How. Freaking. Delicious! Also, she very recently emigrated to Holland, and she’s still waiting for all her kitchen equipment to arrive. She’s only been there for a few weeks, during which time she, her husband (Silver Bullet) and their kids moved from their temp base at her in-laws into their own house. She’s got both kids into school. She’s furnishing the house from scratch, and she’s looking for a new job. No biggie, right? Pffft! I am incredibly impressed that, in the midst of all this chaos, she managed to do this blog post. Major kudos! Ann is tremendously dedicated to our monthly cooking challenge, come rain or shine, Thailand or Holland, work stress or… work stress. Please head over to Grubbs n Critters and check out her blog.

I’ve broken this recipe into two parts: grapefruit curd and pastry, and custard, for your convenience, in case you only want to print out one of them. Here ya go…

Rosemary-Infused Grapefruit and Lime Tartlets

For the curd:

1 cup strained fresh grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
Zest of ½ grapefruit
Juice of ½ lime (3 tablespoons)
Zest of ½ lime
1 cup white sugar
8 strained egg yolks
½ cup butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 sprigs rosemary, each about 3 inches long

Pour the strained grapefruit juice, lime juice, grapefruit and lime zest, strained egg yolks, and sugar into a pot.
On medium heat, simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon every minute.
Once thickened, remove from the heat and strain to remove any cooked egg pieces.
Mix in the butter, stirring until melted. Add the rosemary, and allow to set, about 1 hour.

For the pastry:

2 cups flour
2 ½ sticks salted COLD butter
½ cup ice cold water

Put two ice cubes into a cup and add tap water, enough to make 1/2 cup including ice cubes. Wait until the ice cubes have just melted.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces.
Sift the flour into your food processor fitted with blades. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until mixed, about 10 pulses. Add the rest of the butter, pulsing until the dough forms a rough ball. Do not over-pulse it, make sure that once it’s formed a rough ball, you stop pulsing.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out and form into a rectangle. Place one piece of plastic wrap until the dough, and one piece over it, and, using a rolling pin, roll until flattened into a large rectangular piece.

Remove the plastic wrap and turn the dough over onto your floured counter. Fold the dough down by a third, then, at the bottom piece, up by a third. Then roll the dough over from the left-hand side, until it’s all rolled up. Form into a square, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the tartlets:

Remove the pastry from the fridge and, on a floured surface, roll it out with a rolling pin, quite thinly. Measure how much pastry you will need to fill each tartlet cup, covering the bottom and sides. Cut out enough pastry then press the pastry into the bottom, then work it up the sides.

Remove the rosemary from the curd and set aside. Fill two-thirds of the tartlet cup with grapefruit curd, then top with one piece of grapefruit, and wedge in some rosemary.

Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Heat your custard, either in a pot or microwave, and pour over the tartlet.

Homemade Vanilla Custard

250ml cream
250ml milk
1 ½ tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons castor sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, castor sugar and cornflour until well mixed. Set aside.

Pour the cream and milk into a pot and simmer gently over low heat until it’s hot but not boiling.
Very slowly, pour the hot milk and cream into the cornflour bowl, stirring with a whisk as you pour. Make sure you do this slooooowly.
Once it’s all mixed, add the vanilla to the custard mixture, and wipe the bottom of the pot.
Return the custard mixture to the pot and simmer gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened.

(You can reheat the custard in a pot over low heat, or in the microwave.)

 

Crazy About… Cauliflower Mash with Leeks and Garlic

 

Cauliflower mash 2

I never thought I’d see the day. Cauliflower mash instead of potatoes? No. Nope. Absolutely f-word-ing not! I thought it ghastly, recoiling at the very thought. Buuut you know, people change. At least, I started eating healthily, and thus decided not to judge, instead to rather be open-minded (and open-mouthed) to the healthier, cleaner alternatives. Yoga had a lot to do with this too, to be more mindful and conscious of what I’m putting in my body. Those two words – such yoga speak! Namaste (in the kitchen). The cook in me honours the cook in you.

