For breakfast that morning I had delicious black coffee and what I thought was a good idea. Serving up 15kg of prime, plump Mallorcan pig for a ravenous horde of invited family and friends seemed like a grand idea at the time. Then again so did standing up on the way down the giant water slide in front of the weans. I still have the bruises needless to say. It was never going to be easy and since purchasing professional cooking equipment would have insulted our Glaswegian manliness, not to mention being more expensive than the pig itself, a DIY roasting occasion was deemed the suitable answer. An existing, extra-large BBQ was soon converted and knocked up using sticky-back plastic and oul bottles of washing up liquid. A spit and rotating device procured, a few local bricks were located to prop up the spit and the knees of the rotating thingy drilled to the bricks. The spit knees that is, I haven't drilled the other kind for many years. A stainless steel hotplate (roofing membrane) was wheeled out to heat the cooked pork and extra charcoal was placed in the main BBQ. The prepping of the pig wasn't entirely easy, the spit not going in as perfectly as we had planned. Let's be honest here, how many people are skilled in the art of inserting a thick broom like handle up a pigs rear end, eh? Okay... the English gents out there with your hands up, relax, point taken. Quite literally it would seem.
At this particular moment of writing I should also apportion part of the blame for the poor workmanship on the arrival of many members of our elderly Glesca clan as they had seemingly been practising their swally abilities long before they had even left Glasgow airport. Even my usually top notch craftsmanship fell by the wayside and was somewhat to be desired. Don't blame it on sunshine. Don't blame it on moonlight. Don't blame it on good times. Blame it on the whisky. I digress... The pig was brushed inside with sweet paprika, dark rum and sea salt, filled with sweet red onions, scallions, tatties, bell peppers and sage stuffing before being sewn up using the pull cord from my shorts. Clean ones they were, before you start! A large batch of basting liquid was prepared, with goose fat, lard, calvados, sweet cider and bay leaves. With all fingers tightly crossed for the contraption to hold together, the pig went over the coals an hour behind schedule. The first barrel was tapped and the gathering had officially begun. The spit and turning device were only originally intended for a few chickens to be placed on it, so the 4 hours of waiting for the pig to cook were slightly nervous ones as our family and guests tucked into the tapas and tequila while the wee beastie cooked slowly in front of them.
The basting and the rotating went well despite the groaning turning device that made us all take bets on when it would give out, but it held up and the pig started to look tantalising only a couple of hours into the cooking. Luckily, Siobhan's mammy and her sisters had arrived a few hours earlier than expected on their broomsticks due to the warm air currents circulating directly behind the flight path, so cranking the spit was their gracious contribution to the day while the menfolk got stuck into the swally. Siobhan's brothers arrived late in the day, they had only decided to leave Belfast behind at the last minute due to the fact that they would be getting a free holiday despite actually having to break bread with the totally unsuitable barbarian their sister (the good looking one) had married some years before. Several hours after their arrival we discovered them indoors watching a Spanish documentary on their hero, Oliver Cromwell. We left them to it. You can take the Protestant out of Northern Ireland, but you cannae take the Norn Irn out of the proddy, eh?
Finally, a good few hours into the roasting, the piggy was done. The skin was a wee bit more blackened than envisaged, but the meat inside was beautifully succulent. The flavour of the basting juices and paprika were just noticeable and it was wonderful tasting it as it fell away fae the bone. Roasted meats are a great comfort food to me. They remind me of much leaner times when, as a child growing up in Drumchapel, the mammy trying to feed us all on a meagre budget, used to borrow next doors meat to make our gravy before passing it around the corner to her sister to do the same. Perfectly cooked pork has a supple squishiness to it, the way you do not have to chew but can ease it apart with your tongue as if it were as soft as stewed peaches. Some parts did come out slightly dry, but we all acknowledged that a many-hour long roast is a very difficult things to pull off when you cannot regulate the heat. The crispiness of the fresh salads and lively pasta on offer complimented the delicious meat and huge piles of wonderful foods on the oaken tables were soon reduced as our guests got stuck in. I played the perfect host and pretended I didn't notice that Siobhan kept topping my glass up with alcohol-free lager as I put carving knife to steel and honed a keen edge on the blade.
Ahh, all those heady Friday nights in Glasgow came flooding back...
All in all, everyone had a good time without any squabbling, even though we had more guests than actual beds we still got a smile or two out of the Belfast
For those of you who do not advocate the taking of pork, my apologies, no insults were / are intended. Trust me, if we could have strung up a cow and had a beef roast we would have done it. Maybe next time we have a wee bash, eh? Do keep in mind that it has only been the last decade or so since we natives of dear oul Glasgow ceased the consumption of human flesh. Or so the red top tabloids would have you believe! Buen provecho!
Extra large roll wraps
3lb fine loose pork
5 large white onions sliced
8 large vine ripened tomato's (chopped)
12 scallions (chopped)
6 Habanero peppers sliced wafer thin
5 red onions finely diced
2 large carrot (grated)
20 fresh button mushrooms (sliced)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 large thumb of fresh ginger (grated)
A good scoosh of tomato paste
2 tb of soy sauce
1 large handful of fresh garden peas (3 if you have small hands like the little singing fella)
1 heaped tb of cornflour
Paprika and cayenne to taste
Place a wee smidgen of good quality virgin oil in a large wok and place it over a high heat. Stir the pork until brown and sieve thoroughly to remove any grease. Pat it down to ensure that it is free of all fatty deposits then sprinkle with a good pinch of paprika and cayenne. Remove and cover. Add the sliced onions and start to wok fry them turning them over with a slotted spoon all the time. After a couple of minutes add the sliced mushrooms and grated carrot and continue stir frying for a couple more minutes. Next add the garlic, scallions and ginger and allow it to hit the bottom of the wok so it gets a chance to fry a little in the oil. I know that the traditional Spanish method would be to fry the ginger and garlic in the oil from the beginning, but doing it my way works well and allows the flavours of these wonderfully pungent roots to stay more in the forefront of the final taste of the dish. Cook this for a few more minutes while you swally a few glasses of wine.
Add the tomato's, tomato paste, soy sauce and then the peppers and peas. For the love of all things holy, if you are susceptible to excruciating pain then take extreme care not to have too much contact with the divil's own Habanero. The vapours alone will knock out a donkey, so do be careful. Try to keep your donkeys outdoors during the food preparation. Much safer. I am aware this may of course be difficult to do in certain parts of Limerick and a certain wee ass we all know so well. As this bubbles merrily away mix the cornflour with a little water to form a smooth paste and add it to the wok with the meat and mix it through well. The cornflour will thicken it. When the mixture is cooled fill the wraps with the mixture and roll up. Seal the end of the rolls with a little of the cornflour mixed with water. Deep fry until they are crisp and light brown. If you want to make the funky triangle shape that real chefs use in their restaurants then play around until you perfect it. It takes a wee bit of application, but it is worth the effort, especially if you are having guests and want to show off your skills.
Serve up with a crisp salad, plenty of olive oil and a generous helping of mint and lemon juice. A half dozen bottles of chilled white wine will help to put out the flames, but I would also recommend putting a few toilet rolls in the fridge for later on, just in case, eh?