I was approached by www.travelsupermarket.com and asked if I would like to enter their current Holiday Flavours competition/campaign. It essentially focuses on the great dishes we discover when on holiday. The competition is open to everyone without a blog too. All you need to do is post a photo of your favourite dish from abroad on social media. Follow this link for full instructions http://bit.ly/HolidayFlavours
The brief was simple, recreate a classic dish from Spain or Greece. I love a cooking challenge like the next person, but where do you start I thought. Every version of paella or moussaka have already been recreated, or certainly I have. Hence I looked a little further and remember a dish that was always on the menu when I did my flying training in Jerez, Southern Spain. It was Lomo en salsa de almendras or Pork in Almond sauce to you and I. We used to ridicule the chef, he was great, about the fact he had made a pork korma curry without any spices. He had no idea what we were talking about. The dish was pork in an almond sauce. The sauce is essentially like the great British korma in that the sauce is thickened heavily with ground almonds. What a cracking dish to put my interpretation on and present day twist.
Spain has some great ingredients that simply are the best in the world. I tried to encompass most of these in the dish. Their pork, paprika, marcona almonds and saffron are where my focus was going to be. I’ve been a little extravagant with the pork here, but by using it wisely I’ve created a pork fillet centre piece, a slow roast crispy belly and a homemade chorizo stuffed cabbage leaf. My idea for the almond sauce was to make my own almond milk sauce. It really is so simple but you end up with an amazing fresh creamy sauce that is basically made of water!
I’ll elaborate here on how to make the fillet centre piece.
Lay out slices of serrano ham that are larger than the piece of fillet needed. Sprinkle some mushroom powder and fennel pollen over. Place the pork in the middle and wrap up. Tucking the excess ham to enclose the ends. None of the two ingredients are necessary, but make the difference from a nice piece of pork to one of the best you have ever tasted. The fennel pollen can easily be substituted for ground up fennel seeds. Fennel and pork are an age old combination. The main ingredient of a porchetta is fennel.
- 4 slices Serrano Ham
- 1 Tsp Dried Mushroom powder
- 1 Tsp Fennel Pollen
- 500g Pork Belly
- 1 Savoy Cabbage
- 100g Sliced Almonds
- 1 Pinch Saffron
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 2 Sprigs Thyme
- 400g Pork Fillet
- 50g Marcona Almonds
- 2 Large Carrots
- 1 Tsp, plus 2 Tsp. Paprika
- 600g, large Potatoes
- Prepare the centre cut of the fillet as discussed above. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge. Keep the trimmings.
- With the trimmings chop roughly with a sharp knife so that you have a tartare texture. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and 2 tsp of paprika. Set aside while you prepare the cabbage leaves. These need to be pulled apart and blanched in boiling water for 2 mins, then refreshed in cold water. Remove as much of the tough centre stem as you can with a sharp knife. Dry the leaf and take a rounded tablespoon of the prepared mix and wrap up in the leaf. Wrap tightly with cling film to create a ball shape. Repeat with the rest of the pork mix. Probably make 4 max. Set aside in the fridge.
- Heat the oven to 130°C FAN. Add the belly, with the skin heavily salted and place on a rack in an oven tray. Pour 300ml chicken stock/white wine/water in the base and cover all with foil. Cook for 2 hours, then remove the foil, cook for a further 1 hour. To finish place the belly until the grill for 3-4 minutes to crisp up the crackling. Take a couple of spoonfuls of the remaining liquid for the sauce.
- To make the potatoes, cook on high for 15 minutes in the microwave. Scoop out flesh, mash and add some milk and salt and white pepper.
- To make the almond milk. Add 250ml cold water to the almonds. Puree with whichever gizmo best suits this job in your house. Strain through muslin, or double thickness kitchen paper. Simmer the milk gently with the saffron, garlic and thyme until reduce to a third. Add the leftover cooking juices and when ready to serve warm the sauce and froth up with a stick blender.
- To cook the pork, set the oven to 80°c. Place the pork in the oven for 30-40 minutes. It will be cooked when it gets to 65°c or when lightly squeezed it feels like a just ripe banana. If it is still squishy, place back in the oven until firmer. (5-10mins)
- Steam the cabbage leaves for 10minutes.
- Finally, heat a tiny amount of oil in a pan, add the marcona almonds with some salt. Once they begin to colour, turn off the heat and add the other 1 tsp of paprika. Leave in the pan until ready to serve.