Caulimash 2

Such began my adventure, and it’s been fun. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, and therein lay my problem with cauliflower mash. I mean, what does it even taste like? (I’m talkin’ about the version without lashings of butter.) Nothing, people, it tastes like a whole lotta nothing. Aaaand, coupled with the obvious reminder that it’s clearly not potatoes, presents a double insult. The solution is easy: Add stuff. Not butter though (sob) or sour cream (f-word), but healthy ingredients that don’t compromise its integrity (more yoga speak, seriously, I’m such a pro). When you eat food that’s naturally bland, it reminds you of its, well, nothingness, and therefore makes you (defo me) want other, unhealthier food. Obviously. But add some healthy ingredients, in this case leeks, enough garlic to repel your (my) husband for a few days (sorrynotsorry), fresh rosemary (from my garden no less, totes organic) and Dijon mustard, and you have a winner. The Husband is beyond obsessed with potatoes, like it’s abnormal that he thinks about them so much, but even he conceded that it was “really tasty” and admitted that he would eat it again. So, folks, I needed to share this with you. I used it as a potato substitute in cottage pie, but you can use it as a side dish just the same. Also, it’s easy, and I do love easy. Easy, healthy, yummy… the trifecta. I’m so #winning at life right now.

Cauliflower Mash with Leeks and Garlic

  • Difficulty: crazy easy
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Supplies:

700g cauliflower, cooked until very soft
3 leeks, chopped
1 (very) heaped teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making It Happen:

Cook the cauliflower, either by boiling or steaming it, until very soft.

Meanwhile, fry the leeks and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until cooked, about 5 minutes.

Mash the cauliflower very well, then add the leeks and garlic. Stir in the Dijon, mixing well, and the rosemary.

Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Give it one last hearty stir and serve hot.

 

Crazy About… Sautéed Lentils

Lentils veg 7Easy! Tasty! Healthy! Check, check, check. I do enjoy a culinary trifecta! This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook (it takes me longer to put my face on), it’s packed with flavour, it’s low-carb and low-fat, and can be served as a side dish or a main meal. Last night we had it with honey and mustard chicken breasts, and this afternoon I had it alone for lunch. It was delish as both. Here we go…

Sautéed lentils

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: super duper easy
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Supplies:

500g lentils, cooked
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

Making It Happen:

Lentils veg 81. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic on medium for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sliced peppers, and rosemary and simmer for another 5 minutes.

 

 

Lentils veg 6 12. Add the lentils and lemon juice, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies: My Big Fat Greek Lamb Kleftiko

Lamb Kleftiko 11It’s the fifth installment of my and Ann’s Monthly Mystery Munchies and this month we went Greek. When scouring the internet and cookbooks for ideas, I settled on lamb kleftiko. Why? I freaking love a good roast! Also, the story behind it is so amusing and that endeared me. ‘Kleftiko’ means ‘stolen’ in Greek. Back in the day, bandits would thieve cattle and cook the meat, sealed in a pit oven and covered with sand, to prevent their opponents from seeing the fire. They would leave the meat buried in the ground all day and return to a slow-cooked meal at night. Genius. I’m not an advocate for theft but I like the initiative these dudes showed. (Please buy your meat with actual money!)

The dish is encased in layers of tin foil and/or parchment paper (unless you happen to have a pit oven). Here’s where it gets even yummier: it’s marinated overnight in garlic, fresh herbs and lemon juice. Then, when you’re ready to cook it, it’s surrounded by veggies, topped with thickly sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with seasoning and drizzled with olive oil. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Think of it as your one-stop roast pot. Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before you’re ready to roast, cook it on low for 4-5 hours depending on how you like it, and when you take it out of the oven, you have everything you need. Beautiful, succulent, falling-off-the-bone lamb, and potatoes, onions and carrots that have been absorbing all the tasty lamb and herb juices. No missioning with extra veggies. Carve it, dish it and you’re good to go. Amen. Let’s do this, but before we go ahead, make sure you mosey on over to Grubbs n Critters for my BBF (Best Blogging Friend) Ann’s take on this month’s theme.

