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Waste not, want not

About six years ago, on a particularly miserable cold winter’s evening I decided that it would be nice to serve everyone a hot drink when they arrived at the restaurant. That same day happened to be a Herdwick day, it’s where we go and collect a whole sheep from Jon at Yew Tree Farm, Coniston, and prep it down.

During this process we remove various bits of bone and trim up the meat ready for service. It’s often said, but rarely done, that chefs waste nothing in the kitchen, however, the reality is that largely due to time constraints this isn’t always the case. The bones and trim from a sheep would in most cases end up in the bin, the sauce and stock produced from them although full of great flavours doesn’t produce a stock and sauce that’s gelatinous enough and therefore wouldn’t coat food well enough or for that matter deliver a desirable mouth feel. However, to create a drink you don’t necessarily need those qualities, so with that in mind I decided to use the bones and trim to make a broth.

Ever since the broth has been a constant at the restaurant during the winter months. Although mostly made with Herdwick I have also made versions with various game animals, such as venison and pigeon and have just introduced one made with pork.

I have been searching for a supplier of pork based in Cumbria for years; there are many small holding suppliers who produce superb pork in smaller quantities, but to find a larger supplier who can give enough quantity of product whilst maintaining high animal welfare and quality has been difficult. However, through Mark at Lakeland Dexter we’ve now got a supply from Frank, based at Brambling Howe Farm, near Glenridding, about 25 minutes from the restaurant.

The variety of pork that Mark and Frank produce is from the Tamworth breed. The breed originated in Ireland where it was originally called the “the Irish Grazer”. In about 1812 it is said that Sir Robert Peel, who was later to become British Prime Minister twice, was so impressed by the pig and its characteristics during one of his frequent visits to Ireland that he decided to acquire some. He subsequently had several transported to his estate, Drayton Manor, near Tamworth, where they thrived and their popularity grew, eventually resulting in the breed being formally recognised and classified by the Royal Agricultural Society in 1885, with the herd book started around the same time.

Modern day Tamworth pigs are thought to be the closest modern pig breed to an original indigenous species, the Old English Forest pig, and as such are often used as a cross-breed with wild boar. Their ability to live in harsher environments make them ideal for farming in Cumbria. And their slow-growing gamey flavour make them ideal for use by chefs like me.

At the restaurant we serve the broth alongside a bun made from brioche containing the rendered back fat from the pig and filled with slow cooked shoulder meat. You’ll find the recipe below for the broth and as I mentioned previously it can be made with most meats available to buy in your local butchers and it’s make for the perfect winter soup. If you would like to get hold of some Tamworth pork from my supplier than Airey’s Butchers, at High Newton, near Grange, is the place to go. The recipe for the bun itself is complicated time consuming and one for another day, so I’d recommend a trip to your nearest baker instead to get hold !

Pork Broth

2kg pork bones

1kg pork ribs

50g butter

2 carrots

1 large onion

4 sticks of celery

250 ml white wine

250ml Madeira wine

4 tomatoes cut into quarters

1 bulb of garlic cut in half

10g thyme

4 egg whites

Start by chopping the bones up in to 3-inch pieces, then place them in a roasting tray and roast in a hot oven until golden brown. Remove the bones and set aside for later, getting rid of any excess fat that comes off them.

Cut up the ribs and season with salt. In a large heavy-bottomed pan, at a high heat, cook with vegetable oil and colour off until they’re golden brown. Strain through a colander and get rid of the oil.

Turn the temperature down to a medium-heat and add the butter until it begins to foam. Cut the onion, carrots and celery into 1-inch chunks and add to pan sweat off until the vegetable goes soft and begins to colour.

Add the wine to the pan and turn up the heat once again to reduce to a glaze. Add the Madeira wine and reduce again. Add 3 litres of cold water along with the bones, ribs, tomatoes, garlic, thyme and season with salt. Bring up to the boil and use a ladle to skim any scum or impurities that come to the surface.

Turn down to simmer and leave gently simmer for a couple of hours until reduced to 2 litres and it has developed a deep rich flavour. Strain the stock off and allow to cool.

In a clean bowl gently whisk the egg whites to break them up. Add them to the stock and whip vigorously until they are fully mixed into the stock.

Place into a pan and gently and slowly bring to the boil, using a spatula to gently stir to stop the egg catching and burning on the bottom of the pan. Once the stock has boiled you will end up with a raft of impurities and egg whites on the surface. Gently break this up and strain the stock through a clean cloth into a clean container to remove these.

And then simply serve and enjoy!

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