Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Its all about the quality of the pig

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

As a chef you cannot underestimate the importance of the quality of the ingredients you use in cooking. Let the ingredients speak for themselves. Less fuss and more honesty. The quality of the pig is therefore of paramount importance. This means sourcing from the right places. Im talking about farms that really care about there pigs. A pig should be fat and not bred for the 100 meter sprint. I have sourced pigs before that have lacked the necessary layer of fat and the impact it has on the final product is a pork serving which is less moist, less tasty and overall less indulgent.

Its important therefore to see where pigs are being bred. We know what looks a happy home for a pig even if we havent been to a pigs home before. Things like adequate shelter and space, space for the animal to do its thing and nothing resembling the incarceration of a sardine tin! Speak to the farmer and ask questions about his practices. Does he sound like he cares? What practices does he/she implement to secure the safety and welfare of his/her pigs. A little bit of care and attention will ensure that you find the best pigs for your hog roast and keep those customers coming back for more!

How to cook perfect roast pork: Post cooking tips.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

As any good chef will know, a very important stage in the preparation and cooking of meat is the resting period. What many cooks are unaware of when taking a joint of meat out of the oven is that the temperature inside the meat will continue to increase even if taken out at the specified time. What we are aiming to do is allow the meat to increase in temperature and then fall again. But why is it important for the meat to cool down before we start slicing. Surely its better serve the meat piping hot. Well, what happens when the meat cools is that the collagen – the meats connective tissue – which weaves throughout the muscle fibres turns from liquid back to its original firm form. Thus, slicing when piping hot means you will lose much of the collagen and therefore liquid in the meat. How long one should rest meat depends on the size of the joint. For a small steak it may only need resting for a few minutes but for a large joint like a pork leg it’s advised of up to 20-25 minutes. But don’t worry; a joint of that size will retain much of its heat so that you won’t have to worry about the meat going cold.

One final tip with regards to producing a good pork carvery is that if what ever reason you find yourself in a situation where the pork crackling is not up to scratch and its looking rather leathery and unappetising, don’t worry there is a quick fix solution. I have found that when hog roasting you peel off big chards of crackling only to be disappointed because of the big layer of fat that is attached to it. Now, I have tried picking it off but this is usually futile. The best way to rescue crackling is to simply to put it in an oven at 180 C and cook for 15 minutes. What you find is that extra intense heat melts all the fat of the crackling and further crisps it up and you end up with the most perfect outcome.

How to cook perfect roast pork: Cooking pork belly

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Roughly 1.5kg of boneless pork belly will feed 4-5 people. The secret to cooking the perfect pork belly is not my secret; it’s actually the teachings from the great Asian chef Ken Hom. On an episode of Saturday kitchen with James Martin he demonstrated the key principles of cooking beautiful crispy pork belly. Here is how he did it.

Firstly, he pierced small holes into the rind with a knife and then ladled boiling water over the skin of the pork. Then he allows the pork to dry out for at least 8 hours. He suggests keeping the pork in a cool place and in front of fan to help the drying process. He then places the pork belly on a wire rack rind side up, with a roasting pan underneath filled with hot water. This is used for the purposes of keeping the meat moist. The oven should be preheated at 200 degree’s C and then roast the meat for 20 minutes after the pork has been rubbed down with fine sea salt. Then reduce the heat to 180C and roast for another 120 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 230 C and cook for 15 minutes. The pork then can be removed and left to cool for 10 minutes.

Now you will have the best pork belly that is crispy and not fatty.

How to cook perfect roast pork: Pork legs

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

How to cook perfect roast pork: Pork legs

First thing to do when preparing to cook a pork leg is to take it out of the fridge for an hour or so. What we want is the pork temperature to be raised towards room temperature and not at say 3-4 degrees. This helps the meat cook more evenly through the centre and stops the outer layer drying out towards the end of the cooking process.

