Sunday, 27 November 2011

Tigaie picanta de porc

"Spicy pork fry-up"

tigaie is the Romanian word for a frying pan and picanta means hot and spicy, so it should be reasonably clear what the theme of this dish is. It is a one-pan dish, quick to prepare, and very flexible. I've chosen pork for this recipe but it could easily be made of any meat or even simply with vegetables.

Whilst belly of pork isn't the weight-watcher's dream, the fat which renders out of it in the initial fry ingstage adds body and flavour to the final sauce and the remaining layer of crispy fat on each chunk of pork is quite simply delicious. If you want to make a healthier version you could substitute the belly for a leaner cut, or perhaps mix the two to a balance you are comfortable with.

I suppose this is the Romanian version of a stir-fry. The resulting meal should be wet but not a stew. All of the componant parts should be coated in a slightly spicy gooey sauce made from the reduced wine and juices from the deglazed pan. It is often served with crispy roast potatoes but would work well with cartofi taranesti or mamaliga (polenta).

Time: 30 minutes
Servings: Three portions (or two ‘hearty’ portions)

Two tablespoons of oil (olive, vegetable, or pork dripping)
500g of pork belly or neck
2 teaspoons of pepper puree (optional – can be substituted with tomato puree)
Up to half a teaspoon of paprika, according to taste (smoked paprika is great if you can get hold of it)
One medium onion finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1-2 hot chilli peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, roughly cut into chunks about 1.5cm squares
150ml of white wine
1 bay leaf
200g of mushrooms (you choose the type), thickly sliced
3 rashers of bacon (optional)

1. Cut the pork belly into large chunks and mix in a bowl with the pepper/tomato paste, paprika and a splash of olive oil. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for as long as you can - a couple of hours will do, but overnight is better.
2. Brown the meat off in a tablespoon of oil (olive, vegetable, dripping, depending on preference/availability) in a large frying pan. Once browned all over, remove to a plate.
3. Into the same pan (don’t clean it) add the chopped onion, red bell pepper and garlic and fry for 5 minutes on a low heat until the onion has softened and the pepper has taken on a little colour around the edges.
4. Pour in the white wine, add the bay leaf, increase the heat and bring the wine to the boil and allow it to reduce by about half, stirring with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan.
5. Once the wine has reduced, return the meat to the pan along with the chopped chilli pepper,  the sliced mushrooms, the bacon, and stir well.
6. Continue to cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the meat is well cooked. Add a splash of water or stock if it starts to dry out too much. More paprika can be added along with salt and pepper to taste. The result should be moist, but not really ‘stew-like’.
7. Remove the bay leaf and serve hot with mamaliga or potatoes.

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