Product of the week: pork collar

Categories: Product stories, Product of the week

Borough Market Kitchen traders on the myriad ways of cooking with this under-utilised cut

Image: Ed Smith

At Borough Market, we’ve always sought to champion lesser-known cuts in a bid not only to encourage waste-saving, but inspire culinary creativeness too. With the opening this week of the brand new Borough Market Kitchen—a hot food area in which traders old and new are dishing up a diverse roster of cuisines using produce from fellow stallholders—we’ve taken the ability to showcase the versatility of Market produce even further. Ginger Pig’s pork collar is a case in point: a cut used by several Borough Market Kitchen traders, in totally different ways.

“Collar needs cooking for a long time, because it’s quite a tough cut of meat,” explains Cathal, owner of Oroshi. Its toughness is a product of a life spent head down, foraging for treats to snaffle—particularly when it comes to pork from Ginger Pig, all of which is rare breed and free range—making it a highly muscular cut with rivets of flavoursome fat running through. “It’s not quite as fatty as Iberian pork, which we used to use,” says Cathal, “but it has very good flavour.”

At Oroshi, it’s slow cooked for 15 hours in a water bath alongside aromatics such as brown sugar and apple vinegar, mustard seeds, barley miso and salt, before being finished on the robata grill. “It’s not what you’d call traditional, but it’s inspired by robatayaki, the Japanese technique of cooking over charcoal”—resulting in beautifully tender chunks of meat, with just a lick of charring. This comes served in a bento box on a bed of red rice, alongside crisp seaweed and cucumber salad, homemade pickles, grilled vegetables and vegetable crisps—all courtesy of Ted’s Veg.

Traditional Basque process
Over at Batera—Pintxos by Mimo, inspiration is taken from a different continent altogether—but the result is equally tasty. “We brine the pork collar for three days, then slow roast it in honey,” explains executive chef Joseba. “It’s then thinly sliced and served cold, as one of our pintxos. It’s a traditional Basque process but done using a different cut. Usually, we would use the front leg of ham or take it from the middle of the pig, but I really like the flavour of the neck,” says Joseba. “It has less fat, fewer bones, but a lot of meat. And you can slice it all, nothing goes to waste.”

Recreating these dishes at home requires patience, of course—but there are ways of using pork collar that are decidedly less involved. Once soaked in a simple brine overnight (an essential process to break down tough protein and sinew, allowing it to subsequently be cooked quickly), try cooking pork collar quickly in a pan and dishing up with clams in a paprika-y sauce, or eat as you would steak, alongside squash puree and a side of chard, dressed in chilli and cider vinaigrette.