I have to admit I’m a bit of a Richard H Turner super fan. He runs my favourite butchers, Turner & George in east London and is also the “man behind the meat” at Hawksmoor (quite frankly the best steakhouse in London), Pitt Cue (packed with piggy delights and bourbon-laced cocktails) and more restaurants besides. Plus he’s bought the meat fest that is Meatopia to the UK.
His book Hog is, as Turner himself puts it, a “celebration of all things porcine”. This book really does what it says on the tin – it contains all you need to know about breeds and cuts, different cooking methods and dishes, and is beautifully designed to boot. It feels like the work of someone who is totally in love with pork and has put everything into making sure you’ll love it too. There are also some contributions from the likes of Fergus Henderson, Neil Rankin and Valentine Warner, and also basic recipes for master pork stock (why use chicken stock in a pork dish after all?), BBQ sauce, bacon, ham and sausages.
When I meet Turner, I ask what recipe he would recommend I start with. His says West African pork and peanut stew – it’s his favourite from the book. I then pick up the meat from his shop and set about making the dish. Firstly, what completely surprises and delights me about this and the other recipes I cook is how simple they are. They don’t require 30 ingredients, half of which I would have trouble getting hold of. Half of the ingredients I have at home already and the rest are easy to find in the supermarket.
The only problem is while I don’t mind peanuts, I’m really not a fan of peanut butter. I don’t really fancy buying a whole jar of something I’m not going to eat, so I decided to buy a large bag of peanuts (you’ll need some for garnishing too) and made my own – just blitz 100g peanuts in a blender, then add a dash of oil, salt and honey to taste. A really easy dish to prepare, it’s essentially slow-cooking some diced pork shoulder in a sauce – and despite my reservations about the peanut butter, it tastes great!
The next dish I attempt is the albondigas mexicanas. These pork meatballs have a Mexican twist provided by chipotle chilli, coriander and a squeeze of lime. Another easy recipe to work through (although they take over an hour to cook), I decide to serve them with avocado and sour cream in demi-brioche buns. These go down particularly well, and are perfect for summer parties when you’re tired of the endless supply of burgers.
Last up is the croque monsieur (essentially a posh ham-and-cheese toastie), which Turner says he first had as a staff meal at Le Gavroche. Classic comfort food at its best, you can whip it up in a flash and enjoy by itself as a snack or with a side salad for lunch.
This cookbook is really the pork bible and I can’t wait to cook my way through the rest of it. I really hope Turner has cow-, sheep- and chicken-specific books in the pipeline – I will certainly be first in the queue to buy them.
Richard H. Turner’s Hog: proper pork recipes from the snout to the squeak is published by Octopus Books.Reuse content