Monthly Mystery Munchies: My Big Fat Greek Lamb Kleftiko

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Supplies:

Lamb Kleftiko 11.8-2kg leg of lamb
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stalk
1 sprig lemon thyme, leaves removed from stalk
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 garlic cloves, crushed and halved
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
2 tomatoes, thickly sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and halved
4 carrots, sliced lengthways
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
Freshly cracked black pepper & salt

Lamb Kleftiko 21. Crush and halve the garlic cloves. Put all the herbs in a bowl, add the garlic and olive oil and stir well.

Lamb Kleftiko 3

 

 

 

2. Make incisions in the lamb, 2-3 in a vertical row and repeat across the meat. (Don’t cut all the way through to the bottom.) Stuff the holes with the garlic and herb mixture. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice with black pepper and salt and pour over the lamb, rubbing it in with your hands, and rubbing the underside of the meat too.

Lamb Kleftiko 53. Put the meat in a sealable bag and refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of 2 hours.

 

 

 

Lamb Kleftiko 74. Remove lamb from the fridge and let it rest for an hour before you cook it. Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Lay a long piece of tin foil down, lengthways, and lay a piece of parchment paper over it. Lay another piece of foil horizontally, and again lay a piece of parchment paper over it. (You’re creating a cross.)

Lamb Kleftiko 85. Cut the onions into quarters, positioning one onion in the centre of the cross. Halve the carrots lengthways (I never peel them, I’m too lazy, but I wash them thoroughly) add 6 halves to the onions. Peel and halve your potatoes, placing 6-8 halves with the onions and carrots. What you’re going for is a mixture of veggies at the bottom of the dish, but not all of them. Drizzle some olive oil over them (about 2 tablespoons)and grind some black pepper and salt over them. Place the lamb on top of the veggies and drizzle more olive oil on top of the lamb. Sprinkle with salt. Position the rest of the chopped veggies around the lamb. Place 6 tomato slices, cut thick, on top of the lamb.

Lamb Kleftiko 96. Bring all of the foil/parchment paper sides together. What you’re going for is a very well-sealed effect. Put the parcel in a deep roasting dish put the dish in the middle shelf of your oven. Roast at 160°C (320°F) for 4-5 hours (4 hours for rare, 4½ for medium and 5 for well done).
Lamb Kleftiko 10

7. Remove the roasting tray from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before opening it. Carve the lamb, add veggies to the plate and dig in!

 

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

I love roast potatoes. I would happily live on them if I didn’t mind not being able to fit through doorways. They are a staple for any roast, though, and I always add pan drippings but you can make these potatoes without them. Reason? You roast them in chicken stock with rosemary and garlic, and that gives them flavour in abundance! They roast in the stock which boils down and leaves you with crispy, rosemary and garlic-infused potatoes. Don’t turn them halfway through as they will break up. It’s pretty simple – add all the ingredients, pop the roasting tray in the oven and leave until they’re golden brown. Hashtag droolfest.

Note that I didn’t add garlic to this dish because I used pan drippings from my roast chicken, which contained copious amount of garlic. However, if you’re not using pan drippings, add either a tablespoon of minced garlic or 6 crushed garlic cloves.

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

  • Servings: 6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Roast potatoes 1Supplies:

  • 2kg potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Leaves from 1-2 rosemary sprigs (1 if large, 2 if smaller)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup pan drippings/roast chicken juices (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic/6 crushed cloves (if not using pan drippings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Making it happen:

Roast potatoes 31. Preheat your oven to 200°C (390°F).
Peel the potatoes and cut them in half. Drizzle olive oil over them and stir to fully coat them. Add the rosemary (and garlic if applicable) and thoroughly stir. Pour the chicken stock (and roast chicken juices if applicable) over the potatoes, stir and place in the oven on the middle shelf.

 

Roast potatoes 42. Roast for 1½ hours until they’re crispy and the stock has boiled down. Serve hot.