Before cooking your leg have your butcher weigh the joint or weigh it yourself. You need to cook the joint in a preheated oven for roughly 25 minutes per 450 grams and then add on 30 minutes at 190 degrees C (gas mark 6). The rind on the pork should be well scored. The better the joint is scored the better crackling will be. By scoring the rind allows the heat to better transfer and penetrate the rind creating crispy rather than chewy crackling. If the butcher has not done this you can easily do it with a knife but preferably a Stanley knife. The most effective way of using a Stanley knife to score the rind is to push the end of the blade out to its smallest level, so you have in fact just the very end point of the blade to cut the meat. This ensures the knife penetration is consistent and not too deep. You are aiming to just penetrate into the fat layer and not to cut down into the fleshy meat.

When the cooking time has elapsed use your meat thermometer to measure the temperature of the joint. Ensure that the thermometer is inserted deep inside the middle of the joint. If you don’t do this you will skew the reading and may result in you failing to cook the joint perfectly. You will be looking for the temperature to read at least 63-64 degrees C. Once the meat has reached this temperature remove from the oven.

How to cook perfect roast pork

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Roast pork is without doubt a national favourite. As far as traditional British food goes, it’s up there with fish and chips and roast beef and traditional Yorkshire puddings. But what is the best method of cooking the most perfect moist pork with crispy crackling. Well, being personally a hog roaster by trade it certainly should make me an authority in the area. So I will tell you the little secrets that allows you to make scrumptious pork heaven whether you are cooking pork legs, loin or pork belly’s for your Sunday roasts.

In the following posts I will be covering the following topics, which will act as a useful guide for any cook looking to lift their roast pork dinners to the level of a professional

• Preparation
• Cooking pork legs
• Cooking pork belly
• Post cooking tips

Next post I will be discussing the importance of preparation.

Hog roast party for teeny boppers in Liverpool.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

I have done many hog roasts in my time, but last Thursday’s catering event over in Liverpool has to be one of the most memorable. Unfortunately my ears haven’t quite forgiven the event. Not a burst ear drum but something close. We set up the pig roast in a large bar near Everton. Because of the limited space to cook the pig we cooked it off site and then drove the hog roast van over to Liverpool to serve it. We rarely do this but because the pig will actually increase in temperature after it is cooked for x amount of time it can have up to an hour to rest and then ready to serve. The time from Burnley to Liverpool is about an hour so we decided to do it this way. Anyway, the kids loved the pig. Lots of girls screaming at the beast, others refused to look at it and some wanting pictures kissing it. This was the most famous pig since babe. We cooked a 45 kilo hog for the event which feeds up to 100 people. We also cooked new potatoes, spicy coleslaw and salad including beef tomatoes served with a beautiful Sicilian olive oil. The event was a big success and we were promised a repeat booking for next year at a christening. Maybe we might have our most famous lamb!

Great day hog roasting in Bury, Lancashire

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

The team were out in Bury this weekend. Being January it wasn’t the best of weather but with a bacon butty and strong espresso down us we set off with gear in our Urban Hog Roast van  and headed off to Walshaw, 5 minutes east of Bury Centre.


On the agenda was corporate day for small business celebrating their successful year with a gorgeous hog roast and few burgers for the kids. As soon as we set up the gazebo, scored the pig, turned on the oven and got the beast into its cooking position we were off to the centre of burry to do a bit of culinary research. Apparently black pudding is something that Bury is well renowned for. So we went to the market to check it out. As a hog roaster its best to use your time effectively. Instead of hanging round watching crackling bubble which to be honest is like watching paint dry after the 1000 th time you have seen it, I thought why not try and find some quality black pudding. After all, black pudding is a great accompaniment to pork. Ive seen quite a few hairy bikers recipes which marries pork and black pudding. And if it truly does live up to its reputation I may consider it a mandatory feature on the Urban Hog Roast menu. So when we got to the market we found a few different sorts but there was one in particular that I loved. It had wonderful depth of flavour and some really distinctive spices. I asked the man at the market what was in it but he wasn’t giving anything away. This was a family recipe that had been past down the generations and was the cornerstone of Burys culinary heritage. Who was some Burnley lad to come and steal his recipe . A man in Bury is defined by his black pudding. He wouldn’t share his wife so why would he share his black pudding recipe.  Anyway we left the market with a few samples and headed back to the event. We unfortunately took a wrong turning and ended up in Clarence Park, but we were back well before the guests started turning up in Walshaw.


So the event was a success. All the guest were full, the pig and burgers well and truly depleted. I don’t think the kids had eaten burgers like the ones we gave them. They certainly had never heard of aioli! But they loved them. We produced some fantastic crackling that day. It was dry as a bone and extremely bubbly. The pork was beautifully moist and the pig looked stunning in the pig roast machine. Everyone seemed to love the sight of a full hog being roasted. Lots of comments and the usual questions such ‘how long has it been cooking?’ ‘Can I have some now?’ ‘can you save me extra crackling’.  I love these questions. It’s the sign of great anticipation!


Chicken, lamb, burgers and a whole hog roast down in Preston.

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

We new Saturday was going to be a big day for us in Preston. The party organisers had requested we go the whole hog and that wasn’t just limited to a full pig being cooked. They said ‘we want the lot’. What he meant was they wanted nearly every meat under the sun (or under the dark clouds as it were). S with two hog roast machines we cooked about 10 small chickens, a few joints of succulent lamb, some beutifully prepared steak burgers all dressed in aioli and sweet tomato chutney and not forgetting a 35 kg pig. This was a feast of monstrous portions. This was was probably the biggest lunch the urban hog roast team have done in some time. With over 200 guests it was a great party. Music playing, children screaming with excitement and our team working hard behind the scenes.

If there is ever one tip for pleasing your guests its this: give them extra crackling. Hot bubbly crispy crackling can put a smile on almost anyones face. I was once told by an experienced hog roaster that if you ever run behind time for serving up, prepare some crackling and hand it to anyone who is feeling slightly impatient. Its like a ‘dummy to a crying baby’ he said. Well, I don’t like the idea of my customers crying but I can see this is a good contingency plan if what ever reasons we do get behind.

All in all, Saturday presented some culinary and logistical problems. However, all had a solution and the guests loved it. Personally I love challenges and go through these more challenging events as caterers only makes us better ever time.

Next we are off to Oldham. Will the sun be shining on our Gazebo? Probably not!

Drawbacks of DIY hog roasts

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

It must be said there is much at stake if you end up making a pigs ear of the job at hand (mind the pun). The disaster of cooking the hog incorrectly not only can result in your guests being utterly disappointed in what promised to be a feast but you will look utterly stupid as you try to salvage what burnt meager crusts of meat you have left after you poorly judged the cooking time. Even worse you end up under cooking the pork and either end up poisoning your guests or be brave and tell them the food is not going to be ready for another few hours. These outcomes are very uncommon for unexperienced non chefs. And not only will it tarnish your hosting reputation but it will be a waste of your money and everybody else’s time. Please please don’t let any of these scenarios happen at an important occasion like a birthday party or especially a wedding. How does one tell the bride and groom that the glorious pig has been incinerated. Expect tears and prepare for much apology. So here are the main cons of a DIY hog roast.

Food poorly cooked.

To cook a pig properly requires specialist equipment. Of course this can be hired. However, even if you hire a top quality machine it will not guarantee perfection in cooking. Fortunately with a pig you have roughly 30-45 minute window to achieve the perfect meat tenderness. Any longer the meat will dry out and the roast pork may develop a distasteful chewy quality to it. Timing depends on a number of factors also. The main factor being the size of the pig. A professionally trained chef will know the exact time to cook the animal. For an amateur this may be difficult to judge. A professional will also know the tricks of how to produce the most perfect crackling. For many hot bubbly crackling is the best part of a hog roast meal. Get this wrong to your own peril. Undercooking a pig should never happen. A temperature probe can prevent this but it can’t speed up the cooking process which is what one will pray for if they don’t give themselves enough time to cook the beast. Some pigs take up to 8 hours to cook, so time and preparation is the key. All these factors are troubling matters to the DIY hog roaster with no experience.

Cleaning up.

When you hire a hog roast machine and you sign up to cleaning up after you may have wished you had made better choices. A full hog roast can be a very messy affair. There is buckets of pork stock to deal with and a whole carcass to deal with. Not only that there is the cleaning of the machine which can take up to an hour. Fortunately Urban hog roast provides you with an option to have the machine cleaned by for a small fee.

Exemption from the party/wedding/birthday

Unfortunately, one of the worst things about catering for your event is that you are realistically going to be working all day when everybody is enjoying the party. Don’t underestimate the amount of work that has to be done while your mates are dancing and sinking Jim Beams all night.

Time consuming preparation.

Your friends and family are not only going to want slow roasted pork and crackling, they are also going to want the other extras that are going to need preparing either earlier that day or the day before. Getting your stuffing, apple sauce, coleslaw prepped up is time consuming for some. And those bread buns are going to have to be sliced and buttered.

These are some of the main drawbacks for someone who might be thinking of hiring a machine. Please don’t let this put you off if you are thinking of doing your event catering. Use this knowledge to make a better informed decision of wether or not a DIY hog roast is right for you

Pros and Cons of hiring hog roast machine

Friday, December 27th, 2013

If you are in a situation where you can’t decide wether or not to hire a machine for your catering event or simply let someone else do the full job, here are a few pros and cons that might help you decide wether or not to do a DIY job or hire a catering company.

Pros of hiring

1. Cheap

Compared to having a hog roast company cook the pig themselves and do all the other hard work such as provide a chef, serve the food to your guests, clean up ,etc, the cost of hiring a machine is of course much cheaper as you would expect. A hog roast catering company in around Manchester, Blackburn and Preston will typically charge around £150 to £300 for the hire of a machine. The price of providing a full catering service (dependent on many factors such as number of guests, menu, location) can easily quadruple that plus another £1000 or so. So if you are looking for a cheap or the lowest price/most economical way to have a hog roast it would be to hire

2. Learn a new skill.

When you cook a pig for the first time you will learn many skills. You will learn about how to score a pig and prepare the skin so that you get the best crackling. You will learn how to cook a pig slowly at the right temperature, ensuring the animal doesn’t burn or dry out. You will develop skills in how to butcher the animal once it is cooked and how to serve it to your friends and family. You will begin to understand the different qualities and textures in the different cuts of meat on the pig. This is very important for a professional particularly when prioritising your most important guest. The bride and groom at a wedding party for example should be served meat that is high on the pigs body such as the tenderloin and not say the leg which is much less tender. However possessing this knowledge comes with experience and research so you can see how the DIY job would perhaps begin to lose on this point

3. You will impress your guests

Whatever happens, your guests will turn up and they will be impressed that your are cooking a full animal for them. This type of cooking is perceived to be professional territory. Even if you aren’t a chef, you will appear to be one. You are doing something that 99% of people have never done before and people will be fascinated with the theatre.

Next post i will be discussing the cons or the drawbacks of hiring a machine for your event. The most unfavourable situation which i will be discussing is the ‘disaster scenario’.

Request A Quote
Phone Number
Number of people attending
The date of the event
Details of what service you require
Word Verification:

Alex Heap. Managing Director Style Cafe.

Fantastic day fantastic food. We had so many compliments from our staff and friends. Big thanks to the Urban Hog Roast team...

Mrs J Normington

My husband said it was the best roast pork he had ever eaten. The food was to die for

Dr Fairburn

Exceptional. We have had a few caters in the past but the Urban Hog Roast far exceeded in quality and service. Many thanks