The Glory of Garlic
My job as a Fussels Fine Foods representative has, in just a couple of months, exposed me to some great foodie environments and allowed for invaluable networking with some fantastic artisan food producers. Whether it be working along side fantastic companies that have harnessed their culinary skills in producing top-notch cheese, sausages and pies, or fresh produce cultivated and picked straight from the field, I come away from each event having learnt a little more about the seemingly boundless world of food.
I recently took great pleasure in learning about planting, growing, harvesting and cooking British garlic thanks to my trader-neighbours Isle of Wight Garlic Farm. Established over 60 years ago by the Boswell family, The Garlic Farm is one of the British Isles’ most acclaimed garlic growers, delivering quality garlic up and down the country.
As a principal ingredient in many international cuisines, garlic is one of the world’s most commonly used seasoning ingredient, predominantly found in asian, middle eastern, north african and southern european cooking. Although garlic has strong historical ties to central Asia, garlic has been used globally for over 7000 years, first cultivated by the Egyptians for its medicinal purposes.
Garlic’s increased popularity in Britain came at the turn of the 20th Century when it was seen as the number one antidote to gangrene in the trenches as a result of its antiseptic qualities. Its ability to aid digestion and stabilise blood sugar levels, has also meant garlic has long been used for its medicinal advantages over its culinary uses.
It wasn’t until the early 60s that garlic was seen as an essential component in everyday cooking, and grown solely for this purpose in the UK. Although garlic can be grown all year round in mild, temperate climates, it is between the months of June and August in which fresh garlic is standing proud above the soil ready to be harvested.
After a week working along side Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, I couldn’t resist taking advantage of their varied and abundant offerings, coming away with arms full of glorious garlic. I was particularly excited to get back in the kitchen with a fantastic smoked garlic, hence my latest recipe; Pulled Pork with Smoked Garlic BBQ Sauce. It truly is worth getting your hands on one of these distinctly yet delicately smoked bulbs which, mostly importantly, is ‘home-grown, not flown’ on the beautiful Isle of Wight.
When shopping for your perfect garlic, a healthy bulb should appear vibrant white in colour, with a dried neck and flakey skin. Also look for a bulb that is firm and dense when squeezed, as a soft texture can indicate mouldy cloves. Always store in a warm and dry place; never in the fridge, as this causes green sprouting of the cloves.
- 2 red onions roughly sliced
- 1 Smoked Isle of Wight Garlic
- 250ml water
- 2kg Boneless Pork Shoulder (with rind)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Coarse Sea Salt
- 1 large Granny Smith
- 1 Carrots
- 1/2 White cabbage
- 2 tbsp Fussels Rapeseed Mayonnaise
- Using the onions, roasting juices and garlic along with;
- 150g Tomato Ketchup (I used Mr Organic Curry Ketchup)
- 2 tbsp Cider Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Maggi Liquid seasoning or Worestershire sauce
- 50g Soft brown sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to a low heat of around Gas 3/150c. Put the onions, the smoked garlic sliced in half and the water into a roasting tin. Place the shoulder onto of the garlic and onions before rubbing the skin with paprika then seasoning with pepper and a generous amount of coarse salt. Wrap the roasting tin with foil, sealing tightly at the edges – cook for 4hrs.
- Remove the shoulder from the oven and set aside – the pork can be cooked up to 2days before cooking with the marinade either in the oven or barbecue. Remove the skin from the garlic, and discard. Place the roasting tin with the roasting juices, onions and garlic directly on the hob before adding the ketchup, vinegar, liquid seasoning and sugar.
- Allow to reduce on a high heat for around 15 minutes until relatively thick. Blend the sauce until smooth – you may wish to remove some of the garlic before this stage depending on how garlicky you like your sauce.
- Heat either the barbecue or oven-grill to high. Cover the meat and rind with half of the sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes until the rind is charred and crispy.
- Whilst the pork is cooking make the coleslaw by finely shredding/grating the apple, carrots and cabbage before stirring through the mayonnaise and a little seasoning. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Carefully take the shoulder out of the oven/barbecue and remove the crispy rind. Using a fork, shred the meat and serve in soda bread rolls with additional bbq sauce, fresh apple coleslaw and a handful of leaves.