All recipes serve six.
Leg of pork with artichokes and onions
This feeds more than six, but the leftovers are fantastic.
8-10 small to medium-sized onions
1 small sprig thyme
1 leg of top-quality pork (this will weigh, and cost, a lot, so go for leg, if need be, changing cooking times accordingly)
1 small sprig rosemary
Sea salt and black peppercorns
10-20 baby artichokes
Juice of 1 lemon
Pre-heat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8. Peel the onions, taking care to leave the base root intact (cut away any threads still attached to it), then cut them into four or six pieces right through the core. Lay the onions in a roasting tray that is big enough to accommodate them all, crammed with olive oil. Bury three of the bayleaves within the onions, and lay the thyme on top. Lay on the joint, rub it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Do not score the skin. Place in the oven, cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160C/325F/gas mark 3, and cook for 25 minutes per 500g of meat. Once the cooking time has elapsed, switch off the oven, and leave the meat to rest for at least 45 minutes.
While the pork is cooking, squeeze the lemon juice into a wide bowl and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Trim the artichokes of their outer leaves, and cut them back until the greater part of the fibrous outer parts has been removed, revealing the tender stalk and head. One by one, toss each prepared artichoke briefly in lemon juice (too much lemon kills their subtle flavour), then place in a pot. Add to the pot a few tablespoons of olive oil, a bayleaf, a couple of black peppercorns and enough water to cover. If the artichokes bob to the surface, place a plate on top, to act as a weight. Place the pot over a high heat, bring to the boil, then simmer until tender.
Fifteen minutes before serv ing, take the pork out of the pan and place on a board. Strain the artichokes, cut each in half lengthways and add to the pan. Pick the leaves from the rosemary, toss in sea salt and pepper, and scatter over the top of the vegetables in the pan. Remove as much fat from the pan as is possible without breaking up the onions, and return to the oven until the artichokes and onions have browned at the edges.
This is Jane Grigson's recipe for Rillettes de Paris, from her book on the glory of the pig, Charcuterie And French Pork Cookery. The point is the prolonged, gentle cooking, so that the meat is in the most melting condition possible.
500g pork belly
30g good lard
12g sea salt
Cut the meat into 2.5cm-long pieces. In a heavy pan and over a very, very low flame, fry the pork in the lard, stirring repeatedly, until the meat is pale gold all over. Pour off the fat, add the bayleaf, and cook, uncovered, for five hours on the lowest possible heat (Grigson recommends care and attention: 'Too high a flame will fry the pieces of meat and harden them', so do as she says). From time to time, pour in a little water to prevent the meat sticking. Switch off the heat, and leave the pot to cook completely.
Next, either finely chop the meat in a blender, or chop and pound it by hand, until you have a smooth, unctuous pté. Season with salt and pepper, and add as much of the drained fat as you want - it all depends on personal taste, but I use quite a lot of it.
The first point must obviously be the quality of the pork: at the very least, only free-range should be considered. There is a very old and very good tradition of soaking the joint first in a brine containing vinegar, sugar and spices, but modern problems of storage and time come into play, so I don't expect many would want even to try it. Anyway, a good butcher will be more than happy to brine the meat for you. On no account score the skin. For the best crackling, rub the joint all over with olive oil and sea salt, followed by a slow roast - long cooking renders all the excess fat, and delivers up a deeply bronzed and crisp crackling. The timing and temperature given in the recipe for leg of pork apply to all joints of pork.
The British banger is a true duffer when put beside those of Italy, France or Spain, but there is no reason why our standards should not rival them.
750g lean pork
250g pork fat (back fat or flair)
1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked in a mill or mortar and pestle
1 pinch freshly-grated nutmeg
50g sausage casings, 2.2m in total length (from good butcher shops)
Work the lean and the fat meat together through the coarse blade of a mincer (ask the butcher to do this for you), then add the pepper, salt and nutmeg, along with any other spices or seasonings that take your fancy (don't go overboard the first time). Work the mix to ensure an even blend, then leave covered in the fridge for 24 to 36 hours to mature.
When ready to make the sausages, rinse the skins well - leave for at least a couple of hours under running cold water. The traditional method of filling the skins - that is, putting a wide nozzle on a piping bag and then pushing the casing up over the nozzle - is very slow, as the air has to be pushed out of the sausage as you go along. However, unless you have a sausage stuffer handy, or your butcher is of the obliging variety, then very slow it is going to have to be. At least it's easy work. Twist the ends to seal, then tie each sausage, until you have a string of sausages. Refrigerate for at least three hours before cooking, preferably overnight - they will dry slightly and so cook better.
Christine Yau, the proprietor of Ming, in Soho, gave me the method for this most pleasing dish.
1 pork belly weighing 1.5kg
2 stems dry and pickled vegetables (try a Chinese supermarket) or two big pieces fresh ginger and 1 bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
Fill a pot with enough water later to cover the meat and bring to a rolling boil. Plunge the pork into the water, return to the boil and leave for a minute or two, to remove any impurities. Place the pot in a sink, and run cold water into it until the water inside runs clear.
Remove the meat, clean the pot, then return the pork to it, along with the vegetables, sauces and a litre of cold water. Simmer, covered, for an hour-and-a-half, every now and then lifting up the meat to stop it sticking to the base, then turn the pork over and cook slowly for another hour or so. Remove from the pot and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the bones: first, loosen them with the point of a knife, then pull free. Slice the meat very thinly, place on a serving dish, and ladle over the sauce
Jeremy Lee is the chef at Blue Print Cafe, London SE1