Sslow cooking always feels so good this time of year. With the windows tightly closed, there are few things I love more than putting something on the stove or in the oven hours before it’s eaten. It does wonders for what is cooked and also gives the impression of such a “job done”. But what I like the most, with all those windows closed, is the smell that spreads and spreads throughout the house. The first bite may be with the eye, but it’s the smell of a dish on which anticipation is built.
Roasted Pork Shoulder with Quick Carrot Pickle and Sticky Rice (top photo)
It works great when you need to feed a crowd. The rice is the perfect canvas for the savory pork and its roasting juices. Radishes or another crunchy vegetable would be a good substitute for the carrots in the pickle.
Preperation 30 minutes
to cook 5:12
2½ teaspoons fennel seedsslightly crushed in a mortar
100ml oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoons of sweet brown sugar
50g of fresh gingerpeeled and coarsely grated
45 ml sweetened rice vinegar
½ teaspoon ground star anise
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2.2 kg pork shoulderskinless and boneless with remaining fat on top
400g sticky ricesoaked in cold water for an hour, then drained well
8 tablespoons (30 g) coriander leaveswith soft rods attached
For the carrot pickle
120 ml sweetened rice vinegar
4 teaspoons of maple syrup
½ teaspoon of salt
4 large carrotspeeled and julienned – use a mandolin, if you have one (600g)
7 spring onionstrimmed and sliced into thin rounds (60g)
First prepare the marinade. Put the fennel seeds, oyster sauce, chili flakes, brown sugar, ginger, vinegar, star anise, pepper, and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt in a baking dish 30cm x 20cm x 8cm deep. Mix well, then place the roast pork in the dish and brush everything with the marinade. Cover lightly with foil and let marinate at room temperature for at least three hours (or, if making ahead, refrigerate overnight, in which case take it out of the fridge at least an hour before roasting, to give it time to reach room temperature first).
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/Gas 4. Lift the foil lid, pour 450ml of room temperature water into the dish, then replace the foil, this time firmly. Roast in the oven for five hours, basting the meat every 30 minutes for the last two hours of cooking. At the end you should have about 200ml of liquid left in the bottom of the pan, so if necessary add a little more water.
Turn oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/Gas 6. Remove foil lid (save for later), baste pork once more and return to oven for 10-12 minutes additional, until the top is deeply browned in spots and the meat is shiny.
Remove from oven, cover lightly with aluminum foil and let stand for half an hour.
Meanwhile, put the rice in a medium saucepan that you have a lid for, cover with 440ml of cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and, once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover loosely so steam can escape. Cook gently for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes.
About 10 minutes before serving, prepare the pickle. Put the vinegar, maple syrup and half a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl and mix. Add carrots and spring onions, toss well to coat, then set aside.
To serve, gently separate and coarsely shred the pork with two forks. Ladle rice into bowls, top with pork, drizzle with roasted juices and serve with marinated carrots and cilantro on the side.
Mung bean and barley khichri with Spicy Pine Nut Lime Ghee
This comforting one-pot meal is a South Indian dish traditionally prepared with rice and a mixture of lentils. It has as many variants as its name has spellings (khichdi Where kishri, to name but two). Here, the barley texture adds a nice bite. Feel free to swap the mung beans for any other lentil, such as puy, which retains its shape after cooking. To make the dish vegan, replace the ghee with olive oil.
Preperation 20 mins
to cook 1h25
150g pearl barley
75g green mung beans
75g chana dal
170g ghee (or olive oil)
3 onionspeeled, halved and thinly sliced (400g)
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
2 teaspoons of cumin seedsslightly crushed in a mortar
40g of gingerpeeled and finely grated
10g fresh turmericpeeled and finely grated
200g tinned crushed tomatoes
8 tablespoons (30 g) coriander leaveswith a soft stalk attached, coarsely chopped
2 limeseach cut into 4 wedges
For the spicy ghee
50g pine nuts
2 teaspoons black mustard seedsslightly crushed in a mortar
1 teaspoon ground Kashmiri chili pepper (or paprika)
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
Put the barley, mung beans and chana dal in a medium bowl, pour over one and a half liters of boiling water, cover and let soak for one hour. (Alternatively, if you want to go ahead, soak them in cold water overnight, then drain, wash in cold water until clear, then set aside to drain.)
Put 70g of ghee in a large sauté pan that you have a lid on over medium-high heat. Once melted and hot, add the onions, cinnamon, bay leaves and a quarter teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the onions are softened and slightly golden. Add the cumin seeds, ginger and turmeric, and cook for two minutes until fragrant, then stir in the tomatoes, soaked and drained barley, mung beans and chana dal, a liter and half of boiling water and a teaspoon and a quarter of salt. Cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally at the beginning and more frequently at the end to prevent the mixture from sticking, for one hour, until most of the water has been absorbed and that the khichree has a thin, porridge-like consistency. Let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the spicy ghee. Put the remaining 100g of ghee in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, stir in the pine nuts and cook for a minute, until lightly browned. Off the heat, stir in the mustard seeds, the Kashmiri pepper, the pepper flakes and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.
Divide the khichri into bowls. Divide the cilantro and spiced ghee between the bowls and serve with the lime wedges on the side.
Carrots stewed with hazelnuts and mozzarella
Slow cooking carrots this way really intensifies their flavor and brings out their natural, earthy sweetness. Try to get carrots that are about the same size, ideally around 16cm long and 3-4cm wide at the thicker end. Serve with roasted or poached chicken or salmon.
Preperation 30 minutes
to cook 1h40
Serves 4 as an accompaniment
6 medium to large carrots (850g), peeled and halved lengthwise (700g net)
4 shallots (175g), peeled and halved lengthwise (150g net)
6 garlic clovesunpeeled, lightly mashed with the flat of a knife
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
90ml olive oil
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
4 teaspoons lemon juice
125g buffalo mozzarellaroughly torn
25 g shelled hazelnutsvery well grilled and roughly cut in half
10g basil leavesroughly torn
Heat the oven to 140 C (120 C fan)/275 F/Gas 1. Place the carrots, shallots, garlic, thyme, oil and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt in a large ovenproof skillet. Stir to combine, then roast for 90 minutes, stirring gently every half hour, until the carrots are tender but not falling apart (the thicker parts should still have a light bite).
Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 240C (220C fan)/475F/Gas 9. Drizzle the carrots all over with the maple syrup and, once the oven is up to temperature, return them to the hot oven for 10 more minutes, or until until they start to color in places (they won’t be too golden). Remove and let cool for five minutes, then stir in the lemon juice.
Sprinkle the mozzarella with a small pinch of salt. Transfer half of the carrot mixture (including the shallots, garlic and thyme) to a large dish with a rim, arranging them so that they are all facing the same direction, then distribute half mozzarella on top. Repeat with remaining carrot and mozzarella mixture. Pour over the liquid in the pan, then sprinkle over the hazelnuts and basil and serve hot or at room temperature.