Gateside Pork - Shetland Food Fair 2015

by Elizabeth Atia -

Gateside Croft is a family run croft in Hillswick in the north of mainland Shetland. They breed and raise rare breed Iron Age pork which they sell at local markets and via private sale.

Jane Evans from Gateside Croft will be demonstrating at the Shetland Food Fair this year, and she's shared a few things about herself and the family recipe she will be making.

Q. How long have you been cooking?

A. BI have been cooking since I was more or less knee high to a grasshopper, my Mum always encouraged my brother and myself into the kitchen to help with dinner, bake, or just generally watch what was going on. Both of my grannies did the same and the kitchen has always been a place where we came together as a family so food and cooking from an early age have been pretty important.

Q. What are your inspirations when it comes to cooking?

A. This is hard to say, I’ve had meals that were no more than a boil in the bag camp fire affair half way up a mountain, witnessed Asadero cooking in Colombia, been at BBQ’s in the states, tasted food from around the world and learnt to cook various dishes, and despite all that there isn’t much that beats a good a good roast with family or a bowl of thick soup on the rolling deck of a boat. My inspirations therefore are probably my Mum, who will cook to recipe once then adapt and create her own twist, and those chefs who take the time to find out about the produce they are going to cook with because they care about what they put on the plates in front of their clientele. I’m a firm believer in knowing the food to cook, far too often have people lost that connection, so anyone who takes the time to get to know producers and their products gets a gold star in my book.

Q. What's your favourite Shetland-produced ingredient and why?

A. On this one I am completely biased, I love our rare breed pork. We’re at the point now where we are a part of every stage of our pigs lives, meaning we are the first and last thing our pigs see as my partner now works at the Abattoir. Granted this will not be to everyone’s taste, but we do our utmost to raise happy healthy pigs, and if by being in the abattoir with them in their final moments we can reduce the stress they feel then that has to be better for the animal and not to mention the flavour. Being part of the pigs entire life is an important element for me, but also its the flavour of the meat that is the real highlight. Because they are slow grown, out roaming and rooting, and fed (as much as possible) on crops that we grow and because they are all traditional breeds, there is a depth to the flavour which isn’t found in supermarket pork.

Q. Is there anything else you'd like to share about your passion for food?

A. I suppose I wish more hotels and restaurants would consider using local produce in their menus by going direct to the producers and seeing what they do. We’ve had a really good relationship since April with the Scalloway Hotel, supplying pork to them on a weekly basis for their bar and restaurant menus which has been really great. I know that local produce will in effect cost hoteliers and restaurant owners more than produce brought up from South will, but there is so much great produce in Shetland and it’s a real shame that there isn’t more support for it from the tourism and eatery sector.

I wish more hotels and restaurants would consider using local produce in their menus by going direct to the producers and seeing what they do.

Q. What recipe will you be demonstrating at the Shetland Food Fair?

A. I am going to be making meatballs with a rich tomato sauce, it’s a meal my mum used to make for us as youngsters and it was regularly backed up with egg noodles and salad. A lot of people ask about what they can do with pork mince, the answer is really anything you would do with beef or lamb mince only it’s much leaner, and as you will see in the cooking there are ways of removing any excess fat before you add the meatballs to the sauce.

As I said before my mum is a creative cook and doesn’t follow recipes that often even when they are largely her own creation. By her own admission there is no real recipe for this, she normally put it altogether and hoped for the best.

Meatballs with a Rich Tomato Sauce

Course: Main

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

For the meatballs
  • mince - 500 grams
  • onion - 1 small (finely diced)
  • garlic clove - 1 (crushed)
  • mustard - 1 smidge
  • bread - 1 slice (broken up)
  • egg - 1
  • salt and pepper - (to taste)
For the tomato sauce
  • chopped tomatoes - 1 400 gram tin
  • onion - 1 small (finely diced)
  • garlic - 1 clove (crushed)
  • tomato puree - 1 tbsp
  • passata - splash
  • caster sugar - touch
  • dried basil - 1 tsp
  • dried oregano - 1 tsp
  • Worcestershire sauce - splash
  • salt and pepper - (to taste)
  1. To prepare the meatballs, add the mince, onion, mustard, garlic clove, bread and egg in a food processor and season to taste.
  2. Smoosh it all together in the food processor and form into whatever size meatballs you want.
  3. Cook the meatballs over a medium-high heat in a frying pan until browned all over.
  4. To prepare the tomato sauce combine all the ingredients together in a large saucepan.
  5. Chuck the meatballs into the sauce and cook for an hour or so until the meatballs are done.
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