When I was young, we used to go a Chinese restaurant named Hong Ning in the Philippines. It was one of those old, no frills but very proper restaurants where you could choose to be served by your favourite waiter. The dishes were served on footed dishes and the aroma of the food was much a part of the dining experience as the actual meal. Cantonese roasts weren't a trend then but pata jamon was. It was always displayed in a small window cabinet and they would slice it thinly in portions and drizzle with a little bit of sauce. On the side were wafer thin slivers of green papaya pickles. I remember that, even as a child, I loved this dish. Unfortunately, recent food trends has dictated its demise.
On one of my experimentative moods, I seasoned a boneless hand of pork with McCormick tocino mix (available in Asian shops). What resulted was something very similar to pata jamon. The only work to be done is the deboning of the joint, but if your butcher is friendly enough, I am sure he would gladly do that for you. It is one of those slowly simmered dishes, so plan an activity to do while occasionally checking on it.
1 whole hand or leg of pork, deboned
1 packet of McCormick Tocino mix
1/2 c. water
3 segments of star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sherry or Chinese wine
2 1/2 tsps. salt
Mix the tocino mix and water in a glass dish. Coat the pork in the mixture. Then lay the pork flat, meat side down in the dish and cover tightly with cling film. Refrigerate for at least overnight or up to three days.
Take the pork out of the marinade and roll tightly into a log shape. Tuck in the meat so that the rind is on the outside of the roll. Tie tightly with string.
In a heavy pot, put a small trivet and sit the pork roll on it. The trivet will prevent the pork skin from sticking to the bottom of the pot and tearing.
Put all the rest of the ingredients and top up with water to about an inch below the top of the pork. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat, turning occasionally, for about two hours or until tender. The tocino mix actually makes it very tender, like ham. Test by pinching a bit of the flesh. If it comes off easily, its done.
Do not overcook or it will fall apart when sliced. Wait for it to cool before slicing.
It is usually served as a cold meat but I sometimes panfry the slices briefly, without putting extra oil. It is nice both ways.
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