The Past Week's Meat

It has officially been a week (and counting) since the meat of the gods- bacon- has passed my little pink lips. Under my new regime, I am now trying not to eat meat more than twice a week. In reality, it will most likely be using up to two joints or cuts of meat per week, and depending on the size, number of guests and amount of leftovers, the meat days could run over, but no additional meat will be purchased or consumed!

For my first organic meat stock up, I made a trip Luddesdown Farm, in the North Downs Valley, Kent. Jill was very friendly and accommodating and is available to show you around her meat selection on Friday mornings. I was a bit disappointed to find that all of the meat was frozen in storage and it was unlikely they'd be able to provide me with fresh cuts ever, but I was still determined to try some of everything. The chicken is sourced from another nearby organic farm, and was the most expensive product there, but all chickens and cuts were blooming massive! I await the day I will devour the two gloriously gigantic thighs I brought back. Also disappointing was that there was no beef ribs available to smoke. Apparently the beef is very popular and people are putting orders in for the next slaughter now. I did however bring home 2 packs of the beef mince (4 packs for £10, quite the bargain), 1 huge pork shoulder which was half price and only £13 or so, and a boned and rolled pork loin, which was also half price. Should last a while.

So, first to try was the beef mince. On Saturday for my first kitchen venture into meat all week, I diced some onion and seasoned the mince and made myself and Mr Munch a big fat burger, (no need for egg) and some baked, skin-on Kent chips for a hearty, pre-party dinner served simply with salad leaves and homemade rosemary oil. No photo, I'm afraid, far too keen to gobble. The meat was actually bloody lovely, and despite being a rather simple dinner was packed with what I like to call yumminess. Also, as there was around 700g of meat in the packet there was a fair amount leftover for another project at a later date. All good news.

Sunday we had a guest coming to sample my wares for the first time, so we were determined to smoke something in the fabulous R2BBQ. I decided pork shoulder would be the way forward. We were up early and making a fire at 6.30am, but unfortunately I then went back to bed, and the man of the house got stuck into playing Transformers with American teenagers, so neither of us noticed that the fire had gone out. Bugger. After another struggle trying to light the bastard thing, it ended up being later in the day than I had hoped, which meant it wasn't quite the long, slow cook I was hoping for and more of a quick, hot affair. Oh my. So I'm not sure if this saga or the length of time the meat was frozen for previously was the main factor in the final texture of the meat, but I had hoped for something fluffier. The flavour, however, was lovely and the rub recipe I used and adapted can be found here. I swapped the chilli powder for chilli flakes and halved the amount used, other than that all was pretty much the same. The finished, charred pork tasted bloody brilliant and even better with poached eggs for breakfast the morning after. I served it all simply with minty, boiled salad potatoes, broad beans sauteed with garlic, lemon rind and cherry tomatoes and some BBQ'd little gem lettuces. It was a triumph. We all felt very stuffed and another snooze was imminent.

So, what to do with the leftover mince? Meatballs, obviously! I added some chilli flakes and fresh chopped basil to the mince mix and formed into 10 little balls. I usually like to make a tomato based sauce to accompany any balls of meat, but I had a flourishing basil plant on the windowsill and a hankering for pesto. It's not an entirely traditional pesto, much like my last one I used substitutions, but with damn pleasing results, so who cares?! I couldn't find any pine nuts in my cupboard despite being positive I had some. They must be hiding from me, unwilling to be toasted and then crushed into unrecognisable fragments by my trusty pestle & mortar. The sunflower seeds were less clever, and almost willingly hopped into my frying pan, sacrificing themselves for a much greater good. I served my pesto and meat balls with some artisan, gluten free tagliatelle from La Casetta, who use organic rice flour and free range eggs. They have a large selection of artisan pasta for all those friendly with wheat and make pestos and sauces as well. If you get an opportunity you must try their gluten free cheese breads, they're yummy but far too easy to scoff in one go. I know you can find their wares at various farmer's markets such as Blackheath, West Hampstead and Islington, but the website printed on their box is a frustrating lie, so no idea how else you may get hold of them.

Pesto & Meatball Pasta
Serves 2

for the meatballs
300-400g beef mince
1/4 diced onion
6-8 chopped basil leaves
1-2 tsp chilli flakes
salt & pepper

for the pesto
50g sunflower seeds
50g Parmesan, grated
olive oil, about 1/4 cup
1-2 good handfuls of basil leaves
juice half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

for the pasta
Any dried pasta

  1. Mix all of the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and then form 10 small balls out of the mixture.
  2. Lightly toast your sunflower seeds in a dry pan, until lightly golden.
  3. Put your sunflower seeds, garlic and basil in a pestle and mortar and begin to smash to smithereens. Continue smashing until satisfied it's passable as a pesto consistency. A food processor would work just as well, but where's your sense of finger smashing, seed flying adventure?! And this counts as exercise too, right? Good.
  4. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Heat a frying pan and add some olive oil. Add your meatballs to the oil and fry until browned and cooked through.
  5. Add your lemon juice and Parmesan, and then stir some olive oil through your pesto mix until the desired consistency is reached. I like mine a bit rustic looking, but you may want more or less oil, dependent on taste. Keep smashing and stirring until it's an even consistency.
  6. Add salt and olive oil to your boiling water and pop your pasta in. Cook as per the instructions for your pasta.
  7. Once cooked transfer your pasta to the pan with the meatballs, add a couple of spoonfuls of both pesto and reserved pasta water and stir whilst gently heating.
  8. Once all is well incorporated, serve with some freshly ground black pepper. You may wish to serve this with salad to make up for the lack of veg in this meal, but it's a perfectly good feast on it's own and I promise you won't miss the greens. I certainly didn't. And I've stayed full and away from snacks or seconds, despite the always eminent temptation to break into the box I've made up for Mr Munch's lunch tomorrow.

So, as a round up; so far the beef is my favourite, rubs and cooking on fire makes everything wonderful and dinners don't have to be pretty and colourful to make me marvelously happy.


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