Most weekends come and go in a blink. The customary washing piles up, the fridge gets filled and the house gets cleaned. Another Monday quickens, and the lingering feeling of exhaustion rises. I sigh and wish I had done something better with my days off.
The remedy appears. A long, lazy Saturday lunch. Some good friends, a highly trained chef and an abundance of local wine. A road trip down the Peninsula, an unusually warm, sunny Autumn day in celebration of a mate’s 32nd year on this earth.
Our mate Harris catered the lunch. After years of working in some of the best Melbourne kitchens including Circa and Pei Modern, he’s traded in his whites to start a new adventure; private catering and cooking lessons.
Birthday boy Clancy helped guide the menu around some of his favourites, Gazpacho with fresh crab and grapes; Roasted pork loin with braised lentils and seasonal roasted apples, fennel and red onion. Dessert was the perfect amount of tiramisu in little cups, avoiding the usual ‘oh-my-god-I’m-so-bloated-whose idea-was-it-to-order-the-tiramusu’ regrets.
Clance is a funk man from way back and has great knowledge of Brazilian music. So rather than rehashing old classics, the food match comes courtesy of Magneto’s latest amazing mix, Fiesta Safari.
Thermomixers will be keen to know that the Thermomix was used for the gazpacho, finely grinding almonds and bread to a soup, emulsified with olive oil, spread onto freshly cooked crab and dotted with grapes and parsley.
Recipe – Haz’s roasted pork loin with braised lentils and roasted apples, fennel and red onion
Ingredients – Haz’s roasted pork loin
1 tbs fennel seeds
2 tbs caraway seeds
4 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil
50 ml vegetable oil
2 kg pork loin (trussed)
6 small granny smith apples
4 fennel bulbs (quartered)
Ingredients – Apple cider sauce
1 tbs plain flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 ¼ cups apple cider
4 sprigs thyme
1 tbs tomato sauce
- Score the skin of the pork making parallel incisions 1 cm apart. Massage salt into the skin, making sure you get into all the cuts. Place in the fridge for four hours. The salting helps extract moisture from the skin making the BEST crackling!
- Preheat oven at 140 degrees
- Crush seeds, garlic and salt then add the olive oil to make a paste
- At the 2 hour mark of salting rub the paste on the meat side of the pork
- Rub off salt and moisture from the skin. Place the vegetable oil in a heavy based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Place the pork skin side down, making sure the skin is crisp and golden brown
- Place in a roasting tray with either a resting rack (you can use the stems from the fennel or chop some onions, so the meat side doesn’t have contact with the tray). Cook for 1 ½ hours
- Place the apples and quartered fennel in a separate tray and roast them when you start the pork. About 40-50 mins
- Take out the apple and fennel and place them aside. We’ll reheat them later
- Increase temperature to 220 degrees for 20-30 mins
- Cover pork with aluminium foil and rest for 20 mins. Turn off your oven and place the apples and fennel in the oven to warm up
- Now the sauce. Drain 2 tbs of fat from the roasting tray. Stir flour into pan juices then add chicken stock, cider, tomato sauce and thyme. Reduce and thicken 6-8 mins.
Boom! Slice and serve with roasted fennel, the soften apples and cider sauce.
Ingredients – Braised lentils
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stem, finely diced
1 clove garlic finely diced
500 gm Du Puy lentils
30 gm vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
50 gm butter
- Place the oil into a saucepan on a medium heat and sweat of the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. We don’t want any colour so add a pinch of salt which extracts the moisture
- Once the vegetables have started to soften add the lentils to toast for a minute. Making sure the oil coats every lentil
- Add the bay leaf and cover the lentils with a litre of water. Simmer for 20 mins or until soft
- Once the lentils are soft remove half the amount of water and place back on the stove. Add the butter and swish the lentils around so the water and the butter emulsify making a saucy consistency. If there is too much liquid remove some and add more butter
- Season and serve
If you are serving the lentils with Haz’s pork loin add a dash of the cider sauce in with the lentils.