Puerco en Naranja (Mexican Pork with Orange)

Puerco en Naranja (roast pork with oranges)
Last Friday I gave you a sneak peak of what I was about to cook, and I’ve finally recovered from the weekend enough to write up the recipe for the main event of my birthday dinner: Puerco en Naranja (or Pork cooked in Orange Juice). This is a stunning recipe and perfect for a really special occasion. It takes a bit of time, but it is so worth it.

Mum ordered the pork from the butchers (it’s an unusual cut, so you will probably need to order from your local butcher, or at least visit the meat counter at the supermarket. However, if you fancy the flavour of this dish without the cost, you could try the same marinade with a cheap cut of pork like shoulder or even chops and just adjust the cooking times and technique). I gave the butcher the name for the order. He returned with the biggest cut of pork loin I’ve ever seen, chuckled and commented “Spears: never a small order”. Well he’s not wrong. But to be fair, every last morsel of meat was devoured.
Ingredients for Puerco en Naranja (Mexican pork with orange)
Ingredients (serves 10 to 12)
9 lbs rib-end pork loin, with the bones chined and the skin scored (ask your butcher to do this for you)
10 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp salt
4 tsp oregano
24 peppercorns
6 oranges

Method
1. Pierce any exposed meat with a sharp knife and place skin side up in a large roasting tin.
Marinade for Puerco en Naranja (garlic, oregano, salt, peppercorns and orange juice)
2. Crush the garlic, salt, oregano and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. Add the juice of 2 of the oranges and mix.
Marinating the pork loin overnight
3. Slather the marinade all over the pork and give it a good massage, rubbing it into any cracks or cuts. Cover in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least one hour, but ideally overnight. We had particularly tasty results with the meat this time, which we are sure was at least in part due to the overnight (12 hours plus) marinade.
4. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Remove the pork from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Pour the juice of 2 more of the oranges over the pork and pop the orange skins in the roasting tin. Cover with tin foil and roast for 2 hours.
The pork loin with orange marinade after 2 hours in the oven - time to turn it
5. Drain off most of the juices and keep aside for later. Turn the pork and bake for a further hour uncovered. Baste every 20 minutes or so.
The pork loin turned - baste often at this point
6. Turn the oven up to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6. Turn the pork skin side up again and cook until the meat has browned and the skin has caramelised (this will take approximately 30 minutes).
Pork loin with oranges after 3 1/2 hours roasting
7. Skim off any fat from the reserved juices, add the juice of the final two oranges and bubble over a high heat until reduced to a thick sauce.
Boiling the orange sauce in order to reduce it
8. Slice the meat – it should fall off the bones beautifully – and pour over the orange cooking liquid.

Serve with wraps, rice and whichever extras you like – we went to town and had beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, cheese and lettuce. I’m not sure how many of these are authentically Mexican sides but darn they taste good!
Tortilla wrap with Puerco en Naranja, rice, cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream
This recipe is in Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. It was originally passed on to my parents more than 25 years ago by Professor David Weisblat, my dad’s boss while he was a postdoc in California. I’m told that David was a genius at cooking Mexican cuisine, and one night he scrawled this recipe on a scrap of paper for mum and dad. Now we have Diana’s recipe book, but I just love the jumble of words and instructions that David wrote so I thought I’d share it with you:
Hand-written recipe for Puerco en Naranja (pork cooked in orange juice)
I (roughly) doubled the original recipe but you can easily scale it back if you’re not feeding such a crowd! So go on, treat yourself.

Recipes for some of the sides are to come later in the week….

Raspberry and Orange Chocolate-Dipped Meringues

Colourful swirled meringues flavoured with orange and raspberry arranged on a platter
Meringues dipped in dark chocolate arranged on a platter
There’s something about meringues that is pretty magical. Maybe it’s the way that a gloopy, anaemic liquid can be transformed into light, frothy clouds with just a whisk. Or maybe it’s the glossy, bright white mixture that appears once sugar has been added. It could be the texture after cooking, a perfect combination of crisp, soft and chewy. It’s definitely the wonder that only two basic ingredients, egg whites and sugar, can result in such a delicious treat.

Meringues can fit in equally well at afternoon tea or a fancy dinner party, and look impressive, but are easy enough that children love to make them. When we were small we had a wonderful step-by-step children’s recipe book which included a recipe for pavlova that we loved to make. Aged about 10 my little sister gave it a go all by herself. Unfortunately, she misread teaspoon as tablespoon and the end result was, shall we say, a little vinegary in flavour. A valiant attempt, but an advert for reading a recipe thoroughly if ever there was one.

