Around the time Ruth asked me to organise some food I read this post about Trina's wedding. The most awesome looking wedding food I have ever seen was inspiring and intimidating in equal measure. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to achieve anything so impressive I decided to go a bit more home style.
Bacon sandwich tasting
Andrew requested bacon sandwiches which made them a must for a day. My first concern was how I'd cook and serve a huge batch of bacon rolls within thirty minutes. After some searching on the internet I stumbled upon the method of baking bacon. Laying the bacon direct on the bars of the oven shelf and cooking the rashers in a single layer for 10 - 20mins renders the fat and results in an incredibly even finish. First problem solved.
My second worry was the bread roll. My first thought was a white and fluffy roll as that seems to be the classic. In the name of research I sampled the bacon roll from Farm in Smithfield. A mighty fine bacon sandwich which is served in a sourdough roll and had me rethinking my strategy. The choice of bread roll was getting me all confused, so set up a tasting session and made Andrew, the groom, decide. He opted for the Greggs corn topped roll.
The bacon was a lot more straight forward as I know I'd be betting it from my parent's local butcher Calnan Brothers. Remembering the awesome sumac bacon I had at Revolver, I experimented with trying to flavour bacon with some sumac I bought in Turkey. However, I foud that it didn't make a lot of difference to the final flavour. Perhaps I wasn't using enough sumac? In the end I plumped for unsmoked back bacon.
Pulled pork rolls
One of the ideas I did get from Trina's wedding post was for a pulled pork roll. The recipe was something I did a bit of head scratching over as I know that anything too spicy wouldn't go down well down with the crowd.
I then saw this Heston pulled pork recipe and knew that it was the one for me. Really easy to make the sauce has a fantastic sweet and sour tang. I cut back on the amount of sugar used as I found the initial trials a bit too sweet. I also found pork leg a better, and cheaper, cut than pork shoulder to use. It seemed to 'pull' a lot more easily. Served with some shredded lettuce in a malted brown bap I was pleased with the result.
Completing the spread we bought some local apples. Mum got baking and made banana bread, bara brith (a Welsh tea bread) and her special flapjacks. I also knocked up some roasted vegetable sandwiches for the veggies that came along.
In the end I was really pleased with how it went. My friend Will and I made sixty bacon sandwiches and around the same number of pulled pork rolls inside thirty minutes. The bacon rolls were a sell out, and nearly everything else went with the exception of the apples. The healthy option wasn't a big seller at all!
Being in the kitchen we didn't get to see people eat the food, but the feedback we got was all good. We kept all the guests bellies full before the main reception later in the day and most importantly I don't think we poisoned anyone!!
Pulled pork, heavily inspired by this recipe.
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable / sunflower oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
500ml chicken stock
250g tomato ketchup
175ml cider vinegar
80g dark muscovado sugar
10ml Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste
2kg pork leg
Mix together the ginger, paprika, mustard powder and salt and stir well to combine. Set aside.
Add the oil and sliced onion to a large pan and cook slowly until the onion starts to brown.
While the onion is cooking cut your pork into large pieces and cover with half of the spice rub and massage it into the meat.
Returning to the onions. Once they are golden add the garlic and continue to fry for one minute. Then add the remaining half of the spice rub and all the other ingredients (excluding the pork). Bring to the boil and simmer for 15mins.
While your sauce is simmering brown the pork in batches in a large fry pan. I had a couple of pans on the go at the same time.
Add your pork to the sauce, cover and simmer for an hour and a half. Once the cooking time is up let the pork cool completely in the sauce.
Once the pork is cool remove it from the sauce an pull it by hand.