A new start • 06.15.08
When I was a kid my father told us horror stories starring his mother’s pork chops. Shoe leather was the most common flavour invoked when discussing those pork pucks of old. These stories have haunted me and I have always been a bit wary of cooking pork of any kind.
A few nights ago Andy and I had a few friends around to our new apartment for dinner. It was a bit of a housewarming and a bit of a way to say thanks to some mates who helped us move into our new place.
We started the evening with cannellini bean bruschetta. This is a super easy and simple starter that can usually be made with things already hanging around in our kitchen. The bruschetta was great- spicy, crunchy and hearty. In fact, it may have been the best part of the meal!
For a main course I bought a big pork loin. We have a wonderful butcher near our new place, so I got him to prepare the pork loin for me and to score the fat for making crackling. I was so excited! I’ve never even attempted crackling before. I rubbed olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic on the pork loin, poured some cider into the roasting pan and put the whole thing in the oven.
The pork crackling came out brilliantly. The potatoes were soft and soaked up some of the cider. The braised red cabbage was savoury and colourful and still a bit crunchy.
But… the pork. Dry. Not terrible, but not moist and juicy either. I was excited by the rest of the meal, but the pork really let me down. And then I thought, “Maybe it’s not my fault!” Maybe I can’t control my inability to cook pork any more than I can control my height or my eye colour. Could it be a legacy from my grandmother? A dry pork gene?? That must be it.
Cannellini Bean Bruschetta
Serves 6 as a starter
As I’ve said, this may have been the big hit of the evening. Although, the crackling went over very well also (as pork fat tends to do.) This recipe doesn’t contain any pork fat, but it’s pretty great anyway.
Two 400g cans of cannellini beans
2 red chillis
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove
Drain the beans and rinse under cool water. Finely chop the chillis (remove the seeds for less heat.) Mix the chillis and the basil through the beans. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and let them rest for a few minutes to let the flavours mingle.
Meanwhile, slice the baguette into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Toast until warm and beginning to brown. Once toasted, rub each slice lightly with the garlic clove.
Top each slice with a spoonful of the bean mixture and a drizzle of olive oil.