It was a super long Bank Holiday weekend: a jazz afternoon at Catisfield Memorial Hall https://www.catisfieldmemorialhall.co.uk/
amongst many friends and neighbours for our community Jubilee event. A signed copy of my bookwww.pennymelvillebrown.com
was an early prize in the tombola (apparently gleefully selected by an avid young cook). Sunday’s leisurely visit to the “out apiary” in the Titchfield conservation area https://www.fareham.gov.uk/leisure/open_spaces/countryside_and_woodlands/abbeymeadows.aspx
was followed by an impromptu chance to join the audience of the local community theatre’s https://www.google.com/search?q=titchfield+festival+theatre&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjtyrO3vZn4AhWlaPEDHT6gA1cQ2- production of Romeo and Juliet. The performance was in the ancient medieval barn which Shakespeare almost certainly visited. It feels very special to sit in the wooden structure created from trees that pre-date the playwright by over a century.
A special lunch for 12 was the Friday warm-up celebration meal. The roast chicken, potatoes and stuffing balls posted a while ago https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL_ppOpyFXIFrmDbRpScTCT3gDVSlT0w6
was the basis with the addition of an experimental piece of belly pork. It is all incredibly easy and just requires long, slow cooking.
It proved to be a true community meal with contributions from all sides: the first course of smoked salmon terrine, prawns and avocados from neighbours; the sous-chefs baguettes crunchy with pumpkin and sunflower seeds; a friend’s wonderful handmade strawberry tart with her excellent sweet pastry and crème pâtissière; lashings of wine and chocolates; a fabulous display of flowers. I’d added my baked fruit salad https://youtu.be/QuqnwVQwtQQ
and ginger biscuits to offer a little warmth to offset the British “summer” weather. It was a seven-hour super-convivial event that succeeded due to very many helping hands. The highlight was Dave’s impromptu renditions on his bagpipes and the ukulele.
An added bonus: there was enough cream left-over to make more ice-cream https://youtu.be/QbnBtIYkqj4
Rosemary from Australia has flaunted her lime version (with fruit direct from her tree in the garden). I made-do with coffee with chopped walnuts and Kahlua. Delicious.
This hugely easy method of roasting pork makes the meat wonderfully succulent:
1 litre warm water.
1 large piece of belly pork (about 12 by 15 inches but smaller would work too).
Dissolve the salt in the water and allow to cool in a large, lidded container.
Place the pork in the salt water, cover with the lid and allow to brine for 24 hours in the fridge.
The morning a day before the lunch (about 1000), remove the pork from the brine and place in a roasting tray.
Place the tray in the oven at 50C.
24 hours later, remove the pork and pour off any liquid.
Remove the crackling and place on a tray in the oven to complete crisping.
Remove the bones from the pork before covering the meat with foil and returning the tray to the oven for a further 3 to 4 hours to ensure that the thickest part of the meat has reached at least 70C.
Remove the pork and crackling and keep warm while cooking the roast potatoes.
The brining for 24 hours is optional. I use a large 4 litre ice-cream box.
My gas oven has a 75C Slow Cooking setting but, if the setting is reduced to the lowest possible before the oven would switch off, it heats at 50C.
If slow cooking the chicken, it can go into the same oven at the 24-hour stage to allow it some 3-4 hours to also reach 70C.
Pour the pork juices into a container that can go into the freezer. After an hour or so, the fat will have solidified and can be discarded before adding the juices to the gravy.
There was a medley of vegetables: carrots and peppers for colour; sugar snaps and French beans for texture; some asparagus stems for seasonal flavour; courgettes, cauliflower and broccoli florets for bulk plus a couple of thinly sliced leeks. All were prepared to fork-size the day before, stored in plastic bags overnight in the fridge and simply steamed on the day.
Date for your diary: 1030 Monday 13 June.
Chocolate features: vegan cake and indulgent brownies. I’ll also post a gluten-free brownie version sent by that same Australian friend.