In the spring of 1995 I went to Ballymaloe House near Cork in Ireland to do a guest chef stint at
If you want to cook this dish go and find some free-range or organically reared pork with at least 2 cm fat between skin and meat. The preferred cut is best end of the loin which you should ask your butcher to chine and skin; make sure he gives you the chopped up chine bones and the skin to make crackling. Ask him to leave approximately half the fat on the roast and half attached to the skin. The rib bones should still be attached to the joint and the roasting is done with these under the meat forming a kind of rack. Do not omit the marination; some authorities do and they are missing a vital step. The interaction between the pork, the marinade and some complex enzyme action in the cooked milk is what produces the exceptionally tender and moist result.
For the marination, season the pork and put it to marinate in the vinegar and wine for at least 2 hours, preferably more.
To roast, preheat the
After this 15 minutes the marinade should have nearly evaporated, so add
Test the joint for doneness by inserting a cooking fork for 10 seconds then withdrawing it and gingerly touching the part of the tines which were in the centre of the meat to your lips. Cooked meat is hot but not scalding (you hope). If you have any doubts, baste the meat and give another 15 minutes – nobody in their right mind likes rare pork.
To finish, remove the pork from the oven and take it out of the roasting dish. Rest on a serving platter in a warm place (perhaps the switched-off oven). Examine the rather unappetising mess in the roasting tray. If rather dry and brown with blobs of cooked milk, add
To carve, remove the serving plate from the heat and transfer the pork to a carving board. Pour or scrape any juices from the plate into the gravy. Cut the pork into slices between the ribs, one slice with a rib, one slice without, and arrange on the hot serving plate. Pour any juices from the chopping board into the gravy and coat the pork with it. Serve with crackling, if done, and the rest of the gravy in a sauce boat.
This joint is very good with boiled new potatoes and sautéed Swiss chard (or spinach).
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.