I always find January to be a difficult month. It’s dark and dreary outside and all of the bright lights and colour of Christmas are long gone. And, like a lot of people I want to try and shed some of the weight I inevitably gained over Christmas. I know that exercise is a big part of that – so I try and walk more often and get out and about when it’s not raining. But eating the right food is also important. Trouble is, for me at least, is that I am very much a comfort eater.
When it’s not so great outside I crave all the bad things inside. I just want to sit in front of the woodburner surrounded by snack foods – all in easy reach. It’s the worst combination of naughty treats and no exercise! Bad Scott!
The only way to avoid getting stuck in a rut is to plan better. I need to fill myself up at mealtimes with big bowls of hearty – and healthy – food. I also need to make sure that Michael and I don’t have any excuses to order in. That means that January often becomes the time when I get into the habit of batch cooking again.
This Smoky Pork recipe is the perfect example of this. I was able to make double portions of this for the freezer at the same time as cooking a totally different dinner. As the prep time is minimal and it needs little ongoing attention I was able to make three dinners at the same time. Once cooled the Smoky Pork was divided up – half for the fridge (for the next night) and half for the freezer (for another day).
When it came to serving I realised that I had a few ingredients sitting in the bottom of the fridge that needed to be used up. So I made dinner a little more complicated than planned by making a “dirty” rice instead. The spicy, savoury flavour of the rice brought a great balance to the sweetness of the pork and I’d recommend doing it if you have time. Though if time isn’t on your side you could just as easily serve this with plain steamed rice or mashed potatoes.
Smoky Pork with Dirty Rice
for the Pork
- 2 tsp Smoked Paprika (Pimentón)
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp English Mustard Powder
- ½ tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 300 g Pork Shoulder Steaks cut into 2cm chunks
- 350 g Crushed Tomatoes or Passata Rustica
- 1 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
- 2 tsp Cider Vinegar
for the Dirty Rice
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil or Light Olive Oil
- 1 Red Onion peeled and finely chopped
- ½ Red Pepper deseeded and chopped
- 100 g Chicken Livers finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 tbsp Tomato Purée
- 120 g Chestnut Mushrooms choppped
- 120 g White Rice
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
- 250 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock
- 4 Spring Onions thinly sliced
Marinate the Pork
- Mix together the parika, mustard, onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl or zip-lock bag, then add the oil and mix to make a paste. Add the pork and mix until well coated. Put into the fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavours to develop.
Cook the Pork
- Heat a deep frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the pork and fry for a few minutes on each side, until sealed and slightly caramelised on the edges. You shouldn’t need to add any oil to the pan, as there’s plenty in the marinade.
- Sprinkle the sugar over the pork and stir to coat, then add the crushed tomatoes and cider vinegar. Reduce the heat to low, stir well and then cover with a loose-fitting lid. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender. You want the sauce to thicken, so make sure the steam can escape as it simmers.
Prepare the Rice
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add in the onion and red pepper, then cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Stir the garlic through the mixture and cook for a further minute or so until fragrant.
- Put the chicken livers into the pan and fry until they’re cooked through and no longer pink.
- Add the mushrooms and rice to the pan and mix well. Sprinkle over the seasonings then pour over the stock. Bring to a simmer and then cook for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
- Serve the rice sprinkled with the sliced spring onions, with the Barbecue Pork either alongside or over the top of the rice.