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Hay smoked pig’s head, mock apple with textures of onion

This dish is pork and apple taken to Great British Menu Olympian heights, while the onion textures explore sweetness and acidity.


For the caramelised apple
For the pork jowl
  • 100g/3½oz course sea salt

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped

  • sprig thyme, finely chopped

  • sprig rosemary, finely chopped

  • 4 x pork jowls, trimmed

  • 500g/17½oz washed hay, (optional, recipe can be done without the smoking process)

For the pork skin
  • 4 x reserved skins from the jowl (above)

  • 200ml/7oz grapeseed oil for deep frying

For the textures of onions
For the onion purée
For the black pudding purée
For the parsley dressing

Preparation method

  1. For the caramelised apple, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Place the apple and onion quarters onto a non-stick roasting tray and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

  2. Place the roasted apple and onion into a bowl, season with salt and add the sherry vinegar, apple juice and half the olive oil (keep the other half for later). Mix together and leave to stand for one hour.

  3. Blend the apple mixture in a food processor to a purée, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Measure out 1 litre/1¾pints of the liquid.

  4. Divide the liquid into 750ml/27fl oz and 250ml/9fl oz. Heat the 250ml/9fl oz in a pan and over a medium heat.

  5. Soak the gelatine in cold water to soften. Once the apple liquid is hot, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add it to the hot apple liquid, off the heat. Stir through to dissolve.

  6. Add the reserved 750ml of the apple liquid.

  7. Place the egg white powder in a bowl and very gradually add the apple mixture so that they are well combined and there are no lumps.

  8. Transfer the apple mixture to the fridge and leave for 24 hours.

  9. After 24 hours, whip the apple mixture until it forms a meringue consistency, slowly adding in the reserved olive oil to help it thicken. Once it has a stiff, meringue-like consistency, place in the refrigerator.

  10. For the pork jowl, mix the salt with the garlic, thyme and rosemary and rub it into the jowls, leave to marinate for six hours.

  11. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Wash the jowls and pat dry, then place into a heavy based pan, cover with water, place the lid on top and bake in the oven for three hours.

  12. Remove the jowls from the water and set aside to cool. Once cool, carefully remove the skin from the jowl with a sharp knife and reserve the skins for later. Leave a layer of fat on the meat. Trim each jowl into a square shape.

  13. (Optional) Fill a stove top smoker with hay and place onto a medium heat to get the hay smoking. Remove the smoker from the heat and place the jowls into the hay smoker, cover and leave to smoke for 15 minutes. (CAUTION: smoking generates a lot of smoke. Cook in a well-ventilated area, and open the smoker outside if possible.) Remove the jowls from the smoker and set aside until needed.

  14. For the pork skin, preheat the oven to the lowest setting, usually 60C/140F/Gas ¼. Scrape the excess fat from the reserved jowl skin with a knife, and place the skin onto a tray lined with baking parchment, and dry in the oven for 12 hours or until completely dehydrated and hard.

  15. Once the skins have dried out, place the grapeseed oil into a heavy based pan and heat to 180C/350F, or until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden-brown when dropped into the pan. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

  16. Chop the dried skins into smaller squares and place into the oil, deep fry until the skin puffs up, this should take about two minutes, but keep a close eye on them, and as soon as they’ve puffed up take them out and drain on kitchen paper.

  17. For the textures of onions, fry the halved baby onions in pan with a little oil until golden-brown. Add the butter and a pinch of salt, and cover with parchment cut to the size of your pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until dark golden-brown and soft. Set aside and keep at room temperature until needed.

  18. Pre heat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.

  19. On a baking tray, sprinkle the whole red onion with oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then bake it in the oven for 40 minutes.

  20. Remove the red onion from the oven and slice in half, with the skin on. Pick the layers apart and reserve until needed.

  21. For the onion purée, gently fry the diced white onion and cardamom pods in the butter, until the onion turns golden-brown and caramelises. Add the double cream, and bring to the boil. Remove the cardamom pods and blend in a food processor until smooth.

  22. Lightly mix the onion purée with the baked red onions and baby onions to bind. Set aside until needed.

  23. For the black pudding purée, bring 50ml/2fl oz water to the boil in a pan and add the black pudding. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the black pudding is heated through and begins to soften. Then pour the entire contents into a food processor and blend with the cream until it forms a purée.

  24. For the parsley dressing, blend the parsley, white wine vinegar and oil in a food processor until combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  25. To finish the jowls, heat a grill to a medium-high heat, and grill the jowls, fat side up, for 5-10 minutes, until they turn a nice golden-brown.

  26. To finish the textures of onion, deep fry the shallots. Heat the grapeseed oil to 140C/275F in a heavy based pan. Pat the sliced shallots dry with kitchen paper. Carefully lower the shallots into the oil and deep fry until golden-brown, stirring frequently. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Reserve until ready to serve.

  27. To serve, spoon black pudding purée into the middle of the serving plates, place a pork jowl on top, and a quenelle of the caramelised apple by the side. Lay the selection of onion textures around the plate, with pieces of crackling and finish with a drizzle of the parsley dressing.

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This recipe is from...

Great British Menu 15. North East Judging bbc_two Great British Menu

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