One of the most common dilemmas we face most days is 'Can I be bothered to cook?' resulting in 'Should we just go out for dinner?'.
It happens all the time, and with endless choice of restaurants in practically touching distance, its no surprise.
And lets be honest, when they are professional chefs, its just got to be better right? Right...?
Westfield Stratford City shopping centre asked if I'd like to be one of their bloggers for the huge campaign 'We are Dining'. It's all about promoting good quality, diverse tastes, and just generally exceptional food.
Of course while the shopping centre has around 70 incredible restaurants, its easy to forget that they also sell that thing called ingredients, so you can cook at home.
So I headed down last week with Nessa to take on the professionals and challenge the chef of Bumpkin at his own game. Westfield set me the challenge to Beat the Chef and recreate his dish at home.
One dish, one chef, one blogger. Who would cook it best? There's only one way to find out- FIGHT! Okay, maybe just eat...
For the challenge I'd selected the BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap. Pork is just my weakness, anything that just falls of the bone and melts on the tongue just gets me every time.
Of course, its one thing enjoying it made for you, and anther thing making it, so with this in mind, we ordered in a round of cocktails- liquid courage?
I was also pretty impressed with my little press badge.
When the wrap arrived, I was surprised at how big it was. Well that's the diet out the window.
Like the eagle eye'd critics we studied our competition. Tender shredded pork, tossed in BBQ sauce with lettuce and pickles all in a griddled wrap.
Well the proof is in the eating, and boy was it good. The pork was incredibly juicy, and the pickles gave a real kick to each mouthful.
My only criticism was that the crackling was just too crackled to actual eat sadly- but this is where I saw my chance to seize victory! Mwahhah
After a judges pow wow, we gave the chef a 8 and a 7.5. Tough scores to beat, but I think we can do it. I mean how hard can it be...
I did a little research on-line, tweaked a few things and I believe I have come up with the perfect BBQ Pulled Pork wrap recipe.
To make you will need:
- 1 pork shoulder joint (Size will depend on how many you want to feed)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons mayple syrup
- 2 tablespoons light brown muscovado sugar
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 orange (segments)
- 1/2 orange (juice)
First, pat down with kitchen roll the layer of fat on our pork to remove excess oil. Then rub with salt to make it nice and dry.
Put in the oven and cook to the timings according to the weight of the meat.
Once the meat is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
In the mean time combine all the BBQ sauce ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil.
Keep boiling and continuously stir for around 12 mins or until thickens into a very sticky sauce. Do keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.
Once the meat is cool, remove the crackling and slice up onto a side plate.
Take the joint and cut down the centre. Now the beauty of pulled pork is that meat should just pull away- go on and just roughly tear the meat
Then assemble your wraps with the meat the sauce and the salad.
Now,as this is a home style recipe, I know we don't all have fancy griddles, but fear not. A simple heavy pack of tins is perfect. Fold up your wrap, and flatten under the tins for about a minute on each side on a high flame.
Now I'll be completely honest, they don't look half as pretty as the professional, however this aint beaut competition, this is a taste war!
So the judges comments? Not to blow my own trumpet here, but we did good! I was worried it was going to be hard to cook a joint, but its so simple.
However for me, it was the BBQ sauce that nailed it. The oranges were an amazing addition, and really soaked into the meat.
So who won? Well in the name of fairness, I got my house mates to try my creation and score it.
7 and 8
I was robbed!
But it goes to prove that it is so easy to cook restaurant meals at home too. So all of February why don't you give it a go and challenge the chef with 'We are Dining'? Westfield has loads of vouchers for their restaurants and offers at their supermarkets too.
Oh but one thing I did win hands down- that beautiful crackling. Mmmm
2 Stratford Place
London E20 1EJ