get into the garden and have a perfect summer lunch, with mouth-watering cold (and raw) cuts.

recipes this week to start off with and one very short one to finish. Unusually, for me, I decided to write the recipes before I began the introduction this time, so therefore I have to slightly curtail my usual preliminary natter. So, with that, here is today's brief: two cold cuts, easily worked – if you have the inclination – into intensely savoury offerings by means of a little time and forethought (think weekend lunch in the garden). Personally speaking, delicious cold food, mindfully prepared, will often delight me more than hot dishes. There is also a classic steak tartare for you to get to grips with. This, conversely, takes a matter of minutes to prepare.

recipes this week to start off with and one very short one to finish. Unusually, for me, I decided to write the recipes before I began the introduction this time, so therefore I have to slightly curtail my usual preliminary natter. So, with that, here is today's brief: two cold cuts, easily worked – if you have the inclination – into intensely savoury offerings by means of a little time and forethought (think weekend lunch in the garden). Personally speaking, delicious cold food, mindfully prepared, will often delight me more than hot dishes. There is also a classic steak tartare for you to get to grips with. This, conversely, takes a matter of minutes to prepare.

It may not immediately occur to most folk, but thin, cold slices of crisp belly pork are one of the very nicest things to eat. But then roast belly pork, even when eaten hot, is not the most common of British joints in the first place. The Chinese, however, have been roasting belly pork for hundreds of years and with much success. Moreover, I would further advocate that Chinese cooks are possibly the finest pork roasters in the entire world. Period.

Even though the preparation of the following cold dishes may sound time-consuming and a bit of a fiddle, believe me, the results are well worth the effort involved. And talking of effort, some of you may think that there is a great deal of this palaver involved in most of my recipes. Now here I cannot really help you. All I can say is that the results of a little exertion are often unusually special. Failing that, there are always supermarket ready meals, Chinese takeaways and more restaurants and cafés out there than anyone could possibly need. The choice, my dears, as always, is all yours.

Crisp belly pork salad

Serves 4

1.5kg fatty belly pork with ribs, the skin thinly scored with a sharp knife (I use a Stanley knife to do this; your butcher's knife will be almost as sharp -- and possibly safer)

1tbsp Chinese five-spice mixture

2tsp ground white pepper

1tbsp Maldon sea salt

 

For the stock

1 litre of water

75ml soy sauce (Kikkoman)

75ml dry sherry

1 small bunch spring onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1tsp dried chilli flakes

4 strips orange rind

1 pig's trotter, split in two and then chopped up (definitely ask the butcher to do this)

 

For the dressing

1dsp made English mustard

1tsp sugar

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt

11/2tbsp smooth peanut butter

1/2tbsp tahini (sesame paste)

1tbsp toasted sesame seeds (keep a few back for garnish)

1dsp bottled chilli sauce

3tbsp salad cream (yes, Heinz salad cream!)

a little of the pork stock

For the salad

1 small cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and cut into strips

1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed, washed and shredded

1 bunch of watercress, washed and trimmed

1 large, mild green chilli, sliced

a handful of fresh coriander and mint leaves -- about half and half -- torn up a bit

toasted sesame seeds (see above)

 

Start the recipe the day before you want to eat it. Boil a kettle of water. Lay the belly pork on a cooling rack over a deep tray, skin side uppermost. Slowly pour the boiling water over the skin until the kettle is empty and the lines of scored skin have become visibly separate. Discard the water. Turn the belly pork over on to a large tray and rub the meat with the five-spice mixture and pepper, working them in well with the tips of your fingers. Now turn over once more and rub the coarse salt into the skin. Hang the meat up to dry in a cool and draughty place, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8. Mix together all the stock ingredients in a bowl and then pour into a deep roasting tin. Over this, suspend the same cooling rack as you used the day before and place the pork upon it, skin side up. Slide into the oven (top shelf) and roast for 15 minutes. Now turn the temperature down to 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 40 minutes. Take the pork out, top up the stock with water if it seems to have reduced too much, and then turn the oven back up to the previous temperature. Once the oven has come back up to temperature, return the pork to the oven and roast for a final 10 minutes or so.

Note: although this diversity of temperatures may initially sound a little unorthodox, it does seem to help effect the best crackling I know; the preliminary dousing with boiling water and drying out overnight, nonetheless, also remains a key step.

While allowing the pork to cool, pour the stock from beneath it into a clean pan. Remove the rib bones from the belly pork (they should wiggle out quite easily from the meat, now cooked) and add them to the stock. Keep the belly somewhere cool until ready to slice.

