Suckling Pigs for Christmas 2017<br>– What A Grand Idea !

Suckling Pigs for Christmas 2017
– What A Grand Idea !

Christmas Food Recipes Cooking Tips Recipes

 

PREPARING , COOKING, AND SERVING A SUCKLING PIG FROM ALTERNATIVE MEATS

We can’t begin to tell you how  we’ve watched this fabulous product increase in popularity each year, since we began to introduce them on our website.   Not only do they present beautifully as a centrepiece for any feast,  but they provide enough delicious sticky roast pork to feed at least 15 -18 very hungry adults, making them a perfect alternative to the traditional roast turkey.

The most common questions we receive are “Will it fit in a domestic oven?” and “How do I cook it?” so I hope to put your minds at rest here in this section.   We also sell Porchettas, which are a boneless, rolled version of the same thing, which is equally delightful to eat but has less of an impact visually.  These also come in smaller joints though, so may well suit smaller gatherings.

Our piggies are either intact (arriving with their head and feet left on), or are “butchered” where these are completely removed.    They always come oven ready.

The reason that we offer this option is that the original suckling pig was traditionally brought to the table on a large platter with its head on, usually carrying an apple or similar treat in its mouth, with its feet curled underneath.   If this is just a little too traditional for you,  then we would suggest that you have the head and trotters removed before you have the piggie sent to you.

FRANKEN-PIG……?

As we order in whole litters at a time we usually end up with pigs all at the same size, which is approximately 10kg in weight and the average length of a whole pig is 26″ or 66cm.   We have found that it is possible to curl them around in a large Turkey Roasting Tin although they do fit better and more easily in a domestic oven with the head and feet off.   A little trick you can use is to remove the head/feet (either yourself or ask us) and to cook these alongside the piggie … then “re-attach” the head before presentation. (Hence the Franken-pig reference!)  Traditionally whole roasters were brought to the table with a garland of holly and bay leaves around their necks for decoration … you could always hide the join with a similar idea!

Here is a photo of a whole unbutchered suckling pig.   Obviously, once the head and trotters are removed the pig begins to look more like a large pork roasting joint, but it is still spectacular and absolutely delicious!

Suckling Pig Curled Up

Our best advice for cooking either the whole suckling pig or the porchetta (which is basically a suckling pig that has been boned out and stuffed) is to treat as you would a large roasting joint of pork.  We, (and lots of our customers), have had great success with the following method:

Rub the pig all over with vegetable oil (we use olive oil) and then some lovely sea salt.   Heat your oven to a nice strong heat, around 200 degrees C and bake the piggie for at least an hour until the crackling develops and begins to look golden and crispy.   Now you can reduce the heat down to something like 160 degrees C and roast for a further 2.5 hours or until you are sure the juices are running clear when you pierce the deepest part of the pig.   Resting is quite an important part too – remove from intense heat to a holding oven or place foil around the tray and pig and keep warm for about 30 minutes before carving, for great results.   Personally i like to literally pull the suckling pig apart, it lends itself to shredding – whereas it is very easy to get slices from the porchetta which has its stuffing centre and stringing to keep it nice and round.

One of our customers has recently pointed out that he was purchasing a half-suckling pig, and he was anxious to ensure he treated his half-pig with just as much respect as the whole pigs described above.  Between us we decided that a good measure of cooking time would be to reduce the above cooking times by about a third.   Although the skin is very thin and crisps quite easily, there is a nice layer of fat that protects the meat during the cooking process, so as long as you reduce the heat down and cook slowly after you have kick-started the crackling, it is really quite difficult to ruin this dish!

 

Cooked Suckling Pig Large

 

Don’t forget some delicious apple sauce – easy and quick to prepare from the raw cooking apples, as follows :

Take about three large cooking apples,  (peeled, cored and sliced) and put them in a pan, then cover with a lid. Place the pan on a low heat, and add 50g of butter and 50g of caster sugar.  Stir occasionally, for about 15 mins until the apples break down into a purée. Stir to knock out any lumps, then tip into a serving dish.

 

 

Game Roulade – Cooking Instructions

Game Roulade – Cooking Instructions

Christmas Food Recipes Cooking Tips Recipes

Game Roulade These little parcels of delicious game are really quite versatile, in that you can serve them portioned according to which course you are intending – they do make a really interesting starter when sliced thinly and served hot on a bed of pureed parsnip with a little rich red wine jus.

Alternatively, large thick slices can be presented with a medley of roasted vegetables and game chips as a main course.

