A Christmas feast for two!

This will be our first LCHF Christmas. So far so good. After all, ’tis the season of bacon, sausages, sausages wrapped in bacon, cheese, cheese wrapped in bacon, nuts, bacon nuts…all lovely LCHF fare. For the last few years we’ve had an alternative Christmas day for just the two of us (usually after the days that are filled with the obligatory Christmas stuff, as something to look forward to): turkey feast, lots of cake, watching Bruce Willis run around in a vest (or some other, suitably violent, Christmas movie), some booze to fill in the spaces in between the food…etc. This year we had our meal early so that I could blog about it and perhaps give you guys a few more foodie ideas (if you need them). It’s not proper low-carb, but hey – it is Christmas!

Serves 2 with lots of left-overs (or 4-5 people)

Ingredients:

For the roast pork:
1 kg boned and rolled pork leg
500 g minced pork (you can use sausage meat if you’re not fussed about the gluten)
4 eating apples
4 large onions
Small bunch of fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
250 ml white wine
100 g butter

For the extra stuffing pots:
5 – 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon

For the fondant parsnips & carrots:
2 large carrots
1 parsnip
200 g unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or a sprig of fresh thyme)
Salt & pepper
100 ml water

For the cabbage-sprout gratin:
250 g brussels sprouts
1 savoy cabbage, shredded
50 g butter
300 ml whole milk
200 ml double cream
100 g grated cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
Salt & pepper
1 packet of hog lumps
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

First, prepare the stuffing. Finely chop one of the onions and gently fry with some butter. Meanwhile, dice two of the eating apples (I left the skins on), and add to the now softened onions. Fry for a couple of minutes, until there is a bit of colour on the onions and the apples. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Add the pork mince, plenty of pepper (I used about 2 tsp – you should be able to smell the pepper once it’s all mixed in), the salt and the chopped sage, and mix well.

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You can now pre-heat the oven to 220°C, whilst you prepare the pork for stuffing.

If you’ve got a boned pork leg most of of the work has already been done. All you need to do is remove the string, place the joint skin-side down on a board and open it out, with the thin edge to your right. To open it out further I usually start from the right (because I’m right-handed) and cut into the thickest part of the meat, unrolling it with my left hand as I go. Once it is as unrolled as it’s going to get, give it a good bash with a mallet or rolling pin (or your fists) to flatten it out.

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Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, then place half of the stuffing mixture onto the pork and spread so that it covers about two-thirds of the surface area. Then roll the piggy back up (using the un-stuffed flap to stop the stuffing from oozing out), and secure with the string again, so that it once again looks like a big fat maggot.

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Now cut the remaining onions and apples into chunks and lay all over the bottom of your roasting pan. Pour the wine into the pan and place Mr. Pig Roll on top. Pat the skin dry with some kitchen towel and rub salt all over it. Roast in the hot hot oven for then first 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 170°C for the remaining cooking time (about 1 hour 40 minutes in total).

Use the left-over stuffing to fill two ramekins pre-lined with bacon, and add a bit of extra bacon on top to cover. These are ready to go in the oven with the gratin, 15 minutes before the pork is done.

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Next, prepare the gratin. Shred the cabbage and steam for about 5 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, melt about 25 g butter in a frying pan and fry the sprouts whole until they start to go brown. Place the cabbage and the sprouts in an oven-proof pan (I used a square cake pan, it was the perfect size), and prepare the cheesy sauce. For this, place the cheese, milk, cream, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and xanthan gum (if using – this is just to thicken the sauce) in a pan and heat, whilst whisking, until everything has melted together and the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Pour all over the cabbagey sprouts.

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For a cheeky extra touch, crush a packet of hog lumps (because not enough pigs were used in the making of this meal), mix with the parmesan and mixed herbs, and sprinkle over the top of the gratin. This is ready to go in the oven with the extra stuffing about 15 mins before the pork is done.

