“All is good on a pig” states nineteenth century gourmand Grimod de la Reyniere who adds “It is the king of animals, the one whose empire is the most universal, whose qualities are the least questioned.”
There are many different cuts that can be obtained from a pig but it is largely under utilised in the UK finding its way to our tables primarily in the form of bacon, sausages, hams and roasts.
Earlier this year my desire to learn more about producing charcuterie led me to the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck. My journey began with Pig in a Day. How much could we really learn about butchering a pig in just one day? After all, it takes years to become an accomplished butcher.
We were presented with half a Welsh pig which had weighed 92kg by the end of its life. It’s size and strength had not diminished in death. During the course of the day we were shown how to take side of pig (also known as a flitch) and systematically break it down into usable pieces. We prepared pancetta, roasting joints and sausages. What surprised many of us was how few ingredients you need to make a good sausage. The only ingredients we used were pork, salt and pepper. They were firm, meaty and spicy but above all delicious. I’m not convinced I will be able to produce a link of sausages without Matt and Rick’s guidance but we had fun on the day.
Fun aside, the crucial thing we learnt about pig butchery is how versatile the animal is. We were shown cuts rarely seen in a butchers window, such as the “bingo wings” behind the front legs which can be made into a delicious roast. Even the shanks can be cut into slices and used in a pork version of osso bucco. Thank you to Matt Cockin one of our tutors and owner of The Fruit Pig Company for providing the inspiration for the recipe below.
For more information on British Pork visit lovepork.co.uk.
Pork bucco with cider, tarragon and mustard
- 4 x pork knuckle/shank slices (about 2cm thick)
- 1 tbsp seasoned plain flour
- 2 – 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 300ml dry cider
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 tbsp chopped, fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper to season
- Dust the pork sliced with seasoned flour. Heat the 2 tbsp oil in a large, shallow, flame proof, lidded casserole and cook the pork over a medium heat until browned on each side. Depending on the size of the slices you may need to do this in batches.
- Remove from the heat. Add a little more oil if necessary. Fry the vegetables until soft and lightly coloured.
- Return the pork slices to the pan then add the cider. Boil rapidly with the lid off for 5 minutes before adding the stock. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1½ hours occasionally turning the meat.
- Remove the meat form the pan and keep warm while you finish the sauce. Whisk in the wholegrain mustard then add the tarragon. Pour over the pork slices and serve.