Monday 3 November 2014

"Gribbly Bits"

Chinese belly pork (Johnny Diamond)
Gribbly Bits. That is our in-family jokey name for any non-standard bits of the pig, cheap cuts, offal, ears, tails, trotters and trimmings. That all started with a chum of ours named Andy while we were on a 2CV convoy across Northern France, off to show off our 1961 reg, fully restored car at La Chapelle d'Armentieres. There is almost certainly a post on this if you go back far enough


Andy had brought along his Hungarian then-fiancée who's spoken English, I should add, was probably better than ours. We'd stopped in a restaurant along the way and she (who went under the superb name of Zsa zsa) is one of those people who take huge amounts of time choosing off a menu; to the point where waiters give up and promise to come back later having 'given you a bit more time to choose'. Liz and I have no such problems and had spotted and quickly ordered a chicken gizzard salad. This is a firm favourite here but would definitely be in most peoples' list of 'gribbly bits'. We had a good laugh 'teaching' Zsa zsa that 'gribbly bits' was a genuine English expression and was widely accepted by French waiters as 'les pièces gribloises'. No, don't worry, we weren't being mean, we were kidding enough that she was definitely unsure and we let her off the hook before she could embarrass herself!

Trick or Treaters. Liz has bobbed down to
kiddy-height to offer the sweets so we can only see the
top of her head., 
You can use every part of the pig, so they say, except its squeal. We have been playing around with some of the gribbly bits. You'll know I made the 'head cheese' (brawn) a week or so back, and the dogs got the ears roasted. We have the hearts and livers, of course. We did not get the tails or trotters back this time but that was because we have trotters still in the freezer from last year, when we bought half a carcass of Gloucester Old Spots cross. Liz had boiled up the trotters, following a recipe in our Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy book ('Pork') but had not followed up with the oven-roast/glaze half. The trotters had been portioned up and frozen. Well, now all inspired by our own pigs, Liz completed the job and  rescued them from the 'archive'; glooping them up well with a whizzed up mix of mango chutney (ours), tomato purée, cider vinegar, red chilli, garlic and olive oil and then roasting, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes in a hot oven.

Under this 'abuse' the trotters pretty much fall apart and flex into impossible shapes as the tendons contract, so it is compulsory to pick them up in your sticky fingers and get all Medieval on their glutinous, sticky, sweet, delicious gribbliness. If you, the reader, are finding this a bit too gribbly, then remember that this is just the skin, tiny muscles and cartilege of the lower calf, wrist or heel joint and the feet, cooked to melt-in-the-mouth tenderness. The actual bones and the hoof 'toe-nails' are left for the delighted dogs to deal with. The mango chutney glaze is definitely a success; we will be claiming our trotters back from now on. We have some more half-done in the freezer to be going on with. No pics of the finished product, I'm afraid, not for any reason. I just didn't take any.

We've also been exploring some Chinese style recipes for the pork bellies. Here, Liz followed a recipe from our other excellent pork book, Johnny Mountain's "Cooking with a Passion for Pig", which involves, like the trotters, 2 cooking stages, a 6 hour gentle boil in stock, followed by a fry-then-roast. We make one adaptation from the Mountain recipe, in that we use a family favourite stock known as "Blackspring's Nan's pork hock stock". Blackspring was the pen name of one of Liz's internet buddies, and his Chinese Nan used to do the hocks this way; the stock was the perfect choice for the belly-boil. It's on

...should you want to follow that one up, but it's basically a goodly mix of ginger, chili bean sauce, brown sugar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, star anise and spring onions plus, if you fancy, rice wine and 5-spice powder. After the boil you cool the meat, ideally overnight (you will have spotted that this dish can therefore be pretty much pre-prepared the day before), then carefully cut into portion 'blocks', which if you're as posh as Mr Diamond you can present rather nattily on a bed of rice etc (as per the photo at the top of this post). Very yummy and more-ish. Neither of us stopped at just the one 'portion block'.

Nice meaty bellies wait for their curing mix.
Other than that, in the pork dept, Liz has started some dry-curing, bellies for bacon rashers and a couple of boned-out leg joints to have a go at air dried hams. We are looking to rig up a cold smoker too, so at least one of these may get smoked. There are some exciting recipes for this kind of thing in both books and there is a thriving group on Facebook called "Sausage Debauchery" where dozens of curers all around the world are creating ham, salami and no end of types of cured sausages. We will be in good company, but I won't go into any detail here; Liz is covering all that on her blog.

By tonight, then, we were feeling a bit like we might have had enough forms of pork for the moment, so we re-visited the old faithful supply of Hubbard chicken parts which is still going strong in the freezer. Just breast meat (skin on), roasted nice and simply and served with broad beans and cous-cous. Guaranteed no "pièces gribloises".


Cinquecento said...

You should credit the giver of the recipe books. Thank you Mazylou, godmother to two of the nicest piggies I've ever eaten.

Matt Care said...

Amen to that, Cinquecento. We should also acknowledge the famous Blackspring and his dear Nan.

mazylou said...

Too kind. Good old POARK.