Sometimes life just stumps you. Such was the case when these absolutely, incredibly, beautiful and delicate garlic scapes found their way into my kitchen and onto my plate. A friend of mine, Daleen gave me a bunch of these green little wonders and said that I needed to cook something with it. But there I was, utterly stumped. What was I going to do with these culinary flowers? They belonged in a pretty flower vase on the window sill surely? At first I thought the little buds on these slender green shoots were “onion flowers” and then with a wicked smile, Daleen informed me that they were actually garlic scapes or garlic flowers. I had never seen these little miracles before …Clearly, I need to get out more… Anyway, these flowers were just so fragile and perfect – long leafless stems with the little closed flowers on the top – and inside the flowers were the seeds of the garlic plant. It was another wonder of creation.
But how and what could I do with these edible creations? As always my weekly food journey starts with the world’s greatest encyclopedia, the internet. I read that the flower of the garlic plant is sometimes eaten and that it has a much milder flavour than the actual garlic bulbs. I read further that these seeds were mostly consumed while immature and still tender. This seemed to make some sense as the bottom part of the stem was rock hard. These stalks will be great in soups and stews.
I don’t know why but my mind took me to Asia when I saw them … a dish of greens and pork. That is what I eventually decided to do…. My secret for this recipe was to keep everything simple. The idea was to let the subtle garlic scapes infuse with lemon and then just let this flavour the greens and the pork. The delicate simplicity of the flavours makes this a genuinely blissful, if not whimsical combination. Garlic scapes are available in stores at the moments – so please try it – it’s both fun and delicious.
Crispy braaied pig tails – I know that there are many adventurous and fearless chefs out there… this one is for you!
This dish is certainly not for the dainty, squeamish or occasional outdoor chef that thinks a chop and a lettuce leaf constitutes a real South African barbeque … sorry … I meant braai! 🙂
Potjie’s entry a few weeks ago where he talked about English Chef, Fergus Henderson’s book, “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating”, struck a chord with me and I think we share the same philosophies when it comes to cooking. Be brave, be daring and never be scared to cook with what you have…whatever you have… It also reminded me that I had about 10 pig tails lying in my freezer. I had bought these a while back from Frankie Fenner after I had seen them being cooked on Masterchef. Back then they looked very scary and they still do – very kind of Avatar-ish!
So with National Braai Day being celebrated in the coming days it provided a perfect opportunity to haul these little, curly porky tails over the coals.
The most important thing for me was to make sure that the tails came out soft but still retained that beautiful pork flavour – oh yes, that they had that crispy crackling to feast on. To soften up the tails I steamed them for 15 minutes then braaied them on the grid over medium coals (charcoal or wood). Keeping it simple, I served it up with my own homemade mustard dipping sauce. It was decadent and delicious – as Jan Spies used to say “ryk, maar lekker” [rich but delicious].
Some advice: If you do come across a few people who are still a little squeamish about eating the pig tails … pass them the salad.
Place all the ingredients in a pot (pressure cooker) and steam for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker cover the same ingredients in a roasting pan – cover with foil and bake at 190 degrees for 40 minutes till soft. Please remember to top up your roasting pan with water.
Take the tails and place them on the grid over medium coals on the braai. Sprinkle with salt, pepper (coarse salt and pepper would be good) and ground coriander. Braai till the skin is crispy and crackly. About 5 miutes a side.
Mustard Sauce : Mix all ingredients and serve in a small bowl next to the crispy tails.
Porks sausages + bacon + beer + vegetables – my version of the Irish coddle is one of Rick’s favourite dishes. I am married to a man of Irish descent and what I have learned from our family visits to Ireland – and my husband is that the Irish love beer (Guinness only when in the Emerald Isle) + whiskey + eating potatoes + pork sausages + salmon + they only start a party at 9pm and even if you are around the ripe age of 75 there is still nothing wrong with partying till 4am and passing out on the couch at you friends house if you had too much to drink!! I just love the Irish, it is their spirit, their joviality and perhaps the fact that they are never shy to drink more than me.
For this recipe I have added a few herbs, mustard seeds and some beer and then also added some lemon. I think it’s a bit of modern Coddle and it’s hearty and just perfect in the dead of winter. It is so easy to prepare …everything is in one bowl, meat, veggies etc. So between my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law I think we have come up with a rather decent local version of the Irish coddle! Sleinte!