Friday, 30 November 2012

Love me tender

We're pork galore this week (even more than usual) as we start to cure our Christmas bacon, and a happy result of this is that we have quite a lot of pork tenderloin - the porcine equivalent of fillet of beef. In the shops from tomorrow (Saturday), and we're feeling rather generous; it'll be £12.50 a kilo instead of £16.50, so fill yer boots and get cooking.

Although it's a fairly lean cut - and fat usually means taste - these tenderloins are from free range, slowly reared, rare breed pigs, and so still have bags of flavour. There are loads of recipes for pork tenderloin out there, however here are two of ours, both on the table in around 40 minutes.  Go East with a warming, zingy Thai curry, or make Tim's pork, pepper and mustard 'quick casserole', something he makes on the farm at least once a fortnight. Each recipe serves 2-3, and is easily scaled up if you're feeding a crowd.

Thai pork curry

If you want to make a noodle soup instead of serving over rice, add 250ml of good chicken stock with the coconut milk and ladle over cooked Thai rice noodles to serve.

1 pork tenderloin, around 700g
1 tin full fat coconut milk 
Fish sauce
Handful coriander leaves
Spring onions

Curry paste
1 large piece of ginger
3 sticks of lemon grass, coarse bits removed and discarded
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onions, peeled
1 red chilli (deseeded if you don't like it too hot)
Stalks from a bunch of coriander
2tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Cooked rice, to serve

1. Roughly chop the ingredients for the curry paste, then blend until smooth. 
2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the paste. Fry over a medium heat until sweet smelling and golden, for around 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut the pork fillet into rounds roughly 1.5cm thick. Season with a little salt and pepper, and brown in a separate pan. Once browned, set to one side.
4. When the sauce has been simmering for 15 minutes, add a few shakes of fish sauce to taste. Add the pork pieces and cook for a further 5 minutes, to ensure that the pork is cooked through. 

Serve over cooked rice with plenty of sauce, chopped spring onions, and coriander leaves.

Pork, pepper and mustard casserole

Everyone has a failsafe, delicious but on-the-table-before-you-know-it dish; here's our owner, Tim's. Serve with something starchy to soak up the sauce and steamed green beans, broccoli or sautéed cabbage.

1 pork tenderloin, sliced into thickish rounds
1 white onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1tbsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp wholegrain mustard
250ml double cream
Fresh green herb of your choice - tarragon, parsley, chives and basil all work well
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper
Butter and oil for frying

1. Put a knob of butter and a drop of olive oil in a large frying pan. Season the pork pieces and fry over a high heat until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Turn the heat down a little and add the onion and peppers to the pan. Fry until fairly soft and sweet smelling, add the mustard and cook for a further two minutes.
3. Return the pork to the pan and add the cream, a little salt and pepper and the fresh herbs. Simmer for five minutes, taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add a little lemon juice if you feel it needs it, and serve.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Turkey day

Whether your favourite turkey day is Thanksgiving or Christmas, buy the best bird you can afford and don’t stuff it up. Here are our tips for making the most of your festive bird.

The turkey

Ours are a traditional Bronze bird reared by Gerald and Richard Botterill. The birds are fed a natural diet of homegrown cereal and vegetable protein, and are left to free range on the Belvoir Estate (lucky things). They grow slowly and naturally to full maturity, after which they’re slaughtered on the farm (no distressing transporter), carefully dry-plucked and hung for 10-14 days to give great depth of flavour and succulence. 

A note on quills: one of the characteristics of the bronze turkey is their dark plumage, when plucked it can leave dark marks and tiny pieces of quill in the skin, especially around the wing and under carriage. These are a little more prevalent in Thanksgiving birds as they haven’t yet all moulted, but rest assured that they are absolutely nothing to worry about, and are a trait present in all Bronze turkeys; the marks and quills disappear during cooking. 

The Botterills showcase all of the elements of good animal husbandry, and continue to produce the best, tastiest birds we’ve ever tried. Try one for yourself and see.

At home

Take the vacuum-packed giblets out of the cavity, and rest the bird on a large plate at the bottom of your fridge - don’t be tempted to wrap it in cling film, as this can make the skin clammy and encourages bacteria. 

If you’re not cooking your turkey for a few days, it’s wise to use the giblets now. Make a simple stock using everything except the liver, and a few aromatic vegetables; this stock will keep 4-5 days if covered and placed in the fridge.


Truth be told, we prefer to leave the stuffing on the side rather than in the bird, as stuffing adds extra weight, increasing the cooking time which can dry out the meat. Instead we like lots and lots of streaky bacon over the top of the bird, which adds flavour and bastes the flesh without increasing the cooking time. That's not to say we don't like stuffing! Mix together pork mince, breadcrumbs, an egg, grated onion, fresh herbs, seasoning and grated lemon zest, form into balls and pop in with your roast potatoes for the final 15-20 minutes.


Possibly the most important thing to do when you’re cooking a big turkey, is to take it out of the fridge a long time before it goes in the oven - eight hours should do the trick. If you only give it an hour or two then the bird will still be quite cold in the middle, and this is what leads to uneven cooking, meaning dry turkey or even worse - still raw in the middle. Just make sure the dog doesn't get it while it comes up to room temperature...

To cook
Rub the skin with plenty of butter and pepper and cover the breast with lots of streaky bacon. Make a big tin foil cross inside your roasting pan, place the turkey in the middle and wrap the foil around to make a loose but closed parcel. Cook at 220˚C/ 425˚F/ Mark 7 for 40 mins. Reduce heat to 170˚C/ 325˚F/ Mark 3 and cook for approximately a further 3 hours (small turkey), 3 1/2 hours (medium), 4 1/2 hours (large) and 5 hours (X-large). Uncover for the last 30 minutes and remove the bacon to crisp the skin. Stick a long skewer in the fleshiest part to test for doneness; the juices should run clear. Wrap the turkey well in foil, lay a bath towel over the top, and rest it for up to an hour before carving - trust us, it’ll be super-succulent.

And then there are leftovers, a subject which deserves a post all of its own.