Monday, 8 March 2010

Pork Neck Cooked in Chai Infused Milk

Chai spices

Sounds weird. And looks even weirder. But trust me. It works. Pork neck is the latest “Forgotten Cut” that I’ve stumbled across not selling very well in Waitrose. I bought a kilo of pork neck for around four quid and got very excited when I found out that some people regard it as a very special cut. It is richly seamed with fat, not unlike a good rib eye or a feather blade which means it is almost impossible to dry out. Like a blade, you can either cook it super fast or nice and slow.

Feeling inspired by Niamh’s pork loin cooked in milk from the River Café and Moro cookbooks, I decided to extend the idea a bit further. Niamh slow cooked her pork in whole milk with bay and cinnamon which I could almost smell as I read it. But what I was smelling quickly morphed into masala chai which I guzzled by the gallon in Zanzibar. I wondered what would happen if I dropped the bay and instead added cloves, star anise, peppercorns and lots of cardamom to my cinnamon. There was only one way to find out.

Ingredients:

1 pork neck
2 litres of whole milk
4 star anise
10 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
2 sticks of cinnamon
8 cloves
Knob of ginger
Salt

Method:

Stage 1. Season the neck fillet and sear until golden.

Searing neck fillet

Stage 2. Place neck in a slow cooker with the spices and milk.

Pork neck in slow cooker

Stage 3. Simmer for 3 hours until the pork is tender.

Stage 4. Transfer pork into an oven dish and blast for 20 minutes to help the milk to caramelise.

Serve with rice and greens.

Chai pork neck

I wish it looked better. Unfortunately it doesn’t photograph well. So you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that it is delicious. The meat was moist, tender and full of porky flavour. Meanwhile the chai spices gave a very subtle flavour to the sauce with the cardamom leading the way, just as it does in spiced tea. I am now a big pork neck fan and am looking forward to experimenting with it in different recipes. Let me know if you’ve got any cracking ideas for it.

Further reading:

Pork neck with rosemary
Pork neck on the BBQ
Sticky Asian pork neck
Chinese roast pork neck
Grilled pork neck with tamarind dip
Thai pork neck with soft noodles

9 comments:

Su-Lin said...

Oh, I adore this cut but had no idea it was selling in Waitrose! Thanks!

Dave said...

Cured, tied, and hung to age, pork necks also make an excellent capicola ham.

Lizzie said...

I use pork neck a lot in the summer for quick blasts on the bbq as kebabs. It may not have photographed well, but it sounds delicious.

natural selection said...

This is a brilliant idea! If you don't mind me making a suggestion. I think preparing this in a roasting pan would provide for better results in the way the heat is distributed.
adding more milk and basting every 30 minutes,this way more juice and fat reduce into the pan creating a velvety sauce and skin become crisp.
strain the sauce if you like,and lastly some raisins?

Rob at Eat Pictures said...

I think you're being a bit tough on yourself about the photos.
I particularly like the stage 1 image (pan searing the meat).
Long slow cooking will never deliver the sparkling appearance of a stir fry - but that's kind of the point isn't it?.
A quick sizzle over a hot flame is never going give you deep fragrant flavours and the meltingly tender finished result that a serious investment of time can provide.

The Cooking Ninja said...

mmm...interesting recipe. :)

As for photos, there are lots of Asian dishes that can't make good photo at all. :) As long as it tastes delicious, who cares much about pics. Good pics doesn't mean good food. That's just my theory.

Paunchos said...

@Su-Lin - I got it at the Waitrose on Marylebone High Street. Which in my opinion is the best.

@Dave - Capicola. Nice. Would love to make this one day.

@Lizzie - It was delicious. And I hear it is amazing over coals. And in lots of Asian spice as well.

@Natural Selection - I agree with you. A roasting pan probably would have been better. But it wasn't half bad. I missed out on the caramelisation process.

@Rob at Eat Pictures - True. It's definitely not all about the pictures. But they do help.

@The Cooking Ninja - Very true. I guess I just wanted it to look less like sick!

Helen said...

Oh how Waitrose cheap cuts section is going to miss you! I've not really experimented with pork neck but I sure as hell will. The pork does sound lovely. I am really into chai at the moment as some friends are addicted having just come back from India. Love the idea of using it in cooking.

Paunchos said...

@Helen - They probably will. But Cowie said that she sympathy bought some pigs cheeks today! And that in my absences she is turning into me. So maybe they will be alright. Would love to see what you come up with for pork neck. And also with the chai idea. It might work really well with chicken as I imagine it keeps it really moist. Like Natural Selection said, it probably works better when roasted for a bit rather than been exclusively slow cookered. And also you could definitely get away with upping the amount of spice used. I think the milk moderates the flavour a lot.

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