I have never cooked for 30 people before this weekend and doubt that I will do so again. No matter how organised you feel before hand the reality is it's really hard work. I chose two dishes to make for my mum and dads Golden Wedding Anniversary party, both which needed very little last minute effort. Delia Smiths, Beef Bourguignon I made the day before, that just needed to be reheated and served with some plain rice. It was delicious and making it the night before really improves the flavour. The pork was huge and could possibly have fed everyone without doing the other dish and was relatively straight forward. I burnt the crackling and couldn't serve that, but that wasn't the end of the world. This is a different recipe to the slow cooked marmalade pork I have blogged before (February), and along with that recipe I would recommend it when cooking for a large group of people. The pork is so tender after hours of slow roasting that it practically falls away from the bone. I served mine with Jamie Olivers fiery noodles, which could be made in advance and served cold. The recipe is from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls, 'Meat' cook book
Serves 20 -25
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
5cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp flaky salt
1 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
For the five-spice mix:
2 star anise
2 tsp fennel seeds
4 cinnamon stick
(If you don't want to make your own, just use bought five spice mix)
Score the rind of the pork shoulder with a Stanley knife in parallel lines about 1cm apart, to a depth of 4-1cm (or ask your butcher to do this).
Grate the garlic and fresh ginger into a small bowl and mix to a paste with the chilli flakes, ground ginger, brown sugar, salt, oil and soy sauce. Pound the five spices in a pestle and mortar (or grind in a coffee grinder) and mix 1 tablespoonful into the paste (any left over will keep in an airtight jar; you could make larger quantities, if you like, and store).
Place the pork shoulder, skin-side up, on a rack above a large roasting tin. With your fingertips, rub just over half the spice paste into the scored rind of the pork. Place the joint in the centre of a very hot oven (230C/gas mark 8) for 30 minutes.
Then remove from the oven and, using oven gloves or a thick, dry cloth, carefully turn the joint over to expose the underside. Using a knife or wooden spoon this time (the meat will be very hot), smear the remainder of the spice paste over the underside of the meat (now facing uppermost).
Pour a glass of water into the roasting tin, turn the oven down to 110C/gas mark 2 and replace the joint. Leave for anything from 16-24 hours (yes, really, I left mine for 20 hours), turning it skin-side up again, and basting with the fat and juices in the tin, about half way through. About 45 minutes before you want to eat, whack up the heat to 230C/gas mark 8 again to crisp up the crackling. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
To serve the pork, remove the crackled skin in a single piece and break it up to hand around your guests. Don’t so much carve as scoop the tender, melting, aromatic meat on to warmed plates. Serve with a simple starch, such as noodles, plain buttered macaroni, boiled rice or even mashed potatoes.