I’d been contemplating making flavoured meringues a lot recently, and with four unused egg whites leftover from the custard I made last Sunday this seemed like the chance. I think the flavours I chose work perfectly together: the sharpness of the fruit, the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the intense sweetness of the meringue itself. If you want to try other flavours then go for it, but be careful when adding anything wet or runny as this can affect the texture of the meringue (for example, in this recipe don’t add any extra zest than stated because of the orange oil that will come with it). If you want plain meringues then just leave the added extras out, they will be just a scrumptious in their natural form.
Ingredients laid out for flavoured meringues - egg whites in a mug, sugars, an orange, freeze-dried raspberries, chocolate and food colouring

Ingredients (makes about 14 meringues, depending on size)
4 egg whites
115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar

Zest of 1 small orange
2 tbsp freeze dried raspberries
Orange and pink gel food colourings (optional, but this gives a stunning finish)

150g dark chocolate

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 120C/100C fan/Gas 1. Meringues require an extremely low oven temperature, which cooks them through without burning the outside and dries them out.
2. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. You are really going to want either an electric whisk or someone with tireless biceps to do this.
Stiff whisked egg whites in a glass bowl
3. Add the caster sugar a spoon at a time, whisking constantly.
Caster sugar added to the whisked egg whites to make a glossy mixture
4. Add half the icing sugar, whisk, then add the other half and whisk. Pro tip: do not add the icing sugar while the blades are switched on. This results in unnecessary clouds of powdered sugar billowing around your kitchen and requires a lot of wiping down of surfaces, chairs and toasters.Icing sugar added to the meringue mixture to make a silky, sticky mixture
5. You will now have a glossy, sticky mixture. Remove half of it into a different bowl and gently fold in the orange zest. Fold the freeze-dried raspberries through the remaining mixture.

6. Line 2 baking trays with parchment, not greaseproof, paper. Meringues will stick to greaseproof paper, but not baking parchment. I like to place a small blob of meringue mixture at each corner of the trays, so that the baking parchment has something to stick to and doesn’t slide around.
Adding a little meringue mix to the baking trays to hold the parchment paper down
7. Use a large dessert spoon to create individual mounds of meringue mix on the trays. Dip the end of a skewer into the gel food colouring and swirl through the meringues to your hearts content.

Meringues ready to be cooked, swirled with pink and orange
8. Cook the meringues for approximately 1¼ hours, or until they are crisp on the outside. Turn the oven off, turn the meringues upside down and leave in the oven to cool. Pro tip: do not forget that you have meringues in the oven and switch it back on to cook something else. This will lead to burnt meringue (or pavlova, as it was in that case).
Turning the meringues upside down after cooking. Leave to cool in the oven.
9. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water otherwise the chocolate will get too hot.


10. Dip the base of the meringues into chocolate, allowing a few seconds for excess chocolate to drip off. Leave to dry upside down, again on baking parchment.

We had these after a delicious Thai meal that my mum cooked on Saturday. She made her ridiculously simple, but exquisite tasting caramelised oranges. (**BONUS RECIPE** Allow 1 orange per person. Peel and slice. Slowly heat 170g sugar with 140ml water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the juice of ½ a lemon and pour over the sliced oranges. Chill.) As I banged on about before, oranges are at their primes right now, and they went so well with the meringues.
Bowl of caramelised oranges with two chocolate-dipped meringues, one raspberry flavour and one orange flavour
I think that the raspberry meringues would also be amazing served with fresh mixed berries and a generous dollop of cream during the summertime.

Speaking of which, is it summer yet? I have such a hankering for pesto and salad niçoise and fresh strawberries and Pimms.

No?

Sigh.

Rhubarb Crumble with Homemade Custard

Pouring homemade custard over rhubarb crumble
Crumble has to be one of the ultimate comfort-food puddings. It’s simple, sweet and stodgy, plus anything that can be served with custard is already winning. The choice of the crumble base can be whatever fruit you fancy – apple crumble is a classic, gooseberry is my personal favourite and in the autumn it’s amazing with a seasonal combination of apples, pears, plums and brambles. Rhubarb is in season, roughly, between late December and June. Forced rhubarb, which has been grown in the dark, has beautiful bright pink stalks and pale yellowish leaves and is available in the earlier months of the year. This was what I saw on the shelves on Sunday and it had to be mine. The smell of fresh rhubarb reminds me of being little and dipping raw stalks into mounds of sugar – sometimes the simple things in life are the best.

This was my first attempt at home made custard, and I have to say it was easy-peasy. This is not a boast – I guarantee you that, provided you can whisk and stir, you can make homemade custard too.

I think that one of the nice things about crumble is that you can tailor the topping to your own tastes and whatever you have in the cupboards. If you like a plain topping then just go by my mum’s basic recipe of 250g flour, to 125g butter and 60g sugar. Otherwise get creative – oats, ground almonds, flaked almonds, pine nuts, desiccated coconut, sesame seeds, even granola, are all delicious.
Ingredients laid out for rhubarb crumble with homemade custard
Ingredients (serves 6 to 8)
4 sticks of rhubarb, about 400g
40g golden caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 star anise
A few grinds of ground vanilla beans or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod

150g plain flour
50g ground almonds
125g chilled butter, cut into small cubes
40g oats
30g pine nuts
60g light brown muscovado sugar

500ml milk
4 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
1½ tbsp cornflour