Now put the stock to simmer for 40 minutes, while also skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Strain through a colander into a bowl and leave to drain. Discard all solids and remove all excess fat with several sheets of kitchen paper. Now carefully pass this liquid into a bowl through a sieve lined with folded muslin. Taste for seasoning, though it should not need much -- if any. Place in the fridge to cool and set until lightly jellied.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a liquidiser (best) or food processor and purée until very smooth. Add a little of the jellied stock to thin slightly, as the final consistency should be similar to pouring cream. Decant into another bowl. Toss together the cucumber, spring onion and watercress, arrange on to four plates and spoon the dressing judiciously over each serving. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the pork as thinly as you dare and drape the slices across the salad. Now take the lightly jellied stock and, using a pastry brush, paint each slice of pork with it until glistening. Finally, strew with sliced green chilli, toasted sesame seeds, coriander and mint -- and then give yourself a jolly good pat on the back.

Cold veal with a sliced egg and anchovy sauce

Serves 4

For the veal

1kg (approx) joint of lean veal

olive oil

salt and freshly ground white pepper

a handful of cheap pie veal pieces (or scraps of veal trimmed from the joint)

1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, chopped

100g button mushrooms, sliced

1 large tomato, roughly chopped

2-3 leaves of sage

1 glass of white wine

 

For the sauce

1tsp white wine vinegar

1dsp Dijon mustard

3-4 salt anchovies, to taste

5-6tbsp stiff mayonnaise

some of the veal juices (see method below)

 

To garnish

4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

a few capers

a trickle of olive oil

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4. Rub the joint with olive oil and season lightly (there are anchovies, later, remember). Take a solid-bottomed, cast-iron roasting dish (that will happily sit upon a flame as well as go into the oven) and add a spoonful or two of olive oil to it. Heat the oil and introduce the joint. Gently fry the meat on a low heat over a period of about 15 minutes or so, turning it through the oil until all surfaces are lightly gilded. Lift out the veal and rest it on a plate or tray.

Now add the veal scraps, vegetables and sage to the roasting dish, turn up the heat a little and toss them around until softened. Pour in the wine, allow to bubble up and then reintroduce the veal joint. Baste with the winey liquid for a minute or two, cover with foil and cook in the oven for about 25-30 minutes more, by which time the meat will be a pleasing rosy-pink within. Lift out from the oven, remove the foil and loosely wrap the meat inside it. Transfer to the same plate or tray you used before and leave to cool completely.

Tip the contents of the roasting dish into a fine sieve suspended over a small bowl and extract all the juices by pressing down upon them with the back of a ladle. Place the bowl in the fridge to cool completely, and until the fat has set upon the surface to such a degree that it may easily be lifted off with a spoon.

Hopefully, it should be slightly jellied. Tip into the bowl of a liquidiser or food processor and add all the other ingredients listed for making the sauce. Process until very smooth and then strain, once more (sorry!), through a fine sieve back into the (wiped-clean) bowl. Return this to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To serve (finally), thinly slice the veal and arrange it, slightly overlapping, on to a large and handsome, white (for preference) oval platter. Whisk the sauce to loosen it a little and spoon carefully over the veal, while also allowing some of the pink of the meat to remain visible. Decorate each piece of veal with a slice of egg and then dot each of these with a single caper. Trickle with a little olive oil, if liked (Larrouse Gastronomique or what!).

Perfect eaten with warm potato salad: waxy potatoes (peeled or scraped, naturally) steamed or boiled, then sliced and dressed while still warm, with a little red wine vinegar, olive oil and chives.

Steak tartare

Serves 1

125g tender, sinew- and fat-free steak (rump, fillet or sirloin), well chilled

1 scant tbsp finely chopped gherkins

1 scant tbsp finely chopped (lightly squeezed dry) capers in vinegar

1 scant tbsp finely chopped onion

3 good quality (packed in olive oil) salt anchovies, finely chopped

1tsp Dijon mustard

a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce

freshly ground pepper

1dsp finely chopped parsley

1 small egg yolk

 

Using a favourite, flexible sharp knife, first cut slivers from your chosen piece of steak -- it matters not from which part of the meat you begin cutting. Then take up your heaviest, strongest blade and firmly set about chopping these slivers into swift submission. The accompanying picture, more than any words, better illustrates the general gist of things here.

Place all the ingredients together in a previously chilled, roomy bowl and mulch together with clean hands until fully amalgamated. Form into a patty shape and serve without delay (to prevent discoloration and leaching from the acidic garnishes) -- and not without a bowl of crisp chips alongside. For I do, most definitely, think that a cold, freshly made steak tartare eaten with hot chips is a gastronomic marriage of epic proportions.

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