Does Rosamond Man and Robin Weir’s condiment-based recipe book cut the mustard? Morag Davidson finds out…
It’s a striking volume – its vibrant colour and bold type leapt out at me from the bookshelves. After a quick flick through, I immediately picked out the mustard pork braised in milk recipe. I love cooking Italian, and this recipe makes use of a traditional method of cooking pork. Usually, the rolled loin is used but the recipe is adaptable: loin chops, spare rib chops and belly rashers can all be substituted.
6 spare ribs (I used 4 loin chops)
Maldon salt (sea salt will do)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 thyme sprigs
1 tbsp fresh coriander seeds, lightly crushed (I used dried seeds)
1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
1 pint of milk
350g fresh young broad beans
Finely chopped parsley
Rub a little salt and pepper over the pork, then smear with mustard. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan (vital if the dish is not to burn), add the onions and cook for 10-15 minutes, covered, until nicely softened.
Add the garlic and thyme sprigs, stir, and arrange the meat on top. Sprinkle over the seeds, a little extra salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Add the milk and bring to the boil gently, then cover and cook, at the slowest possible simmer, for about an hour. Do not disturb the contents of the pan, but check after about 50 minutes to check that the liquid is not evaporating too quickly.
Blanch the broad beans in salted water for 2-3 minutes if young and fresh, 5-7 if frozen, then drain and add to the pan. When you lift the lid, the milk should have formed a golden translucent veil. Stir into the meat, adding a little extra milk if need be – you don’t want too much liquid but there must be enough to prevent sticking, which is all too easy at this stage. Cook very gently, again covered, for a further 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with lots of finely chopped parsley and serve.
I served it up with baby new potatoes and sugar snap peas – and it was delicious. I did think there were a few places in which the recipe could have been improved though.
A small but vital detail – the description of the milk sauce – really had me worrying. The ‘golden translucent veil’ suggested that it should be totally smooth, so I panicked when mine started to cluster and look all curdled. Having investigated several Italian recipes for pork braised in milk, it turns out that this is supposed to happen – which would have been useful to know first! I chose to blend it in the end anyway, as I prefer a smoother sauce.
It did take a long time for the pork to slow-cook in the sauce, so unless you have time to kill, I’d recommend making the sauce separately, which would only take 20 minutes or so. Then blend for a smooth and creamy finish. Another way to create a speedier version of the dish would be to grill the pork – this would ensure it is juicy and succulent and also make for a healthier meal.
This little book is illustrated nicely, although it would have been beneficial if the recipes had photos of the final outcomes, so you know what to aim for. It also offers a fascinating introduction to the history of mustard, as well as ideas for different mustards to be used with particular herbs, and some old flavour combinations that might have been lost. This book is for the independent cook, who is happy to change and amend the recipes to suit, and to use the book for inspiration rather than as a verbatim guide.