Saturday, December 28, 2013

Brawn, Pork Terrine, Fromage de tête

On Christmas, some friends of mine rented a spit and roasted a whole 25kg pig. I took the carcass home and decided to try making brawn, also known as a terrine or as the French say, fromage de tête, head cheese.


The finished product is a very nice dish: meat that has been braised or boiled until tender enough to shred, then packed densely into a loaf with just enough stock to hold it together.

But as the saying goes, it’s best not to know how the sausage gets made. If you’re the squeamish sort, best to skip this post.


Loosely following a recipe at The Grubworm, I got to work.

  1. Get a pork head detached from a carcass. Mine happened to be pre-cooked on the spit and I needed a hatchet to get it off of the neck, but you may wish to buy one from your butcher.
  2. Carve away the ears and ear canals to keep wax out of the stock
  3. Use a disposable razor and shave your pig head – you don’t want hair in your terrine
  4. Add it with a heap of veggies and herbs to a suitably gigantic stock pot
  5. Simmer for ~5 hours, until the meat if off of the bones
  6. Pick out the good pieces of meat, discard the veggies, filter stock through muslin
  7. Reduce the stock
  8. Put a tablespoon of stock into a loaf pan and pack shredded meat on top quite densely. Add more stock if required.
  9. Chill and serve in slices. Great with capers, gherkins and horseradish.

DSC01966 DSC01971

Will I make it again? Probably not. While I like the whole idea of using the whole pig, “snout to tail,” it was a lot of fairly unpleasant work to get it to come together.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Poached Pears

To go along with the Butter Chicken and Samosa Shepherd’s Pie last night, I whipped up some poached pears for dessert.

  • 250mL yogurt, strained on muslin for a couple hours (may not matter, it drained only a bit)
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 1/2t mace (or nutmeg)

Whisk well to combine. Set aside.


Peel, halve and core 4 pears.

In medium saucepan, combine:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 star anise
  • 1/8t cardamom
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Bring to simmer. Add pears. Turning regularly, poach evenly, about ten or 15 minutes. Cook down liquid to a syrup.

Serve a dollop of the yoghurt mixture with a pear half and a spoonful of the syrup.


Indian Butter Chicken & Samosa Shepherd’s Pie

What happens when you make a makhani gravy with ground chicken and top it with a potato-based samosa, then bake it a la a Shepherd’s Pie? Something amzing. I was inspired to make this when picking out the insides of a samosa to avoid the wheat & gluten wrapper with a helping of butter chicken.

You’ll want to have a lot going in parallel when making this or it may take you all day. Get the chicken started, and while waiting for various things to cook down prep the samosa topping.


  • 4 medium Dutch cream potatoes, peeled, quartered.

Pressure cook at high for 10 minutes, elevated out of the water so that the steam cooks them. (Alternatively, boil, or bake; whatever you want to get them ready to mash.) Remove, and roughly mash. Add in:

  • 2t ghee
  • 1/2t cumin
  • 1t ginger paste
  • 1 green chilli, minced
  • 2t chat masala
  • 1/4t garam masala
  • 1/2t salt


Mix well. Add:

  • 1 chopped carrot
  • About 1 cup frozen peas

Mix to combine. Set aside.



  • 2t ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 coriander roots
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed
  • 1t salt

Sautee over low heat, taking care not to brown, until the raw garlic and onion flavour is well cooked out.

Add 1KG chicken (thigh) mince. Raise heat to medium. When beginning to brown, add:

  • 1 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 heaping t ginger paste
  • 1/4t kashmiri pepper
  • 1/4t coriander
  • 1/8t clove
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • 1/4t cardamom
  • 1/2t cumin
  • 1/2t chilli powder
  • 1/4t garam masala
  • 1T kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1t mace (or nutmeg as substitute)
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 400mL water (approx)
  • 2T brown sugar


Cover and let simmer on med-low heat for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Uncover and cook for a few more minutes to cook down most of the moisture. When getting dry add:

  • 1 handful coriander leaves, chopped
  • 250mL (1 cup) Greek yoghurt
  • 1t ghee


Cook down further until it’s still “juicy” but not sloppy wet. Add another pinch of methi, stir, and pour into a small casserole dish.


Layer samosa topping over of chicken filling. Bake at 150°C for about twenty minutes, or until the top begins to turn golden and the filling bubbles and browns around the edges.



Don’t let the poor lighting of these photos fool you. This dish is exceptional!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pork Belly

Score and salt the skin a few hours prior to cooking. In an uncovered Dutch oven, roast 160C forced fan for two hours, then 220C for 25 minutes. Crackle was the best I've ever had.