- Food & Drink
Red pork puffs
So, having made the Pork crackling and peanut brittle, I was left with a chunk of tender roast pork belly, glistening with piggy juice and thickly veined with fat. I had a choice: take it off somewhere quiet and private with a pot of mustard and a good supply of napkins or turn it into nibbles for the Bonfire Night party. Because I am an exceptionally good person, with a halo and wings and everything, I turned the pork into snack food for drunken people.
One of my all time top 10, desert island dishes is Chairman Mao’s red braised pork. Fat, salt, sweet, spice and a whiff of insane dictatorship, it has all the elements of a perfect meal, except one – pastry. With Fuschia Dunlop’s red braised pork recipe as a starting point and a pack of all butter puff pastry as a fatty carbohydrate road to travel on, I knew where I was heading. There would be pork puffs for all.
These are best eaten warm straight from the oven, but they’re also good cold (especially if you’ve had a few glasses of mulled cider) or you can make them ahead and then reheat at gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C for 15ish minutes or until hot all the way through.
Red pork puffs
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp caster sugar
Approximately 300g cooked roast belly pork, crackling removed
and the flesh and fat finely chopped
1 tbsp rice wine
25g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 star anise
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp dark soy sauce
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
500g all butter puff pastry
Flour, to dust
Milk, to glaze
1 Put the oil and sugar in a pan over a low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sugar syrup turns a rich brown. The pan will smoke (don’t worry too much) and the sugar will suddenly turn from light brown to mahogany to funeral black in an instant if you don’t watch it like a hawk, so stay by the pan, stirring constantly.
3 Remove from the heat and stir in the pork – the pan will spit, so be careful. Then stir in the rice wine, ginger, star anise, dried chilli flakes and cinnamon. Add 150ml cold water and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until juicy but not runny. Stir in the soy sauce and spring onions. Season with a pinch of salt and remove the star anise.
4 Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/fan oven 180°C. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pastry until it’s about 1/2cm thick. Slice out squares approximately 4–5cm across. Brush the edges with water. Place a spoonful of the pork on 1 half of the pastry square, then fold over the remaining pastry to cover it. Press down the edges and crimp with your fingers or a fork.
5 Place the pork puffs on 2 large baking trays, well spaced apart. Brush the pies with milk to glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25–30 minutes until golden and puffed up. Best served warm.