Pork went out of favour in many Australian homes through the 1980s and 1990s, as consumers turned off hoggy flavours and aromas and generally preferred to use leaner types of meat.
Over the last decade or so, the quality of pork produced here has improved dramatically. Positive factors include free-range and organic production methods, a higher percentage of female pigs and a small but growing use of heritage breeds, the last being a bit luxurious for us but a welcome market development nevertheless. And both wholesalers and butchers have worked diligently to present cuts of pork that appeal visually and to the palate.
So, the pork we purchase at Ashburton Meats is always full of attractive flavours and textures, provided we deliver on our part of the journey from paddock-to-plate. The main cuts we use are pork belly, as spare ribs or a whole piece; boneless medallions, for a favourite winter dish; fillet, which Maggie slices thinly for a red Thai curry; and cutlets, which we marinade and cook in the Weber Q using the roasting set up.
The meat on the cutlets is just about the sweetest pork you can get, so we add a savoury edge using a marinade we have been making for the last seven years. I posted the recipe for this marinade back in April but we now have some photos that help bring the words to life, beginning with the finished product.
The marinade can also be used as part of the lining for roast porchetta – just add some sage leaves and some thin slices of pancetta – as well as chicken thighs or, used lightly, a robust fish such as Hapuka.
At this time of the year, we serve it with a simple salad of thin slices of fennel, roughly diced flesh of a blood orange and a spoonful of vinaigrette dressing.
4 cloves garlic
1½ tsp fennel seeds
leaves from 4 young sprigs rosemary
leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
3 tsp black peppercorns (or use 2 tsp coarse, freshly ground pepper)
3 tsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp caster sugar (to enhance caramelisation of the meat)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 or 2 lemons (depends on size and juice content)
- In a mortar, grind the garlic, fennel seeds, herbs, peppercorns, salt and sugar.
- Add the sugar, olive oil and lemon juice and combine well. Adjust to taste (salt, oiliness, acidity)
- Rub the marinade into the flesh of the meat to be cooked, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Remove meat from fridge one hour before cooking.