Archive for the '4food' Category

Video off cuts: leftovers from the C4 pig project. Pt3.5

My travels with the channel 4 Pig have come to an end now. To recap, I got Tim Wilson of The Ginger Pig to cut up a side into the ten main cuts and then took those cuts to 10 chefs around the country. See part 1, 2 and um, 3.0 here.

Paul Askew, The London Carriage Works, Liverpool

Does this train stop at Merseyside? Asked Ian Prowse, lead singer of Amsterdam. Well the 10:07 from London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street is as near as damn it and so I set forth once more to the city on the mouth of the mighty Mersey.

I was back in town to meet up again is Paul Askew, Chef Patron of The London Carriage Works, the restaurant in the Hope Street Hotel. I’d met him before on the Big British Food map, and he spoke then about a loin of Duroc pork dish that he does.  So he seemed the perfect chap to handle the loin.

I got into town by 12:15, that West Coast Mainline upgrade meaning it really is possible to go to Liverpool for lunch. I left my stuff at reception and killed an hour around town. Liverpool’s really grown on me of late. It has more Georgian architecture that Bath apparently, which provided homes to the ‘Liverpool Gentleman (the opposite of the Manchester man). Stuart Marconie described scousers as the Basques of the north, and there’s always been an otherness about Merseyside.

An hour round Liverpool

Anyhow a walk round Hope Street took into a few interesting things. Firstly, I stumbled on Mackenzie’s tomb, which is the first line in the Amsterdam song quoted and linked to above . There’s more on the legend of Mackenzie here, a legend of ghosts, gambling, body snatching, death and devilish pacts – wooooooooooooo!  Next, and slightly more food related, was this lunch board offering scouse for lunch. Nice to see the dish that gives scousers their name actually available in their city. (Read more on my search for scouse). I also took in a lovely old bookshop, and with that it was back to meet and film Paul.


Paul’s loin recipe is below, but it’s worth taking a look at one of the ingredients in greater detail. The natural jus as Paul calls it, is made a couple of times a week in a massive 500 litre sauce pan the size of a garden pond. Into this goes just about every bone, vegetable peeling and off cut from the last few days in the kitchen. To this they add herbs and spices and then simmer, very slowly for a very long time. Then they reduce and pass, reduce and pass until the whole thing is down to about 5 litres. What Paul has left is the most incredible sauce, it’s almost tar like in it’s appearance, and incredibly rich. Just a few trickles dressing the plate can add punch to any dish. If you want to try to make it at home… well don’t bother is the short answer – but if you want to I’m guess the recipe goes something like this. Go to a proper market or catering suppliers and buy the biggest pan they have. Next go to the butchers and get bones, off cuts and scraps of beef and chicken for next to nothing. Back home roast all the bones in a hot oven. Transfer to the pot, deglaze the tray and add a miropoix of vegetables. Add seasoning, perhaps some wine and then simmer for days…

Paul Askew’s Loin recipe & video demo (pop up)

Video off cuts: leftovers from the C4 pig project. Pt1

My travels with the channel 4 Pig have come to an end now. To recap, I got Tim Wilson of The Ginger Pig to cut up a side into the ten main cuts and then took those cuts to 10 chefs around the country. Over this week – two by two – I’ll be talking in more detail about my time with them and what I learned.

I shot over an hour for each chef, which I edited down to 5mins for Channel 4. This left a fair bit on the cutting room floor so to speak, which it seems a shame to waste. So where possible they’ll be off cuts and scraps of video as well as some photos – It’s what the pig would have wanted. The first two up are Ben Tish and Vivek Singh.

Ben Tish – Salt Yard, London

Ben was a lovely guy with infectious energy, gulping down an espresso and positively bouncing around his kitchen. Said kitchen however, was compact and bijou. It’s a real skill to move around a space like that without him and his two other chefs getting in each other’s way. 

