Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pork: Dinner party recipes

With both of us on maternity leave this year we have more time on our hands to be domestic goddesses LOL ... well that was the plan! The reality is somewhat different. Being on one income and becoming 'stay at home' mums has meant we now want easy, quick dishes and economical meals. 

Both of us buy and eat quite a bit of chicken, its so versatile, but not the cheapest. Pork seems to be overtaking chicken by being an economical meat and like chicken, can be used in so many ways. It also ticks the boxes for the lads too. 

Each week our Mum arrives at our homes with food parcels - sometimes the parcel contains only one leek, two onions, three carrots and one roll of toilet paper, and I always ring Ingrid to see if she received the rest of the bag! However I have noticed in the last year or so pork has been a regular feature. She buys a variety of cuts and hunts out the specials, it has certainly made me more aware of pork and its flexibility.   

So we both thought, lets give pork a go, have a casual family dinner party, which really means no dressing up, no fuss and using fingers and this is what we came up with. Enjoy! 

Pork Belly Bites with Dipping Sauce - addictive

VANESSA Pork belly bites with ginger and chili dipping sauce + spiced red wine vinegar sauce

I love pork belly, I know its hardly the "healthy cut" but all the juicy fat running through it makes it tender and hard to resist. I have ordered it occasionally at restaurants but more frequently at Canton Cafe  in Kingsland - their crispy pork is a regular feature whenever the family gathers for a no frills feast. Like many restaurant and cafe meals I put pork belly in the 'too hard' basket deeming it difficult to get right and easier to buy.  

Pork belly in fact couldn't be easier - the prep is simple, the time factor is pretty much throw it in a low heat oven and leave and the sauces can even be straight out of a jar if you are pushed for time.  

As I have only made it once, the pork I used was supplied by the lovely folk at Harmony, it was organic and the result was melt in your mouth. My advice, buy the best pork you can afford and always seek NZ born and bred piggies...

Perfect bite sized snack for parties - the lads LOVE them!!!

Pork belly bites 
What you need
Pork belly - we were supplied with 800g 
Olive oil
2 onions sliced into thick circular disks
How to make
Preheat oven to 160 degrees
Dry the pork belly with paper towels, especially the skin.
In an oven proof dish line with tin foil so the pork belly can be covered loosely on the sides but keeping the top/fat side free to crisp up.
Layer the onions on the bottom of the tin foil so the belly can be placed on them. (Apparently you can also use apples)
Score the skin - the point of this is so the skin crisps up well and its easy to cut up when its cooked. I scored the skin in even squares about 2cmx2cm.
It was difficult to cut through mainly because my knives weren't sharp enough. I re-scored it half way through the cooking process which helped. I haven't tried it but assume a heavy craft knife would do the job well!
Rub the pork belly with oil and salt and place on top of the onions skin side up.
Bake in the oven for 3 hours - DO NOT BASTE
After 3 hours turn the heat up to 200 degrees and bake for a further 20 Min's, checking regularly to ensure the skin isn't burning.
I ended up also grilling the skin to ensure it was crispy all over. I covered the bits that had crisped up nicely with tin foil so they didn't burn.
Cut into cubes and save the juices for the spiced red wine vinegar dipping sauce or make a traditional gravy.

Ginger and chili dipping sauce  
What you need
A palm sized chunk of fresh ginger
1 large chili (Add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp fish sauce (from Asian supermarkets or Asian section of the supermarket)
How to make
Blitz everything in the food processor
In a saucepan bring to the boil and simmer until it reduces to a sauce like consistency.

Spiced red wine vinegar dipping sauce
What you need
Juices from the pork belly pan
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
How to make
Bring to the boil and simmer until it reduces to a sauce like consistency

Tip - When making the sauces above, taste taste taste and don't be afraid to add more or other ingredients to suit your taste buds. If its not thickening up it hasn't had enough time to reduce or you need to add more sugar. 
Vanessa X

INGRID Honey glazed pork fillet with bacon and pear + prunes wrapped in bacon
It has been over twenty years since I last tasted pork or bacon. I became a 'flexitarian' when I was 15, worked in a bakery and had to fill pie casings with gristly meat. It turned me off beef mince, then other meats soon followed. This was before Ponsonby Pies or The Fridge Pies in Kingsland, your pie choices were Big Ben, Georgie Pie, or your local bakery. Funny that chicken never got the heave ho, probably had more to do with my best mate at the time who also adopted a semi vegetarian lifestyle and also a love of my mum's chicken schnitzel that I wasn't prepared to give up.

I tried different sized pear wedges - small wedges worked and looked best!

I came back to meat via a medium rare eye fillet steak that Vanessa ordered at Sausalito Cafe in Northcote Point. I was 7 months pregnant with my first born, Rhys and whether I was iron deficient or something chemical had changed, I didn't just eye up Vanessa's steak, I stuck my fork in and ate it!

Two and a half years later and I'm rediscovering all different types of meat. I can't believe it took me so long to return. I've always loved the smell of bacon frying, but being a flexitarian (don't you just love that word!), I ate chicken bacon, Vanessa always said " why don't you just eat the real deal?" and I have to agree, its seems quite ridiculous now.

Did you know? Pork Fillet has less fat than chicken breast but twice the iron.

When we decided to do a food fight using pork, it was a big challenge for me, as I mentioned I'm a pork cooking virgin, so I needed to create a dish that was simple to prepare (within my 'first timers' capabilities), used seasonal ingredients (pears), was quick to cook and had a bit of a wow factor (to prove my skills).

I checked out the extraordinary kitchen website which has great tips for cooking pork, recipes, ideas etc and Simon Gault videos on how to cook with pork. I even found out that you can eat pork quite pink too, in fact whatever you do don't overcook it (unless your cooking pork belly that is, cook it slow and low). Enjoy, Ingrid

Honey glazed pork fillet with bacon and pear 
enough for 2 
What you need:
Olive oil
Salt/ pepper
1 fillet of nz pork (per 2 persons) We used Harmony free range pork
1 pear (Any type will do, but I used Packham) cut into six to eight wedges (any leftover pear cut it into chucks and chuck in the roasting dish.
6 to 8 rashers of streaky bacon (I used Harmony free range bacon) 
4 tbsp of manuka honey (although you could use any type of honey also)

How to make:
Set oven temp to 180C. Rub pork fillet in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and in a pan sear each side of the fillet for 3 mins. Place fillet in a roasting dish. Wrap each rasher of bacon around a wedge of pear. Cut 6 to 8 slices down the fillet away from the grain, and shove a bacon wrapped pear into the slice. 

Roast for 25-30mins until bacon is cooked (this really depends on your oven, the best way to check the fillet is to make sure the outside is cooked but the inside of the pork is cooked but a pink color.  Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Finish it off by grilling for a few mins in oven until the bacon crisps.

Roast prunes wrapped in bacon
What you need:

How to make:
Simply wrap bacon around a prune and stick a toothpick through, the middle holding the bacon in place. Roast for 25- 30 mins alongside your pork fillet. 

A BIG THANKS to Harmony for supplying us with our free range pork. It got the thumbs up from all our taste testers, the kids, a handful of friends, and especially the blokes.


  1. Yum! Both look absolutely delicious.

  2. They both were!!! would make both again for sure!!!

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  4. They both look scrummy! I'm so going to eat lots of belly pork this winter!

  5. Love both of these :) Great flavours... yes could well be a winter of pork!!