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  • The story of pork

    The pig has held a special place in the Irish diet since prehistoric times.

    Until recent decades, most rural households and many urban ones would keep a few pigs, fed on kitchen scraps, whey and potatoes. Their slaughter and processing was a social event; with neighbours helping in return for a fresh blood pudding and a cut of fresh pork.

    Sides of pork were salted and hung to smoke in the hearth’s chimney, sometimes with juniper berries added to the fire, and this meat provided sustenance through leaner months. Everything was relished, from pig’s head (or brawn) to trotters (crubbeens).

    Sausages, bacon, hams and puddings all feature in 12th-century Irish poetry, but the rasher wasn’t invented until the early 19th century, during Ireland’s heyday as a global exporter of pork, bacon and ham.

    Wild mushroom, walnut & ham hock terrine with pickled kohlrabi

    Pork terrine

    Quantity Ingredients
    2 ham hocks
    3 bay leaves
    2 carrots, roughly diced
    2 onions, diced
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary
    250g wild mushrooms
    50g walnuts, roughly chopped
    45g salt
    50g fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    1 kohlrabi, thinly sliced with a mandolin
    250ml malt vinegar
    175g caster sugar
    1 tsp mustard seeds
      Olive oil
      Freshly ground black pepper


    1. Put the ham hocks, onion, carrots, 30g of salt, bay leaves and rosemary in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2½ hours, remove from the heat and allow to cool in its liquid.

    2. Strain the cooking liquor and reduce by half until it achieves a syrupy consistency.

    3. Fry the onions and the mushrooms. Season to taste. 

    4. Remove the ham from the bones and flake into a large bowl. Mix with the vegetable mix, walnuts and chopped parsley. Add the syrupy liquid. 

    5. Line a terrine mould with cling film and fill with the ham mix.

    6. Fold the cling film over the terrine and place two tins on top to weigh it down. Chill in fridge for two hours, or until set.

    7. Put the vinegar and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.

    8. Stir-fry mustard seeds in olive oil for one minute, until the seeds start to pop.

    9. Place the kohlrabi into a bowl, season with the salt, add vinegar mixture and stir well. Allow to cool completely, then chill in the fridge. 

    10. To serve, cut the terrine into slices. Place onto serving plates with the kohlrabi (drained of their vinegar) and some strong Irish cheddar.

    Did You Know?

    ... that today’s chefs are re-embracing the rich flavours of lesser cuts such as ham hock, pork belly and shoulder and creating modern Irish cuisine that is extremely fashionable in restaurants all over Ireland?

    230x100 JP-Mahon Original

    Find out more about the creator of this delicious recipe.

    Read more about Food Champion JP McMahon

    Get to know a good butcher. A direct relationship with your butcher will help you learn about different cuts, how to cook them, and also about the provenance of the pig.

    JP McMahon
    Aniar, Eat Gastro Pub and Cava Bodega, Galway