Meat is fast becoming a dirty word in the food industry, but all kinds of research (see We Are What We Eat) suggests that giving it up altogether won’t help the planet, won’t help the animal kingdom, and, for many at least, isn’t all that healthy.
A couple of years ago, one of the Saucy Dressings’ favourite food writers, Tom Parker Bowles, bravely published Let’s Eat Meat, a hefty tome, usefully divided into sections: Meat, Less Meat, No Meat…and there’s also Meat As Seasoning and Wild Meat and Offal.
Even the most committed meat-eater moves with the times, and although there may be occasions, just post winning weightlifting gold maybe, when a massive T-bone is the only solution, many now find a serious meat course is a third Weetabix too far, so to speak.
Parker Bowles’ categorisation – meat, less meat, no meat, might do well on restaurant menus.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from the less meat section of Let’s Eat Meat. It is super-simple, super-quick, and not expensive. I’ve made some tweaks, replacing Parker Bowles’ sugar with pomegranate molasses, and adding the fabulously chocolatey Urfa pepper flakes which bring out the earthy flavour of the aubergines. As the bed, I think fragrant, fluffy basmati is lighter than Parker Bowles’ suggested sticky rice.
If ordering the meat from the supermarket it will be sold in quantities of 500g. You can make quadruple quantities, and freeze in batches of two portions or four, but if you do, don’t include the spring onions, and add them, fresh, at the time of serving. The bright, slightly crunchy, spring onions are the key to the visual attraction of this dish.
Recipe for a dish of less pork and more aubergine
- olive or rapeseed oil for frying – you’ll need a generous glug.
- 2 medium-sized aubergines
- 4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- 125g/4 oz minced pork
- 4 tbsps oyster sauce
- pinch of Urfa pepper flakes – or freshly ground black pepper
- 6 thin spring onions
- dash or so of pomegranate molasses
- Basmati rice for two – cooked separately. Follow this link for the best way to cook basmati.
- In a large frying pan heat the oil to nearly smoking, and meanwhile cut the aubergines into chunks, just over an inch (5 cms) cubed.
- Fry the aubergine for about five minutes, until it is softened.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
- Reduce the heat, add a bit more oil if necessary, and gently fry the crushed, salted garlic and the pork. Add the Urfa pepper flakes. Add the oyster sauce.
- While this is cooking through cut the spring onions into half inch/2 cm lengths, diagonally. Throw into the frying pan, together with the aubergine, and heat through.
- Serve on a bed of rice, with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.