Leek, Pesto and Parmesan Tart and Slow Cooked Shoulder of Pork

Posted By Kerri

We had friends over for dinner last night and took the opportunity to go through our recipe file and cook some of the dishes we hadn’t done before. We started with roasted nuts which is from Nigella’s “How To Eat” and is based on the nuts she ate at the Union Square Cafe in New York. I’d been wanting to do these for a while and it was a great way to use up the half-eaten packets of nuts that we’ve used for various dishes in the past.


We took a selection of nuts and roasted them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile we took some melted butter and mixed it with two tablespoons of chopped rosemary, half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, two teaspoons of dark sugar and two teaspoons of salt.

Once the nuts were toasted, we mixed them into the spiced butter and served them. They were really tasty, a good combination of sweet and hot.

We then moved onto the tart which was really just a quick assembly job, some ready rolled pastry scored around the edges and cooked for 12 minutes. It puffs up like a pillow so you need to knock the middle back with a fork before spreading it with a mixture of creme-fraiche and pesto. Then the briefly fried leeks are arranged on the pastry and topped with parmesan and black pepper. The tart then goes back into the oven for 15 minutes.


I enjoyed the combination of flavours but I think it would have been better with some salad to balance the inevitable richness of the cheese and pesto. Individual tarts would have looked prettier on the plate too.

Having enjoyed the slow cooked lamb so much recently we were both keen to try the same method with a different cut of meat, a recipe from the River Cafe Easy book using pork looked like exactly what we needed. Half a pork shoulder, browned all over before adding garlic, sage, wine and lemon peel. The heat is reduced and the pork cooks slowly on the hob for three and a half hours with more wine added slowly to prevent it from drying out. Once all the wine has evaporated, 250ml of milk is added which thickens during the last half hour of cooking.


The outsides of the pork char slightly and become coated in the juices from the pan and the garlic and sage which provides a lovely flavour, unfortunately the insides had dried out a little and the flavours hadn’t penetrated the meat all the way through which was a shame.

We served some new potatoes and green beans with the pork as well as Jamie’s creamy butternut squash. The butternut is coated in a mix of coriander seeds, chilli and thyme before roasting in the oven for 40 minutes. It’s then topped with wine, cream, nutmeg and parmesan before roasting for another 15 minutes.


Unfortunately, the cream mixture seemed to curdle and separate which meant the dish looked rather unattractive. It tasted ok though and the sweetness complimented the pork well.

So, not a particularly successful evening food-wise. We haven’t had many dishes turn out badly recently and it’s a shame that it happens when other people are eating with you. Perhaps next time we should stick to tried-and-tested dishes rather than attempting to cook lots of new things.

Mar 16th, 2008

4 Comments to 'Leek, Pesto and Parmesan Tart and Slow Cooked Shoulder of Pork'

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  1. Stephen said,

    I enjoyed the browned, slightly sticky outside of the pork, but as Kerri said, the inside was a little dry. I think I’d probably removed too much of the fat when removing the skin, which meant that it didn’t baste itself as much as it should have done.

    The nuts were really good though. I thought we’d have some left to take to work during the week, but we ended up finishing them off after dinner.

  2. L said,

    I hate it when things don’t turn out well with guests, but I think its good to always try something new. A dipping sauce is always good with slow roasted pork – like this recipe http://www.whatwereeating.com/salads/pulled-pork-the-other-carnitas/ I’ve tried it, and it was a real hit. The tart looks gorgeous, must give that a go.

  3. Jon said,

    Well we thought it was great 🙂 Good to invite guests that are easily pleased …

  4. Antonia said,

    Looks delicious to me so am sorry to hear you were disappointed – I hate it when things don’t turn out as well as you hoped when you have guests!
    I particularly love the look of those tarts – yummy!

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