Now that I have your attention from the photo of the large piece of roast pork, shall we begin?
We are trying to make up for not having a Chinese New Year party here in London last year. When I say ‘party’ I really mean a gathering of the relatives here in the UK. This year everyone was determined to meet up so we ended with 16 for our lunch on Sunday.
The question I get asked most is not what can I bring? but are you sure? to which the reply is always: yes, it really is OK. The thing I have learnt over the years is that as long as there is plenty of food, drink, good conversation and zero washing up, most guests will not mind that you do not have the biggest house in the block.
We had two main courses this year: slow-cooked pork shoulder and a whole roasted salmon. The step-by-step recipe for the pulled pork shoulder is here which you need to start a few days ahead.
At the end of the post is the updated cooking times and notes for the roast pork, which I am definitely doing again for the next big party. Photos below of some of the preparations on Saturday before the CNY lunch on Sunday.
Try not to cook dinner the night before a big party. We had a chicken pie from Sally Clarke with Something Salad made with butternut squash, firm tofu, carrot, broccoli stems, Chinese leaves, Braeburn apple, avocado, fresh coriander, spring onion, toasted pistachios and pecan nuts
After dinner we started pulling apart the slow-cooked shoulder of pork
Almond jelly flowers to go with tinned lychees and a new coffee liquer for the Tiramisu
I am getting smarter as I get older and decided not to make lunch either and instead picked up two lunch boxes from our local Japanese shop
A bit of planning ahead
|Two weeks ahead
|Order a 6 kg shoulder of pork from the butcher. We shopped at the Ginger Pig
|This weight of pork can feed 20 people as part of a buffet meal, with lots of leftovers
|One week ahead
|Start making the rub and sauce for the pork
|Two days before the lunch, at night
|Remove the skin from the pork and trim off as much fat as you like. Slice the skin into finger-sized pieces and sprinkle salt all over. Leave until later to make pork crackling
Rub the pork all over with the rub and place in the oven at 10pm
|The oven temperature is 105 C / 95 C fan. There is no need to cover the pork whilst it is roasting
|One day before the lunch, in the morning
|Check the pork at 10am
Add one large head of garlic and 500 g of chicken stock, then continue roasting for a further six hours until 4pm
|Place the pork skin on a rack over a roasting tin Cook this as you continue to roast the pork i.e. from 10am to 4pm
|One day before the lunch, in the evening
|Remove the pork shoulder from the oven at 4pm and leave in a place to cool down
Raise the oven temperature to 220 C/ 195 C fan to finish cooking the pork skin
|Add some water to the pork skin roasting tin.
Roast the skin for 30 minutes or until the fat crisps up and the skin blisters. The oven will be smoky but the kitchen will smell like you mean business
|One day before the lunch, at night
|When the pork is cool enough remove the bones and pull the pork apart, mixing in the softened garlic and pan juices
Leave the pork in the roasting tin overnight, and cover with a piece of foil.
|Share dinner with anyone kind enough to offer help with the party
Try not to cook dinner but order in a main course and only make a salad
|The day of the lunch
|Add 500 g of the sauce or chicken stock to the shredded pork and re-heat in a hot oven for 30 minutes
|Prepare some brioche buns as the leftover pork can be turned into sandwiches for your guests to take home for supper later or lunch the next day
|Spend some time thinking of the vegetables which will go with the pork. For parties I always turn to the salads from any of the Ottolenghi cookbooks and make 3 – 4 times the amount
|This year we made roasted Portobello mushrooms with chestnuts and zaatar, roasted carrots with Brussel sprouts and tahini and soya sauce, and char-grilled broccoli with chilli and garlic
In the next post there will be photos of this years Yee Sang, our beloved traditional Chinese New Year salad.