It’s cold outside, and the evenings are drawing dark hard on the heels of four o’clock, and inside there are blankets, and fat warm candles, and a big bit of pig, and heart attack mash. It’s a supper to spoon into your greedy mouth, under said blanket, under the rain. It’s the sort of evening to roast things, and mash things, and wrap yourself up in yourself and be loved from the inside out.
When I was a little girl I hated mashed potato, but that was only because I didn’t know the secret: the secret is to forget everything you’ve ever learned or thought about healthy eating. Heart attack mash goes against everything, and with everything. And it is so worth it. Mash, good mash, is like a hug, and tender, crisp pork is the best thing to go with it.
We’re going to do this in two parts, because the Big Bit of Pig (henceforth: BBP) will take a lot longer than the mash, of course. Usually we do it like this: Tall Man wrestles the BBP, slashing the fat for crackling and smothering it in rosemary and salt, and I beat some potatoes into delicate, buttery submission. It’s a team effort; the two of us.
(Note: if you can’t be bothered with mash- and sometimes you can’t- this pork is phenomenal with part-baked petit pains, big spoons of applesauce, grainy mustard, and generous horseradish. Recommended- and recommended for leftovers, too.)
Big Bit of Pig and Heart Attack Mash
Serves everyone, forever.
BBP: 15 mins. prep, absolutely minimum 3.5 hours cooking. It will be better every single minute you can leave it in the oven.
|“People eat more pig than cow,” says Tall Man, thoughtfully. He thinks 3kg will serve 4-6 people generously, with plenty left over. Trust me, you want leftovers.
3kg pork- the one in these pictures is a bit of shoulder, but it is spectacular with belly. If you get a belly bit, leave on the nipples.
|A good sharp knife; chopping board; Bic razor; roasting tin.|
Heart Attack Mash: Not for the faint hearted, lactose-intolerant, or those on diets.
15 mins prep (probably less if you have a peeler); 25 mins cooking.
|Potatoes. Plenty of potatoes. I did a whole bag.
I cannot give you exact measurements, but let’s quote our old pal Harry Harris here:
150ml single cream
Right. Here we go. Stick the oven on as hot as it will go. Or, if you have a magic oven that can do ANY HOT, 240 degrees. Let’s start with the BBP. Take the BBP out of its packaging, and put it on a board. There’s a photograph, somewhere, of Tall Man shaving around a pig nipple, with a bright yellow Bic razor, and that’s what we’re going to do now: have a look for any odd hairs, and shave them off. Hairy crackling is nobody’s friend. Shaving a dead pig is one of those things that make you remember that the pig was alive, once, too: that the pork was a pig in a field not so long ago. It’s good to be reminded of this.
Next, you’re going to want a very sharp knife (we have this sharpener; it is splendid.), and a steady hand. You want to score the skin and fat, across, like this, without touching the meat: the tip of the knife skims across the last thin layer of the fat, never breaking through, only skimming, only just touching.
Rub the scored BBP with these things, in this order: a healthy glug of olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and some cut up rosemary. Stick the BBP in the oven, on a slatted roasting tray if possible. Give it twenty minutes at the very hot temperature, and then whack the whole lot down to 160-ish, and go away. I mean it. Go right away. Go and read a book (I have just finished The Master and Margarita, and it was great), or watch a film (I am about to watch The Greatest Store In The World), or do something. Several somethings. You’re going to go away for at least three hours, but maybe even some more after that. As much as you can give it: it is only going to improve.
After those three hours are up, come back and peek at the pork. Leave it in there. It’s fine. It’s completely fine. Peel and chop your potatoes: if the potato is fist-sized, into quarters. The smaller you chop them, the faster they will cook, and the less work they will be to mash. Almost certainly, ask someone else to do this part, because peeling potatoes is boring, and makes your fingertips go a little wrinkled. Take an enormous pot. Put the potatoes in, and cover with cold water, and a big, big pinch of salt. More salt than you think: the best mash I’ve ever made, Tall Man and I, Anne and Diana style, both independently salted the water heavily. The mash was glorious. Bring to the boil, and simmer the potatoes until they are soft enough that you can disintegrate them with a fork, tumbling fragments of wet white potato with just a little movement. Drain, and return to the pan. First add the butter, mashing it in, bit by bit. Then a splash of cream. Then a teaspoon of mustard, or horseradish. Then a splash of cream. Then mustard. Then cream. Try not to think about arteries, waistlines, heart attacks. Don’t think about any of that stuff. You can always just have a tiny, tiny helping. (You won’t.) Have a little spoonful, just to taste. Have another little bit. Just to taste. Definitely just to taste. Another little bit. Add salt if you need to, and a healthy grind of black pepper.
Now! Turn off the oven! Take the BBP out of the oven, inhale. Die of joy.
Let the meat rest; get everyone a big glass of wine; dollop mash onto plates. Let people come to you, their mashy plates outstretched, and feed them pork, and a big wodge of crackling. Applesauce. Mustard. Horseradish. Die of joy. Be loved. Be adored. Eat on the sofa, under a blanket.
If you feel like being slightly- just slightly- healthier, I think you should have green beans with this. Green beans, with a bit of sharp lemon. I love beans.