We recommend that you simply remove the packaging and then wrap the roulade in foil.  Place in a pre-heated oven, about 180 degrees C, Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes.  If you would like the bacon a little crispy you can open the foil for another 3 minutes or so, and then take from the oven and rest for at least 5 minutes before carving.  Serve with a little red wine jus, to which you can add any juices that were remaining in the foil.    Roasted vegetables are really nice with this winter dish, such as parsnips and carrots, and maybe some dauphinoise or broken new potatoes.

 

SECRET STEAKS REVEALED!

News & Views Special Offers

It’s National Butcher’s Week from 14th – 20th March and we are celebrating by reducing all of our Welsh Wagyu Beef “Secret Steaks” by 20% !!   These are cuts that are often only familiar to butchers and chefs, but which, with careful handling, will produce the most amazing results for your dining table.

Delmonico

The Delmonico is actually from the end of the rib – and this wonderful steak/chop will serve two easily, weighing about 700g in total.    There again, ONE hungry man can also dispatch his own Delmonico with little or no incentive necessary!

Cooking Instructions for Wagyu Beef Roasting Joints

Christmas Food Recipes Cooking Tips Recipes

Interestingly, Wagyu Beef Fat is unlike other beef fats in that it is low in mono-unsaturates, which means that cooking your roasties around the joint can almost be guilt free !

There are a couple of basic rules to bear in mind with Wagyu – it does definitely benefit from being brought to room temperature before you cook it, and also from resting afterwards.   I recommend at least 20 minutes resting time, 30 for a large joint –  it might seem excessive but it really is worth it.   The meat relaxes away from the heat and the juiciness and tenderness is enhanced.

I also like to bring a heavy based pan to a decent temperature to sear the meat before popping it into the oven to roast.   Cook at about 180 degrees C for 15 minutes / lb or 30 minutes / kg for a rare result, increasing that time for medium or well done results.

There is no need to use foil for the roast – but you might like to season it with a little salt and pepper before you begin the cooking process.    Enjoy every mouth watering bite …. !

Welsh Wagyu Roasting Joint ready for the off !
Welsh Wagyu Roasting Joint ready for the off !
BEEF OLIVES – USING WELSH WAGYU ESCALLOPS AND ROSE VEAL MINCE

BEEF OLIVES – USING WELSH WAGYU ESCALLOPS AND ROSE VEAL MINCE

Recipes Special Offers

When Diane, our Operations Manager, spotted this recipe she couldn’t believe her luck.   Here was a perfect opportunity to combine two of our products and try out a new recipe …. and if it worked, we could try combining the products on one of our Something Special for the Weekend Special Offers …

The recipe is quite simple, which is why we like it.  Open up the escallops and place the veal mince in a bowl ready to mix in the ingredients for the stuffing.  We used mixed fresh herbs – parsley, thyme and oregano, and we softened some garlic and shallots gently before adding those to the mix, along with a beaten egg to help the mix to bind together.

The start of preparationsChopped Shallots and Garlic being softened

Once the stuffing is nicely mixed you can begin to stuff the escallops, flattening some of the stuffing into the centre of the piece of meat and then rolling it up and securing with a skewer.

In fact, when Rachel tried this recipe she didn’t secure the escallop and when it cooked it seemed to be perfectly formed into a roll.  I was not quite so confident and used the skewers as shown below.Beef Olives - Rolled and Skewered

Beef Olives - Spread the Stuffing

Finally I made an onion gravy … A little secret just between us, I fried some onions in the same pan and simply added a mix of gravy granules, water and a stock cube.(sssh!)  There was some extra stuffing left over and so I used that up in some cabbage leaves which added nice colour to the dish …. This was placed in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 40 minutes … nice and slow braising produced a stunning, melt in the mouth and very flavoursome dish.   In retrospect I would cover with foil, at the time I just kept basting with the gravy.

Beef Olives with Onion Gravy Ready for Oven

CHRISTMAS DINNER IDEAS

CHRISTMAS DINNER IDEAS

Christmas Food Recipes Cooking Tips Recipes

This year we have come up with some really deliciously different ideas for the Festive Season and have created a section called Christmas Dinner Ideas, where we have tried to split up your entertaining days and suggest some exciting concepts that we think will make your Christmas Entertaining special.