TENDERLOIN - Ben Tish at the Salt Yard TENDERLOIN - Ben Tish at the Salt Yard

I picked Ben as I thought his style of cooking – tapas – would suit the tenderloin; quick and simple and small tasty portioning.  The pairing with clams and apple I loved. Shellfish and pork somehow work well together. I normally baulk at the idea of a surf ‘n’ turf lobster-on-a–steak-combo. But here land and sea were in harmony. The menu roams around the Iberian Peninsula as well as crossing the Med to Italy to plunder its flavours too with six charcuterie offerings and five of cheese. All the classic hams are there. Serrano, Jamon Iberico, coppa, speck. Flying the flag for the UK on the menu is confit of Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with cannelini beans. Mind you braised oxtails with bone marrow and celeriac puree sounds fantastic too.

Ben repeated a mantra that I heard many times on the project; don’t over cook it. Lack of stock and a shy hand with the butter are where most people go wrong when cooking at home I believe. What’s more all the chefs I visited were generous with the salt and pepper.

The team behind the restaurant have also opened a butcher’s shop across the street, the black foot butcher, named after the breed of pig they stock I believe. The enterprise began as they we’re looking for somewhere to store bulk purchases of some of the Continental produce they’d ordered in.  Ben also works in the butchers as well as the restaurant so is ideally placed to understand the needs of both trades.

Ben’s Tenderloin with clams recipe & video demo (pop up)

Ben’s stuffed tenderloin recipe & video demo (pop up)


Vivek Singh – The Cinnamon Kitchen, London

I met with Vivek Singh in his brand new kitchen located in the old East India Company spice warehouse. It’s only recently opened before Christmas and the new kitchen was bright, spacious and staffed by a brigade that ran into double figures. It’s a very modern and professional operation that reflects the area he’s in and the clientele he’s aiming to reach.

CHUMP - Vivek Singh at the Cinnamon Kithcen

While we were waiting for the recipe to cook I had a nose round. Nestled amongst all the modern stainless steel surfaces were two massive charcoal powered tandoor ovens. I took the opportunity to ask why the naan breads always stick to the side and never fall into the coals. “Oh it can do if you’re oven isn’t hot enough or your dough not wet enough” Vivek told me. They also get very very hot, achieving something like 480°C. “One time a camera man put his camera in to get a shot of the flames and it melted his foam microphone cover”. 

Vivek was also kind enough to offer me some lunch and so I got to chat to his other chefs about the food.  What I thought was excellent was Vivek’s use of traditional meats, even cuts, but just augments through the flavours of the sub-continent.  Rajasthani spiced roast red deer, (An homage perhaps to the Indian Gazelle which is found in that region) roast lamb saddle, mint-onion sauce, pilau rice, seared haddock, Devon crab and kokum crust. Yet it is the spicing that lifts these dishes up to the extraordinary, delicate and multi-layered and very tasty.

I got chatting to his pastry chef, 21-year-old James Mossman, about puddings. Nowadays diners are often skipping pudding no matter what the cuisine. Add to that the (misguided) perception that Indian cuisine doesn’t do desserts, and the fact James is a young white guy and the odds aren’t in his favour. Which is a shame because what is in his favour is his really good cooking. The little samples he did me, particularly the pineapple were extemporary. “All too often people thing of pudding in Indian restaurants is ice-cream in a hollowed out orange”. Not here it’s not.

The second thing of note was a lamb dish that was inspired by a description in a 1000-year-old text called the Mānasollāsa written by Somesvara II describing the cooking thin slivers of lamb on hot stones. 

Vivek Singh at the Cinnamon Kithcen

Vivek wanted to recreate this dish using his customer facing grill which on the day was staffed by a lovely bloke from Nepal who also rustled my up paneer in a long broad chilli. Anyway, the cooking is fantastic, the maitre d’ was a lovely Scottish lass, and the place is less ‘civil service’ than the Cinnamon Club in Westminster and a bit more business, you should go. 

Here’s Vivek cooking Coorg style pork recipe and video demo (pop up)

More images on Flickr 


Pork cuts application goes live

wooo!  You can now use our super fancy video guide to a pig thingy

As well as find out more about the project here

Here’s the online trailer for the season

And here’s an extended version (on MSN for some reason) featuring Geoff Capes who’s knocking on a bit.