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6. Chop the rhubarb into pieces approximately 2-3 inches long. Lay snuggly in a baking dish and sprinkle with the golden caster sugar, orange zest, star anise and vanilla.
Chopped rhubarb in a baking dish
Rhubarb with sugar, vanilla, orange zest and star anise ready to be roasted
Roast for 20 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and the sugar has melted into a pink syrup.
Roasted rhubarb with syrup
2. Add the chopped butter to the flour and ground almonds. Use your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour and almonds. The aim is to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients so that you are left with a “breadcrumb” texture.
Cubed butter added to a bowl of flour
IMG_1148
3. Mix in the oats, pine nuts and brown sugar.
Bowl of final crumble topping with oats and pine nuts added
4. Whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar and flour. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just at the boiling point, then remove from the heat.
Red bowl and whisk with egg yolks, sugar and cornflour mix
5. Add the hot milk to the egg yolks a little at a time, whisking continuously – no scrambled eggs here please! Put the mixture back on a low heat for 5-10 minutes. Make sure you stir constantly and remove from the heat as soon as the mixture is thick, so as to avoid the horror of lumpy custard.
Homemade custard after thickening, the custard coating the back of a wooden spoon
6. Spoon the crumble topping over the roasted rhubarb and bake for 30 minutes (still at 200C/180C fan/Gas 6) until the topping is golden brown and the rhubarb juice is starting to bubble up the sides.
Cooked rhubarb crumble in a white dish

If you want to make the custard ahead of time then a good tip is to transfer the custard to a jug or bowl and cover with cling film directly touching the custard. This stops the custard forming a skin on top. When you are ready to eat, put the custard back into a pan and reheat slowly. Or serve the custard cold – this might gross some people out, but personally I think cold custard is the food of gods.

We enjoyed this on Sunday night after dinner, sat in front of the last episode of Season 3 of Game of Thrones (mum and dad are catching up). So excited for the new season to start!

Instagram from annahprice of a bowl of crumble and custard

 
Would you put crumble near the top of your comfort-food list? What are your favourite crumble flavours?

Bells of St Clement’s Cake

Sponge cake topped with orange slices and syrup on a wooden board

One of the joys of cooking is using fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season. It really does make a difference if your ingredients are at their prime: there is nothing better than the first home-grown artichoke of the year; or biting into a crisp Autumn apple; or the pungent smell of basil as it is crushed to a pulp for pesto in July; or cutting into a pomegranate at Christmas time and seeing the deep red juices run out. I had been planning to make a pomegranate cake for a while, but their best days are nearly over and right now oranges are some of the best fruit you can eat. We have a fabulous local green grocer who provides us with entire crates of oranges. As you can see, ain’t nobody getting scurvy in this household.

Crate full of oranges

We use most of the oranges for juicing – freshly squeezed orange juice is one of the best things you can have on your breakfast table – but it also seemed like a perfect opportunity to try a baking experiment. I gathered the ingredients I had to hand, plus a pile of oranges, and the results were delicious. The structure of this cake holds very well and the brown sugar gives it a rich, caramel-y flavour. The topping adds moisture and a burst of freshness. If you have oranges in the house then I encourage you to give it a go…if not, then go out and buy some! They are the fruit moment.

Ingredients for orange cake laid out on table - flour, sugar, eggs, oranges, lemon, vanilla, butter

Ingredients
200g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
100g light brown muscavado sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
250g plain four
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
Juice ½ lemon
Juice of 2 oranges (200ml)
50g sugar
3-4 oranges

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3.
2. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line with a circle of baking parchment at the bottom.
3. Beat the butter with the two sugars until fluffy and pale. An electric whisk will be your best friend here, but if you don’t have one then give it some welly with a balloon whisk.
4. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
Pouring lemon juice into cake mix of butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest
5. Mix in the lemon zest and juice and the vanilla extract.
Flour in a bowl on electric scales weighing exactly 250g
6. Sift the flour and baking powder and mix well until all the ingredients are combined to a thick batter.
Cake mixture in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon
7. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and spread flat. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 minutes. The cake is ready when it is golden brown in colour and a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
8. Place the cake, still in the tin, on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
9. While the cake is cooking, combine the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar and heat in a pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce the liquid to a thick syrup.
Orange syrup simmering in a metal pan with wooden spoon to mix
10. Peel and slice the oranges. I learnt the following trick years ago and it was such a revelation when using peeled oranges in a recipe. It will be much, much easier if you use a serrated knife.
6 pictures showing the steps of peeling an orange with a serrated knife
11. Make holes in the cake with a thin skewer and spread over the orange syrup, reserving a little of it for the very top.
Cake on the right in it's tin and orange syrup on the left with a pastry brush
12. Remove the cake from the tin and decorate with the orange slices. Finish by brushing the remaining syrup over the oranges as a glaze.

Sponge cake with sliced oranges decorating the top

This cake is perfect served with crème fraîche or natural yogurt, and will keep in a tupperware box for a couple of days.

I’ll just leave you with the little nursery rhyme which inspired the name of this recipe…

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!