Just to give you a taster … we have some great alternatives to the Big Bird this year …. Our Stuffed Porcetta makes an amazing centrepiece.  And as ever, we are delighted to offer the Brisbourne Free Range Geese, averaging at 6kg in weight, plump, delicious and ever so traditional for Christmas Day …………

goose_tableCooked Suckling Pig Large

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are the usual delicious large roasting joints on offer this year – Venison, Wild Boar, Welsh Wagyu, Rose Veal to name a few.

 

SPECIAL OFFER ON DICED ROSE VEAL

SPECIAL OFFER ON DICED ROSE VEAL

Special Offers

As promised, we’re keeping you abreast of our latest Something For The Weekend special offer ….and this is a real bargain …

8 x 500g (or llb) packs of Diced Rose Veal – all prepped, trimmed and ready for cooking – for the bargain price of £24.00 which is the equivalent of £6.00 / kg.   We usually sell this product for £10.00/kg so you can see the savings instantly!

Use this opportunity to make up some lovely casseroles and stews for those crisp autumn days – or just grab your chance to stock up your freezer before the colder months come along!  Why don’t you tell us your favourite veal casserole recipe?Rose Veal Diced

Roasted Lamb in Antonia’s Restaurant, Alaro, Majorca

Roasted Lamb in Antonia’s Restaurant, Alaro, Majorca

News & Views The Eaterie

If you haven’t been to Antonia’s Restaurant in Majorca….. you really have to make the effort to go,  I promise you ! As one of Rick Stein’s Super Heroes myself (oooh name dropper!) I often wish I could walk in the great chef’s footsteps and on this occasion I was really happy to do so.

We had the opportunity, whilst in Menorca on holiday recently, to pay a brief visit to my youngest son on the lovely Isle of Majorca, when he promised to take us up into the mountains to visit Antonia’s Restaurant in Alaro.    The drive is terrifyingly steep with many hairpin bends and lots of scary reversing because its only wide enough for one vehicle!

The quaint interior of Restaurant Es Verger

The quaint interior of Restaurant Es Verger

 

My son just kept saying, you’ll love it, its worth it, this will all be worthwhile!  He was absolutely right and, it goes without saying really, so was Rick.   I have since looked up the clip of him eating at the Restaurant and it is all just exactly as he described, down to the very dress Antonia is wearing!  The lamb was superb, easily the best I have ever eaten,  it is slow cooked with beer, or lager, and water … in wonderful woodfired ovens that you can smell as you walk in the restaurant, and served very simply with salad and roasted potatoes, but then it needs nothing more.  Yes, the scary drive was very worthwhile – everyone who was there seemed to be ordering the lamb – I can’t think why!   You can find a clip of Rick Stein’s visit too on You Tube, search for Antonia’s Roasted Mountain Lamb.  Have you ever been there?

 

High in the mountains of Majorca is The Lamb Restaurant

 

Shetland Sheep in Shropshire ?

Shetland Sheep in Shropshire ?

News & Views

Shetland Sheep in Field
When I received a phone call recently from Brian Hogan, I was surprised and delighted to hear that in fact there ARE Shetland Sheep in Shropshire!  On his small-holding, a few miles outside Shrewsbury, we were to find a lovely herd of these tiny sheep grazing and generally being sheepish …. and best of all, he was looking for somewhere to market his lambs this November.    Us Us ! we cried … and promptly made an appointment to trot down there and meet the sheep in question for ourselves.

The sheep are very, very small.  They are also very, very woolly! and having visited the Shetlands myself last year, I can completely understand the need for all that lovely warm fleece!  We inspected the herd, met the lambs and ewes and then also the rams – about half a dozen of up and coming youngsters complete with rounded horns and a very curious nature – but luckily for myself and Rachel, also possessing a very sweet temperament.

Meeting and Greeting taken care of, we then talked sheep with Mr and Mrs Hogan and have made arrangements to take delivery of about a dozen Shetland lambs in November ….. Keep a weather eye open for them appearing on our website!  In the meantime, if you don’t mind us dressing up some lamb as mutton, you can try our Herdwick Mutton

Thanks to Andrew Writer for the image used

Have you ever seen a Shetland Sheep or know of a rare breed near you?  Please leave your comment below, we’d love to hear!

 

Introducing Tastebuds

Introducing Tastebuds

News & Views

Welcome to the sister-website of www.alternativemeats.co.uk,  where you will find lots of great information,  recipe suggestions, cooking tips and menus,  as well as other food blogs from friends and colleagues.    We will also be featuring some of the fantastic hotels and restaurants that we supply across the country to give you fresh new ideas about where to visit and find fabulous food and a friendly welcome.