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Next, prepare the carrots and parsnips. They will take 30-40 mins to cook, but they do stay warm for ages so the timing isn’t vital (just don’t burn them, like I managed to!!). Cut them into chunks of about 2 – 3 cm thick, making sure they are roughly the same thickness. You can adjust this so that they all fit into your frying pan in a single layer. Melt the butter in a frying pan and heat it until it starts to foam. Then, add the carrots and parsnips. Keep the heat on medium and don’t move the pan or mess around with the veg for about 8 minutes. Turn the chunks over and repeat. Once both sides are nice and browned, add the garlic cloves, salt, pepper and thyme. Turn the heat to low and carefully add the water. The butter will get really excited at this point so maybe use a lid as a shield so you don’t get spat on. Cover and leave to cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until the carrots and parsnips are tender. Take care that the water doesn’t evaporate (my lid has a steam escape-hole, I’m not sure why, so my carrots got a bit too brown on the underside), and add more if you can smell burning! Once they are cooked, just turn the heat off and leave them in the pan until you’re ready to eat.

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Once the pork is cooked (I kept checking until I got a reading of 60°C on the old meat thermometer), take out of the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes, or until all of your other bits and pieces are ready. The stuffing pots should be brown on top, but you can check with a thermometer to see if they’re done (cooking times will vary depending on the size/shape of your ramekins).

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Carve the pork into nice chunky slices and serve with all of the trimmings and the pan juices.

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Stuffed roast leg of pork

Well I didn’t think it had been this long since my last post! I’m going to be doing some experimental baking today so depending on how that goes, stay tuned for a pudding post this week.

This happy little piggy was from our meat box. The meat turned out lovely, moist and full of flavour, and the crackling was teeth-shattering, as it should be.

Ingredients:
For the pork:
1.2 kg rolled leg of pork
2 medium onions
Small bunch fresh sage leaves
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
Butter for frying
Salt & pepper

For the cabbage:
1 savoy cabbage, shredded
100 ml chicken stock
25 g butter
2 tbsp double cream or creme fraiche
Salt & pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (fan), or as high as your oven will go.

Finely chop the onions and sage in a food processor. Melt the butter in the pan and gently fry the onions and sage, along with a generous pinch of salt and lots of ground pepper, until the onions are soft. Set aside to cool whilst you prepare the pork.

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Using a sharp knife, butterfly the pork so that you can lay it out flat to stuff it.

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Rub in some salt and pepper all over the exposed pork flesh, then spread the cooked onions over it. Now lay the bacon rashers over the onions and roll the pork back into its original shape. Secure with string, and place in a roasting pan. You might have to poke the onions and bacon back into the piggy (mine splurged out somewhat), just to tidy it up a bit. Pat the skin dry with a piece of kitchen towel, then score with a sharp knife and rub some salt and pepper into it.

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Place the joint in the very hot oven for 20 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 170°C for the remaining cooking time (about 35 minutes per 500 g). You will end up with something that looks like this:

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Prepare the cabbage whilst piggy is resting. Steam the shredded cabbage in a pan with the chicken stock, for about 5 minutes. Add the butter, cream, seasoning, and stir. Continue to cook, uncovered, for a couple of minutes.

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Serve with slices of the pork, and a nice chunk of crackling (watch your teeth).

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Braised pork belly

So…for tonight’s dinner! A bit of effort for mid-week (in future this dish will probably be a weekend job), but it was totally worth it. I did cheat a little with the soy sauce (I don’t have any of that low carb stuff) but I figure it’s not a big problem in the grand scheme of things!

Ingredients:
600g pork belly strips (I’m sure this will also work with one big chunk of belly pork)
1 bunch of spring onions
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chunked
1 tbsp ginger paste (or a piece of fresh ginger, shredded)
1 tsp five-spice pork belly
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
Splash of cider vinegar
1 tbsp beef dripping (or lard, or olive oil) for frying
Freshly ground pepper
1 small glass white wine
300ml chicken stock
1 head broccoli cut into florets

Marinate the pork in the soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. You could leave this for a few hours, but I only left it whilst I was preparing the vegetables (so, about 10 minutes). Heat the dripping in a pan large enough to hold the pork belly. When the fat is nice and hot, fry the pork belly until browned on all sides. Set the pork to one side and reduce the heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, chilli, ginger, five-spice and some black pepper and stir-fry briefly. Return the pork to the pan and add the wine and enough stock to almost cover the pork. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, on a very low heat for 2 – 2.5 hours.

The pork should now be tender (soft enough to cut with a spoon). Remove the pork from the pan and replace with the broccoli. Whilst the broccoli is cooking in the piggy liquor, sear the pork in a frying pan to crisp up the skin a little. Cut into cubes and serve with the broccoli and some of the spring onions.

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