And my first post of 2008!

We had guests over for New Year’s, specifically Blai’s parents on a visit from Barcelona, and I had planned to cook a New Year’s Eve dinner/supper that was as British as it was possible to be. The meal started with cream of mushroom soup (I’ll blog about that later), then roast pork loin with onion and Marsala gravy and braised red cabbage, and finally, Christmas pudding to finish us off. I reckon it’s quite English and quite a wintery menu.

Roast Pork with Crackling!

It was my first time roasting a whole pork loin with the skin and of course, I wanted that skin to become magical crackling. I never realised how easy it was, no meat thermometer required – just 15 minutes at 220 Celsius and then a further 25 minutes at 200 Celsius for every 500g. The loin roll was filled with a pork and caramelised onion and sage stuffing and its weight was included in the roasting time calculation. Both the pork and crackling were fantastic – the meat was moist and tasty and the crackling crispy and crunchy. Both the gravy and the cabbage were also great and I provide the cabbage recipe below.

Here’s my plate with the pork, the onion and Marsala gravy (from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries), and the braised red cabbage.

My Plate

As for dessert…well, I think it went down well with our guests; personally though, I’m not fond of Christmas pudding! We served it with lots of double cream.

Christmas Pudding

Sadly, our guests left today but I hope they had a good time while they were here.

Braised Red Cabbage
serves about 6 as a side dish

1 small head of red cabbage (about 700-800 g)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium Braeburn apple, peeled, cored and chopped
12 juniper berries, slightly crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
a splash of red wine
a splash of white vinegar
300 mL water
salt to taste

In a medium to large pot (with a cover), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and fry until softened. Meanwhile, remove one or two of the outer leaves of the cabbage, wash it thoroughly and chop it up into finger width strips. Add the cabbage into the pot with the onion. Stir to mix together and let it cook and soften a little. Prepare your apple and toss that in too. Add the red wine, vinegar, juniper berries and water and give it all a good stir again. Cover the pot with the lid and let it cook.

Give the contents of the pot a stir once in a while and if the mixture is drying out but the cabbage is not as soft as you would like, add more water and cover and cook again. When the cabbage is cooked to your liking, uncover the pot and let any excess water cook away. Altogether, cooking time will range from 20-40 minutes, depending on how tender you like your cabbage and how high your heat is. Serve as a side to roast pork or chicken.