Friday, 21 February 2014

Pig head project 3: seared squid with homemade paprika sausage, purple sprouting broccoli and ink dressing

Finally we come to the end of the pigs head project, and to be perfectly honest I’ll be happy to start writing about new things again. But that said, I have thoroughly enjoyed tackling a piece of meat that was new to me and being able to create three very different meals out of it. It’s certainly inspired me to try out more of the undervalued cuts; they are so cheap to buy and can be made into really lovely dishes with a bit of thought and time. I was amazed at how far the head went, and once you stopped thinking about the anatomical side of things you were left with a lot of really decent meat. Although these cuts are not commonly found in the supermarket, it’s well worth getting to know your local independent butcher who can advise you on these cuts and can usually order them for you within a day or two. 

Even this week there has been loads of coverage on the news about how supermarkets are developing new schemes to deliver food not to people’s houses, but to convenient points such as tube stations to be collected. I found this quite depressing. This is another measure that is going to damage our high streets. Luckily where I live in Stoke Newington we have a high street that is 90% small independent businesses, and this diversity is such a refreshing change to the corporation dominance of other parts of town. Don’t get me wrong, of course I shop at supermarkets, but when it comes to food, the quality shines through in these small shops. I always find pork chops the most striking example of this, where the scrawny ones sold at the supermarkets are dwarfed by the cave-man style specimens from a butcher. And don’t get me started about the way that some of the big brands treat the farmers. It’s more than embarrassing. I digress, but my point is that without these specialist butchers, fishmongers, delicatessens, finding those great quality or less popular ingredients would be near impossible. 

With the braised cheek and doughnut dishes the pork was definitely the star of the show, whereas in this case it’s more a balance of three good ingredients that combine really well together. Squid and chorizo are classic partners and one I love, and this is kind of my attempt to replicate that. Although my method of making these sausages is totally makeshift and involves cooking the meat in the spices beforehand, I was amazed that it worked. I found that another fairly gruesome-yet-handy piece of pork, caul fat, acted perfectly as the casing and formed a crisp shell around the filling when fried. Aside from the initial slow roasting of the pork that you can do a day or two in advance, this is a really quick meal to knock together. 

Purple sprouting broccoli is bang in season and gives the finished dish another texture and an earthy, irony taste. Like the squid it also loves strong spicy flavours and marries really well with the paprika in the sausages. But don’t cook it too much; it just needs steaming or boiling for a couple of minutes.

I also wanted to include the squid ink in this recipe. It’s commonly used in risottos and pasta dishes but tends to dominate everything else and make it all look a bit, well, inky. I wanted things to be a bit more subtle here, so have used it in the vinegar and lemon reduction. Although very sharp, it cuts through the rich oiliness of the cooking juices used to make the rest of the sauce. 

Serves 2 for a light lunch. 


For the squid: 

1 large squid, cleaned and gutted then cut into large triangular pieces 
½ a lemon, juice only 
Olive oil 

For the pork: 

1 pork jowl, approx. 600/700g 
1 carrot, halved vertically 
1 leek, halved vertically 
1 onion, sliced thickly 
3 cloves of garlic, crushed 
1 star anise 
1 bay leaf 
A few sprigs of thyme 
1 cinnamon stick 
1 glass of white wine 
1 tbsp fennel seeds 

For the sausage mixture: 

25g butter 
1 shallot, very finely chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped 
1 lemon, zest only 
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika 
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste) 
½ tsp oregano 
An approx. A4-sized sheet of caul fat 

For the purple sprouting broccoli: 

10 florets of purple sprouting broccoli, trimmed 
Olive oil

For the squid ink dressing: 

4 tbsp white wine vinegar 
1 lemon, juice only 
1 bay leaf 
½ a small sachet of squid ink

Pre-heat the oven to 160⁰C. 

First roast the pork jowl. Use the sliced leek, onion, carrot and garlic as a trivet in the bottom of a roasting dish. Top with the star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, thyme, seasoning, white wine and about 150ml of water. Score ½ cm marks into the pork skin and rub in a generous amount of salt. Place the meat on top of the trivet and cover with foil. Bake for 3 hours, or until the meat is really tender. Raise the temperature of the oven to 220⁰C and continue to roast until the crackling is crunchy. Strip the soft meat from the crackling, it should fall away with little pressure, and shred well. 

Heat a saucepan up to a medium temperature and add the butter for the sausage mixture and a little olive oil. Fry the shallots, garlic, paprika, oregano, chilli flakes and lemon zest until very tender. Add the shredded pork meat and a good amount of seasoning and combine well. Reduce the heat slightly, cover the saucepan and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning then mash the ingredients together well. Spread the filling mixture out onto a plate to cool down quickly. 

To construct the sausages, lay the sheet of caul fat onto a flat surface. Make a long sausage out of the filling mixture and lay on top. Very carefully wrap with the caul fat, overlapping a little and making sure that the filling is held in tightly. Twist and cut into a few separate sausages, then put in the fridge for about 15 minutes. 

Make the dressing by putting the vinegar, lemon juice, bay leaf and seasoning into a small saucepan. Reduce over a medium heat until only about 2 tablespoons of liquid remains. Remove the bay leaf and squeeze in the squid ink. Mix well and taste; it should be quite sharp. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

Lightly score one side of the squid pieces in a crisscross and allow to come to room temperature on a plate. 

Fill a saucepan with well-salted water and bring to the boil. Also heat a non-stick pan to a medium temperature. 

When the pan is hot, fry the sausages in a little oil for a couple of minutes on each side until crisp on the outside. Be careful when turning them to reduce the risk of the caul fat breaking apart. 

Boil the broccoli for a couple of minutes until cooked but still retaining a bit of bite. Drain from the pan, season well and toss in the olive oil. 

While the other elements are cooking, heat up a heavy pan or griddle to a high temperature. When smoking, coat the squid pieces in olive oil and seasoning then sear quickly for about a minute on each side. Squeeze over the lemon juice right at the end.

To serve, put some of the broccoli and sliced sausage pieces onto a plate and top with some of the squid. Spoon some of the cooking juices from the sausage around the stacks and dot over some of the dressing.

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