One of the many, many, many skills I learned in ‘The Kitchen’ aside from how to quickly field-dress a knife wound to my own thigh was how to ensure meat was correctly seasoned. Now, what I mean by that is not simply slinging the correct amount of salt and pepper on a steak or a lamb gigot…there’s more to it than that…….much, much more.
Seasoning is the process of encouraging, coaxing, nurturing all the available ‘natural’ flavours already present or ‘soon to be available’ in any given piece of food – you can salt & pepper and fennel rub a crap piece of fish all day..it will still be a crap piece of fish only now with a more pronounced twang of fennel. Bottom line – if you can ‘taste’ the seasoning above the base flavour..Pork, Beef, Pigeon, Salmon…then either you have bad produce or you’ve killed it with SAD (Seasoning Adjustment Disorder).
Seasoning involves a few things: temperature – take meat (not fish or chicken!) from the fridge and allow to come up to room heat before cooking. Keep veg OUT of the fridge for as long as possible – the fridge gasses affect delicate fruits and veg , your pan – don’t ever use detergents as they kill natural sugars from ongoing cooking which layers up flavour particularly Umami. Marinade for a long time – a layer of paste on some meat will ‘cook off’ before its had a chance to work through the flesh if its only been there 5 minutes. Use beer as a relaxant – I leave pork sitting in ale for a hour before any marinade – same with chicken and the brining process. Oil and lemon juice sparingly ‘brushed’ onto the skin side of fish or even better raw fish wrapped in a bed of fennel tops for a short while before grilling.
Salt and pepper should be the last thing on your mind! This dish is an amalgam of a lot of these ideas…plus I bloody love making Harissa 🙂
WHAT YOU NEED
2 fat pork loin chops, bone in
1 can green lentils
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 tps Dijon mustard
For the Harissa Paste
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tps crushed dried chillies
2 tps smoked paprika
2 tps coriander seeds
1 tps garlic powder
2 tbs rapeseed oil
2 tps saly
2 tps cracked black pepper
Small bottle of Pale Ale
HOW YOU DO IT
Step1: Create the Harissa paste – just combine everything to a thick paste – taste and add more ‘heat’ to taste
Step2: Add the pork to a roasting tray and pour over the Ale, leave in the fridge for about 60minutes
Step3: After 60 minutes, remove the pork and paint the Harissa all over the pork and leave in the fridge for at least a couple of hours (best over night) – keep the beer (but don’t friggin’ drink it!)
Step4: When ready to cook – sling a wide pan on the heat and lug in some rapeseed oil and get to searing hot. Make deep cuts in the in the fat then lay into the pan and brown well on both sides fro about 2 minutes each.
Step5: Add the pan into a pre-heated oven – 180c – , pour in the ale that you kept (right??) and cook for 20 minutes or until the ale is nice and sticky.
Step6: As the pork cooks add the lentils to a pan , bring to a simmer and add the lemon juice and mustard – a little salt and pepper to finish and leave to simmer really gently for 20 minutes.
Serve the Harissa pork with the lentils and a couple of lemon wedges – done deal
FEEL LIKE A BEER? TRY THIS: