Poor man’s pots with lemon & thyme pork chops…

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Poor man's pots with lemon & thyme pork chops...

This is a take on the famous Spanish dish of patatas a lo pobre – it is wondrous in its simplicity yet divine in its complexity of flavours. There is little like it – I could easily eat it on its own – or it could just as easily accompany anything from lamb to fish. I ate it in Menorca last August snuggling up to a snow white slice of monkfish and it was delectable – I swear I can still taste it when I close my eyes. That version was with green peppers. This one is based on Nigel Slater’s version from ‘Eat’.

For 4

750 kg baby new potatoes – scrubbed and halved
Olive oil
A red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 red peppers – deseeded and cut into thin strips
Large red onion sliced thinly
A clove of garlic finely chopped
Pinch of smoked paprika
Large knob of butter – about 75 gm
500 gm vegetable stock
A small bunch of basil finely sliced

Heat oil in a sauté pan. Place pots in cut side down with the chilli. Leave them for about 5 or 10 minutes while you deal with the peppers. Add them to the pan, then the onion and garlic. Then the paprika.

Pop in the butter and stir until all get coated nicely.

Leave again for about 10 to 15 minutes to get the potatoes browning in that very attractive fashion they have. Have a drink.

Then pour in the stock, bring to the boil, season a little. Cover with a lid and simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes until the stock has evaporated down a lot. I took the lid off for the last five minutes and crushed most of the potatoes ever so lightly with a masher to soak up the magical juice.

Stir in the basil at the end.

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I served this alongside a loin chop pan fried slowly in a little olive oil. Half way through cooking I grated over the zest of a lemon and sprinkled lots of thyme and black pepper.

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The resulting meal was one of those I simply wanted to prolong as much as possible – the flavours were straight from heaven – a Spanish heaven in this case – somewhere possibly just outside Granada or Zaragoza.

This is the grandaddy of the versions – but you could just do it with the spuds, onions, pepper and stock with a little seasoning.

If you have never tried this I urge you to. Soon.

Very soon.

Pot roast, rockets and remembrance…

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Pot roast, rockets and remembrance...

Today had pot roast written all over it – a crisp, bright autumnal
day following a damp, chilly bonfire party last night in the grounds – perfect for a piece of brisket to sit patiently in a pot and eek out all its goodness for us to savour later on this afternoon. This morning was our remembrance service and time to say a few words of my own in quiet reflection for those in my family who gave their lives in the Great War – Charlie and Paddy Conville and Alfred Bradbury. A brisk walk home through yellow and golden leaves cheered me up and there is nothing more therapeutic than chopping and fiddling in the kitchen.

Oven on to preheat at 140c. I then seared a locally reared 1kg piece of rolled brisket in hot lard in a casserole, removed it to one side , whilst I browned two carrots cut into chunks, 3 sticks of celery, two onions sliced and 3 cloves of garlic left whole. After about 5 minutes on a medium heat, I then added two quartered plum tomatoes, 3 bay leaves and returned the meat to sit king-like on this flavoursome throne. A little salt and pepper and a good sprig of thyme from my garden tucked under the beef were added before I placed a sheet of foil over the pot followed by the lid. It has gone in the oven for about 3 hours. When it is ready, I shall remove the meat to a warm plate and the veg – then make a little roux and thicken the juices into a gravy. I will let you know how it goes! Right, time to settle in front of the woodburner and watch the football!

I leave you with some random shots of last night’s fireworks! Kaboom!

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Shoulder of fortune…

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Shoulder of fortune...

I last made this dish back in March (recipe March 30th) but I have always only ever done previously cooked it with a leg – but a good friend of mine – a lovely lady called Liza – let me, very kindly, have a shoulder of lamb from one of her own recently slaughtered beasts. And it was tremendous – cooking lamb straight on the rack for me is one of, if not the best, ways to treat this fine meat. It went in for 3 hours on 160c. Perfection. It oozed taste and succulence. Below it, I had popped the leeks, chopped, 2 red onions sliced and 5 cloves of garlic, halved in a tray of olive oil and roasted then for 10 minutes before adding bay leaves, a bouquet garni and 2 tins of drained cannellini beans this time, plus 1 and a half litres of chicken stock. It sat under the lamb and caught all its fabulous juices. I had scored the lamb first and rubbed in a garam masala mix, which gave it a wonderful warmth for a Sunday.

If you have never tried it – please, please do! It is magical.

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IMG_4494All the good things in life on a plate…

Perfect Pork Tenderloin

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Spiced Pork Tenderloin in a Red Pepper Cream Sauce...

Spicy Pork Tenderloin in a Red Pepper Cream Sauce

I love this cut, and you will find other recipes using it on here. I often pan fry it and add cream for a quick dish, but last night I wanted something more mouth fizzingly filling. The result was, I have to say this, forgive me (often when I cook a dish I admit I like it or was happy with it) but this I absolutely adored. I mean, I sat there looking at the empty plate afterwards thinking – wow – that was an experience. I felt fulfilled in every sense. It hit every spot there is to hit. It happens only now and again that I cook a dish and I really, really am pleased with it – this was one. Often, I am left thinking – that was good – but….I could do this, I could have done that. It could be improved.

Last night,however, I felt, unlike Mr Jagger, that I had just got satisfaction – big time. Please have a go at this.

Ingredients for 4

Tablespoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek.
A grind of pepper, a pinch of dried crushed red chilli
A pinch of dried thyme
A grind of sea salt
500 gm pork tenderloin cut into half inch or 7mm slices
2 small red onions finely chopped
Olive oil and a knob of butter
30 ml dry white wine
About 30 ml of chicken stock
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped up into smallish squares
150 ml of single cream
Bunch of fresh coriander chopped

Pop all the ingredients numbered 1-4 in a shallow dish and add the pork slices – with you hands get them all coated as much as possible.
In a small frying pan – add a little oilive oil and a little of the butter and fry the peppers and onions together gently until soft and the onions are starting to caramelise slightly – takes about 20 minutes.

In a sauté pan, add the remaining butter and a good splash of olive oil. Once it is hot add the pork – fry for about 5 minutes each side – then remove from the pan and put on a plate to rest.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and then add the stock. Let it bubble for a while. Add the pork slices then the onion and pepper mix. Add the cream and leave to warm through for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat.You may want to add a little or less cream depending on your taste.

 It should now be looking simply glorious – like a Picasso or a Van Gogh! Swirls of colour! I served it with saffron basmati rice and at the last moment I add small windfalls of the fresh chopped coriander.

By the way, I use a ceramic rice cooker – it never fails – one of my best buys ever, made by Queensberry Hunt.

I hope if you ever get round to trying this dish you are as bowled over as I was. Go on…give it a go!

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