Extended Online Cut | The Great British Food Fight
Extended Online Cut | The Great British Food Fight

Oh and finally some graphics chap got the Union flag/Jack the wrong way round which has now been fixed apparently

New for 2009 – 4Food pigs out

As the Big British Food Map drew to a close in late November, I started to think about what to do next.  Channel 4 was planning another January food season called The Great British Food Fight that followed on from the successes of last year’s one, the highlight for me being Hugh and Jamie’s shows about intensive chicken production.

In this new season there’s another collection of programmes looking at food and food related issues.  Gok Wan is fronting a documentary on childhood obesity, he readily admits he was rather a chubby boy, as well as suffering bullying at school. He’s also an excellent empathiser and good foil to tackle this important issue so that should be good.  Incidentally Gok added his favourite food places to the BBFM, including his family’s chip shop in Leicester, where I stopped in for a portion  – yum. There’s also Heston making his debut on Channel 4 with Big Chef Saves Little Chef.

But the key show in this new series for me is ‘Jamie Saves our Bacon’.  Jamie picks up where he and Hugh left off with chickens last year, namely looking at intensive rearing and why it’s not that good for either the pig, or your palate. The Guardian had a piece on the subject this week tooHowever, once you’ve given people the facts and stoked people up to make a change, you’ve got to actually follow through and offer help and advice. This is where I come in.

There’s more to pork than…

According to this 2007 PDF from British Sausage Week, sausage is the number one ‘in home meal’. What’s more only 15.4% are eaten for breakfast compared to 39.5% for dinner and 15.4% for tea (linguistical North/South divide there?). What’s more Saturday is the favourite day for eating sausage.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good banger, a well-made pork sausage is a thing of beauty.  I’ve hunted down a few interesting specimens in the past, the Manchester Sausage, Edwards of Conway, Art of meat to name but a few.  Good bacon too, is a joy, Emmett’s of Peasanhall in Suffolk’s special Christmas bacon cured with spices and ginger tasted amazing.  The pork pie is another subject dear to my heart, and I’m proud to say I was there when the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie achieved EU protected status. 

All these products, when made properly with good meat from well cared for pigs are fantastic, the trouble is two fold. Firstly, these products can often be made from poor quality meat and disguised with flavourings; Secondly, there’s so much more to pork than sausage!

However a fair few of us are still slightly confused about which bit of the pig is good for what purpose and where on the animal it comes from.  And so to address this, channel 4 are building a video based pig cuts application. Now Google pork cuts and you’ll get dozens of drawings with bits of the pig described by dotted lines like the States of America. The thing is they often bear no resemblance to the hunk of pork flesh in front of you; the bodies of pigs do not come apart on neatly perforated lines like stamps. So by having the cuts overlaid on a video of the animal we hope you’ll get a clearer understanding of its shape and exaclty where the cut comes from.


But that’s not all…

Knowing where the meat is from on any diagram is one thing, but you still need to see it for real to make proper sense. That’s why in early December, (with my cameras still hot from finishing the BBFM) I travelled up to North Yorkshire to meat Tim Wilson of the Ginger Pig. The first days filming had to be cancelled due to the terrible snow, in which I spun the hire car off the road and into a drift, luckily there was no damage and we managed to dig it out. The next day it’d melted and Tim’s farm and butchery room were just about accessible with a front wheel drive Ford Fiesta.


