Easter Monday saw a new favourite at the table; roast pork. Chicken with all of the trimmings has always been the traditional roast in our house. But trying to get a free range chicken in our Chicken Run obsessed town is like trying to get an Easter egg to stay unopened in the Hall household until Easter Sunday - impossible.
Intensively reared pork has been in the news a lot recently. British pig farming is on the decline due to the market being flooded with cheaper pork, and our British farmers are suffering because of it. I can't work it out over here in the U.K.; we are incredibly proud people, always telling other nations how great we are. Yet we are happy to consume the two most abused animals on the planet, chickens and pigs, without much conscience of where or how they were raised. And in turn, the industry is suffering to the gain of other nations.
For me the philosophy is simple; eat them a little less often and pay a higher price for a better quality and tastier meat. For more information, please visit this worthy campaign and sign the petition.
The pork I used for our roast was the loin. A quality piece of pork gives a rich seam of fat that, when cooked properly, gives crunchy irresistible crackling with soft butter like fat underneath. A boned loin leaves a lovely space for stuffing. The classic sage and onion that accompanies pork so well was given a twist with a simple stuffing of caramelised shallots, fresh sage and lemon zest. Simple roast root vegetables and a thin gravy made from the roasting juices made for a classy Easter Monday meal. Pigs are worth it.
Pork Loin with Caramelised Shallots, Sage and Lemon
1.5kg of pork loin, boned
2 onions, halved
For the stuffing
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
4 large shallots sliced, I used banana shallots
2 good handfuls of fresh sage (dried would work too), roughly chopped
Thinly grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
For the crackling
Juice of the lemon
3 tbsp honey
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C, GM7.
2 - Take your loin and lay it out fat side up. Using a sharp knife, cut strips into the fat about 1cm apart, ensuring that you do not penetrate the flesh underneath. Rub salt into the cuts.
3 - Heat up the oil in a frying pan. Add the shallots and cook for 5-10 minutes on a gentle heat until caramelised. Add the sage and lemon zest, season with a little salt and pepper and leave to cool.
4 - Dab the skin with kitchen roll to soak up any leaked water. Turn the pork so that it is flesh side up. If there doesn't seem enough room to stuff it, make an incision in the flesh so that it gives you a little extra room for stuffing and rolling.
5 - Season the flesh then lay the stuffing down the centre. Roll it and bind it with string. Ask your butcher to show you the best way but a few simple ties and knots will do.
6 - Heat a little olive oil in a thick roasting tray on the hob. Quickly seal the meat all over until beginning to brown. Lay the halved onions onto the tray along with any remaining sage and lay the meat on top to form a bed.
7 - Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, and then turn down the heat to 160 degrees C, GM3. Roast for a further 25 minutes per 500g. For the final 15 minutes, stir together the lemon juice and honey and drizzle over the skin.
8 - Remove from the oven and put the meat onto a carving board to rest for 10-15 minutes. Make a simple gravy by pouring in a glass of white wine or cider and a tablespoon of plain flour into the roasting tray on the hob. Crush the onions with a potato masher and keep stirring until you have a thick intense gravy. Loosen with some water and pour through a sieve.