Homemade alternative to ham – slow roasted pork neck

Pork neck, slowly roasted at low temperatures on a bed of vegetables, is an easy way to cook a piece of meat for either warm dishes or to be used as a cold cut for hamburgers/sandwiches/wraps. The meat can be used with simple seasoning or it can be marinated in any of the spice mix you like. Warm, straight from the oven, this meat is hard to slice as it disintegrates even when sharp serrated knife is used.

However, refrigerated overnight the meat becomes very solid and could be cut in thin slices, to be used in sandwiches or wraps as an alternative to commercial ham or sausage.

By-products of the process could be utilised as well. The liquid part can be separated into concentrated stock, which becomes jelly in the fridge, and fat, that is highly aromatic from all the meat and spice flavours. Vegetables left when the mixture is put through a sieve can be used as well. Blended they become a thick sauce that goes well with meat or poultry.

Roasted pork neck lasted for a week as a cold cut with no apparent change to its taste. Even solidified the meat is soft and tender to bite.

Ingredients:

  • pock neck, 1.5 kg or more

marinade

  • olive oil, 1 table spoon or more
  • 1-2 tea spoons of mustard (I made my own, homemade, very strong, 1 tea spoon)
  • 1 table spoon homemade preserve (sweet and hot chilli peppers with garlic), can be replaced with 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed and hot chilli pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • sea salt
  • coarse black pepper
  • pinch of thyme leaves, fresh, dry or frozen

for roasting

  • 2 tea spoons olive oil (1 to seal the meat, another for vegetables)
  • 1 onion
  • leek (I used leftovers)
  • cauliflower leaves stems, sliced
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • is apples are used as a part of vegetable bed, add several prunes to get an amazing sauce
  • 4 thyme sticks
  • 1 table spoon of homemade preserve
  • several butter pieces (optional)
  • pinch of cumin and fennel seeds
  • sea salt
  • coarse black pepper
  • 20-30 ml water

Preparation:

  • prepare marinade mixing all ingredients to a paste
  • wash the meat and dry it with paper towels
  • make deep, vertical, narrow cuts in meat flesh and insert inside every cut garlic sliced in a shape of sticks
  • cover the piece of meat with marinade, massage it in
  • cover the dish with meat and refrigerate for 4-5 hours, I did it overnight

roasting

  • prepare roasting dish
  • line it with baking paper
  • use vegetables from the ingredient list to make a bed for meat
  • if frying the meat before roasting, remove all marinade from the surface, when fried marinade will burn and give a bitter taste
  • you can leave marinade on if using meat for roasting without sealing it first
  • seal the meat by frying it from the all sides on a frying pan with 1 tea spoon of olive oil on medium/high heat
  • place piece of pork over vegetables
  • use thyme, butter (optional) and extra seasoning
  • wrap pork in baking paper
  • cover baking dish with foil, place in 190C oven and bake 35-40 minutes
  • reduce temperature to 130-140C and bake for another 3-4 hours, time depends on the size of the piece of meat
  • half through the process uncover the dish and turn the piece over (optional)
  • let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes in the baking dish and another 15 minutes on a board
  • when freshly sliced, meat disintegrates and is perfect to be served with a side dish of your choice as ragu
  • while the meat rests, put the remaining contents of the baking dish through a sieve, if want to preserve and use it
  • refrigerate meat to use it as cold cuts
  • it can be safely stored refrigerated for a week, or frozen for later consumption

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