Dirty chops with rosemary butter and pickled fennel
“Dirty” cooking simply refers to cooking directly on the coals. With that in mind, it’s really important to use natural firelighters and decent lumpwood charcoal, free from any chemicals or other nasty surprises. Laying the meat straight on the coals results in incredible flavour and, importantly, the meat doesn’t burn because there’s no oxygen between the surface of the coals and the meat so it can’t catch fire. The only tricky part is the skin on the pork chops – make sure that it’s hanging off the edge of the coals so that it cooks indirectly (the skin will cook far quicker than the rest of the chop). This also works brilliantly with thick-cut steaks and whole vegetables. Just keep a brush to hand to dust off any loose flecks of charcoal.
Prep time: 15 minutes plus chilling
Cook time: 20 minutes
4 thick-cut pork chops,
fine sea salt
For the pickled fennel
1 large fennel bulb, quartered, cored and finely sliced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
200ml boiling water
150ml white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons caster sugar
For the rosemary butter
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
good pinch of sea salt flakes
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
A few hours before cooking, stack the pork chops skin-side up in a roasting tin. Boil a kettle of water and carefully pour the just-boiled water over the skin. Pat the chops dry, then lay them on a wire rack, uncovered, and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
To make the pickled fennel, put the fennel and salt into a large bowl and toss to combine, then gently knead together for five minutes until softened. Combine the boiling water, vinegar and sugar in a jug and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the fennel and leave to cool to room temperature. The fennel will be ready to eat straight away, but tastes even better if you make it a day ahead, storing it in the fridge once it has cooled.
To make the rosemary butter, put the rosemary leaves into a mortar with the salt and grind to a fine paste with a pestle. Gradually work the butter in until you have a vibrant green paste. Spoon into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until needed.
Preheat the barbecue and remove the grill. Meanwhile, remove the chops from the fridge and season with plenty of salt. When the coals are glowing white, push them to one side of the barbecue. Lay the chops directly on the coals; the idea is to rest the meat on the coals but leave the skin hanging off the edge. This way you’ll get delicious crackling and perfectly cooked meat.
Cook the chops for 7-8 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the coals, give them a quick dust to remove any ash then set aside to rest for five minutes. Serve with the pickled fennel and rosemary butter on the side.
Szechuan smoked pig cheeks with plum ketchup
The cheeks are often the best part of an animal; besides pig cheeks, think ox cheeks and even cod or monkfish cheeks. The hardest-working parts of an animal are always the tastiest, and as pigs spend their days chomping, their cheeks get a pretty decent workout. Szechuan pepper adds an addictive heat and tingly sensation that works brilliantly with the smoky pork. Serve these really simply, roughly torn into chunks with a dollop of homemade plum ketchup for dipping. Sticky finger food at its finest.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours plus resting
12 pig cheeks, trimmed of sinew
2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
100ml apple juice
100ml cider vinegar
For the plum ketchup (makes 600ml)
600g ripe plums, stoned and quartered
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 dried red chillies, stalks removed
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
350ml cider vinegar
200g demerara sugar
50g black treacle
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
You will need a large handful of wood chips, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes.
Preheat the barbecue or smoker for indirect grilling. Lay the pig cheeks in a foil tray. Pound the Szechuan peppercorns with the salt and paprika to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle over the pork in an even layer, ensuring that each piece is coated in the rub. Set the tray on the grill, close the lid and cook for an hour. Combine the apple juice and vinegar in a spray bottle, give the cheeks a good spritz then cook for a further hour.
Remove the tray from the barbecue or smoker, cover tightly with foil and return to the barbecue or smoker for a further hour. Meanwhile, make the plum ketchup. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and the mixture is thick and jammy. Remove from the heat, retrieve the star anise and cinnamon stick and leave to cool.
Pour the plum mixture into a liquidiser and blend until smooth. This makes more than you’ll need for this recipe, so pour any leftover ketchup into a sterilised jar or bottle, seal and keep in the fridge for up to two months. Remove the pork from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes, then tear into chunks and serve with the plum ketchup.
