THE SUN­DAY COOK How to make (a lit­tle) meat go much fur­ther

*** Eat­ing less beef, lamb and pork makes sense for our bud­gets, health and the en­vi­ron­ment. Look back to clas­sic hot­pots and Ir­ish stew for in­spi­ra­tion

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

It seems be­ing a lit­tle bit ve­gan is now a thing. The re­cent Food Trends re­port from Waitrose high­lighted that a third of us are cutting down on meat, in­clud­ing the one in eight of us now ve­gan or veg­e­tar­ian. But more than half of the “veg­gies” and “ve­g­ans” sur­veyed ad­mit to oc­ca­sion­ally tuck­ing into meat.

While “usu­ally ve­gan” seems right up there with “al­most a virgin” in the wish­ful think­ing stakes, I’m feel­ing the urge to cut back on meat too. Pon­der­ing what to cook for sup­per, I’m more likely to dwell on the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a nub­bly cloud of cau­li­flower, or some dusky green globe ar­ti­chokes, than be in­spired by chicken or pork chops. Meat and two veg just isn’t how we eat any more.

There are plenty of rea­sons to cut down, in­clud­ing cost, the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits and, not least, health. Just last Wed­nes­day a study by re­searchers at the Ox­ford Martin Pro­gramme on the Fu­ture of Food rec­om­mended that red meat and pro­cessed meats like ba­con should at­tract a “cig­a­rette-style” tax, to offset the cost to the health ser­vice of ill­nesses re­lated to eat­ing too much meat. In fact, look­ing to a fu­ture where we eat less meat, cooks need only look back. Tra­di­tional dishes such as Lan­cashire hot­pot and Ir­ish stew are all about stretch­ing a small amount of meat in or­der to feed a fam­ily. And the same is true around the world.

Food writer Elis­a­beth Luard, au­thor of the clas­sic Euro­pean Peas­ant Cook­ery (Grub Street £16.99) ad­vises “It’s about adding flavour, not eat­ing big bits of meat.” Many of the great dishes of the world are a ver­sion of “beans and bones”, she says, “which is ba­si­cally any of the pulses. Take a Spanish co­cido, cooked all in one pot with maybe a bit of chorizo, or some ham bones, or a bit of pork, but if you didn’t have any it wouldn’t re­ally mat­ter.”

Make the mari­nade by bring­ing the soy sauce and sugar to the boil in a small pan. Re­duce the heat and sim­mer un­til thick. Stir in the gar­lic and cool. Mix in the ta­ble­spoon of oil. Mar­i­nate the pork and parsnips in this for an hour or overnight, turn­ing once.

Make the curry paste by blend­ing all in­gre­di­ents un­til al­most smooth.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lift the parsnips out of the mari­nade and spread them in a roast­ing tin. Roast for 20 to 30 min­utes.

Cook the pork over a medium heat in a fry­ing pan on all sides un­til nicely browned and al­most cooked through. Pop in the oven with the parsnips for 10 min­utes to fin­ish cook­ing. Leave to rest in a warm place.

To make the curry, heat a ta­ble­spoon of oil in a wok, and stir-fry half the paste un­til fra­grant (the rest can be frozen for up to two months). Add the lime leaves, fish sauce and sugar and stir-fry for a minute. Add the co­conut milk. Bring to the boil, then re­duce the heat and sim­mer, un­cov­ered, for 10 min­utes or un­til thick­ened, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Stir the broc­coli into the curry mix­ture and sim­mer, un­cov­ered, for about 10 min­utes or un­til ten­der. Add the parsnips for the last five min­utes. Slice the pork and ar­range on the curry, then scat­ter with co­rian­der. Serve with sticky rice.

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