Crubeens are a traditional Irish pub snack made from cheap cuts of meat. They’re a great way of using up the leftovers from a Sunday roast.
200ml/7fl oz malt vinegar
50ml/2fl oz sherry vinegar
50g/1¾oz caster sugar
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
3 sticks celery, finely sliced
3 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
reserved pig’s ears
100g/3½oz plain flour
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
leaves from 1 head of celery
leaves from 1 head of chicory
20 sorrel leaves
1 sprig fresh parsley, roughly chopped
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp olive oil
For the broth, place the white wine in a pressure cooker pan, bring to the boil and reduce the volume of liquid by half. Add the ham stock, bay leaves, pig’s ears, trotters and ham hock, seal the pressure cooker and cook on a low heat for 1¼ hours.
Remove the meat from the pan and set aside the ears. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a clean pan and set aside. When cool enough to handle, strip the meat and fat from the hock and trotters and mix thoroughly in a bowl, discarding the skin and cartilage.
For the stuffing, mix together all the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture should have to consistency of sausage meat; if it is too loose, add a few more oats.
For the suckling pig, preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then crush in a pestle and mortar with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Using a craft knife, score the skin of the saddle widthways in regular lines, about 5mm/¼in apart, and rub the toasted fennel seed mixture into the skin.
Mould the stuffing into a sausage shape and place down the centre in the middle of the saddle. Fold the skin flaps into the centre, trimming off excess if they overlap, then sew up the belly with a circular needle and thread using a larding needle.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sear the saddle until lightly browned on all sides and then transfer to a roasting tin. Roast for 1½ hours, then remove from the oven. Heat the oven to its highest temperature then return the saddle to the oven for 10 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least half an hour.
For the crubeens, mix the shredded trotter and hock meat with thyme, parsley and mustard powder and then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Press into a non-stick baking tin to a depth of 3cm/1¼in and then cover the surface with cling film. Leave to chill for 30-45 minutes in the fridge then remove from the fridge and cut into 3cm/1¼in cubes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the thyme sprigs on a small baking tray and roast for 8-10 minutes until crisp, being careful not to burn them. Reserve for the garnish.
Just before serving, dredge each cube with the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs, ensuring each cube is evenly coated. Deep-fry the crubeens in the vegetable oil until golden-brown and crisp, and then drain on kitchen paper. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave the pan unattended.)
For the pomme purée, place the potatoes in a pan with the milk, cream and bay leaves and simmer until tender. Remove the bay leaves and discard, then drain the potatoes, reserving the cooking liquid.
Place the potatoes in a food processor and blend, adding enough cooking liquid while the motor is running, to make a silky smooth thick purée. Pass through a fine sieve and season to taste with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Add a few drops of hickory essence, stir to combine and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the salad, combine the malt vinegar, sherry vinegar, sugar, spices and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes and then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add the celery and shallots to the pickling mixture, and then set aside for 30 minutes. Drain the celery and shallots and set aside.
Just before servicing, thinly slice the pig’s ears and roll in seasoned flour. Deep-fry at 180C/350F for three minutes or until crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave the pan unattended.
Mix the pickled celery and shallots, celery leaves, chicory leaves, sorrel and parsley in a bowl, add the fried pig's ears and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then dress the salad with the lemon juice and olive oil.
For the sauce, bring the pan of broth to the boil, add the honey and cook until reduced until syrupy. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and keep warm. Transfer to a small warmed jug just before serving.
To serve, place the warm pomme purée in a piping bag and pipe onto wooden serving boards. Cut the suckling pig into thick slices and place three slices on each board with three crubeens and a small pile of the salad. Garnish with the roasted thyme and serve with the sauce alongside.
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Six amateur cooks try to prove their worth to judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
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