On Friday afternoon, I received a very welcome phone call. My friends Tom and Tash had booked themselves a butchery class at The Ginger Pig. Unfortunately, Tash couldn't make it because of work and Tom asked if I would like to go with him. I had long earmarked butchery skills as something I would like to learn, so I jumped at the opportunity. In the days before Hector, I might have had plans for Friday night, but as all I had planned was trying to figure what to make with some pork tenderloin and a couple of leeks, I set off towards Marylebone on a Boris bike.
It was every bit as good as its reputation. For the first half of the evening, the two butchers, Perry and Borut, taught eleven of us about beef by demonstration and hands on experience, where we learned about dry ageing, different cuts and how to cook them. For the second half, we used saws and knives to prepare our own fore rib roast. We learned how to chine a rib roast so that you can carve it easily, how to tie it with string so that it doesn't fall apart and how to French trim the rib bones so that they don't burn. We left with vastly improved knowledge of beef, a fore rib roast that will easily feed six and a belly full of roast beef and merlot.
On Sunday, the pork tenderloin and leeks were still in the fridge approaching their use by date. I decided to use cling film and a rolling pin to flatten the loin so that I could stuff it and practise my tying technique. I gently fried some sliced leeks in a little butter. Once they were softened, I took them off the heat and added half a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of Philadelphia and some grated cheddar cheese. I rolled the stuffing inside the pork loin with the help of some cling film and tried to remember how to tie the knots. The technique is difficult enough to teach in person, let alone describe in words. You place a ball of string in your pocket and tease the other end through a series of over and under manoeuvres to produce a slip knot that you can tighten around the meat. After a couple of attempts, I remembered the sequence and grinned with smug satisfaction as the first string tightened around the pork.
At this point, Jemma called me to see something Hector was doing but as I left the kitchen, I heard the rustling of carrier bags. Thinking it was a mouse, I stopped in my tracks and tried to pinpoint the noise. Each time I inched forward, the rustling continued, as though the mouse were daring me to find him. Jemma called out again so I decided to leave the mouse to his rummaging. About half way to the sitting room, I heard a thwack and ran back to try and catch him in the act. I returned to find my carefully rolled pork loin on the kitchen tiles, cheese and leek stuffing oozing through the seams. My "mouse" was attached to the pork at one end by a carefully tied slip knot. He left a trail running across the kitchen floor, behind the bin, down the corridor and into the ball of string in my pocket. If only I'd pinpointed the rustling sound, I would have seen the pork in its cling film, inching its way from the countertop to the floor, as I crept around the kitchen in search of the mouse. Next time I'll cut the string as soon as I've tied the knot.