Cook Book Club: Maggie’s Kitchen
It’s cook book club time again. After the success of May’s cook book club lunch I just had to give it another go. This month it’s Maggie’s Kitchen. For those of you who don’t know, Maggie Beer is a bit of an Australian institution; I guess you could call her the Aussie Delia Smith. I don’t have any of her cook books, so it was a great opportunity to give some of her recipes a try. If you analyse my cook book collection this one doesn’t really fit; she’s a bit more of a traditional, home cook than I would usually go for, but her book was chosen for the winter comfort factor and I’m always up for good comfort food.
I am a bit of a traditionalist, so more often than not Sunday is roast day. After a bit of deliberation I settled for Maggie Beers Slow Cooked Berkshire Pork Shoulder in Milk followed by Chocolate and Dried Pear Brownie. This is one type of roast I haven’t tried before and was intrigued by the milk factor. When I read the recipe I was a little disturbed by the “curdled milk sauce” but Maggie admits it looks terrible but assures her readers it tastes delicious so who was I to question her?
I have to confess I didn’t quite follow the recipe for the pork to the letter. I am sorry cook book club, I hope this doesn’t disqualify me. My first problem was the pork is a two day recipe, and because of my husbands annual work dinner dance last night I didn’t have chance to start it yesterday. Actually, after the late night I’m amazed I managed to do anything at all today, but the prospect of roast pork shoulder and brownies was too exciting to turn down. So I didn’t get to marinate the pork as I should have done, but I still rubbed the fennel, lemon, thyme and salt into the pork before cooking.
Now this is where Maggie and I will have to agree to disagree. Maggie writes “because the pork is braised in milk there won’t be any crackling, but the skin will be soft, gelatinous, and to my mind particularly delicious.” I’m sorry Maggie but roast pork without crackling is like fish without chips. I also didn’t share Maggie’s enthusiasm about a gelatinous pork skin, so I cooked the pork in the milk, but with the method I usually follow: start the oven off very high (about 230C ) for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 130C-140C for the majority of the cooking time then increase to 200 for 15-20 minutes at the end to finish off the crackling. I achieved the meltingly tender pork that Maggie describes, but in addition I had the perfect pork crackling. Delicious!
The milk did curdle as described, and a couple of times I had to add a little more milk to the pan as I cooked it with the lid off the pan to dry out the skin; but the sauce was delicious and this is definitely one I’d do again.
I’m sat here after dinner, laptop on knee, struggling to reach the keys over my full, contented belly. I didn’t need the brownie but it was the perfect way to end a comforting roast. Again I didn’t have time to complete the full recipe as I should have made a creme fraiche parfait yesterday. But instead I served the brownie with straight creme fraiche which appeals to my slightly more savoury tongue.
I tend to shy away from brownies as they often contain nuts that I’m allergic to, but this one appealed to me because of the dried pear. And my instinct was right. The pear was a delicious, moist, sweet addition to the slightly bitter dark chocolate. If I wasn’t so full I’d have another slice, but I’ll have to save that until tomorrow.
Posted: July 17th, 2011 under cook book club.