Georgina Campbell's Cookery Feature - Passionate About Pork

Roast Pork CracklingPork is one of our most traditional and most versatile foods and, while the introduction of refrigeration made a big change to attitudes as fresh pork was no longer seen as being ’just for winter’, there is something wonderfully comforting about it and many of the great pork dishes seem to have a secret ingredient that brings warmth to the chilliest of days.

In the old days, every home cook knew that pork couldn’t be beaten for ease of preparation, taste and versatility and a recent Bord Bia Quality Assured pork campaign has highlighted just that, with the introduction of a new range of pork recipes for everyday and weekend meals on the Bord Bia website.

Interestingly, although ‘more contemporary cooking methods’ have broadened the appeal of this timeless meat, their research also shows that traditional cooking methods and recipes such as roast pork with apple sauce (66%) and pork in marinade (63%) are still top choices for Irish consumers when it comes to preparing pork dishes.

The most popular pork cuts with Irish consumers are pork chops (44% of sales), pork joints (22% of sales) and pork steak (18% of sales) and 59% of those surveyed eat pork at least once a week. 82% also stated that it is important to them that products carry the Bord Bia Quality Assurance mark so that they know their food has been produced to Bord Bia quality standards and can be traced back to the farm.

For the benefit of both consumers and producers, traceability - and honest labelling - is essential for all foods, and especially for those like pork and chicken which are under threat from price wars and cheap imports, so the Quality Assured mark is a reassurance.

Buying from a butcher you trust is also important, especially as that may lead you to small production - free range and perhaps also organic - pork, which will have all the flavour of yesteryear, along with excellent cooking qualities such as the irresistible crackling that for many (myself included) is pretty much the main point of a pork roast.

Interest in small production pork is growing, with a surprising number of people going back to the old practice of ‘keeping a pig’. Many who have one or two pigs, or who are thinking of keeping them, attend the popular Pig in a Day courses run by enterprising butchers such as McCarthy’s of Kanturk (see Special Irish Foods & The People Who Produce Them for details of their courses).

It’s all part of a wider movement towards wanting to know more about where our food comes from and what happens to it before it reaches our kitchens. Hopefully, gaining a better understanding of the processes involved in producing quality food will help shoppers to see that good food cannot be produced cheaply - and that hard earned money is better spent on sustainably produced foods than at the doctors. Better to buy less of the best and enjoy it all the more.

RECIPES - a few dishes from the new Bord Bia pork recipe collection (

Pork with Apple and Ginger Pork with Apple and Ginger

The apple, ginger and sage are a slight variation on traditional flavour combinations in this aromatic dish. Served with colcannon and roast vegetables, it takes about 45 minutes and makes a tasty midweek meal.

Serves 4

1 tablesp. oil
4 Quality Assured Bord Bia pork chops, well trimmed
Salt and black pepper
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablesp. honey
2 teasp. fresh root ginger, grated
4 sage leaves, chopped
A few knobs of butter
To Serve: Colcannon and roasted parsnips and carrots.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180?C (350?F).

Heat the oil in a frying pan.

Season the chops with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Brown for 2 minutes on each side then remove from the pan to an ovenproof baking dish. Add a knob of butter to the same frying pan, add the apple slices and cook for a minute.

Mix the lemon juice, honey, ginger and sage together in a small bowl then add it to the frying pan. Simmer for a minute or two, then pour over and around the pork chops.
Cover the dish and place in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Serve with colcannon and roasted parsnips and carrots, which can be cooked in the oven with pork.


Grilled Pork Chops with Stir-fried Pak ChoiGrilled Pork Chops with Stir-fried Pak Choi

This recipe can be on the table in half an hour, making a quick and tasty family meal. The pak choi makes an ideal partner for the oriental flavours although other green vegetables could also be used, as available. Serves: 4

4 Quality Assured Bord Bia pork chops, well trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablesp. hoisin sauce
2 tablesp. sesame oil
2 tablesp. honey
½ teasp. Chinese five spice powder
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3cm piece of root ginger, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
½ chilli, deseeded and chopped

Stir-fry Pak Choi

4 pak choi
1 tablesp. rapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ chilli, deseeded and chopped

Combine all the marinade ingredients. Place the chops in a dish and pour over half of the marinade. Keep the rest to serve with the cooked chops. Allow to marinate for as long as you can but even 15 minutes would be fine.

Preheat the grill and cook the chops for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick they are.

Meanwhile heat the rapeseed oil in a wok or large frying pan. Roughly chop the pak choi leaves and stalks into strips. Add to the hot oil along with the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the chops with a little of the reserved marinade spooned over along with the stir-fried pak choi and potato wedges.


Rack of Pork with Smoked Paprika and SageRack of Pork with Smoked Paprika and Sage

Best as a weekend treat, this variation on traditional roast pork with crispy crackling and apple sauce has a bit of a twist. It’s best started the day before if possible.

Serves 8

1 x 2kg Quality Assured Bord Bia rack of pork, chine bone removed and skin scored in fine lines for easy carving
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablesp. smoked paprika
2 teasp. fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablesp. flour
600mls stock or water

Apple and Blueberry Sauce

2 large Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
100g blueberries
Knob of butter
1 tablesp. sugar

To Serve: Potatoes roasted with winter vegetables

A day ahead if possible mix together the garlic, smoked paprika and sage. Spread the mixture over the pork and set aside in the fridge overnight.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C (400°F).
Place the pork in a roasting tin and season with a little salt. Put the onions, carrots and celery around the pork. This will add extra flavour and colour to the gravy.

Place the joint in the oven and allow to cook for 50 minutes per kg. After the first 15 minutes reduce the heat to Gas Mark 5, 180°C (350°F). To be absolutely accurate use a meat thermometer. The crackling should be golden and crispy at this stage.

Peel and chop potatoes and a selection of vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, white turnip and red onion. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a roasting tin, place in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until tender.

When the meat is cooked, remove from the oven. Transfer the meat to a chopping board, cover loosely with tin foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Discard the vegetables that were cooked alongside the roast

To make the Apple and Blueberry Sauce, place the apples, blueberries, butter, sugar and a tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft. Taste before serving and add a little more sugar if needed.

To make the gravy: stir the flour into the juices in the roasting tin. Place over a medium heat and continue stirring with a wooden spoon. Gradually add in the stock or water and stir until it thickens.
Taste and season. Pour through a sieve into a gravy boat.

To serve, slice the pork and serve with the roasted vegetables, gravy and Apple and Blueberry Sauce.

There are currently no comments

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment
Not a member? Register for your free membership now!
Or leave a comment by logging in with: