One of the greatest joys of walking into a butchers, has to be the time spent simply perusing the counter and working out what you fancy taking away for the night. Of course, some people do walk in with a solid agenda and a huge lump of rib-eye on their minds.
Quite often it's a case of 'Wham, bang, thank you sir. My, what big muscles you have!' And off they go.
But more often than not, a lot of our customers like to while away at least 10 minutes or so. Peering forward and asking questions about different cuts of meat and how to cook them. It is also not unknown to see a wrinkled nose or two, followed by the comment of 'What the hell is that?'
To be honest, since we've started supplying Iberico Pluma down at EC1, we've been getting a hell of a lot of that.
For the uninitiated, pluma is a rather special cut taken from the neck end of pork loin. In Spanish it translates the 'feather' cut - due in part to the wing-like shape - and is sourced from free range Iberian Black Pigs; the kind that go snuffling for acorns in the woodlands of the Iberian Peninsula. You know, the ones that are famed for their ham. Or jamón.
It does prove a challenge from an aesthetical point of view though, as there is rather an abundance of fat that covers the lean meat underneath. However, it is precisely this fat that makes pluma so damn tasty and succulent. Furthermore, you can treat this cut just as you would a steak. We wouldn't go so far as suggesting you go for rare but we would definitely say that you should grill to medium. Even if it goes against your best instincts. Season generously and finish with some lemon juice and off you go.
This is what we've been telling our slightly incredulous customers to do anyway. And you know what? They've been coming back for pluma in their droves. You could say that it has been one of the success stories of the summer at T&G.
Word has obviously got around, as we have been getting a lot of enquiries as to when we were going to start selling it online and we are very pleased to announce that you can now finally order pluma, to be delivered straight to your door.
(It didn't quite get to the stage where it was all pitchforks and flaming torches at the portcullis. But it was close.)
We have already given you one easy tip with regards to cooking this fantastic cut of pork. But if you fancy taking things one step further, this approach is equally good. Inspired by the good people of Moro (namely Sam and Sam Clark) this really is more of an accompanying sauce. A sweet and sour affair that complements the meat and cuts through some of that fat. Great for sharing and some bread to mop up afterwards would also be an excellent shout.
Keep your guests in the dark at first though, when you do serve it up. They will be pleasantly surprised.
Iberico Pluma with sherry and sherry vinegar
- Take your Iberico pluma out of the fridge and bring up to room temperature
- Place a wide pan onto the hob, over a medium heat and add the butter. Once it starts to foam up, add the sliced red onion, along with a pinch of salt and fry for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Pour off any excess fat and then add the sherry, sherry vinegar, thyme, bay leaves and raisins and turn the heat down. Leave it to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, generously season the pluma loins with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
- Place a large frying pan onto the hob, over a high heat and add the loin fillets - no extra oil will be needed.
- Turn the pluma frequently, to enable a good crust and towards the end of cooking reduce the heat a touch. Depending on the thickness, these will take about 6 minutes in total. You can also use a temperature probe, to ensure you reach an internal temp of 63°C-68°C
- Take out of the pan, wrap in foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat under the sauce up, so that it begins to thicken and pour any remaining pork juices left into the sauce also. Taste for seasoning
- To serve, simply slice up the pluma on the diagonal and position around the outside of a platter. Add the sticky, reduced onions into the middle and drizzle some of the remaining sauce on top.