My travels with the channel 4 Pig have come to an end now. To recap, I got Tim Wilson of The Ginger Pig to cut up a side into the ten main cuts and then took those cuts to 10 chefs around the country. I shot over an hour for each chef, which I edited down to 5mins for Channel 4. This left a fair bit on the cutting room floor so to speak, which it seems a shame to waste. So where possible they’ll be off cuts and scraps of video as well as some photos – It’s what the pig would have wanted.
Next up, the West Country gets a visit when I stop in on Hywel Jones and Chris Wicks. Go west they say, I’ve always had a soft spot for the West Country having spent some of my early childhood in Wookey Hole.
Chris Wicks, Bell’s Diner. Bristol
Chris Wicks was the first person to answer the phone when I began the ring-around to find chefs for this project. He said yes straight away, and when offered the choice of cuts, went straight for the belly – it’s where the flavour is.
Chris was a man of few words, and an economy of movement, but then once in a while I’d get these little flashes of the person within. He said the word patience many times during the interview, and was calm and collected at all times. An example of this was during filming, when he was pushing the potatoes through a drum sieve and sales man for something came in and asked “are you the owner?” “Yes” replied Chris, “Is now a good time to talk?” said the sales man rather expectantly having clocked me filming Chris cooking. Now some one from the Ramsay mould would have replied ‘what do you think?!’ or ‘fuck off!’ but Chris just leveled him with a quiet simple “no”, and the guy sloped off. We had to re do the take mind.
In the video below Chris shows me a cartouche, a piece of baking parchment placed over any braised dish to help keep the meat submerged as well as allow the sauce to reduce. It also stops a skin forming on the surface.
Recently Chris was on the receiving end of a mixed review from Matthew Norman from the Guardian, in which he said ‘be a more neighbourhood joint’ which strangely is the exact same thing he said to Belle House whom I also visited on this project. This is a real shame as Jay Rayner really enjoyed his time there in 2007 and Michelin describes it thus. So if I were Chris, I’d take his words with a slight pinch of salt. I asked Chris watch his plans were for 2009, “frugal is the watch word, keep things tight and add value for money, and finally look after people’. On the subject of pork he says “The belly is simple to cook, has fantastic flavour and can be used in a variety of recipes. Put belly up against say fillet steak for flavour and belly wins everytime”. On cooking it he added wryly, I think pork over cooks very well! It’s very forgiving. Fattier cuts are more tastier and fat’s the key with pork”.
Hywel Jones, Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire
Hywel Jones is a proud Welshman who left Wales to seek his fortune in London. He was at the famous (and now defunct) Coast restaurant during the 90s with Stephen Terry (where incidently Ben Tish from the Salt Yard was a commis at the same time). After having kids the green green grass of home called and he wanted to come back to Wales. He found the job of executive chef at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire allowed him to commute and he’s been there five years now.
The hotel has had a great deal of love, attention and most importantly money poureded into it by it’s private owner. It’s a truly lovely location, with a long tree lined drive nearly a mile long leading to the house. Hywel and Sales Manager Rachel looked kindly looked after me during my time there.
When I first spoke to Hywel about the project, I was about to list the cuts still available to choose from but before I could he said “I’ll have the head”. To be honest I was glad as I thought the pig’s bonce was going to be the hardest to get rid of so gladly assigned it to him. It turns out that Anthony at Arbutus was keen on it too. Hywel wanted the head for two reasons; one, it’s a truly undervalued and cheap cut. A whole head can be had for £1.50. And two, I suspect it would allow him to demonstrate his cooking flare, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Now to all those who say “ewww I could never eat a pigs head” I say “you probably all ready have”. There’s meat on the head, and that meat makes it’s way into sausages, and as long as it’s good meat, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Hywel had earlier this year taken delivery of two brand-new, state-of-the-art induction cookers. I’ve seen these before, namely in the kitchen’s of Flash, the temporary restaurant at the Royal Academy, but those were the plug in portable ones. This range was a brute, Hywel demonstrated them to me, which didn’t make the final channel 4 cut but is over interest and so I’ve included it below.
Finally I think Hywel’s recipe is obviously a show piece than mid week supper, but if any of you do attempt it, or even attempt to cook the pigs cheeks, please get in touch as I’d love to hear about it.