Thursday, October 4, 2012

Time to get the sieve out again

It's been well over two years since my semi-successful attempt at beef olives. I decided it was time I had another go - but this time, it was pork olives (p124), a simple variation on the basic recipe, achieved by substituting pork schnitzel for the original beef.

When I made my beef olives, I had no trouble putting together the olives themselves: the problem was a lumpy, salty gravy. I've had a bit more practice at gravies and similar now, so I was a bit more confident with that. I also thought I'd figured out the saltiness - I'd used dark soy sauce, which is very strong. I figured with a lighter soy, I wouldn't have to reduce the quantity.

I had three pieces of pork schnitzel, which I rolled out slightly between sheets of plastic wrap, so I'd have a larger surface for my stuffing. The stuffing is made of breadcrumbs, onion, prunes, thyme and lemon zest. Instead of chopping these up and combining them, I chucked everything in the food processor, and a short blitz later my stuffing was ready.

I spread the schnitzel with filling - a half-mix of the filling recipe was exactly right for three pork schnitzel pieces - then rolled each piece up and secured it with a skewer. I could probably have made a more dainty job using toothpicks, but I didn't have any.

Next, I browned the olives in a frypan and set them aside in a small casserole dish, then added flour to the frying pan to begin the dreaded gravy. As usual, cooking the flour for the first minute or so resulted in a collection of floury lumps spread around the pan, to which gradually adding stock ought to make a decent gravy... apparently.

I sloshed in the stock in small amounts, whisking furiously between additions. At first I thought it was going quite well, but before long I was contemplating a pan full of watery brown liquid, in which floated - inevitably - a number of lumps.

No amount of whisking/stirring/smushing seemed to have any effect on the lumps. Well, at least I had a familiar solution. Out came the sieve again, and, after reducing a bit and adding the soy sauce, I was able to pour a reasonably smooth gravy over my pork olives before I put them in the oven.

I've become so used to things being cooked well before the given cooking time that I took it for granted the pork olives would be done well before indicated in the recipe. After all, they were quite a lot smaller than the beef ones. I took them out ten minutes early, and it was only when I had a couple on my plate that I cut into one and found it was raw in the middle.

Back in the gravy and back in the oven. My veges sat waiting while my olives cooked for a further ten minutes, and were looking a bit dry and sad by the time the olives were ready. I remedied this by pouring generous amounts of the gravy on the vege as well as the meat.

The pork olives were pretty nice. I'm still a fan of that fruity prune stuffing, and the gravy kept the meat from getting dry. Unfortunately, substituting a lighter soy did not prevent the gravy from being too salty. I don't actually think the addition of soy is necessary at all, but if you feel your gravy needs it, add gradually and taste as you go.

So there you go. A couple of years down the track, and sadly, I still can't make a decent gravy. But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up trying!

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