Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rich and rustic: pork and potatoes

Wellington has been absolutely, positively freezing for a week. So when I saw some nice pork chops at the butcher's, I thought it was time to revive a dinner I haven't made for years: Elizabeth David's pork chops baked with potatoes, or if you prefer, Terrine de Porc (though it isn't, of course, what we would usually think of as a terrine at all).

Her instructions (which are always a little vague - I've spelt them out a bit more) are to cook it in a ceramic dish in "a very slow oven" for three hours, so I thought it would work  even better in a slow cooker - and it does. But the oven would be fine too. It looks like a long recipe, but it takes very little time to put together.

Pork chops baked with potatoes 
(adapted from French Provincial Cooking, first published in 1960 and probably her best book from a cook's point of view)

4 pork chops
2 large cloves garlic
8 juniper berries
Olive oil or pork fat (I had some duck fat so I used that)
700g Agria potatoes
1 onion
150g thinly sliced shoulder or middle bacon
1 small glass white wine or cider (about 125g)
salt and pepper
parsley to serve

Put the slow cooker on to high, or the oven on to 150C.
Make a little slit in the meat alongside the bone of each pork chop. Push in half a clove of garlic, sliced lengthways, and two juniper berries. Brown the pork chops on each side in a little fat or oil, and set aside.
Peel the potatoes and slice them evenly and as thinly as possible (a food processor does this very well).
Peel and thinly slice the onion.

Arrange half the potatoes on the bottom of the slow cooker dish or in a large, deep ceramic oven dish with a lid.
Strew half the sliced onions on top.
Place the chops on top of the onions and potatoes.
Cover the chops with the rest of the onions, then the potatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Lay the bacon slices neatly over the top to cover everything. Pour over the white wine or cider.

(I was making this for two, so it looks a bit smaller - I used 2 chops, less bacon, about 2/3 of the potatoes, and the other ingredients stayed the same.)

Place a layer of kitchen paper, folded double, between the dish and the lid.
Slow cooker: either turn the temperature down to low and cook for 6 hours, or cook on high for 4 hours and on low for another 1-2 hours.
Oven: Cook for 3 to 3 and a half hours.
The cooking time depends on how thick the potato slices and pork chops are. To see if everything is cooked, gently push a thin sharp knife down through the layers. It should go in quite easily, meeting only slight resistance.
When it's cooked, grasp the dish firmly and carefully pour any remaining liquid into a bowl. This will be mainly fat from the chops.
Serve hot, on hot plates, with other veges on the side (though the French would probably eat these as a separate course). Sprinkle finely chopped parsley over the top (only I didn't go out to get any, it was too cold and wet).

That chop looks pinkish not because it's undercooked, but because the bacon seems to give it a bit of colour. "This is heavy, rustic food", says Elizabeth, "but the flavour is delicious." It is too - totally satisfying on a winter evening. Any leftover potatoes are excellent gently fried up for breakfast with an egg or a little sausage. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like perfect winter fare, Anne - hearty and satisfying. I must try it.
One recipe I did try at the weekend for a midwinter family gathering was the 'Roast leg of lamb with a mustard coat', from your blog about 2 years ago. I hadn't cooked a lamb roast for years so was a bit nervous, specially with the price of meat nowadays, but it worked beautifully - so easy, and quite delicious. There was enough left over for Sunday night AND for a shepherd's pie on Monday, just like my mother used to make. It was all so satisfying that I've decided to revive the roast dinner ritual at least once a month - provided I can find the meat on special, of course. So thank you for the (delayed) inspiration!