With one half of my family from Lincolnshire, and the other from Norfolk, it’s no wonder I consume a harrowing quantity of pork and brassicas. Two Lincolnshire pork dishes I remember very fondly from childhood trips back down there are Haslet and Chine.
Now, this may sound like a rural buddy cop show, but they’re actually serious old-timey cold cuts. When we went to visit my grandmother, she would reliably serve both with an elaborate library of homemade pickles. Haslet is basically sliced stuffing, and chine is a scraggy pork neck cut, with buckets of parsley packed into deep incisions. It serves with these beautiful vivid striations, and the parsley gives it a real freshness.
Of course, there was no way I wasn’t going to muck about with it. So here it is with a more readily available cut, and crashed into a kind of idiot porchetta.
Serves at least 4, ideally as sandwich meat, but it slices nicely warm.
- A pork leg joint, at least 1kg
- Parsley (curly), 80g
- Brined green peppercorns (the soft ones), 2 tbsp
- Garlic, ~4 cloves
- White wine, 100ml (something zingy)
- Salt, 1/4 tsp, maybe less
Roughly trim the parsley, getting rid of much of the stalks. Chop it fine. Roundly abuse the peppercorns and garlic in a pestle and mortar, with a hefty pinch of salt. You may find it easier to roughly pound the garlic first, then add the peppercorns. Work them into a rough paste, and mix this thoroughly with the parsley.
With a sharp knife, make some deep incisions in the pork joint. You want to be able to see the layers of green when you slice it, so ideally cut slits at a right angle to the direction you’ll be slicing. You may also find it easier to cut from what will be the inside edge when you roll and tie it back up. I didn’t do that in the pictures here, and instead removed the skin and slit the outside edge. This was fine, but the joint fanned out and expanded more than I’d have liked, giving wider wedges of parsley and a looser structure. It’s a presentation detail really.
Pack the slits with the parsley mix, ensuring they’re well filled. Then roll and tie the joint up a bit with string, to keep it all together and try to keep the pockets of parsley tight and closed. Thinking about it, you could probably sous-vide the shit out of this.
Put an oven on at around 150c. Put the pork in an oven dish with the wine, and cover it with foil or a lid if the dish has one. Cook it slow and low for at least 2.5 hours, probably 3. Check it periodically. It doesn’t matter much if it dries out a bit, but you may want to add a splash more wine. The long cooking time gives us something fall-apart tender. Reduce it, and use a higher heat for something firmer and more robust for slicing.
At the end, the remaining juices will make a splendid rich sauce if you want to serve the chine hot. You might want to let it out with a bit more liquid, and maybe thicken with 1/4 tsp of cornflour. Or you could reduce it to a thick jus. Some fried, fine-chopped shallots couldn’t hurt, too. If you’re having it cold, just let it cool and use the juices for something else.
This is great in thick slices on warm fresh bread. The parsley is light and aromatic, and the peppercorns give it a bit of a kick. It’s a big old slice of the bits of my childhood that didn’t suck. The food, basically.
I’d be curious to try a more authentic chine at some point, all tight-wrapped and slow-simmered. Maybe the next time I have a hankering to boil a ham joint, I’ll cram it with parsley and see what happens. Although I’m now wondering about beef brisket, chili, and coriander…
(if you want a nice, simple, straight-up porchetta recipe, you could do worse than the one in Jamie’s Italy, actually. I quite like it)