With prunes & spices
When out food shopping on Saturday evening I couldn’t get the cut of pork I’d wanted. Well, not in individual packs. Only large family-sized packs were left. So, I ended up going with leg of pork steak instead. This really needs a stewing meat rather than a cut that needs to be grilled. However, I’ve cooked with boneless pork shoulder steaks quite a few times so I know how to give proper instructions below. And every time I’ve cooked with boneless shoulder steaks they turn out amazingly melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Not so with these leg steaks. So I wasn’t happy with my lunch, especially as I had to reheat after taking photos. Although, what surprised me was how good the pan-fried parsnips were with this gravy (if cooking for more I’d roast the veg instead), and I’ll be making this again as the gravy was that good. Like all gravies and sauces I started off with less spices, in this case the cayenne and ginger, and added more toward the end of cooking time. As for the prunes, I can only get jet black that smell more like dates when removed from their pack. They also have a slightly musky aftertaste which is why I’ve only used six of them. If I could get my hands on better quality chances are I’d use more. If anyone knows of any authentic British and French recipes for cooking pork with prunes I’d love to hear from you as I think this is a perfect combination for a slow-roasted casserole during long Winter days.
- 200g (7.05 oz) x boneless pork shoulder steaks, rinse and pat dry and if steaks aren’t even in size then do whack them a little with a kitchen mallet to get them more even
- ½ x lemon, rolled under palms and freshly squeezed through a sieve + extra for adding to the gravy if needed and/or to serve
- 2 x plump garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed and sliced
- seasoning, both sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 6 x pitted or already stoned prunes
- 5 x juniper berries, slightly crushed
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split
- 3 x sprigs fresh thyme, rinsed
- 1 x small onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
- 1 x celery stalk, washed, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 x medium carrot, peeled, trimmed and cut into 3 or 4 pieces
- 1 x large pinch cayenne pepper (use less to begin with)
- 1 x small piece fresh ginger, about 1.5cm or ½ inch used, peeled and finely grated (use less to begin with and add more to personal taste)
- 250ml (0.52 US pt lqd) x water
- ¼ x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
- lemon zest, to serve – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Marinate the boneless pork shoulder steaks in the lemon juice and add the garlic slices on top. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight (in my case). Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6), let the pan heat up before adding oil. When pan is hot scrape all of the garlic off the steak and after adding a glug of oil place the steak in to seal, which took mine about 10 minutes each side. Take off heat for a little bit if any signs of scorching are visible as the citrus sugars can burn which is why I only used heat No 3. After turning over the steak season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, I used only 4 grinds of salt and 6 of pepper. Then add the sliced garlic back to the pan, discarding the lemon juice. Make sure the garlic doesn’t turn golden. When garlic starts to colour scrape those unto the steak to prevent them from scorching as they can leave a very unpalatable taste.
- In the meantime prep the vegetables needed for the stock. Measure out the water and grab a stock cube, using only a quarter of it.
- Pour the water into the pan with the steak, add the other ingredients except for the fresh ginger. Put on heat No 4 with a lid on pan and bring to a boil. Then, stir through to make sure the stock cube has dissolved. Add some of the freshly grated ginger, allow to infuse before tasting for any extra cayenne and ginger needed. Again add salt if required. Reduce heat to No 2, again with a lid on pan, and simmer for at least another 30 minutes. Do keep an eye on any possibility of scorching happening and reduce heat if necessary. Add a splash of water if gravy is getting too dry, and do taste again for any needed extra spices and seasoning before serving. Remove steak from pan and allow to rest in a warm place before straining the gravy. If it’s necessary to thicken the gravy put a small pan on heat No 1 with a dessertspoon of flour and the same of oil to create a type of roux. Allow at least 5 minutes for its floury taste to cook out, taking the pan off heat if bubbling occurs as this must not turn brown, putting the pan back on heat when bubbling subsides. When gravy is needed simply add some of the roux, stirring constantly over moderate heat and add more to personal taste if necessary.
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