‘Would you call this golden?’ I asked my husband at the forty-five minute mark.
He peered into my frypan. ‘Not even close,’ he replied.
|The onion marmalade was refusing to colour-up|
It was T minus 20 hours and I had already been cooking for an hour. My youngest daughter was having her 1st birthday party, and since it would be last ever first birthday in our household, it felt only right to celebrate in style.
Braised Pork with Onion Marmalade (aka Pulled pork rolls) was one of those recipes I had been aching to try. However, since it needed a 3kg hunk of pig and a full day to prepare, it wasn’t something you did at the last minute.
|From the book (image courtesy Jason Thomas)|
It took me a fair while to finely slice the onions. It made me very sad.
|Yes, I must be ridiculously confident (or stupid) to put such an awful picture on the internet... but those onions made me CRY|
But after an hour of sweating (the onions, not me) and caramelising, the damn things still weren’t golden. So I pulled my trademark cooking move, and ignored them. I disappeared off and began the spice rub for my pork and when I remembered the onions some time later, not only had they caramelised, but somehow (luckily) they hadn’t even burned.
The braised pork takes almost nine hours to cook at a low temperature (120C), and has to dry marinade overnight. The thing I liked about the spice rub, is that more than half of it consists of brown sugar. Plus cumin, thyme, fennel, garlic and pepper.
|This is the before picture|
I got personal with the pig and rubbed it all over before putting it in my beautiful red Le Creuset baking dish and bunging it in the fridge.
It was about quarter to five the next morning that I had the following thought process.
“I need to get up and pork the pork in the oven. Nine hours to cook, man that’s a lot of gas. Oven. Need to make those four dozen cupcakes as well. If I start the pork at 5am then it should be done by 2pm and give me time to shred it before guests arrive at 3pm. Oven. Cupcakes. Pork."
I couldn’t cook the pork in the oven at 120C for nine hours if I also needed to cook ten thousand cupcakes at 200C. Why was I only figuring this out now, on the morning of the party?
Luckily I had made pulled pork before (but an inferior recipe that called for a bottle of BBQ sauce to be dumped on top), and I had used the slow cooker. Easy fix. Except the other recipe was obviously so inferior I had chucked it out and wasn’t quite sure how long to cook it for, and whether the instructions for the oven were translatable to a slow cooker.
I guess I was going to find out.
So there I was at 5 in the morning banging around getting the slow cooker out and whipping up the cooking sauce, which had a host of flavours including more brown sugar (yay), Tabasco, soy, tomato paste, mustard, ginger and garlic. It also called for dry cider, which I didn’t have, so I opened a beer.
|It was very very early|
In case you’re wondering I didn’t drink the rest of it then (it was 5am!) but I did drink it later that afternoon. And yes, it had gone flat.
The pork happily cooked away all day. It made the house smell delicious.
|I sit and wonder why-oh-why-oh-why-oh-why|
Then, in front of Grease which was fortuitously playing on the TV, I got my forks and began shredding the tender meat. I drizzled a fair portion of the cooking sauce over it, and put it in the oven to stay warm.
When my guests arrived I took great pleasure in lifting the lid on the pork and showing them my onions. It was pretty saucy.
I made dozens of rolls, lacing them liberally with the onion marmalade and took them round on a big pink tray like the old-time cigar girls. The only person to refuse my rolls was a vegetarian but I think even she was almost convinced.
The recipe book says this is a special recipe for a late night party, and it certainly would be. Unlike my 3pm kids’ party time, if you had a late night party you wouldn’t need to get out of bed at 5am to start cooking.
Of course, if you’re the sort of person who is having late night parties, you probably don’t even know what 5am is. Half your luck.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about this recipe please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org