Tuna nicoise as it should be
This is a great salad if you’re looking to impress. The blanching and refreshing, which keeps everything fresh and vibrant, means that you can do most of the work in advance. If I’m cooking for a large group, I’ll prep the eggs, beans, tomatoes and dressing hours ahead. However, I have to insist that the potatoes are served warm; one taste and you'll see what I mean.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
2 handfuls of ice
4 medium eggs
4 plum tomatoes
300g fine French beans, trimmed
400g small Charlotte potatoes, unpeeled and washed
2 thick-cut tuna steaks, 300g each (2.5cm thick)
olive oil, for rubbing
freshly ground black pepper
2 baby gem lettuces, leaves separated, washed and dried
a handful of pitted black olives
12 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
For the dressing
½ garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons extra virgin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fill the sink or your largest bowl with cold water and add the ice. Bring two pans of water to the boil – one large, one small – then reboil the kettle. Carefully lower the eggs into the small pan, and when the water starts to boil, set a timer for six minutes. When the time is up, immediately remove the eggs from the water and put them straight into the ice bath to stop them from cooking further.
Meanwhile, make a small nick in each tomato, put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds, then drain and drop them into the ice bath. Peel away the skins, cut into wedges and set aside.
Add salt to the water in the large pan, drop the beans in and boil for three minutes, then remove from the pan and immediately give them the ice bath treatment. Once they’ve cooled, drain them and pat dry on kitchen paper. Boil the potatoes in the same pan for 15-20 minutes or until just cooked through, then drain in a colander and leave to steam. Peel the skins and cover the potatoes with foil to keep warm.
Remove the eggs from the ice bath, tap to crack the shells, then very gently roll them on a chopping board. Peel them underwater; all the small shell fragments will sink. Remove and set aside.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk together and season to taste.
Preheat the barbecue for direct grilling. Rub the tuna steaks with olive oil and season. Sear on the grill for 1½ minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate to rest.
Put the tomatoes, lettuce, beans, olives and anchovies into a large bowl and spoon over half the dressing. Toss gently to coat, then divide between four salad bowls or plates.
Halve or quarter the warm potatoes, pour over a little dressing and toss to coat; doing this while they’re still warm is one of the best parts of this dish. The potatoes suck up the dressing and are a lovely contrast to the cold elements of the salad. Nestle the potatoes between the leaves, then slice the eggs in half and lay on top. Slice the tuna against the grain, lay on top of the salad and finish with a drizzle of the remaining dressing.
Roast radishes with crumbled parmesan
Crunchy, peppery radishes and salty, tangy Parmesan cheese go brilliantly together. And so they should; they’re essentially salt and pepper in fancy clothes. Adding a little heat and smoke intensifies the flavour of the radishes and starts to gently melt the Parmesan.
Serves 4 as a side
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
400g firm radishes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
30g aged Parmesan cheese, crumbled
Preheat the barbecue for direct grilling. Wash the radishes and remove the leaves, leaving about 1cm of stalk on each. Whisk together the oil, honey and vinegar in a large bowl, season and set aside.
Cook the radishes directly on the grill for 8-10 minutes until lightly charred and starting to soften, turning regularly. Keep the bowl of dressing next to the barbecue, and as soon as the radishes are cooked, transfer them straight to the dressing. Toss the hot radishes in the dressing, then tip them onto a serving plate and scatter over the Parmesan.
Smoked bone marrow on toast
Bone marrow is totally underrated. If you’ve never tried it, imagine the most delicious, beefy butter gently melting into lightly charred sourdough toast. Now imagine it slightly smoked. If you’re starting to salivate, then try this recipe.
Serves 4 as a starter or snack
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
4 pieces of bone marrow, 15cm in length, halved lengthways
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thick slices of sourdough bread
1 garlic clove, peeled
sherry vinegar, for drizzling
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
You will need a handful of wood chips, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes.
Preheat the barbecue or smoker for indirect grilling and add the soaked wood chips. Season the bone marrow pieces and lay cut-side up in a foil tray or an old roasting tray. Set the tray on the grill, close the lid and smoke for 30 minutes, then remove from the grill and cover with foil.
Get the barbecue or smoker ready for direct grilling. Lay the bread on the grill and toast for a few minutes until crisp and lightly charred, turning regularly, then rub with the garlic clove. Spoon the soft bone marrow over the toast, drizzle with a little sherry vinegar and scatter over the parsley. Season with a little more salt and pepper before serving.
Fire & Smoke, by Richard Harris, Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Martin Poole
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