And there was me agonising over what to do with a gorgeous hunk of pork belly – Cider? Wine? Fennel? And then I remembered, it’s Chinese New Year tomorrow – a perfect opportunity to crisp up my belly with five spice, garlic and a damn good roasting. I absolutely adore Chinese food, but I also know next to nothing about cooking it myself. Lizzie pointed me in the direction of a recipe on Sunflower’s Food Galore for a garlic and five-spice infused belly, which I served with some choi sum (identified via a Twitpic), stir fried with garlic and chilli and steamed plain rice.
It was seriously delicious – if perhaps a little over ‘caramelised’ around the edges from an over enthusiastic grilling at the end. I had to leave a couple of ingredients out of Sunflower’s recipe (the bean curd and Chinese rose wine), simply because I didn’t have them. Overall, I was very happy with the results, which I attribute in (a major) part to the quality of the meat – from online farmers shop Paganum.
Based in the Yorkshire Dales, all Paganum’s meat is traditionally reared on family run farms. And it shows. It shows in the flavour of the meat, in the appearance of the meat, the texture of the meat. It’s good, really very good. The Paganum philosophy is this, “Our farmers respect the animals and our customers respect the product”. The producers concentrate on the best possible quality of life for the animals, using sustainable methods, and all meat is ‘hung, prepared and cut properly’. What more could you want, really?
Attitudes towards eating meat have changed drastically in the past few years or so. People are now prepared to pay more for decent products. Of course, quality costs more but we have asked ourselves, if the ‘bargain’ meat often found languishing on supermarket shelves is so cheap, what are we actually paying for? We are paying for the bare minimum that’s what. Even if we didn’t care about welfare, sustainable agriculture and proper butchery – the meat on the plate would ultimately be of poor quality and therefore make for poor eating. It’s a no brainer.
And now, you don’t even have to worry about accessibility. You don’t need to live near a good butcher or farmers market, because the meat comes to you, direct from the Dales. Hooray for people who care about producing good food, hooray for the internet and hooray for their happy happy union – place your order and it arrives by courier (guaranteed next day), all tucked up in the most ingenious packaging – sheeps wool. Yep. It’s natural and sustainable – even the plastic wrapper that keeps the wool out of your meat is biodegradeable.
I shall definitely be ordering more meat from Paganum and pork belly will again be on my shopping list. This piece (from a Pietrain Welsh cross pig) came on the bone. Oh happy joy. A meaty bonus in the form of tender, spiced, melting ribs. I wonder if they sell bibs?