Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Pork and Cider

There’s something so satisfying about the making, cooking, smelling and indeed eating of a warming winter stew – concocted of rich meats and braised root vegetables, but this is a dish that takes a somewhat autumnal approach to the great British classic. While, of course, perfectly suited for winter too, and indeed any season you may wish, the delicate flavours of the pork and smoked sausage intertwined with the textures of mushroom, amidst a rich, mascarpone sauce– make this dish a true delight for a cooling evening.

What went in mine…? (Serves 4-6)

600g Pork Shoulder Steaks (cut into 1inch chunks)
2 x Smoked Cured Pork Sausage (slice into chunks) - available in most supermarkets
300g Close Cup Mushrooms (quartered)
1 x Red Onion (roughly chopped)
2 x Cloves Garlic (crushed)
1 Pint Dry Cider
2 Chicken Stock Pots or Stock Cubes (plus 400ml of water)
2 x Heaped Tsps. Herbes de Provence
2 x Tbsps. Dijon Mustard
2 x Tbsps. Corn Flour (mixed to a paste with some water)
1 x Tbsp. Mascarpone Cheese - thinned into a paste with a little milk (plus extra for serving, no milk)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Knob of Butter
Olive Oil
Fresh Chives (optional, but finely chop for serving)

How I did it…?
If you're using the oven...pre-heat to 180oC.

1. In a bowl add the pork and mustard, mixing until the meat is well coated, pour in the cider – then cover and place in the fridge for an hour or two (that bit is optional, and can even be done the night before!). if you don’t have time to soak the meat, just mix in the mustard and hold off adding the cider until later – there’s no point adding it to just wash off the mustard coating if you’re not going to let it marinate.

If your casserole dish is suitable for hob use as well as oven use, then you can use that – there’s no need to dirty two pans.

2. Heat some olive oil on high in your casserole dish (or frying pan) and fry the pork meat (in batches if necessary) until brown. The temperature will need to be high so that the pork browns and doesn't boil, we want to seal it quickly and lock in that moisture. As each batch browns, put the chunks in a bowl and set aside. Do the same with the smoked sausage, set aside.

3. Add the butter to your pan, and then fry the mushrooms until cooked and slightly brown – now add the onion, herbs and garlic, turning the heat down and cooking until soft. Add the pork and sausage into the onion and mushrooms, drown with the pint of cider and cook on high for 10mins (uncovered).

4. Place everything into an oven proof casserole pot, add the stock cubes, or stock pots, and top up with the boiling water. Cover and place in the hot oven, for 30mins and then turn it down to 140oC and cook for 2 ½ hours. Stirring once or twice throughout this time.

4. If you did all these steps in a frying pan you’ll then need to add them to something with a lid, and if it’s not oven proof - this can also be cooked on the hob on the smallest heat possible for a similar time…ensuring to stir it more frequently to prevent burning at the base.

5. Once the time is up and your meat is tender, while still piping hot – slowly add the corn flour paste and stir continuously until the sauce thickens to your desired thickness. If you want it thicker, make up some more corn flour paste and repeat the above. Remember, sauces thickened with corn flour will thicken only when the fluid is hot enough and will continue to thicken as the temperature increases, so make sure the sauce is fresh off the heat/out the oven and you only add a little at a time. If you've let it cool, heat it back up before thickening, to avoid over-adding the corn flour and ending up with a congealed wobble.

6. Now add the mascarpone and continue to stir until the cheese is fully dissolved into the sauce. If your sauce over thickens, add some more water.

Serve as you wish, and even though not pictured – a showering of chopped fresh chives doesn't go a miss and a gentle spooning of mascarpone.

Happy cooking,

TheCC xx

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