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If you feel that Christmas dinner must be absolutely traditional and you love the reassuring familiarity of roast turkey and all the trimmings, you will probably not serve this on Christmas Day, but do try it some other time. Moist, tender, utterly delicious and ridiculously easy, it has become a family favourite.
Cooking a pork leg or shoulder can be tricky because the fat surrounds rather than marbles the meat and once the fat is removed the pork tends to dry out. Braising in a slow oven is very trouble-free and keeps the meat succulently moist. The pork imbibes the spices and liquids in which it cooks, rendering it deeply flavourful and aromatic. The chilli and smoked paprika provide a zippy but gentle tingle and the lemon and rosemary add piquancy to the marinade surrounding the pork.
While this is not speedy to cook, it is amazingly accommodating. All it requires is about 15 minutes preparation the night before or early in the day, leaving you free to do other things while it cooks itself happily in the oven for several hours. Buy more than you need as it is fantastic cold.
A leg or shoulder of lamb is also delicious cooked this way.
Lemon and rosemary pork with spiced rhubarb sauce
2.5kg piece of pork leg or shoulder
¾ of a preserved lemon (use rind only, discard inner), finely chopped
zest of a lemon
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
2½ Tbsp dark cane sugar
2 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 tsp prepared chilli (from a jar)
1½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
3 plump cloves garlic, crushed
rosemary sprigs to garnish
2 Tbsp redcurrant jelly
3 Tbsp port wine
1 Tbsp cornflour
Spiced rhubarb sauce
500g rhubarb stalks, trimmed
⅓ cup orange juice
4 Tbsp honey
1 whole star anise|
1½ tsp vanilla essence
A 2.5kg leg or shoulder requires a large oven bag. Remove the rind and the fat from the pork. This reduces the size of the roast quite dramatically. Probably down to about 2kg.
Weigh the pork and calculate the cooking time. Allow one and a-half hours per 500g. A 2kg piece of pork will take about 6 hours to cook. With a small sharp knife, make small deep slits all over the meat.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
With the back of a spoon or your fingers rub the mixture all over the pork, trying to push some of it into the slits.
Put the pork and any remaining marinade inside an oven bag. Tie the top, leaving a tiny opening for steam to escape.
Place the oven-bagged pork in the fridge for an hour or two or up to 24 hours.
Turn the bag over from time to time to allow the marinade to flow around the meat. Ensure that the tied top of the bag with the hole is uppermost.
Bring to room temperature before starting to cook. Place in a roasting dish and cook in an oven preheated to 120degC for the required time.
Remove from the oven. Slit open the oven bag to allow the juices to flow into the roasting dish. Carefully lift the pork on to a heated platter. Cover with foil and then a towel to keep the meat warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.
Strain the juices through a sieve and return them to the roasting dish. Place the roasting dish on the hob, bring to the boil and stir in the redcurrant jelly. In a small bowl, mix together the port wine and the cornflour until smooth then stir into the gravy. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes more until the gravy thickens slightly.
Carve the pork into chunky pieces. Because the meat is almost falling from the bone you cannot carve it into neat slices.
Arrange on a serving platter, drizzle with gravy and garnish with rosemary.
Serve with baby new potatoes and asparagus.
Accompany with spiced rhubarb sauce.
Spiced rhubarb sauce
Split any thick stalks in half lengthways and cut into 2cm slices.
Put the orange juice, honey and star anise into a medium-sized saucepan and add the rhubarb. Stir and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the rhubarb has softened but some shape is still discernible, not completely mushy. Add the vanilla essence. Remove the star anise. Pour into a serving dish, cover and chill until required.