The current stretch to my cooking skills is sandwiches. I’m always too late to make breakfast in the morning and I get home needing to lie down and sleep not stand around and cook. Sunday is now the day I get to spend in the kitchen. Needing to flex my over-relaxed culinary muscles, I wanted to cook something new. As usual, I didn’t know what.
It was cold outside and I wanted something rich and filling but at the same time I wanted it to be sweet and spicy. It also had to be a cure for a week of drinking far too much. I looked to see if I had any beers which I didn’t mind emptying into a saucepan – Founder’s Dirty Bastard was dusted off and put beside the oven. The inspiration came somewhere between a meat and ale stew and jerk pork: all the spices and flavours of jerk plus onions, stock and beer, slow-cooked so that it reduces into a sticky, spicy bowl of gut-warming dinner.
Take some pork, preferably a fatty cut which can handle a few hours at 200C. Season some flour with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper and all spice. Dust the pork in flour and then seal in a hot pan. Remove and then add thickly cut onions or shallots. Soften with some sugar. Add garlic and scotch bonnet chilli then a few sprigs of fresh thyme, more seasoning, paprika and a pinch of all spice. I added some mushrooms here. Then some tomato puree. Cook for a few minutes then return the pork. Add some beef stock (about 400ml) and then pour in the beer – I used the whole bottle (minus a few sips for the chef, of course). I added some little carrots to up my veg intake, plus a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce and a teaspoon of marmite. Put the pot in the oven, covered, for 45 minutes and then uncover for up to an hour (until it’s the thickness you want it to be), stirring every 30 minutes or so. Serve with whatever you want – rice, mash potato, green vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes.
The finished bowl of food is exactly what I wanted: deeply spicy but still a little fruity from the scotch bonnet, richly savoury from the stock and marmite, sweet and a little bitter from the beer. One of those dinners that you have in a big bowl and it leaves you feeling full and warm.
No beer needed on the side – this was about recovery from beer, recovering from a busy week.