Sipping gently from the wrinkled teats of Balvenie. A fine, double casked amber bastard of a thing.
A friend once described the quality of perfect light to me.
It is to be found in London, or in a Dublin Victorian bar, with windows tinted to sift a little mote-thick light into a place that needs not a lot of it. This single shaft in its turn pierces a held aloft glass of Lucozade, made mellow with a generous measure of whiskey, until it has a twinkling sunburnt amber sense to it.
To this should be added a single tablet of soluble solpadeine. In this amber efferervesecence, a single ray of light piercing the morning gloom has the quality of perfection. It is the form of it's kind. It is a higher place. It is the light whose shadow we discern and call the truth. It is the behindness of things. It is the prime mover. The unseen hand. The primogenitive shaker of things.
My bottle of Balvenie has such a quality to it. It siphons light, and distills it into both form and truth. It clothes my mouth with words. It carves a frame from me to hang them on.
Pork. Settled on a bastard shoulder of a thing, subtly bathed in beer and cider vinegar, concocted gently in it's golden bath, held quietly in the soft bubbling of that delicious elixir until softer than almost all lovers kisses.
1 Pork shoulder, on the bone. (€4)
2 carriots, chopped. (50c)
2 medium onions. (50c)
250 ml of beer (I used Krombacher, a Pilsner) (€2)
56 ml of Cider vinegar (40c)
2-4 tablespoons of dijon mustard. (bah)
Breadcrumbs. (zero. Stale bread)
Several peeled, whole cloves of garlic. (I went for 5 minis, Recipe calls for 4)
50g of butter. Actual, real, heart wracking butter. The yellow devil.
250ml of chicken stock.
50g of plain flour.
Total cost - under a tenner for 6-8 people.
Season the pork well with black pepper and salt on all sides.
Brown all sides of the shoulder in a large pan using half the butter. Takes about 10 min on a med/high heat. Hear it sizzle.
Dump the blackened butter. Add new butter, and the carrots, onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat until softened and a little browned.
Add the flour, stir it in to coat all the veg, and cook, stirring often, on medium for 2 minutes.
Add the beer and cider vinegar, scrape all the delicious gunk from the base of the pot into the mix. Boil, reduce by half.
Add the chicken stock, return to the boil.
Add the pork shoulder, and any juices that have run off.
Cover, and barely, barely simmer for two/2.5 hours, turning twice. Barely simmer. Boil too much and it'll be touch.
Remove from the liquid. Slather in mustard, cover in breadcrumbs, and bake in a high oven, preheated, for circa 15 mins.
Sieve the stock, reduce it by half, and then stir in mustard - two to three heaped tablespoons, depending on your taste. Add salt if needed. Serve with the ripped up pig as a gravy.
Recipe is from the Les Halles Cookbook.
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