Easy party food with ‘Simply Nigella’

When you have people coming round for a party, the last thing you want to be doing is slaving away in the kitchen whilst your guests drink all your gin – you want to be with them, working on your hangover for the next morning.  Of course, you can drink gin & cook, I do that frequently … but its rather more difficult to drink gin, cook, & socialise.

Curvy Girl Thin in scottish apron with gin

So for New Years Eve celebrations last week, I donned my Scotts-mans apron and reached for my new cookbook, Simply Nigella, to try out some of the recipes featured.

The pulled pork  recipe stood out immediately.  Both hubby and I are huge pork fans and slow cooking a huge joint is perfect for party food because you can do all the preparation the day before.  As the recipe included a bbq rub, I thought burritos paired with black beans (also a Simply Nigella recipe) and guacamole would be just perfect!

marinade for BBQ pulled pork

The bbq rub is super easy to make and involves simply bunging all the ingredients in a bowl and giving them a stir.  I did make a few substiutions thanks to differing ingredients in my store cupboard; I switched chilli powder for cayenne pepper and sherry vinegar for white wine vinegar.  I also added black pepper as I adore the taste of well peppered pork.

Hints & Tips: how to mince garlic

When mincing garlic, don’t waste time with peeling each individual clove.  Simply place the clove, skin and all, in the garlic press and it will remove the skin for you. This does cause a bit of wastage so I always add an extra garlic clove to the stated recipe – after all, you can never have too much garlic, right?

pork joint

Once the rub is made, you simply smother it all over the rindless pork shoulder joint.  Nigella suggests asking your butcher to remove the rind for you but they don’t do that in Sainsbury’s so I removed the rind myself using a sharp knife to slice through the fat whilst peeling the rind away from the joint.

pork rub being poured over joint

I always get my hands in and mucky when marinating a joint – it allows you to get the sauce into all the folds of the flesh and really ensure that meat is well coated.  There is also something really satisfying about this – far more satisfying than the use of brush to coat the meat.

marinated pork joint

I also kept the rind and cooked it later in the day to serve up as crackling bites.

crackling recipe

Crackling Bites:

Rub scored pork rind with olive oil and sea salt on both sides.  Place, skin side up, in a preheated oven at 220 degrees for 45minutes. Turn the pork so that the fat is facing up and cook for another 10 minutes before removing from the oven.  Cut into cubes and serve.

Nigella suggests 2 different timing methods for cooking the joint – one a very slowed cooking 12 hours and another 6 hour option.  I did something in the middle, cooking the pork for 10 minutes on the highest heat possible (230 degrees in my fan oven) before turning down to 120 degrees for 3 hours.  I then tented the pork (covered with foil) and cooked for a further 6 hours.

cooked pork joint

The smell of the cooking pork was divine.  The fragrant smell that filled the house had me salivating for most of the day and, when taking  the pork out of the oven to serve, it had stewed nicely in its own juices which had mingled with the marinade to make the meat very moist and tender.

IMG_5574

To accompany the pork, I also made Cuban Black beans.  I made these the day before and simply reheated them to serve with the pork.  These were also very easy to make and I think they will quickly become a staple of my diet – they’ll taste great with chicken and lettuce for super yummy work time lunches.

cuban black beans recipe

True to a Nigella recipe, these really are the simplest thing to make ever.  Simply throw all ingredients (diced) in the slow cooker and leave on the low setting for 6 hours (I think I cooked these for 8 but they were ready at 6).

cuban black bean ingredients in slow cooker

They don’t look the most appetising of dishes but I can tell you they are completely delish.

cuban black beans

To keep things simple, everyone came to the kitchen and made their own burritos and they were really quite gorgeous (even if I do say so myself) – now I just have to work on my burrito wrapping skills!

pulled pork and black bean burritos

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