I love my local butcher, he really makes me laugh. When I went into The Hampstead Butcher in Muswell Hill to buy the pork for this recipe he was on top form.
I told him I was working with Gene Tierney’s recipe from the 1940s. When I described her instructions for oven temperature and timings he said, “Don’t listen to her, she’s dead!” This has immediately become a catch-phrase I know is going to be repeated thousands of times when making these movie star dishes. You can’t trust ’em it’s true!
This dish was truly delicious and I do heartily recommend it BUT, it’s not as straightforward as it looks. So I’m sharing it here with reservations. It’s a Christmassy, festive roast dinner but you will need to make your own mind up about oven temperature and cooking time!
Basically, if you are not used to cooking big lumps of pork (I’m not) I recommend you go and cosy up to your local butcher and ask what cooking time and temperature they recommend. My lovely butcher said 15-20 minutes per 1/2 kilo and then said he’d be round about 4pm for his dinner. So basically HALF as long as Gene recommended for cooking the pork as 1/2 kilo is more or less a pound. This is the kind of stuff that gives me a maths headache…
The butcher got a great big slab of pork from the back of the shop and cut exactly my requested 3½ pounds worth off by eye with a hacksaw.
How beautiful is this?
I kicked myself when I got home that I didn’t ask him about oven temperature, but I know that he thought Gene’s recipe was bonkers so after googling like crazy, I settled on 180℃ (which is 350℉) after I’d seared the fat at the higher temperature Gene had in her recipe. When I lowered the temperature I turned the pork over so that the fat was on the top. There wasn’t really much basting juice to speak of until towards the end of the adding sweet potatoes, apples and pineapple jiggery pokery. But I turned the bits and bobs over in the syrup to coat them and basted the meat a little bit towards the very end. While the pork was resting, I sliced off the fat to crisp up for crackling on a piece of foil…
Mr R made some spectacular roast potatoes and parsnips, plus some Brussels sprouts with pancetta. I charred up some hispi cabbage in my griddle pan and the whole lot with the apple, sweet potatoes and pineapple made for a truly sensational dinner. And not a cross word between us in the kitchen, even though we were juggling A LOT of stuff.
Behold the splendour!
All the veggies were from the lovely Greens of Highgate so I was really proud of myself for shopping local. More of this is 2023!
The wine we had with our dinner was effectively the whole reason for making Gene’s pork dish. When I saw this photo on my chum Sam Kilgour’s Instagram feed I immediately sent this message, ‘Is that GENE TIERNEY?”
What do you lot think?
Wine expert Sam is going to do some digging on this, but I was compelled to get straight onto the internet to find me some. I got the very last two bottles from Clapton Craft in Kentish Town.
It was this publicity pic for Sundown (1941) I had in my mind when I saw the label…
But now I look at them side-by-side I am not so sure…
Can any Gene Tierney fans help me out here? Is it her do you think? Does anyone know Sylvère Trichard or Elodie Bouvard of the Séléné vineyard so I can ask them about the inspiration for the label? This will be one of those things that bugs me until I find out…
If you have a copy of Supper with the Stars, you could make Gene’s cheesecake to finish off your meal as the recipe is included in the book.
Or, if you are a Gene Tierney fan but you don’t fancy tackling her pork dish, I heartily recommend her “leaning tower of tuna” – Tuna Salad Royal – which makes me laugh every time I make it.
“Don’t trust her, she’s dead.”
Oh, and by the way, the butcher also told me a brilliant story about being an apprentice. He said that if you were ever rude to the head butcher you’d have to watch out. When you got to the bottom of a cup of tea, you might find a sheep’s eye rolling around in the bottom.
Gene is not amused.
Santa, please can I have some gloves like Gene’s for Christmas?