Green Pork

This is a farmhouse recipe from Derbyshire. Mrs S. Cullins kept a kind of recipe commonplace book in the early nineteenth century. No date is given, but the handwriting dates it. She says that her mother used sometimes to give them “a green dinner” consisting of a leg of pork with green stuffing, green dumplings, peas, cabbage, spinach and roast potatoes sprinkled with parsley. There was also “a red dinner” but she does not describe it. It seems likely that it would have been boiled salt beef with carrots and red cabbage cooked separately. This is interesting because the particular pleasure in the colour of food goes back to medieval times.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 lb (2 to 2½ kg) top leg of pork, scored for crackling
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned flour
  • sticks (180 g) butter or ¾ cup dripping
  • Potatoes for roasting
  • 12 to 16 green dumplings
  • Peas, cabbage or spinach
  • Gravy
  • Gooseberry or apple sauce

The Forcemeat

  • 2 cups (240 g) fine white fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup (120 g) shredded suet
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (dried will do but it does not help the colour)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • A little milk, if required

Method

Slash the pork in 4 of the scores which the butcher has made for crackling, to a depth of 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm). Additionally, cut just beneath the skin through the thin layer of fat on top of the meat to lift a flap about 3 inches (8 cm) long on top of the joint.

Make the forcemeat by mixing the breadcrumbs, suet, sage, oregano, half the parsley, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of black pepper. Break the egg into the mixture and stir and beat well. If the mixture is too dry to amalgamate, add a little milk.

Pull the cuts in the meat well open and stuff as much forcemeat as possible inside. Spread all the remaining forcemeat in the opening and between meat and skin.

Rub the whole joint with the seasoned flour. Put the meat in a baking tin with the butter or dripping and plenty of potatoes. Put the baking tin in a hot oven, 400°F (200°C, Gas Mark 6). After 1 hour baste the meat and potatoes. If the crackling is becoming dark, reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C, Gas Mark 4). Bake for 1 more hour.

Meanwhile, prepare and cook the dumplings and the peas, cabbage or spinach.

Remove the joint to a large dish and surround with the dumplings. Put the potatoes in a separate dish and sprinkle thickly with the remaining parsley. Put the peas, cabbage or spinach in another dish. Serve with a good gravy and the gooseberry or apple sauce.