This Christmas was a calm one. On christmas eve, the main event day in Germany, we did nothing fancy. We had some good dinner with nice bread and stuff and then watched cat videos.
The next day however I invited my parents to come and have dinner with us. Uuuhh scary parents around. Luckily mine are quite uncomplicated and so I did not have to be stressed about a successful dinner. Still I wanted to do something fancy, as I like to cook fancy stuff. The only problem is that we are usually just two, and making a whole cooking dinner event just for two is a bit too much. I use every occasion to bring out the big menu when people come by, and this time it was not different.I got up at half past nine and started with the most important part: the Dessert. I planned to produce something similar to a bûche de Noël or Yule log. So I got out my dough machine and whisked up 6 egg whites for the sponge, and beat 6 yolks with sugar in another bowl, added some molten chocolate and then folded everything gently together. At this point some cocoa powder should be added what I forgot. I had to scrape the dough back from the baking sheet into the bowl, fold in the cocoa powder and put it then back on the sheet.
As I don’t have a proper swiss roll tin for sponges I had to improvise by folding a sheet of baking paper into roughly the size I wanted it to be. It worked okayish, the size was a bit too big and so the sponge came out to thin. Above is the sponge before baking, below after 25 minutes in the oven.
The baking sheet was dusted with powdered sugar to avoid the dough from sticking to it once it was put on it. The slightly cooled but still warm dough then got covered in whipped cream and cherries before being rolled up into a kind of roulade.
As you can see, the whole thing looked really messy and a bit disappointing when I put it in the fridge. But nothing a good kilo of butter cream can’t fix! So stay tuned for more on the Dessert side.
Up next was the main part of my Christmas dinner menu. A pork shoulder, about 2 kg, still with its skin attached and with that lovely fat underneath. I scored the skin with a cutter knife to allow the skin to expand and take up all the spices I wanted to rub onto it.
I prepared a bed for meat to be baked on. I added some carrots, some cellery, onions and crushed garlic.
Then it was time to give the meat a healthy massage with my pork rub. I mixed sea salt and whole peppercorns with some chilli flakes and crushed everything in a mortar. I then chopped up a bunch of rosemary and sage. Everything got some good bash in the mortar before rubbing it all over the pork shoulder while making sure that all the gaps are filled with the spices.
The whole thing was then put together. The meat rested on the veggies with one apple added to the dish, the dish was filled with water and the meat was put in the oven, for ten minutes at full heat and then on the lowest setting for many hours. I wanted to roast the pork low and slow, to get a tender meat and a crispy crackling on top.
As a side I prepared some carrots. They were cut up and placed on two sheets of baking parchment. Then I added some salt and pepper, thyme, honey and a splash of orange juice. The whole thing was then wrapped up like a parcel and put in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 to 200 °C. This way the bag puffs up and the carrots are steamed in their own juice, making them a bit sweet and tender and delicious.
The pork, about halfway through in the oven with my new oven/meat thermometer poked into it.
Two hungry mouths waiting for dinner.
To sweeten the waiting time Doro and I prepared some hors d’oeuvres with ready made pastry dough. We topped it with crème fraîche, bacon and onions, tomatoe, oregano and pepper, goat’s cheese and walnut and goat’s cheese and fig. Additionally we prepared some with crème fraîche and quail’s eggs. They were simply baked for about 15 minutes at 180 °C and came out tasty and delicious.
After 4 hours in the oven the pork shoulder was finally done. The last half an hour the oven was set to full heat and I glazed the pork with a bit of honey, just enough to give a caramelised finish and a touch of sweetness.
We wrapped the pork in aluminium foil to let it rest and prepared a gravy out of the juices in the dish. We removed a lot of the fat that oozed out of the meat and stored it in a jar to add it another day to potatoes or any kind of veg. Additionally we prepared potatoes by cooking them in water and then roasting them in the oven with rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic, and some green beans, that were just steamed in a pan. An idea of the dish is given below.
But wait, there’s more. To top it up we also prepared some yorkshire puddings.
The pork shoulder tasted fantastic. It was juicy and tender and full of flavour, from the spices and the fat. The skin on top was crispy, a delicious and savoury treat, quite rich in everything but so so good. The whole dish was great, the carrots were sweet and intense in flavour, the potatoes were beautifully roasted. I was very happy that everything turned out so good.
After having enjoyed the pork so much I could have served anything as a Dessert as everyone was already quite pleased. And I feared that at least visually my Dessert will fail, if you remember what it looked like in the morning.
So I prepared some butter cream, with caster sugar instead of powdered one because I’m stupid. Doro did a great job in covering up the mess I produced with the roulade, we dusted everything in sugar and added some physallis as decoration. And voilà: my bûche de Noël!
After all this scrumptious eating we just sat down and I forced my parents to look at all of the Ireland pictures I took. Yes, I am a cruel son.
But the best thing about all this cooking: We still had leftovers that made it into some great sandwiches with pulled pork, chilli and honey the next day. Yum!