The village of Levisham could be described as a one-horse town, in fact I did see one horse, a Shetland pony (I think) sheltering next to the wall of the church. Anyway, all this countryside, isolation and space is great for pigs. Tim’s pigs are mainly Tamworth, (hence the name Ginger Pig) bred with some Large White or Yorkshire. They also have Old Spots, Berkshires, and others.  Now, The Tamworth is a fairly hardy breed, indeed, most pigs are pretty hardy. A pig insulates against the cold not with fur – though the Tamworth has large stiff bristles – but with fat (more on fat later).  And so for three hours I filmed Tim slowly and methodically taking apart the animal, trimming off cuts, sawing through bone, portioning, and describing cooking methods and uses.  And even I learnt things about the anatomy of a pig as well as uses, for instance the hock, which is often smoked, can be slow roasted. As Tim says “we’re all familiar with lamb shanks, well this is just a pig shank”. So there you have it, proper video guides to butchering a pig letting you see exactly which bit is from where and how to prepare it.

 Take 10 chefs

So you’ve taken the plunge and are thinking about trying something different, but would still like some recipe guidance. Well the second part of my idea is best described though the following analogy. You know how in medieval times traitors where executed and then their dismembered parts were sent to other cities around the land as a warning. Well I’m doing something similar (but nicer) with the Channel 4 pig.  It’s working title was ‘Hung, Drawn and Slaughtered’, but we dropped that as it’s a bit full on. But the concept is the same.  So Tim’s Tamworth pig, which has had a good life rummaging around on his farm, had been chopped into 10 prime cuts and this month I’m taking those cuts to chefs around the country to literally see what they can make of them.  Here’s the list:

The chefs, the restaurants, the cuts. 

Anthony Demetre       Arbutus                        Blade

Benjamin Tish            Salt Yard                      Tenderloin

Vivek Singh                 Cinnamon Kitchen    Chump

Chris Wicks                 Bells Diner                  Belly

Hywel Jones               Lucknam Park            Head

Sue Ellis                        Belle House                Leg/ham

Paul Askew                  Hope Street Hotel     Loin

David Colcombe         Opus                             Hand/Spring

Kenneth Poon            Orchid                          Spare Ribs/Belly

James Makenzie       Pipe and Glass           Hocks/Trotters

 I’ve tried to get a broad range of locations (only three in London), styles and cuisines to contribute. We’ve got tapas, Indian, Thai, modern European, British. Hopefully this will go some way to showing the versatility of pork and how it can work with a great many flavours and seasonings.

Meet the Meat

In the USA they have an ad campaign for pork called ‘the other white meat’.  The phrase ‘White meat’ in America has become synonymous with low fat, (red meat meanwhile means full fat and is tantamount to suicide for your colon it seems). US pork producers no doubt want a bit of that sector that normally always went for chicken (even though most intensively farmed chicken has large amounts of fat). 

The key thing that chefs and butchers and farmers have stressed to me time and time again is that, no matter what the animal, fat is flavour. As Perry the butcher at the Ginger Pig in Marylebone says, “cook with fat on, even if you don’t eat it”.  The word ‘marbling’ along with the concept behind it is now well understood by most foodies when talking about beef. Well the same goes with pork, Tim’s rib eye steaks have a lacework of fat running through them that melts when cooked. But the supermarkets tell the farmers that the consumer doesn’t want fat – wrong. Like everything a little of Jack Sprat’s wife’s attitude is a good thing. The key is the good flavourful fat; from my experience on well reared animals it’s rich, firm and almost ivory in colour rather than bright white, flaccid and watery as it can be on poorer quality animals.

I hope this has at least made you think about trying something different with some proper pork, the best thing you can do is go out and buy it from a good butcher or direct form the farm itself. Visiting places like Chris and Bev Brown farm in Kent is a whole (free) day out, you might even get to feed the pigs and I’m sure the kids would love it much more than being dragged round a supermarket.

My wish is to see is pork take its rightful place as a respected meat, not chicken substitute. Let’s start enjoying it, smoking it, brining it, rolling it, stuffing it, putting interesting flavours with it, maybe hanging it a little to bring on the flavour. In shortlet’s  give it some of the reverence that we normally afford to beef. Because I genuinely believe it can be that good.

The application, cuts videos and other related Great British Food Fight season content will be live on from around the 12th January.

Next: A potted history of pigs….



This blog is no longer being updated

I've left it here for historical purposes. Please visit my new blog at


These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
April 2020