"Tiiiime, is on my side, yes it is!” Mr Jagger once belted this out with his Stones, probably after realising how rich he was and reality hitting home that he probably didn't have to do anything else ever if he didn't want to. 40 odd years on they still keep ploughing on; I wish they would get the hint.
For little old me I too have, albeit briefly, time on my side for the first time in years. In September I'm off to fulfil what I should have done years back when I finally become a teacher. So until the hard work begins then, I'm taking it steady and enjoying my final weeks of freedom.
Aside from maximum time with the nipper, this freedom inevitably entails lots of food related activities. I've cleaned out the demi johns ready for some summer wine and champagne making and the jars sterilised for lots of jam making. And although quick suppers are still the order of the day, with lots of exciting salads hitting the family table, I can indulge more in some good old slow cooking.
Slow braised well worked joints such as shoulder, brisket and blade are being marinated in all kinds of herbed spiced sauces before cooking until melting point. Pork shoulder still remains one of my favourite joints to cook with and this meal, a kind of Hungarian goulash, remains a true family classic and the kids love it. A sauce containing plenty of char-grilled pepper, zesty orange and smokey paprika breaks down the meat seductively. You need time on your side and a little patience, especially when the tummy rumbling smells fills your home, but it is time and patience more than worth dedicating.
Smokey Pork and Pepper Stew
6 red peppers
1-1.5kg pork shoulder, boned and skinned
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tbsp paprika, smoked or un-smoked
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tin of tomatoes
Zest and juice of 1 orange
A pinch of chilli
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160C/GM3. Put the peppers straight onto the gas hobs and cook, turning regularly, until blackened. Pop into a plastic bag and leave to cool. When cool, remove the skin as best possible (don't be tempted to wash) and remove the seeds. Chop up into a pulp and put into a bowl with any smokey juices.
2 - In a large frying pan or flameproof casserole dish, add the olive oil then add the pork. Cook, turning regularly, until golden all over. Remove and keep aside.
3 - Add the onions then slice the remaining peppers and add them. Cook, stirring regularly, until softened and beginning to colour. Add the garlic, paprika and tomato puree and cook for a further minute.
4 - Add the tomatoes, zest and juice of the orange and a pinch of chilli. Taste for seasoning. Stir thoroughly then add the pork shoulder. Pour in water until it just hits the top of the pork. Stir again then put on the lid and place in the oven. Cook for 2 and a half hours. Check it is done by trying to prise open the meat with two forks. If it doesn't come apart easily put back in the oven for 30 minutes then try again.
5 - When cooked, separate as much meat as possible so that it breaks up into the whole stew. Taste for seasoning then stir in the parsley. Serve with plain boiled rice, a spoonful of yoghurt or soured cream and more fresh parsley.