When is a butcher not a butcher? When it’s “a cult-like phenomenon” in the Ginger Pig’s case: not my words, but those of Tom Parker Bowles on the back of this week’s book.
Prose which might sound purple – until, that is, you visit one of Yorkshire farmer Tim Wilson's exquisitely tasteful London shops, situated in exquisitely tasteful areas such as Lauriston Village, Hackney’s Trumpton, find yourself behind a top-knotted trendy discussing bacon-curing and realise that you’re buying not just marbled fat, but an urban-rural fantasy.
Accordingly, this second publication from the Pig-sty extrapolates from fine meat cuts to a full bucolic spread of recipes, from suet puddings to hedgerow gin. Your cheeks will be 30 per cent more rosy just for having it on your shelf. And, in an era building towards Jamie’s sub-nanosecond meals, it’s refreshing to find a book promoting the culinary long game: so whether or not you manage to hang your own ham for 28 days, it’s nice to know someone thinks you might.
Looking for speedier gratification, I plumped to make Ginger Pig Pork Pies, what with them being in the pantheon of British pastry products. The process was less arduous than you might imagine, provided that you and any cohabiters can cope with: a) the boots-y whiff of stewed up pigs’ trotters; and b) the gleaming sight of a bowl of trotter stock jelly. The lardy, hot-water crust pastry was as easy as you know what and, blow me if the heated-up jelly stock didn’t immediately leak out again when funnelled through a hole in the baked lid.
Yet though they looked hearty enough to star in an anachronistic Henry VIII biopic, they tasted a bit Meh-ton Mowbray: my testers thought the minced pork, nutmeg and parsley filling could have done with an extra kick, and found the pastry, made with icing sugar, too sweet – while the professional equivalent I’d bought earlier came out as “buttery” and “perfectly seasoned”. Well, no one said the quasi-artisan-aspirational lifestyle was simple, right?