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Gotta Luv a Pig – Pork Leg

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In the same vein as foodieprints’ Pork Loin entry, what do you do with a whole pork leg, the common precursor to ham, when it is sold at $1.99/lb?

If you come across a roast weighing 4 kg (8-9 lb), score the skin with a Stanley knife, rub coarse or kosher salt into the scored skin, place into a roasting pan, and cook at 200 F until the internal temperature reaches 145 F. Take the roast out to rest, raise the heat of the oven to 400 F. Place the roast back to colour the crackling. Slice and serve. If you’d like an entire recipe, try this one from cookitsimply.com. Quite frankly, I find roasting a joint of pork more of a reusable technique than a recipe: season, roast, rest, and serve.

Back End after Roasting

Back End after Roasting

Coat of Lovely Crackling

Coat of Lovely Crackling

Probe Thermometer, stuck into the thickest part of the roast

Probe Thermometer, stuck into the thickest part of the roast

Sliced to Serve

Sliced to Serve

I took the roast out when the temperature reached 140 F and then put it back to crisp the crackling, hence the slightly pinkness after roasting.

With respect to the string, I like to tie my roasts to ensure that juices aren’t forced out during cooking. Gravity tends to flatten a roast. Given that most pork leg roasts come covered with a thick layer of fat and skin, this isn’t entirely necessary. The crackling unfortunately didn’t work too well during this run, neither properly crisped nor rendered. I’ll have to consult my copy of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s “Pig in a Day” dvd to see where I went wrong. Perhaps I should have roasted the leg at a higher temperature. Ezinearticles.com suggests 350 F.

Now, what do you do with a whole pork leg when it is sold at an astounding, never to be seen again, $.99/lb.

If you come across a roast weighing a whopping 10.225 kg (22.54 lb) and you’ve no buses to help you home, I strongly suggest bringing a child’s sled along. In the summer time, try a wagon. Jenn and I shouldered the enormous roast home from the Superstore at Carling and Kirkwood. There, the butchers actually tried to convince us against purchasing the roast. When asked, they told us that they had whole pork legs, but they were enormous. We didn’t heed their advice. At least the cashier had a good chuckle when she saw the enormous piece of pork on the conveyor belt.

22 lb roast in a Loeb bag

22 lb roast in a Loeb bag

As a testament to the re-usable bags from Loeb, not only did one fit the enormous roast, it didn’t tear during transit.

whole pork leg on my oversize poly board

whole pork leg on my oversize poly board

Label

Label

So what did we do with a roast that didn’t fit a conventional oven? Making dry cured country ham was out. We had neither the ingredients (a lot of salt) nor the proper dry or cool place to cure or hang the leg. Making a traditional cooked ham was out. We didn’t have a pot big enough to brine or boil the piece of meat.

We decided to cut the leg up into stew meat to replenish our frozen stores. The aforementioned bus strike saw us eat our way through our freezer. What lean pieces I cut out with little connective tissue was processed into dumpling filling.

Step 1 Stand up to your adversary

Step 1 Stand up to your adversary

Step 2 Get a closer look

Step 2 Get a closer look

Step 3 Butcher out 3 freezer bags of 2 inch cubes of stew meat

Step 3 Butcher out 3 freezer bags of 2 inch cubes of stew meat

3 bags of stew meat

3 bags of stew meat

2 bags of soup bones

2 bags of soup bones

Scraps went into a small curry with finely chopped onion and curry powder.

Scrap Meat

Scrap Meat

Everything else went into the food processor and ended up in dumplings, wrapped with North American wonton wrappers. I call them North American because traditional oriental wonton wrappers are thinner. When cooked they soften and become much more delicate.

North American Wonton Wrappers

North American Wonton Wrappers

Individual Wrapper

Individual Wrapper

Minced pork with finely chopped nappa cabbage, minced ginger, and thinly sliced green onions

Minced pork with finely chopped nappa cabbage, minced ginger, and thinly sliced green onions

One tsp of mixture went into each dumpling

One tsp of mixture went into each dumpling

Wrapped Dumplings

Wrapped Dumplings

Cooked Dumplings

Cooked Dumplings

Dumpling-making is something that nearly all oriental teenagers are proficient with long before they leave home. Ingredients are added until it all “looks right.” Wrapping is done with deft hands.

For our mass of dumpling filling, I approximate for 2 lb’s of meat, we added 4 leaves of a medium sized nappa cabbage, one 3″ finger of ginger, and 6 stalks of green onion. For seasoning, my better half added several shakes of garlic powder, a pinch or two of salt, and 3-4 tbsp of soy sauce.

We cooked the dumplings in boiling water on medium heat until they floated. They were removed after another minute’s simmering. Unfortunately, we didn’t grind the meat fine enough so the resultant dumpling filling was slightly crumbly and a little gristly. Still, they made great meals during the week.

Dumplings Straight with Greens and Dumplings in Reduced Chicken Stock

Dumplings Straight with Greens and Dumplings in Reduced Chicken Stock

Dumplings in Soup, Garnished with Green Onions

Dumplings in Soup, Garnished with Green Onions

Me, I’m looking forward to slow cooked pork stew. Yum!

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Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.

Comments

Jody

YUM!!! This is making me drool. :)

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