Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Search of Perfection

There's an old joke that says, "pizza is a lot like sex; when it's good it's really good ...... and when it's bad it's still quite good."

Before it started playing at 8:30 on Tuesdays, I thought that Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection, in which our self taught, culinary expert hero turns his attention to the nation's staple dishes would drive me nuts, but - truth be told - I've been riveted. I've been guilty in the past of dismissing Blumenthal's uber-geek attention to detail as affected , but when you see his laser beam concentration applied to something as apparently prosaic as frying the perfect chip you realize that you should just shut up and pay attention.

Which brings me in turn to jerk pork, I've been working for some time - and with the odd combination of obsessive-compulsive disorder and procrastination that seems to be peculiarly my own - on a version of this that I can ask Garfield to taste with my head held high.

The joy of this project, of course, is that my failures are a far better chowdown than almost anything else I am likely to get to eat.

I think I'm getting close, but on my last effort I found the meat a little dry (crisp skin and moist flesh is tricky) and the jerk seasoning too intense.

The next iteration I try is going to look like this:

Place the single piece of pork belly in a saucepan and cover with fresh water.
Bring slowly to the boil and skim the scum from the surface.
Simmer gently for 40 minutes and then allow to cool.
Pat the pork dry and then score the rind with a sharp knife.
Boost Walkerswood traditional jerk seasoning with extra garlic, cut with honey and oil, and then massage into the meat.
Wrap the pork in foil, place in a baking tin, put another baking tin on top and weight it down, then leave overnight in the fridge.
Pre heat the oven to maximum.
Open the foil so the skin is exposed.
Give it a ten minute blast at maximum temperature and then turn the oven down to 140 for two hours.
Knock up a jerk table sauce by boosting more Walkerswood seasoning with grated ginger, heating through with a cup of water and thickening with cornflower.
Carve the pork into 1cm segments and serve with the sauce.

We'll see how it goes. Last time I cubed the pork before marinating it and didn't serve a dipping sauce.

For all that I am using store bought jerk seasoning I am on the brink of greatness, and also - now I come to think of it -moving further from Garfield whose marinade is much wetter than mine.

He is still better than me, though I am damn good.

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