Chicharrones with Onion Salsa

I first ate these bite sized chunks of belly pork in Peru but they taste just as good back here in Blighty.  The onion salsa is a salty, spicy, sweet accompaniment which lifts the chicharrones to the next level.  Serve them with roasted sweet potatoes and a bitter green leaf (kale or savoy cabbage) for an alternative Sunday roast or a week night treat.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 1/2 lb Pork Belly cut into bite sized cubes

1 tsp salt

For the Onion Salsa

1 red onion – finely sliced

Juice of 1 Lime

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Red Chilli – sliced thinly

Salt

Method

Put the pork into a large, flat based pan (a deep frying pan is perfect) so that it is in a single layer and has room to move.

Cover the meat with cold water and add the salt.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated.  It is the slow cooking that renders the fat from the meat.

Meanwhile make the onion salsa.  Place the onion slices in a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt, cover and leave for 15 minutes.  Rinse the salt from the onion and squeeze out any excess moisture.  Return the onion slices to the bowl and repeat the salting process.  Rinse once again and squeeze dry.

Place the onions in a clean bowl and mix in the lime juice, olive oil and chilli.  Cover until ready to serve.

Once the water has all evaporated from the pork continue cooking over a low heat, the meat will brown and caramelize in its own fat.  Turn the pieces until all sides are a rich golden brown.

Serve with roasted sweet potatoes and the onion salsa.

 

A Bit of Kitchen Labour

My youngest daughter, Lyssa Fêe is expecting our first grandchild and we are all incredibly excited and eager to meet her. Lys has just passed her due date and, if memory serves me well, at this stage, every day feels a week long. The bump is weighing heavily, the back aches and the waddle is really something to behold. When all else fails it’s time to draw on some age old advice (also known as old wives tales!):

Exercise is supposed to help so I have been accompanying her on daily walks on the beach – walks which require an uphill stomp back to her house. However, Lyssa has (wisely in my opinion) been studiously ignoring her dad’s suggestion that she gets on a trampoline.

There is another category of advice that should probably never be discussed by your mother and certainly not somewhere as public as a food blog so we’ll draw a discrete veil over that…

There are numerous food based suggestions – cod liver oil is currently being ignored and half a pineapple caused a sore mouth and “epic” heartburn – so goodness knows what would happen if she indulged in the 7 or 8 supposedly needed to have an effect.

Lyssa’s friends are all recommending a hot curry but she has a low tolerance for spicy food and I remain unconvinced that last night’s korma will do anything at all to help! Being my daughter, she has a decidedly sweet tooth so it occurred to me to help her by stealth by adding chilli to my favourite chocolate cookie recipe.

I don’t know if this will help (I’ll let you know) but I suspect it would stand a better chance if I gave Lyssa more cookies and ate less myself! My guess is that the baby will come when she is good and ready, and not a second sooner, but if there is a bit of a wait then a cup of tea and a cookie is as good a way to pass the time as any.

Chilli Chocolate Cookie Recipe

 

 

Chilli Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

225g softened butter

100g caster sugar

175g dark muscovado sugar

2 eggs

300g plain flour

50g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ red chilli pepper

100g dark chocolate

100g milk chocolate

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Beat the butter and sugars together – muscovado sugar has a tendency to clump into lumps – make sure you break it up thoroughly before you add the butter as it is a much messier job to do it later.

Mix in the eggs.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, a pinch of salt, baking powder and cayenne pepper then mix them into the sugar/butter mix. This will form a thick mix – more like a dough than a batter.

Finely chop the chilli pepper and roughly chop the chocolate. Add both to the cookie mix and stir through until evenly distributed. You can buy chocolate chips instead if you prefer.

Take dessert spoonfuls of the mixture into your hand and lightly roll into a ball.

Place, well spaced, on baking sheets lined with baking parchment.

Bake in batches in the centre of the oven for 10-12 mins. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a minute or two before removing to a cool flate surface (a plate or worktop) to cool completely. Don’t place on a cooling rack as these cookies are a bit soft when warm and will break up easily.

 

 

Satay Chicken

Ingredients

4 skinless chicken breasts cut into thick slices.

1½ tbsp groundnut oil

For the sauce

3 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce

2 cloves garlic

A 2cm piece of root ginger

1 red chilli

A handful of coriander

2 limes – juice and zest.

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Salt & pepper

Method

For the sauce, put all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is very hot, then add the groundnut oil and the chicken pieces and stir-fry for five minutes until the chicken is browned.

Turn the heat down to low, add the sauce and continue to stir-fry for another five minutes.

Arrange on warm plates garnished with cucumber and chilli slices.